I Look Good and I Do What I Want

a journey of loving my body and myself

its not because i’m fat! June 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mae @ 6:21 pm

I just can’t win for trying these days.

I am fat, but I’m also relatively fit. I spent 60 minutes working out (and working up a sweat and some sore muscles) on the Wii Fit yesterday morning, then walked my dog with my husband for another 30 minutes. After work I headed over to a local park where my running group meets on Mondays and Wednesdays. We did a very speedy 15-minute walking loop for a warmup, then ran for 30 minutes (1 minute running, 1 minute walking, at a brisk pace), then walked a 10-minute cool-down back to the start. Excluding the non-exercise but deliberate things I do (parking deep and a floor up from the lobby level of my building, taking our internal stairs up and down two floors for meetings instead of the elevator), that’s nearly two and a half hours of deliberate exercise, and its not highly unusual (a usual day is about one to one and a half hours). This morning I worked out on the Wii Fit for 90 minutes, and we’ll probably walk the dog together tonight for another 30 minutes, since I missed this morning’s walk due to an early meeting.

What I am is short: five foot two. I also wear three-inch heels to work because I need the height! I drink a lot of water and for whatever reason, am just genetically inclined to sweat a lot. I don’t think I’m excessively stinky, I just break out in a sweat on my face, neck, back, etc. easily. Last but not least, I have a bum right ankle. Starting from my high school soccer days, I’ve sprained the dumb thing at least six or eight times, badly, and the tendons are a little weak. Walking (or running) downhill, I have to be careful with my footing, to be sure I don’t roll it even a little or I end up on crutches, because those tendons have no elasticity left, and instead of rolling a little and bouncing back upright like many people would (and I do on my left ankle!) it just keeps rolling and I end up with a sprain.

Today I had lunch plans with four very slender (let’s say sizes 2 to 6, ish) girls that I work with. Three of them are just plain lucky, they have slender physiques without working hard for it– none engage in regular gym-going or running or anything of the sort. The fourth, poor thing, has Crohn’s disease and has a very tough time digesting many kinds of foods; she basically has to stick with veggies and very lean protein to avoid being in the bathroom all day long. She’s the thinnest of the group and I don’t begrudge her that because the poor thing can’t have ice cream, ever. They are all also at least four inches taller than me.

The place they chose for lunch is about three blocks away, up hill. Okay, that’s really not far enough to justify driving, so we walked. I had no problems with walking, but I’m in these annoyingly high heels (they were all in heels, mine were probably the tallest, though), but I’m seriously a lot shorter than all of them. On the way up, at 11:30 a.m., it wasn’t that gross outside, maybe about 78 degrees or so, sunny, but not gross. On the way back, however, it was easily 90 degrees, the sun was blazing, and it was humid.

And I could not keep up.

I have short legs, a short stride, and going downhill, I am even more careful to keep my stride conservative. I am wearing a black synthetic sheath dress. I am Irish and have pale skin and flush easily. I sweat a lot, either because I am always well-hydrated or because I am just genetically inclined to do so.  And of course, the girls I went to lunch with got impatient with my slowness on the way back to the office, but only in that polite way girls are allowed to show impatience. They’d get a few paces ahead and then relunctantly drop back, and repeat over and over again for the whole three blocks.

At the very last crosswalk, a long one that spans six lanes and is very unevenly paved (making me extra cautious about my ankle in my stupid high heels), we were crossing with a larger group of people that included more than just my immediate group of coworkers. I got about halfway across the crosswalk (there’s still plenty of time to cross, the crosswalk light is still saying “go”), with, of course, them speeding ahead of me, almost to the other curb, and one turns around to say, “Mae, are you okay?” in front of all the strangers.

Goddamn, I wanted to sink into the earth and die. I’m sure to all those strangers I looked fat, sweaty, red, and out of shape. I was clearly slow and now someone that obviously knows me is enquiring about my ability to make it across the  rest of the f#&*ing crosswalk.

I hang my head in shame, and reply a little petulantly, “I’m fine, [Coworker], I’m just slow,”

Some guy in a business suit– young, short himself, thin but with a medium build, turns to me and says, “Its way too hot to be fast, isn’t it?” Obviously he’s trying to commiserate with me, throw some pity on me because he probably sees these four skinny girls harassing the fat girl about whether she can make it across the crosswalk, he probably felt bad for me, and my head-hung ashamed response probably just enhanced the image for him. I know he was (probably) trying to do something nice for me, but it just deepened my shame.

