In keeping with the preparations for my big conference in 11 days, I want to continue on a similar vein of thought as the last blog: personal introspection. You see, as I have been blogging and writing and exercising and dieting, this whole time something big has been changing in me. I am still figuring this one out, but I am learning something I never realized before. It is time for me to stop buying in to the “fat chick syndrome,” and I think this in an important step that we all need to do. Perhaps I should explain…
Fat Chick Syndrome: (Noun) (Entirely made up by me, of course) The chronic idea that we are less capable than other women, even though technically we are more. (Sometimes according to the scale- substantially more!) This plagues women of any shape, and is dependent upon who they are standing next to at any particular moment. It dwarfs any compelling attributes a girl might possess (brains, talent, skill, etc.) and zones in on the size of her thighs, buttocks, and post pregnancy belly that never bounced back, leading to instant meltdown of mental capacities and often crying while running to the bathroom to compose one’s self. This syndrome is highly volatile, and when mixed with PMS can be deadly to anyone standing close or within cellular signal range. FCS can lead to loss of dreams and/or hope, and lack of self-esteem. Side effects may include ravenous cravings for chocolate, Twinkies, and ice cream directly from the carton, and could lead to weight gain, which does nothing but only frustrate the problem further.
Now, this is the dilemma. I am supposed to walk into a conference with 575 other women, be myself, and be confident. Mathematically this is utterly impossible. Standing next to a size 4 (who probably ate a pound of bacon for breakfast) immediately causes me to feel that I am less of a woman. So am I less capable because of what I look like?
The idea of body image has been so engrained into our psyches from an early age that it's pathetic. Let’s take a look at the toys we played with as children. Like Barbie. You may have read this before, but if Barbie was a real girl, and not a doll, she would be 5ft9, and have bust-waist-hip measurements of 36-18-33.* On a side note, she would not have enough fat in her body for periods, so there’s a bonus with no strings attached (groan), but over all, this is a ridiculous image that we give girls from the time they are 3. We all have bought into this lie, that Barbie’s are the pretty ones. They can have fat friends, but Barbie gets the dream car, the dream house, the dream guy…you get the idea.
A few years ago, the movie Hairspray came out, and just like every teen sensation movie, dolls were made for the masses. The main character is Tracey Turnblad, who is a heavy set girl like the majority of us. And her doll was manufactured accordingly. As you may expect, these Tracey dolls, plump and plastic, ended up on the clearance rack at your local Walmart. Why? Because nobody plays with the fat girl.
So this is the stereotype we are facing. Even now, 55 pounds smaller, I had a woman, bigger than me, who overheard me talking in an office one day last week. I was sharing about the blog, and made the comment that I was the pied piper of fat chicks everywhere. She immediately looked me up one side and down the other, then asked, “Yeah, but what do you consider fat? You aren’t fat at all!” And her Fat Girl Syndrome kicked in.
Immediately, I whipped out before pictures and smoothed it over, showing her I was once fat myself, and really am mentally still a fat girl, because as long as there is a place called Hollywood, I will always be bigger than someone. And chances are someone will be bigger than me. And we will always struggle with feeling inferior.
I am not going to look at the spiritual side of confidence at the moment. I may save that for another blog entirely, but Isaiah 32:17, Jeremiah 17:7, and especially 2 Corinthians 3:3–5 have wonderful truths about having confidence in the Lord. I hope that if you are curious about them, you will seek these scriptures out and discover the confidence one can have in the Lord.I know full well that I indeed have that confidence in the Lord and His plan for my life. There is no shred of doubt about that.
What I don’t have is confidence in is myself. I have this wonderful self destructive nature that thwarts any plans laid out before me. And I owe it all to Fat Girl Syndrome.
How can one overcome this awful affliction that we so quickly pick up? Inferiority is a complex beast, and we will never please everyone. It’s just not going to happen. However, with some careful observation, we will see that this syndrome gives us a distinct advantage over those we are standing next to.
I don’t know about you, but having been a lifelong fatty, I have really had to work hard on my skills, talents, etc. to overcome the competition. (Please note, the girls I am going to the conference with are not my competition. They are sweet sisters in Christ that I cannot wait to get my hands on and hug and love, just like I do all of you! This is not a game to be played, but real lives and feelings we are talking about) That being said, my confidence can be found in this way. THEY ALL FEEL THE SAME WAY. Every woman feels inferior when surrounded by other girls. It is our nature.
So, instead of shirking away from the fact that we are all scared out of our wits that someone is better than us, I say: LET’S EMBRACE IT! Let’s learn from one another. Instead of ending up in the gossip trap where we tear apart the other’s hair style, outfit choice, or various other outside characteristics, we- as a collective group of women- must commit to building one another up. Being transparent and honest. We need to be real.
Because the reality is that I will not be the most talented girl in the room. I will not be the most funny person there. I won’t be the thinnest or the prettiest. But I will be the only girl named Charlie with a blog about her huge butt and how she is shrinking it. I will be the only one there with a manuscript called “My Thinking Cap Ran out of Batteries” that discusses the implications on my faith when Tim took a carton of ice cream to pre-school in his backpack. No one else can do those things. Fat or not, I’m bringing something besides junk food to the table.
My plan of action is to find a woman who is hiding in the corner at the conference, or running to the bathroom with tears streaming down her face because of Fat Girl Syndrome, and help her feel confident again. I will talk, laugh and pray with anyone that looks like they need a friend or a kind word. I will remember it is only by the grace of God that I have been able to overcome the syndrome myself, and maybe I’ll get to tell my story to a woman who has lost her hope. Whose dreams are slipping through her fingers. Who has given up, just like me a year ago.
Confidence has nothing to do with our size. It has everything to do with our willingness to go the extra mile and show a sister a little compassion. To be a friend. Not a Polly Esther kind of friend, but a real breathing person who takes your hand and reminds you that you aren’t alone.
So beat that, Barbie.
Lord, M.G. Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1994.
O’Sickey, Ingeborg Majer. “Barbie Magazine and the Aesthetic Commodification of Girls’ Bodies.” On Fashion. Ed. Shari Benstock and Suzanne Ferriss. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994.
tales of the cupcake part one
1 day ago