I attended a yoga and creative writing workshop in Nottingham last week.  It was the first time I’d done anything like this and when I booked I remember thinking ‘why not?’.  As the day got nearer I was thinking more along the lines of ‘should I?’ and for a split second considered bailing out and not going.  But since I’d booked a hotel for the night…

It was a small group.  The woman leading the workshop was fat,  as were most of the others in the room.  Including me.  I remember thinking that this was probably the first time in my life that I was not the odd one out, not the fat woman sticking out like a sore thumb.  Not just in the exercise class scenario but generally in life, in my life, with my friends and family.

It was a peculiar sensation.

I don’t like to think of myself as an oddity, as someone who is dependent on the good will and toleration of others.  I prefer to think of myself as a force to be reckoned with, someone with the confidence to live a life well.  Who wouldn’t?  Unfortunately the truth is that for most of the time I am ashamed and embarrassed by my size and therefore at the mercy of the (negative) opinions of others – real or imagined.

And all this was brought into sharp relief by its absence.  Experiencing what it was like not to be the anomaly was when I really experienced how acutely aware I am, always, every day, every minute, that I am the odd one out, that I am that sore thumb, that I am usually the fattest person in the room.  Sadness came when I acknowledged how wearing all this is and how tense it makes me.  In that room in Nottingham just for a few hours I was the same.  That was wonderful.

In that workshop I really didn’t have to worry, on any level, about being fat and practising yoga.  I did not feel defensive or threatened.  I did not feel less than, unworthy or embarrassed.  I was able to relax.

So a positive experience which fuelled my sense of well-being.  However lurking in the wings, and forever in my sights, is the time bomb of obesity and the fear of fat.  It seems a day doesn’t go by without some research conclusion highlighting the links between fat and every possible way there is to die – cancer, dementia, heart failure – the list goes on.  As if skinny people are immortal.  On my way to an early death I will have to contend with diabetes, sleep apnoea and shattered joints.  Might as well shoot me now.  I’m fat and am going to die soon anyway.  And yet I thrive.  Like a weed.

The relentless commentary about obesity and the need to eradicate it (and therefore me!) takes its toll.  I am tempted to try to manipulate my weight (again), even though I know it is pointless, unsustainable and potentially damaging.  I resurrect feelings of despair about being alive in this fat body, about being that aberration draining the resources of the NHS.

So perhaps it is understandable I should be so excited that for a few hours in a room in Nottingham I felt safe, welcomed and respected.

But also how sad.





One thought on “Not the sore thumb

  1. Can so relate! And…it is sad and angering. Thanks for putting into words what I have often felt existing as a fat woman in our world. Yes…I am much more than a fat woman. But I am a fat woman.

    Liked by 1 person

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