This is why I hate being fat some days, this is why I wish the lap band would have worked for me, this is why I took a match to $10,000 of my own money, this is why I am so crushed by my failure to lose weight with the band.

Yes, if I were slender, I would probably still be slow, probably still have a weak ankle, probably still wear innappropriately high heels, probably still flush easily, probably still a profuse sweater, but, goddamn, at least I wouldn’t be fat and confirming all the fat stereotypes just by walking to and from lunch.

This is the kind of day that in the past, would have sent me home to an empty house and a pizza-cake-candy-ice cream binge and purge. Now I can’t binge and purge, but I also can’t blame society’s stupid prejudices and stereotypes instead of my poor, much-maligned body.

And, sadly, I’m wearing this B&Lu dress today, which I love and until today I thought was wicked cute on me, and if past history is any predictor, I’ll probably be too ashamed to wear it again.


5 Responses to “its not because i’m fat!”

  1. vesta44 Says:

    If you can afford it, and don’t mind how it looks, I’d keep a pair of tennis shoes in the office for when you’re going out to lunch and have to walk up and down hills. At least you’ll have more support for your feet/ankles than in heels (and yeah, you’ll be shorter without the heels, but you won’t have to worry about falling and/or getting a sprain). Having good foot support might make it easier for you to keep up with your friends from work too, because even if you have to take more steps, you won’t have to worry about the placement of your feet on the ground so much.
    I know tennis shoes don’t do much for the look when you’re wearing a dress, but neither does falling and tearing up your dress/hosiery/skin if the ground isn’t the best when you’re in heels (I have a pair of black suede tennis shoes that look ok with tights and a dress).

  2. Mae Says:

    Oh, I can afford it, and I actually do keep a pair of running shoes (a full workout outfit!) in my cube at work because twice a week I go right from work to my running group (and I’m occasionally forgetful).

    Its 100% vanity that made me tramp up the street and back in heels. I just didn’t want to look dumb with the rest of them sashaying up and down the street in their work duds and heels and I’m clodding along in sneaks.

    I know, what a terrible reason.

    I need to get past all my issues with shame, really. I mean, it is slightly bizarre to assume I know exactly what a bunch of strangers were thinking, right?

  3. Please don’t stop wearing the dress! It is adorable.

    Apart from not being short, I have many of the same issues you do. Pale, flush and sweat easily, and a history of ankle sprains. I’m also clumsy and fall easily. If my husband trips over something he’ll sway and right himself. More often than not under the same circumstances I’ll fall down and scrape up my hands or bang my knee. I have also noticed that there isn’t much difference in how much I hate the heat (a lot) at a lower weight or a higher one. I just sweat a lot. My ancestors are from higher latitudes (Ireland on one side and Scandinavia on the other) so perhaps that has something to do with it.

    I know it wasn’t additional attention that you needed at the time, but I really like what that guy said to you. I hope it had a side benefit of making your coworkers feel a little bad for the hurry up, wait, hurry up, wait strategy. I agree with you, though, it’s impossible to know what any onlookers who might have been there were thinking, and it was probably something like “C’mon, light, change, I’m late back to the office” or “Damn, it’s hot.” I don’t really tend to “see” others around me when I’m out walking or driving. (Well, I see them so as to not run them over, but you know what I mean.) In any case, in the future, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reminding the other women that you’re short and can’t walk as fast. Or is there maybe another short coworker you could invite next time? They might be less likely to leave you behind if there is more than one person going more slowly, and if not at least you have someone to walk with.

  4. Mae Says:

    Yeah, he probably was being nice and if I weren’t in such a OMG POOR MEEEEEEEEEE mood I probably would have taken it as such.

  5. Becky Says:

    Yeah, I’m short too and can never keep up either. I always say something like: “Sorry, short legs!”

    And as far as shoes, I have a pair of cute flats (for the summer) and low heeled boots (for the winter) that I wear to and from work (I take the train and have a bit of a walk), and for lunch if I have to be walking. And then change into my ridiculously high heels when I get to the office. Like you, I’m vain so I don’t want to wear sneakers 😛 I’d suggest you do that if you can afford to buy an extra pair of shoes. Just basic black or beige so they go with everything.

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