The Bearable Fatness of Being


Did you hear the sound of a thousand trumpets heralding the return of my knees? Because after a three-month hiatus, they are back and not-quite better than ever. No more boneless elephant legs for this alleged human female! No more wondering how much fat and fury my kneecaps can endure.

Dear Instagram: Get ready for a deluge of sexy knee selfies today.

Being fat for most of my life hasn’t been terribly hard on me, at least no harder than any other psychological challenge. It seems like people who were extra hot when they were young have a difficult time being fat later on – they have much to compare to, from memories to photos – but that was never the case with me. I’ve always been this way, and by that I mean Polynesian, with brief bouts of having the flu and looking unintentionally good for the next few weeks.

If being overweight had a motto, it might be “Eat what you want, invest in yoga pants, and never take the stairs.” I’ve lived by that motto for so long it should be tattooed across my chest in Olde English lettering.

That’s not to say there aren’t certain downsides to being fat, namely blows to the health and vanity, but there are interesting advantages, too. For fat women, the fantasy of losing weight and having a real-life “She’s All That” moment is always right around the corner, where you can earn the admiration of your entire high school by going to a party sans glasses. Thin people, you’re already a high-res After photo, so reveal-and-redemption is not an option. But me, I’m an After photo filled with motivational quotes just waiting to happen.

Thanks to my ongoing kidney adventures, though, being this fat has proven to be difficult. Losing the water weight I’ve gained in the past few months has been the stuff of nightmares; one day, I ate 1300 calories worth of food – which, for a Samoan, is like eating air and Altoids for every meal – and I still gained five pounds. So this is what I’m working with now: A body that previously made sense to me that doesn’t make sense anymore. At this point, I look forward to being back in my old busted body, the one I previously failed to change here, here, and here. I’ve lost 20 pounds so far, but that hasn’t helped me get back into my gold-sequined unitard.

Yesterday, I needed the Jaws of Life to get out of my favorite jeans. I remembered how they went with everything, and had a little give, so I tried them on with the enthusiasm of a thousand screeching hope chests. Real talk: Those jeans were a denim serpent sent from Hell to eat me alive. It was a textile Stockholm Syndrome hostage situation in disguise. If those pants were a well, then I was goddamn Baby Jessica, awaiting national media attention and a heartwarming rescue.

No one came to my rescue, but to be fair, I’m not a privileged white baby. Not yet, anyway. My struggle is real.

Because “fat” is synonymous with “unhappy” in our society, it took me a long time to understand that my happiness is not controlled by numbers on a scale. If that were true, I would’ve had no happy moments in my life because I’ve never been a thin person. Sure, there are days when I catch my reflection in a window, looking more like John Goodman than Beyonce’s mom, and I want to shoot pizza rolls at my face with a t-shirt cannon. There are days when I get backwards compliments and scream tirelessly at the sky. But, much like everything else in life, those stupid moments are fleeting. They don’t make up the entirety of my self-esteem or day. If they did, my obituary would read “Died from self-inflicted pizza roll incident,” which is every mother’s dream.

The most welcome side effect to this weight gain has been my shift in perspective. Where Vanity once stood, now lives Sass and a neon middle finger. I used to think I was obligated to cover up my offensive body parts (read: all of them), and to do so was to uphold the end of a bargain that fat people make with Society: Don’t take up too much space. Apologize, always. Make yourself small. Don’t show off. Fat women who get away with wearing loud, beautiful outfits must be creative or crazy or both. Eat less in public. Wear black at all times.

Now I want to shout FUCK SOCIETY from the rooftop of every donut shop and steakhouse. Im creative and crazy; I am a horrible show-off. I take up lots and lots of room, “eating in public” is listed as a skill on my résumé, and I always wear black with the kind of colors that can be seen from outer space. Now I see what was possible all along – the freedom from constant body flagellation, the lovely detachment that comes from not giving two shits about being in a bathing suit around living people – had I embraced all of my squishy parts and succumbed to early-onset fabulousness.

No matter, there’s still time, and I aim to enjoy it. Being fabulous doesn’t expire, and it doesn’t rely on how dainty my wrists are.


6 thoughts on “The Bearable Fatness of Being

  1. […] any sense to me. Since my body is currently going through what can only be described as an “angry Grimace phase,” I read through the chapter on Physical Culture with interest. Maybe their decades-old […]


  2. […] will definitely gain more weight! Where my skinny white ladygods now? As someone who has dealt with fluctuating fatness since the Universe spat her out, I don’t feel unprepared for this, just mentally unwilling. […]


  3. Amie says:

    YES! Marika! YES YES YES YES AND YES. <3 Love this, love you. Always.


  4. Kelly says:

    Love your attitude!


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