Fat Shamed Pains
2020 Barrett Winner
4th Place Kalani Olatunji
“Gary, where are the keys?”, said Kathy, my mom.
She was in a rush to find those keys, just to get rid of her only daughter. I deserved it though, considering her only daughter was an embarrassment to her.
“Honey, would you slow down.” said Gary, my dad.
My dad could care less what was occurring with my upcoming absence. He was always too busy reviewing game footage for his high school football team, which I’m pretty sure he loved more than me.
“Stevie are you ready to leave?” Mom asked.
I thought ignoring her could be effective enough for her to just forget about me. I was not thrilled to leave or stay. I had many unfavorable reasons to just leave, being at home was just torture. Everyone including my parents was obsessed with my weight and my appearance. After a while, I became self-conscious about it. According to my mother, after fat camp my so-called friends would adore me. My mother just wants me to be this perfect girl, just like the girls she uses to model her boutique. In high school, my mother was this beautiful young girl, who had the most friends and all the boys. In her mind, she thinks I need to measure up to that and maybe I should.
“I found the keys, girly, let’s go”.
I realize that if this is what it takes to be the perfect daughter, then so be it. I grab my backpack and head towards the car, with more enthusiasm than earlier. Looking at my house, the memories of when I was younger flood my mind. I remember when I would play in the yard with my friends, as my parents took pictures of my every move. A time where their love had no measure.
I never thought a three-hour drive could be so silent; then again, my mother and I didn’t have anything in common. I glanced at her a few times, when I knew she wouldn’t notice. She was still as gorgeous as she was in high school. Her long dark brown hair touched her mid back. She was pushing 35, with flawless smooth skin. Her body was envious. She took Pilates every Friday on her off days. She knew that she was perfect; men always looked twice, and the ladies always looked away grim-like. I looked away from her, and to my reflection in the rearview mirror. I was so different from her in looks. There was this time in the grocery store, when this young guy was ringing us up. He kept staring at my mother and I. His eyes went from the groceries to me to her. “Is that your daughter ma’am?” he asked full of doubt. She looked at him hesitantly and finally said, “Yes.” Then he looked at the groceries again. “I could tell a bit,” he said. She smiled and looked at me, then the groceries. That rest of that day I made sure I didn’t eat. My hair was dark brown and shoulder length. My skin was scarred from past acne, but it was becoming clear. I was 400 pounds at 17 and pushing 403. I was scared of eating; I didn’t want to gain another pound. I knew my mother felt the same way, because she didn’t make any stops for food. We arrived at the camp around 2pm, we were running late. I was supposed to be here at 1pm; however, there was a girl camp counselor waiting for stragglers. I got out of the car and grabbed my backpack. The girl helped me with my luggage. My mother finally got out of the car and walked over to me. “I love you sweetheart, and when you come home, you’re going to be my sweet looking girly again.” I looked at her with a small tight-lipped smile, “I love you too and see you in 10 weeks.” She smiled at me for a while, then caressed my face. Then she walked away and drove off as soon as she got in the car. I didn’t think she was going to change her mind or become hesitant, but she had me feeling melancholy.
The girl had a name tag on. Before I could read it, she said, “I’m Mia, what’s your name?” She was talking to me as if I were glass, ready to break. “I’m Stevie.” She smiled, “That’s a pretty name.” I just smiled. I didn’t bother saying “thank you,” because she was just being polite. This is probably what they were trained to do, be nice and gentle. Just because I’m fat doesn’t make me pitiful. I was silent, because I didn’t have anything to say. As I was walking, I started to actually take in her appearance. Her face was average, but her body was exceptional. You could tell her stomach was toned and her jeans fit her perfectly. I was so entranced by her body that I hadn’t even heard her talking.
“Stevie...did you hear me?”
I responded as quickly as possible so as not to seem transparent. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“Were getting close to the camp location. I will take your luggage and you can go on to the common area. There will be two people to escort you at the end of the path.”
I looked ahead, feeling slightly sick. “Okay,” I said after a long pause.
