The Fat Friend

Friends

Me with just two of the friends I’m so very lucky to have in my life.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the fat friend.

Even in my teens, when I was decidedly much skinnier than I am now, I was fat. (Oh, to have the love I have for myself now, and the body I  had at 16. Pretty please?)

Since my teens, I’ve been married, of course. And divorced. Welcomed two babies into the world using this body, that is now soft and curved and definitely not a size 6. Which is okay. Let me tell you that I have so much more love for this body than I used to. Extraordinary machine.

Since becoming single, my social life has picked back up. I go out far more often than I used to, with an amazing group of women who I am both honoured and blessed to call friends. This past weekend, a bunch of us got away into the mountains for  three days of birthday goodness. We ran around trying on each other’s clothes, doing each other’s makeup, sipping cocktails, singing along to the music at full blast, dancing, flirting and splurging on a very fancy dinner. It was a desperately needed break, and good heart food. Good friends are really the very best cure for whatever ails you. Laughter and someone who will help you put on liquid liner? It doesn’t get better than that.

But back to being the “fat friend”. First, I want to assure you that none of my friends think of me this way – that I don’t really think of me this way, most of the time, except for some reason it came up in conversation and I found myself thinking about it for awhile afterwards, then in the shower again the next morning after we’d taken a morning soak in the hot tub before checkout.

What I’ve been thinking about the most is how much I used to let “fat friend” equal “less than”. How much I lived in a way that said I believed that because I was fat, I didn’t get to be happy.

On shopping trips, I’d wistfully sigh and say “Oh, nothing in this store will fit me.”  Now, I’ve learned to dress for my body shape – and that includes trying on things that look like they just might fit. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Every time, I have a good time exploring items I might not normally have tried. And you know what always fits? Accessories. I have quite the collection of necklaces and bracelets from stores where “nothing will fit me.”

In a bar, I’d warily regard any man that approached me as just talking to me to get to one of my other friends. I didn’t have a good sense of the fact that people are attracted to a wide variety of body types, and that maybe, they were attracted to mine. These days, I will enjoy talking to a stranger, even if he IS trying to get to my friend over me. We’re a sexy group of ladies, and I’m guessing approaching us is intimidating. So what if he talks to me first, while he works up the rest of his courage? It’s not nearly as duplicitous as I  used to make it out to be.

When the camera would come out, I’d duck photos like it was my job. I didn’t want anyone to photograph me, especially not beside a skinny, gorgeous friend.  Yesterday, I had my photo taken with a gorgeous friend in a hot tub. And you know what? I didn’t duck. I didn’t wrinkle my nose over it. I smiled, because there I was in the utterly amazing beauty of the Rocky Mountains, soaking the weekend’s fun off in the water, beside a woman I love to pieces.

I hated eating in public, too. Someone might see me! They might think to themselves “That’s why that girl is fat. Look at her, eating again.” These days, I gleefully eat delicious food and even get crumbs in my cleavage because who the hell cares if a stranger thinks I only ever eat cheeseburgers?

When we let our size dictate how we act, it becomes isolating. Painfully so. We remove ourselves from situations where we’re welcome to be – we become the girl who sits on the bench outside the store while everyone shops, or the friend who hugs the wall and refuses to dance. We aren’t in any photos because we refuse to be in them, hiding behind whatever we can find, or leaning just out of the frame. We attempt to disappear. We erase ourselves from a collective memory. Why?

No size, thin or fat, makes you less worthy of getting to enjoy your life. It’s your right to live joyfully, out loud, to feel beautiful, to laugh in that head thrown back, people are staring way that you do when you’re really, really loving the moment. It’s your right to sit down and enjoy something delicious. It’s your right to buy something that brings out your eyes. It’s your right to play up your favourite features, and then strut your stuff all over that nightclub. It’s your right to lean into a conversation with a stranger, and let him buy you a drink. Soak it all up, gorgeous. Your happiness is the most beautiful thing about you, anyways.

 

 

Stephanie Ostermann

I’m the sort of girl who you meet for coffee and end up pouring your entire heart out to. The friend you come to when you need someone to call it straight. No bullshit. No extras. Just truth.

I’m a communicator. That’s a PC way of saying I like to talk, but I also spend a lot of my time listening, and over the years, I’ve developed a sense for subtext – how one or two words can change your entire message, what people are really trying to say and how to weave the varied layers of your story into one cohesive brand message that your clients fall in love with.

When I'm not acting as editor in chief for Vivid & Brave, you can find me geeking out over words here.

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