Wheaton’s Way

Yes, I am fatter, and thanks for noticing

I know I have written about this subject before. Maybe it was on Facebook. Maybe it was in my diary when I kept one for about three months (the only copy is destroyed, in case any of you were planning to do some detective work), or perhaps it was via email.

The topic this week, dear readers, is learning how to deal with people who criticise your appearance.

I’m actually sure there are those who delight in telling people on the other end of the spectrum that they are too skinny, but I have no personal experience of that for reasons that will become clear.

When I was a teenager growing up here, I was never very svelte. Depending on the fad diet at the time, I went between a size 10 and 14/16. I also had short hair. Short, naturally curly hair. Molly Ringwald and I had a lot in common, except Jake Ryan never materialised in his red sports car to whisk me away, and I never converted a perfectly nice dress into one of her hideous creations. But I digress…

I was out shopping about a week ago and I bumped into a local lady who I hadn’t seen in years. We exchanged the usual pleasantries, and she finally said, “Vicki, you’re expanding.”

I honestly thought she was referring to the various jobs that I did in my life.

“Oh, yes,” I replied. “I can barely keep up!”

“You’re getting too big,” she clarified with a smile.

Ah.

You know, I thought the mirrors in the house were faulty. And the ones in the office, the shops, the bathrooms… Before she pointed out the obvious, I had already decided to withdraw my court case against all the restaurants who I thought were part of a small-chair conspiracy. Unfortunately, I had come to realise that the cresting muffin top I sported whenever I took my seat in an armchair was nothing to do with a narrowing industry trend. I was, as she had rightly pointed out, expanding.

Growing up in Cayman, I’ve been used to this. Whenever I bumped into someone that I observed upping-and-downing me, I would talk even more than usual, a veritable Victoria Falls of one-sided conversation tumbling out of my mouth. I knew that even a quick intake of breath would give them that window of opportunity for which they were waiting so they could give me an update on my girth.

“…I’ve just been so busy

but Mum and Dad are great thanks for asking and have a wonderful day!”

I blame this recent encounter on being out of practice. I just wasn’t expecting it.
When I was younger, people kept telling me it was a compliment when Caribbean people told me I was big. “They think it’s a good thing,” the collective would say in response to my bruised ego.

That reassurance may have carried me through my tender, vulnerable years, but it doesn’t hold any water these days. “You’re getting too big” is a compliment like “Your hair looks like tumbleweed.”

My reactions to such comments have run the gamut from going bananas on the person with cutting remarks, to laughing it off. It usually depends on who is giving me their unwanted opinion.

This time, I composed myself, murmured something like, “Oh, yes, well,” between the tears (artistic licence) and skulked off to the car.

Some of you may say this was all a good thing. Perhaps it was the kick in the size XXL pants I needed to push me to do something about my weight. But then that would mean you don’t know me very well. I’m the kind of childish idiot who would dig in her heels (which I can’t wear because I’m carrying 100 extra pounds around and my swankles would rebel) and sit down to a meal of ice cream topped with Cheetos just to show her that not only do I know I’m too big, but I’m aiming for bigger.

I do hope that as new generations grow up, such comments from anyone but best friends will be considered in poor taste. Problem is, that will be after my time. My only defence is to either outlive those who dispense their opinion so freely or lose the weight. The latter might actually be the easier solution.