I had to ask for a seatbelt extender on a recent flight. This is new for me, a product of menopause hitting all the right places and a slow recovery from a knee injury. And, you know, I like food.
I was flying to a wedding, old family friends I haven’t seen for years. I had some moments of anxiety about people seeing me “like this”, afraid of what they might think.
There’s so much negative cultural angst about fat people, and about being fat; people assume if you’ve gained weight, you’re having a difficult time, failing at something, eating your feelings, alone and awash in self-pity and Cheetos.
My reality is somewhat different, and I find myself imagining my responses to pitying looks from old friends. When I think it through, the only message I want to convey is “No, I’m good! Menopause hit me kinda hard, but I’m genuinely GOOD!”
And without hesitation, I can say that I am. This is a period of unparalleled joy and contentment in my life. My kids are happy and healthy, my husband is home and has a job that he loves, and HE is healthy, I work with people I love, and I have a new job that’s full of exciting possibility, my writing is developing in new directions with the support of a quirky and intelligent writer’s group, and I have friends who make me laugh and think and want to do fun things. And I live in the most beautiful place on earth with my best friend and the world’s greatest dog.
It’s the best time of my life.
Did I get here by way of too many homemade brownies and coffee with two sugars and double cream? Sure. I’ve also taken steps to mitigate and reverse the gains made by encroaching edibles. I changed my diet and work with a trainer, who has also become one of the friends who makes me laugh and think. You’d never guess it from looking at me–because people assume all kinds of things about fat people that just aren’t true–but I have made great strides recovering from my knee injury, and have my eyes on another training goal.
But this body was created partially by joy; discovering the bounty of Oregon, its culinary wonders, the wine!, exploring new foods–it’s been an exciting journey I would take again and again. Do I sometimes cringe at photos of myself showing the loss of my former shape? Sure, but then I look at the smile on my face, and the joy that shines in my eyes, and I can’t help but remember once again how spectacularly happy I am, what an amazing time in my life this is.
I will go to the wedding with all of this unspoken, and with the reminder that someone else’s opinion of me is none of my business. And I will wear the slinky dress and dance with my husband and probably drink too much, because I am truly fat and happy.