She started giving me the look that the girls at my mother’s boutique did. I knew she was going to say something that in her mind would make me feel whole and relaxed. However, I wasn’t looking for that. I cut her off, just before she opened her mouth. “I’m good, just something I ate earlier making me queasy.” She smiled. I’m sure she reassured herself that what I said was true and sufficient enough for her. I headed up the path and became out of breath. I knew I was getting close, because there was beginning to be less trees. As I approached the clearing, I could see two people. I began to try and manipulate my breathing, to not seem as if I was out of breath. I could tell they were laughing, when I was getting closer to them. Just those actions alone, made me feel a deep pit in my stomach. It was two boys. I never had any luck with boys; they had a set of limits on girls. Obviously, I didn’t fit the criteria. These guys were beyond nerve-racking. It wasn’t their faces that had me tense. It was their bodies. When I was 10, I had more boy dolls rather than girl dolls. My mother would say that it was crucial to know boys, that through dolls I could establish their positions as men. One of the things I established was their bodies. These boys had the exact physique.
“Hello, my name is Carson,” the boy on the left said.
“Yea, that’s his lame name, I’m Bryn,” said the boy on the right. He was smiling so hard. If I was him, I would smile just as hard. “Anyways you’re super late, so what’s your name?” asksed Bryn.
My words were not forming. I started to feel as if the fat hanging from my body was drowning me. All I wanted to do was take a knife and slice away at my fat, carving my body into a Donatello sculpture.
“Are you okay?”
I’m so awestruck that I couldn’t even make out who was speaking. My eyes were becoming teary-eyed. My heart was racing, more than usual, and I felt the weight of myself falling in on me. I fell down, the only thing I could think of was the sound and quaking that I caused when falling. The only thing I could see was the blur of a person, and slowly things were coming back together. There was Bryn.
“Yo was the path a bit much for you?” he asked.
I couldn’t tell his facial expressions. However, at this moment I just wanted to die. He was probably right about the path being too much for me. As my vision was returning, I noticed there was a medical assistant headed my way. I tried to revert myself back to normal, before he got closer. I hated doctors, or anything of that nature. They always said something I already knew, but somehow with their medical terms they made me feel worse. If that was possible at this point.
“Okay, let’s get you up,” said the medical assistant.
He guided me to a nearby bench in the clearing. He started questioning me, per usual.
“Do you have hypertension, and/or diabetes?”
“Yes,” I reply.
“Have you taken your medications today?”
“Yes,” I reply.
“Have you eaten any fast foods or lipids today, and called it a meal?”
This question was always the less shameful to answer, because I didn’t engage in eating much.
“No,” I reply confidently.
“Have you eaten anything at all today?”
I came to the realization that I hadn’t really eaten in a while; I had only had oranges and water for the last three days. I was in a rush this morning to pack and I forgot to eat my oranges. I thought maybe I should lie, but I was excited to say aloud that I hadn’t eaten. Ha! They thought the fat girl would eat. Well, wrong.
“No, I haven’t,” I said while smiling.
He looked at me deeply, with a look I wasn’t quite familiar with.
“Okay, we need to get you some food and contact your parents. I will inform Mark, the camp manager of your incident.” I had just got here, and my parents were already being contacted. My mother would be so disappointed.
“Wait, I forgot I did eat today.” I said, abruptly.
He looked at me again with that same look. Possibly concern.
“I know you’re lying. Bryn take her to the kitchen and provide some of the refreshments that they were serving to us earlier,” he said. Bryn looked at me and him, irritable.
“This is not in my job description,” he said.
As the medical assistant was packing up his things, he turned and looked at Bryn.
“Tell you what, while I’m with Mark, I will give him your regards about your position,” he said.
“Whatever, come on,” saidBryn.
I really needed to convince this medical assistant I was fine.
“I really did forget I ate, and I really shouldn’t eat again,” I said persistently.
He walked towards Bryn and said, “Be sure she eats.”
Bryn looked at me and I looked away, I was sure not to make any eye contact. He began walking ahead of me.
“Follow me, and keep up,” he said.
Of course, I did exactly as he said. I felt terrible, inside and out. I bet he felt great though. He was good-looking. He had curly-hair and clear brown skin that the sun loved to shine upon. His body was his best feature. My eyes bore into his backside; the definition of his back started to captivate me. Somehow, I hadn’t realized we arrived at the kitchen. We walked in and he grabbed the refreshment tray.
