Recently someone wondered at me how people judged him for hanging out with the fat girl. He has five or six inches on me, and I have five or six pounds on him. The weight sits lithe on his frame. How do you think people judge me for being the fat girl? I want to ask him, but I don’t. Instead, I think it every time I see him. How do you judge me for being the fat girl?
These thoughts, and thoughts like these, are things that consume my mind every day. On the street walking, on my bike. Eating lunch and buying groceries. Seeing advertisements in the bars of my web browser and on buses, the T, taxi cabs. At work.
My being fat isn’t really a secret. These sorts of things can’t be. I am officially listed as “overweight” on the BMI charts passed around in doctors’ offices and gyms around the country. I’m one of those “healthy fat people.” I can run a 10 minute mile, and average 13 when running three of them. I bike the three miles to work every day, 20-minutes or less in traffic. Like a delivery man. I like hiking. I’m not fast, but I can handle nine miles and thirty-nine hundred vertical feet–it just takes me nine hours.
Even though I wish it didn’t, my brain tracks these numbers. These distances and times and splits as evidence–empirical evidence, quantitative evidence–that being fat is only one part of having a body. I take these numbers and I repeat them to myself: One mile. 5.9. Sixty seconds. 12 miles. 12-hundred vertical feet. 370 miles.
One of the things about being active and fat is that you have to prove yourself to everyone around you constantly. When someone puts you on a 3 mile round trip hike with a climb of 900 vertical feet, you have to kill the thing in two hours and bushwhack your way around the peak, climbing over rocks and through underbrush. You have to bike to Walden Pond and then swim across it. You have to go down and up the rocky and icy steep sides of a lake without taking your skis off. You have to do what everyone else does and then you have to do more and hope that maybe, just maybe, someone takes you seriously because even then, they don’t always.