Saturday, November 13, 2010
Despite the fact that when I was born I weighed "eight pounds, two and a half ounces" - a weight that has been drilled into my head as being HUMONGOUS for a baby in those days (I had a big head and gave my mother an especially long and arduous labour which she won't ever let me live down), I have also been referred to for most of my life as "tiny".
It is true that in my adult life, the tallest I'm ever going to be is 5'2" (if I'm lucky). I know I'm probably going to get shorter from here on out - my grandmother is shrinking as we speak and now stands at a mere 4'9". My mother and I stand about the same height, though I think at times, she might have a fraction of an inch on me. I'm little. And now, I'm getting even smaller.
Mom loves to talk about when I was 3, how I was just "a little slip of a thing" - so tiny, so delicate. I was a dancer, I was active, and I was a beautiful child. I can say it - I was frickin CUTE - I hope that my kids look like I did when I was young, unless the man I marry is even cuter than I was - hehe.
But then the weight gain started. And people stopped calling me tiny. They would still call me beautiful, but let's be honest - calling someone beautiful who is grossly overweight always seems to come with a caveat. And it becomes harder and harder to hear and to believe. I was still short, but I was no longer "sleight" or "delicate" or "petite". I grew to be wider across than I was up and down. And I lost my "tiny".
Instead I became known as "larger than life", "boisterous", "big", "powerful" - and to get things done I really knew how to "throw my weight around". I began to identify with that. I began to make excuses for the fat - I needed the fat to be present in a room. I needed the fat to get noticed, to be someone, so that I wouldn't be a shrinking violet. The fat became a good thing because it made me powerful. It showed everyone who was boss. Don't cross me or I might sit on you, or worse - I might eat you. Ridiculous, but who's going to argue with the fat chick?
Yesterday in the office my co-worker and I were talking about running as we now so often do. She paused for a minute, looked at me really hard and said "You know, I never really noticed how TINY you really are. I guess because you were..." she trailed off, but I completed the sentence for her - "So very, very big" I said. "Yeah," she said "I just assumed that you were bigger and taller than you really are. You're tiny." "And I'm getting tinier!" I said back. We both laughed.
Tiny. I've missed that word. I like that word. Just because I'm tiny doesn't mean I can't be powerful. Being tiny doesn't make me less of a person. In fact, being tiny in this case makes me more of a person. For so many years I have needed the weight to literally give me a space in the world. But bit by bit, as the weight comes off, I'm learning that I'm not really shrinking. The ME inside is not shrinking. She's still loud, and boisterous, and big, and larger than life, without the over-sized exterior. But what's really great is that she can also be timid, and meek, and quiet, and personal if she wants to be, without the fat to get in the way of that.
I'm re-claiming my "Tiny". I can't wait to be REALLY tiny. Because "tiny" is not a reflection of the person I am inside, it's just the super cute and fabulous package that it comes in.