“Alright. Have at it,” he said.
I stared at the tray; it had mini sandwiches, sliced fruits, sliced vegetables, crackers and cheese, and cookies. I just couldn’t manage to work up an appetite, and I didn’t want to.
“I’m not hungry, really I just forgot I ate.”
He grinned, “Your one of those; there is just always the ones who assume starving makes the fat disappear. Sorry, sweetie it doesn’t work that way,” he said, while popping a grape in his mouth.
I just wanted to get away from this food tray; the smell was making me ache.
“Okay, sure I’m one of those. Let’s forget it,” I say defeated.
“Look just eat something; I got a hook up with Mia in 10 minutes. If you don’t, Dr. Hardass is going to know and my ass will be chewed out,” he replied.
I always had bad luck with guys. I wonder what it was like to be Mia and have good luck. To just kiss a guy was probably better than having a body like Mia’s.
“Kiss me, and I will eat something from the tray,” I say a bit low and hesitant.
However, his grin informed me he knew exactly what I said.
“Deal,” he says.
I was in disbelief that he agreed. He began to walk closer to me and he was trying to look me in the eyes directly, because we caught each other’s gaze for a second when I was trying my hardest to avoid it.
“Close your eyes, if you’re not going to give me eye contact,” he said.
Without hesitation, I closed them. There was no way I would be able to hold his gaze without becoming out of breath. I could feel his lips graze mine and I parted my lips. I felt his hand on my back. Then I felt his hand forcefully grasp my back, suddenly he was shoving food into my mouth. He was holding me tightly and grabbing handfuls of everything. He kept shoving more and more food in my mouth. I was trying to fight against him, but he was powerful. Eventually, we ended up on the floor due to the struggle. He kept just shoving the food, so much so my clothes and face became enveloped by the food. I was crying and begging for him to quit. It was muffled by the food being shoved down my throat. I was choking and it didn’t matter to him. He grinned the whole time. Being on the floor with his toned arms and abs against me, made me realize this was the closest I would ever get to the perfect physique. I started to choke harder, and I felt I was going to pass out. He finally stopped and got up.
“Did you really think I would kiss you,” he said laughing so hard he became slightly out of breath.
I got off the floor and rushed to the sink for water to clear my throat.
“Now you ate, I got an actual hook up now,” he said, still laughing a bit and shaking his head.
He began to walk out; then he turned around.
“Look, before you get any ideas. No one is going to believe you and you don’t want to fuck with me,” he said this time with no trace of a grin, laugh, or smile.
“They ask, say all pigs have a pig out,” he said this time with one last grin.
I walked back to the camp, without even having thoughts. When I got back to the clearing, there were people outside socializing. They all looked with confusion in my direction; they were whispering. I couldn’t take the little voices. I began to walk fast. Now I was beginning to become out of breath. I was so tired I couldn’t manipulate my breathing. I kept my head down to avoid the eyes and walked right into the medical assistant. He must have been in a rush as well, because when we collided, he flew back a bit. He looked puzzled at my appearance.
“What happened?” he asked.
I didn’t say anything.
“Come on let’s get you cleaned up,” he said with that familiar pity expression.
He thought I did this to myself, while I was eating. I didn’t follow him.
“No,” I say.
He looked with the same expression. Ready to speak something that would convince me to come with him and ease me. He could save it for the next fatso kid.
“Look, what the hell do you want,” I said, with a slight voice crack.
“Your mother is on the phone line,” he said worriedly.
“Take me to the phone,” I said.
He guided me to the phone, taking a glance back to feel like he was doing something important for me. When we arrived at the phone, he talked with her first. He has me wait outside the cabin, like I don’t know they aren’t talking about me.
“Your mother would like to speak with you,” he said.
I don’t say anything.
“Girly, what is going? Are you trying to play a trick or run a game on these people for me to come pick you up?”
“I’m not your girly,” I say flatly.
I hang up and walk outside.
“How was the conversation with your mother?” asked the medical assistant.
I ignore him. I see Mia and Bryn making out.
“Are you okay?”
“Define your measure of okay,” I said, tears rolling down my face.
I guess even pigs cry.