This I Believe

Michele - Naperville, Illinois
Entered on March 20, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

This I Believe

I believe in being fat. At some time in everyone’s life, even if for a short period, we should all be fat. No other experience taught me empathy, and understanding, and the beauty and joy of looking beyond the surface of another person, than the years I spent fat.

If the statistics and my own observations reflect reality, being fat is not the aberration that it was when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, especially during the miniskirt/Twiggy era, having chunky knees and a roly-poly belly was definitely not acceptable. Sure, I learned the pain of being socially isolated. I also learned an appreciation for others who also looked a little skewed from the norm. Being alone meant I had ample time to develop my talents and absorb an education. I learned about myself; more importantly, I learned about society as only those who feel like an observer, instead of a participant, can. I became a pretty interesting person; only a few people who took the time to gaze through the adipose and my attention-discomfort learned what a cool person I really was. So, I figured others like me—the tall, the short, the un-cute, the kinky-haired, the disabled—just might be fun to be around. And, in most cases, I was right. Not in all instances, of course: one can be unattractive and be a jerk. Still, the preponderance of my experiences taught me the value of a whole person.

Once I lost weight in my early 20s, and got downright slender in my early 30s, becoming socially acceptable in the process, I kept the appreciation for the foundation over the façade. I now think of it as reaching for the soul, for searching under the capsule that encases each of us and seeing the true person. Would I have learned this fundamental truth if I had not been fat? It’s possible, but unlikely. I remember a guy I dated during my thinner-but-not-yet-slender years who skirted the edges of acceptability himself. He observed that those who are attractive their entire lives don’t need to work as hard at life, including understanding and knowing others, as the rest of us because things like attention, wealth and love come easier, merely because they are attractive.

That may be true. It feels true. So, if it is, then being fat is a reasonably easy way to gain deep insight into ourselves and our society. And well worth the loneliness it brings.