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 practicing 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.

 

 

 

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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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