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No One Wants to Be a “Fat Girl”

There I said it.  Commence the flogging.

I had a fantastic time a few weeks back for a live event.  I met with twenty or so wonderful women, talked nutrition, successes, stories and running… and it was really such a wonderful day.  As I was talking to our group in a coffee shop as the rain came down outside, I said something that as soon as it came out of my mouth, I wished I could push it back inside.

At the same time, I knew once I said it—well, that it was a basic TRUTH of mine. Interestingly, sometimes the truth is a good thing.

What I said:

       No matter what size I am, no matter how much weight I lose, no matter how fast I get—-I will always be a “Fat Girl.”

Let’s Define a “Fat Girl”

Okay, so slow down a second.

Here’s the confusing part of the situation: you don’t even have to be fat to be a Fat Girl.

The statement I made at the event rang so true to me—because I quickly realized just how wide of a spectrum the term”Fat Girl” actually means.

You are a “Fat Girl” if:

  • No matter how hard you workout, eat well and race hard, you still think you suck
  • The voice inside your head is MEAN
  • Swimsuit shopping is the apocalypse
  • You wake up and immediately criticize your appearance
  • You don’t sleep well
  • You eat terrible foods by the truckloads
  • The scale devastates you to no end
  • You are the self-described Queen of Self-Sabotage
  • Race photos ruin your day (potentially life)
  • You qualify any successes with “if I was only ____, then it would have been better”

Summary:

So “Fat Girl” has nothing to do with actual fat or weight?

Nope.

(I can hear it now.  “You are fat shaming! You are perpetuating “fat” as a negative thing! Shame on you.”  I am SO not.  I’ve been 280 pounds.  I did every one of my triathlons over 200 pounds until recently. So shut up, I’m not a freaking fat-shamer.  I have written a book about doing triathlon exactly in the body you have.  And I have lived it.  I do think the term FAT GIRL is innately negative though, which is why I am using it to apply to this story.  Even as overweight, plus-size or whatever woman– I would never call myself a Fat Girl and believe THAT TERM would be portrayed in a positive way.  I would choose something else. Like “Larger Than You Goddess” or something else. The Defense rests.)

My point:  we are “Fat Girls” when we desperately try to love ourselves, be happy in the body we have, be grateful for working body parts and overall general health—but we are stuck on the fact that we ate too much for dinner the night before, our favorite pants are too tight, or we look like sh*t in our race photos.  Or we purposefully sabotage our health and well-being by the foods we eat, the things we drink or the way we refuse to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

So as you can see – the “Fat Girl” problem is potentially an every female problem. Women as a whole are struggling with being “Fat Girls.”  Even thin women struggle with being “Fat Girls.”

No one wants to be a Fat Girl, as I defined it.

Fat Girl is synonymous with Mean Girl.  No one wants to feel like crap, or hate themselves or feel terrible in their skin.  No one wants to say hateful things to themselves–no one wants that–irrespective of size.

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Do you get that I am not even talking size here?

I am talking about our internal voices. I’m talking about our well-being.  The things we say to ourselves, about ourselves, when we are alone.

One of the things I have learned over the last seventeen months is that in order to feel better about myself, that I have to LOVE myself. [And I don’t love myself!]
SO how do I make myself love myself when I don’t love myself–in order to make myself feel better about myself… [Holy crap.  This is impossible!!]

But that was the bridge I crossed when I started working on this journey.  I had to learn how to heal the voices in my head, so that I could get past the Fat Girl mentality, so I could sure, lose weight and perform better–but also, for the love, just feel better. Be happier. Be nicer to myself.

During this time, I have learned how to remove so much of the negative junk that has been in my head for my whole life.

And with that, I have learned to take care of myself. It’s a big giant circle–that feeds off of itself–in a good way.

“Well, Meredith… you just said that you will ‘always be a Fat Girl,’ so clearly you haven’t learned anything.”

But you’re wrong.

I am also a sober person.  That makes me technically, in “taboo” or whatever terms, still an alcoholic. So no matter how much time passes sober, I am still an alcoholic.

Likewise, as much as I take care of myself, eat well and exercise like a crazy person, I am still a “Fat Girl”–as defined by the second list of attributes. As defined by things that have nothing to do with my weight.  No matter what I look like, or what the scale may say today–or a year from now–I will always be an alcoholic Fat Girl. 

In other words, I have the tendency to lean towards addiction, self-sabotage. I have a tendency to be negative, be hardest on myself, to be mean to myself.

When I admit that I am a Fat Girl, I am saying out loud that I must take extra special care of myself. That I have to work really hard to stay on track with my emotions and the mean girl thoughts in my head.  That I must nurture myself, feed my body good things, and be nice to myself–because otherwise, I go down a path that I cannot sustain.

