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LonerBlood

Thoughts from me, Stefanie Sere.

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January 2017

Chubby Girl (Part II): Lucky Grrrl

I wish I had grown up with such an inspiring perspective on life: giving zero fucks about what people think. I’ve always felt restricted from doing stuff where people were going to watch: sports, dance, school plays. I even hated reading aloud in class. All those eyes on me. Yikes!

Growing into a woman, I failed to see this empowering perspective. Being chubby and being ridiculed for it for most of my younger years — up until freshman year in high school — not only made me want to “lay low,” it also led me to “aim low” and pursue the guy who, most likely, nobody wanted to be bothered with. I didn’t go for creeps or ugly dudes, I just went for the freaks and the misunderstood. I set my sight onto people who were emotionally challenged and had little experience with girls. Ya know, the dark, mysterious, brooding type; the kind of guy that I could “fix” and show him the beauty in life; someone I could share the experience of not, typically, being liked.

When my uncle would come for visits, he’d bring my brother, his Godson, a present, but never anything for me. I always wondered why don’t I get something? I assumed that I didn’t receive any gifts because I was a chunkster. And, if my uncle felt that way, surely everybody else did.

The thing is, I really wasn’t that fat. Chubby, yes. But obese or “oh shit, look at that fat little girl,” no. But it’s something that still sticks with me. So many girls and women experience this feeling and have that morphed view of themselves in the mirror. Some of us are willingly fed the colossal bullshit drilled into our heads, from every billboard and magazine cover, that we should look some certain way.

Man, fuck that!

Yet, even I am guilty of buying the bullshit sometimes. I complain about my thighs, my varicose veins, my loosening skin; I hate the feeling of the back fat from my bra; my arms need to be toner, my ass a little higher. It’s all so stupid. With the exception of being healthy and staying fit, the rest of these concerns seem to be a waste of time because, well, we’re lucky to be alive, really.

I’m lucky enough to have legs that are capable: I can walk, and run and skip and jump. I’m lucky enough to have arms to write, to lift my child, and to hug my loves. I’ve got a heart that beats, pumping my blood, and keeping me alive. I’ve got a family that loves me endlessly. These are the things that always help me shift gears in my head: I am perfectly fine and shit ain’t so bad. I don’t need any validation from a man, the man, or anyone.

But for a while, I did. I wanted a guy’s approval. Deep down, way below the feminist in me, there were all of those Daddy-issues: I wanted to feel liked by someone of the male sex. I wanted this imaginary guy to think that I was alright, that I was cool, man.

(Gif courtesy of Phadrus from http://www.imgur.com)

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Chubby Girl (Part I)


“You’re such a fat bitch. Always eating.”

“But. . . I’m eating an apple” was my dumbfounded response.

At the time, I thought that I was looking pretty good. I felt so liberated out of my Catholic school uniform. Standing there on my stoop, guarded by the black wrought-iron fence in front of me, my brick home behind me — I thought I was protected in some way, but not from Vinny.

There were so many kids on my block. We were like cousins and their parents like the aunts and uncles we often saw. They were allowed to yell at us, or give the occasional smack on the back of the head for doing something stupid. The kids that didn’t live on the block we deemed outsiders because we believed we lived on the best block in Brooklyn. West Street is the best street, we’d boast. We kind of did have the best block — I felt a closeness to these families that I’d never have again after moving away in my teens.

Vinny was one of these outsiders. Although he didn’t live on the block, everyone knew him because he was a good friend of Victor’s, the neighbor kid. So unfortunately, he was around a lot. Vinny was meaner than a hungry pregnant lady. He said horrible things about girls and women. At fourteen, how could he possibly know anything about women? He epitomized a lot of the male population in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn: tightly worn button down shirt, chinos, Capezio shoes (think: Jazz dancer), and a sexist view on women. It was like being stuck in the film Saturday Night Fever. No female was safe — Vinny would attack anyone with a vagina. Vinny was definitely an asshole.

The thing about this rotten kid was that he wasn’t thin himself. His belly slightly hung over his belt; his school shirt buttons seemed as if they were going to pop at any given moment. He wasn’t pretty, either. Maybe if he was a pleasant human being it would have excused his greasy black hair, his unibrow, his beady eyes and that stupid, wicked laugh of his, as if he were Vincent Price at the end of Thriller.

Nobody likes to be laughed at.

I soon inspected my after-school fashion choice when he walked away: I wasn’t wearing anything flattering myself. I donned dark and tight denim Jordache jeans accompanied by a brown, knit-like tube top. At age 10, I wasn’t old enough for a witty rebuttal for Vinny’s harsh words, and not really old enough, in my adult opinion, to be wearing such an outfit. But after being in my school uniform all day, I wanted to get home and dress like Donna Summer.

Clothes were a problem for me as a kid. Nothing fit right. Size 14 pants for a ten year old girl looked ridiculous; they were so long — I always had to roll up the bottoms. I knew if I was allowed to don a pair of high-heeled shoes, the pants would have worked out better. My thin friends looked clean and neat whereas I always looked like I got stuffed into my clothing. I might as well have worn a potato sack, with the bottom rolled up.

The girls would roll up their skirts once they got closer to school, showing off their lean legs which looked even thinner in contrast with their big hair. The rolled skirt also brought attention to flat tummies; something I’d witness, not experience. When I would roll up my skirt it would puff out like a 1950’s full circle skirt. Ya know, the ones with an embroidered felt poodle on the bottom of the skirt. Not achieving the look I was going for, nor did I have the confidence to rock that look, I’d end up rolling it back down to above my knee, and abiding by school rules.

Life for us chubby girls back then was unlike the chubbsters of today: we didn’t have any voluptuous role models the way young girls do these days. In the 80s there wasn’t a Beyoncé or a Shakira, nor were there Kardashians and praises for big butts. These days Mandy Kaling’s hips and wit make being “full figured” hot! Christina Hendricks is on fire! When I was a kid I never once saw a woman on television over 115 pounds. Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page were long dead and gone. Everyone in Hollywood was starving themselves. They ate tofu and sipped on wheatgrass. (Californians: way ahead of us New Yorkers with our pizza and chicken parmesan.)

Gladly, in the 21st Century there is so much shit given for anyone who fat-shames another (and rightfully so). I don’t know if the “sizable” kids today are shunned the way I was when I was younger. Kids of all sizes seem more open and willing to try out for the school play, for instance. They’re unabashed on their YouTube channels; they play sports; they wear tight-fitting clothes with a self-confidence I wouldn’t have dared to have as a tubby youngster. These kids have pride. Basically, they don’t give a fuck. They grew up being told that they can do anything. I love it! Fuck it, I say! Do whatever you want, no matter your size.

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