BY NICOLE HENARES
Fat. I hear the word constantly, coupled with another word, lazy.
Yes, I am a fat girl. Yes, I am a lazy girl. I have heel spurs. May they ache some more. Suffering is the sole root of my consciousness. So, how have I been 100 lbs overweight? 100 lbs that has made my metabolism and hormones permanently out of whack, and gave my face a beard that I had to shave every day? Oh yes, suffering is the sole root of my consciousness. My consciousness began with a lie, a lie that I should be treated like a human being.
"What happened to her, to get so fat?"
I had to have known the monster I had become.
The lie: I am no longer a bearded lady. Thank you electrolysis.
Such a lie. I am not a bearded fat lady. I will always be a bearded fat lady.
I should just do something about it right?
I should just feel happy.
Have more confidence.
Go to the gym.
Count the calories in blueberries.
Lose 80 pounds in 6 months. Gain it all back. Lose it again. My metabolism will never be normal. Research cutting out half of my stomach. I should just do something about it. Feel differently.
"Don’t try looking for a job, no one will hire you."
"Don’t bother getting nice clothes, what good is trying to look good when you’re that fat?"
That's the problem with over-eating, I find myself thinking when I take fistfuls of popcorn. If something bad happens you eat chocolate or popcorn or another piece of chicken in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you eat chocolate or popcorn or another piece of chicken in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you eat chocolate or popcorn or another piece of chicken to make something happen.
Oh Bukowski, I can forgive him for his relationship with alcohol. He was so sensitive, but tough. He had a bluebird in his heart. But I cannot forgive myself for my relationship with food.
Here’s a scene: On the counter, it is there. It can be anything edible, but it becomes a warm blanket waiting to wrap its arms around me. I smother butter over its insides like an angel devilish for prayers.
Somewhere there is rain, and clouds, and people who stand on two steady feet, but I am there at that counter, wanting more and more because it implodes all I want to forget. That shivering little thing with only two front teeth biting down a little voice saying more and more as a way to drown out the screaming.
Sometimes I eat so much I struggle to feel like I have a body anymore. Sometimes I eat so much I don’t even know how or where. Sometimes I don’t know what’s hunger, or thirst, or shame, or loneliness.
Let’s make a poem about this. Let’s make a poem about looking at old photos, and thinking is that me? Is that not me? I am thinner there. Am I thinner there? That woman isn’t me. That woman is me, but I was thinner then. I am not that woman anymore. I look fat. I am fat. I will always be fat. Fat, if I eat carefully, is not a death sentence, but it is nonetheless a life sentence.
That said, I have difficulty with the word "fat." Though fat-activists valiantly try reclaim the word fat, I cannot erase its sting, the way it has at once defined and violated my body. Fat has never been a positive word for me. Not with my family, not with my peers, or any of the men I have loved.
Here are other words: I am 41 years old. I have had an eating disorder since I was a small child. My first memory of over-eating goes back to when I had only two front teeth. I struggle with anxiety. I use food as a way to soothe myself. I have to watch not only what I eat but how I eat. Sometimes I eat so quickly out of nervousness that I bite my tongue. I like going to the gym and exercising because it helps me with my anxiety. I have weighed as much as 245 lbs and as little as 160 lbs. I like my body when it is 160 lbs more than I do when it is 245 lbs, but it is a difficult weight for my metabolism to sustain. I have to work hard to keep my body at 160 lbs.
Hence, I want to reclaim a more powerful word than fat.
One night I wore a form fitting sequin dress and cat ears to hear a band called Planet Booty.
I asked a friend, "Do I look OK?"
"No," she said. "You look beautiful."
Nicole Henares (Aurelia Lorca) is a poet, storyteller, and teacher who lives in San Francisco California. She has her BA in English from UC Davis, her MFA in Writing and Consciousness from California Institute of Integral Studies, and is an alumna of the Voices of Our Nation Writing Workshops. Her work has appeared throughout the small press. She is interested in how Lorca’s duende, the duende of Andalusia and flamenco, is a cross cultural spirit.