Like an alcoholic, a toxic-thinking Fat Girl must guard herself against the constant negative thoughts—just like a sober person has to guard herself against even one drink.  The one drink can be devastation.  The one negative thought for the Fat Girl can be the boulder at the top of the hill.

Once we wake up and think, “I am huge and useless,” the boulder starts to roll–and sometimes we cannot get a hold of it again, at least until it reaches rock bottom.

Over the years, I have learned the tools to get a grip on my mean girl thoughts, my emotions and my nutrition—for a well-rounded approach to the (as defined above) Fat Girl epidemic. It helps me sustain the boulder at the top of the hill, by building lovely things around the boulder–to hold it in place, prevent the free-fall.

Sure, I have lost weight and that’s great. But it’s so much more than that. So, so much more.

So when I say I will always be a Fat Girl, I wear it with the similar pride of turning down an alcoholic drink at a party.

I say it with the full knowledge that I will always work hard and relentlessly to stay healthy and happy—and that’s okay.

Some things do not come easy to everyone.

But it’s a battle that I am willing to keep fighting.

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Because to give up? To determine that my life will always be miserable, that I will always sabotage and never reach any of my goals?

Well, that was not an option either.

I surrendered.

I gave in and started working, tirelessly on me–from the inside out, first–when I realized that giving up was not the story I wanted to live any more.

I was ready to rewrite my script, once and for all.  To stop living like a “Fat Girl.”

To just be Me.

9 Comments

  • Anonymous

    September 4, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    I liked the SBF program but I dont honestly feel it adequately addressed what you are talking about here. It was little to no help with emotional eating and internal dialogue for me. I am so mean to myself. I love following your story and it gives me hope, but I just don’t know how you’ve done it. The internal struggle I constantly face is tiring. 🙁

    Reply
  • Priscilla

    September 4, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Great piece…I too am a recovering fat girl. One of the ways I take care of myself, so to speak, is to remind myself that this body, that I fight with on the inside, gave me the most prescious gift in my son. This body had enough strength to hold my soul up during devastating news. This body continues to do what I ask it to do when I should just let it rest. I am trying to recover from fat girl-itis, but on days when I get the real clear picture, this body is pretty darn amazing…rolls and all 🙂

    I love your perspective and willingness to write things that make me pause! Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • Tracy Krushinski

    September 5, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    No matter how many races I’ve finished, no matter how much the scale drops, or the clothing size, I will always be the “fat girl”. It’s just a part of who I am…..

    Reply
  • Cheryl

    September 5, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Question : do you think you switched or traded your eating and drinking addictions for the addiction of triathlon so to speak. I ask because that is exactly what I did in the beginning. I threw everything I had into training and ate less and less crap. Then when I was sidelined for a year due to a total hip replacement and a surgery for a very rare cancer, I totally lost my shit and started eating everything. Upshot is I went and got help for the little fat girl inside who was teased and was non existent to my Mom. So I went fat kid, anorexic teen, addicted cardio queen who ate 500 cal a day for 8 years straight and of course every body smoked in the 80s and 90s. Fast forward to 2002 had our child, put on and lost the weight back to smoking….now 2016 and after a couple years of looking really hard at that little fat girl and making peace…..happy to report no smoking, never drank, cancer free, new hip and back to tris. Important thing is I am 52 now and going to talk to someone helped me let go of that treadmill of trading one addiction for another and I am not that same person but a kinder, happier, calmer person as well as the best Mom for our son and the best partner in crime for my husband of 26 yrs.

    Reply
  • Jen

    September 6, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks for this! I don’t know what it is where all the problems with the world become my fault. Recently life has been stressful and i haven’t done anything in particular to cause it nor are the issues insurmountable but i find myself being so mean to me! What is it? Why is a little stress and a difficult situation suddenly a value judgement on me as a person?? Why i am I stupid, lazy, useless, et etc etc because things aren’t going as planned?! My husband doesn’t say this to himself – he’s stressed too but he doesn’t take it out on himself.
    So much good comes from being a little kind to myself and letting go a little … but thank you – for talking about it.

    Reply
  • SoAnyway

    September 7, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    I’ve been more pleased or less pleased with my appearance, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been actually *happy* about it. Chasing that particular question has been a Sisyphean task for me.

    On the other hand, I’m always surprised to hear that you don’t like the way you look. ‘Cause really you’re quite stunning.

    So, maybe it’s a question of trying to get outside of one’s head and seeing oneself as others might?

    Anyway, you’re super. You should love you 🙂

    Reply
  • Kristen

    March 9, 2018 at 7:54 am

    Yup you’re officially in my head. It’s weird that having been around many friends in AA I knew my affliction was fat girl and I needed to tend to it like an alcoholic. My body requires more tending than others. And just like many in recovery when I got complacent in my recovery I fell off the wagon. Trying to let go of the blame in getting back together.

    Reply

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