Have you seen the move Ratatouille? If you have, then you should understand the following reference: “I’d like a little bit of Perspective. No? Fresh out?”
Over the past month I’ve been served plate after plate of Perspective, in both literal and metaphorical terms. After being abroad for six months, living in Quito, Ecuador, I returned home to live with my parents for a month. Coming home always ends up being a pretty volatile experience. Whether I am home for a week at spring break, or home for a month, or home for an entire summer, by the end of whatever amount of time, I’ve about had it up to here *gestures to neck* with my parents.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love them more than anything. But after an incident last January, my father has gone health psycho. We have a family history of heart disease and high cholesterol, and since my father had to get a stint put in last winter, he’s been a changed man. He’s dropped a ton of weight, and spends his entire life reading books about the “obesity epidemic” or what foods turn off the “sugar addiction” we’ve all been programmed to have. He has literally, in my mind, gone food crazy. He won’t even go near carbs. He doesn’t eat bread. He eats all meat, lots of vegetables, and some dairy. Being very picky about my meat, and having lived as a vegetarian when I was in Ecuador, this has been a lot for me to handle.
But the worst thing is, and a lot of people may understand this, it makes me feel guilty to eat. Knowing that you’re the fat daughter of a man who has changed his life and diet completely around is a lot of pressure. He claims I have a “food addiction.” He compares me to a drug addict. And in the end, it’s like guilt tripping me into being the way he wants. I know that if I were to start to majorly lose weight, it would have to be my decision. But I know that I have to get healthier. I know what I have to do, and I have the tools to do it. It’s just…I want it to be a thing I do for myself, my own reasons, no one else’s.
Every plate of food my mom served me, I felt like I was being judged. Put up on the scales for all to see. Lined up like a criminal to be picked out for overeating. Worst of all, it made me crave, made me want to eat even more, and then I felt even guiltier. Plate after plate of guilt. Of anger at myself. Of a very negative perspective.
But I tried not to care. I had dropped some weight in Ecuador, and that made me feel more confident. I visited a plus size friend from school, and we shopped together for clothes at Lane Bryant–the first time I’d ever really shopped with another plus size woman. We returned to her apartment and showed off for all of our other friends. And I was overwhelmed with the positivity of it all. They all ooo-ed and ahhh-ed and said we were beautiful. And for the first time in my life I honestly I felt beautiful, happy, confident. It was like being a new me.
Returning home after a long weekend with friends, things had changed for me. Everything I felt guilty about before started to turn into pity for my parents. My mother, who loves chocolate, ice cream, coca cola, everything that’s terrible for you, acted like a starved woman every time we were around desserts. It was like she was having to censor herself, and not enjoy food the way I do. She’d take two bites and say, “Oh, this is terrible for me.” and then put her fork down. Well, bravo for her willpower, but how sad is that? Two bites and your out. She curbed her guilt by forgetting about the pleasures of food. And I realized that’s not how I wanted to live. Life is too short to shun the things that makes us happy. Sure, have them in moderation, but jeeze, don’t lose the joy. Don’t completely cut them out! Now the plates would come, and I would happily eat. I didn’t feel judged. I felt like I was beautiful. New plates of perspective: acceptance of self.
For 20 years I’ve seen my weight as a burden. It’s been such a big thing in my life. It’s been my excuse not to live, my excuse why that boy didn’t like me, my excuse why I’m not popular, my excuse why I wasn’t cast in one play or another. It was my excuse not to let go of my inhibitions. My excuse not to be myself.
And now, it’s my reason to care. I’m sick of the world telling me I’m ugly because I’m fat. I’m sick of the world calling me fat like it’s a derogatory remark. And I’m sick of taking it as one.
So now I say, thank God for all those plates of perspective. And please, keep them coming. I like mine extra chocolate-y and little gooey in the middle.