This is the first of a few posts about fat. How many is TBD!
Many years ago, when I worked in the banking world, I was in Chicago attending a big trade show. It was the Mortgage Banker Association’s annual meeting and conference, an event akin to the Super Bowl of the banking industry. Legions of bankers in conservative suits, sensible shoes, power ties, and Barbara Bush pearls would make the pilgrimage to Chicago.
The seasonal migration attracted thousands, like the March of the Penguins, to speak their unique and special language to each other. Insider words like “yield spread premium” and “fungibility” rolled off the tongue. The language barrier kept the kids without decoder rings out of the tree house and exacted revenge on all the popular kids who had made them feel like geeks in high school. Bankers valued cerebral talents such as doing long division in your head. In this world, I garnered attention with my mad spreadsheet skills in spite of my disproportionately high waist to hip ratio.
Take Me to Your Leader
These were my people.
My professional niche embraced me. I advanced through the ranks and had a fancy title. I finally felt like “somebody.” At times, I almost forgot that I was, um, in my own words, fat.
That fall Chicago morning and first day of the trade show, I was excited, like it was prom day, only without the humiliation of not being asked. I got up early and went to the hotel’s gym to rub elbows with all the execs—the ones wearing those little round glasses, sitting on recumbent bikes reading the Wall Street Journal. After my workout, I headed back to my room to ready myself. Shower—check. Hair—check. Makeup, pearls, control-top pantyhose, pumps—done! To top it off, I was going to wear my new red suit. Conservative yet bold. If the Wall Street Journal had a centerfold, I felt like a contender. It was a rare occasion where I felt like I looked good. I saw myself in the mirror, and I approved. My game face was on.
I rode the elevator to the lobby and strode confidently out to catch a cab. I nodded to everyone, like Princess Diana on her way to dance with John Travolta. As the bellman opened the door to my taxi, I heard a female voice call from behind me, “Hey, would you mind sharing a cab?”
Enter, Stage Left, Cindy Crawford
I glanced over my shoulder, and there she was. Suddenly time slowed down so that everyone, including me, could take it all in.
She was about six feet tall, her long brown hair was blowing in the wind, the collar was turned up on her white shirt, and she had a sassy scarf tied around her neck. Her long legs swept across the drive, in a tasteful pair of pants and strappy high heel sandals. Yes, she was wearing open-toe shoes to a banking event! She was definitely not an insider, I thought, trying not to look shocked at her exposed and perfectly painted phalanges.
She cast a big white-toothed smile to all of us. Everyone was staring at her, the Glamazon, who looked like Cindy Crawford. In the back of mind, a tiny sarcastic gangster lurked, musing, “Ima cut her.”
I smiled at her, and we spoke pleasantly during the cab ride. She confirmed the obvious; she was not “one of us.” She was a model hired to work at one of the trade show booths. I was, of course disappointed at how friendly and likable she was. But who wouldn’t be nice if they looked like Cindy Crawford? Nevertheless, I felt cheated not being able to find fault with her.
Gazing at her perfect skin, hair and features, my face felt rounder. My already large feet felt bigger. I could feel the waistband of my control tops rolling under the pressure of my belly fat. My game face was crestfallen. She exited the cab and strolled off gracefully, turning heads and drawing attention like a beautiful woman does.
The Cruel Light of Comparison
I had entered the cab feeling like Princess Diana, and I left feeling like Shrek. I let a few moments pass then exited the cab behind the model, feeling my confidence crawl back inside me like a troll retreating under a bridge.
Has comparing yourself to someone else ever made you feel this way? This event occurred close to 20 years ago, back in the days when my identity was intertwined with my weight. I couldn’t separate myself from my fat. In fact I didn’t know there was a distinction.
The blurred line between my weight and my identity was a huge problem. It is for many women I know today. I will steal a phrase from Gwyneth Paltrow and make this assertion: as daughters of a loving heavenly Father we must “consciously uncouple” who we are from this tissue we all have on our bodies that we call fat.
I’m reminded of a quote I saw on the Internet that says it perfectly: “You are not fat. You have fat. You also have fingernails, but you are not fingernails.” I don’t know who said it but I want to hug her.
In Christ, you are a child of God Almighty. Are you ready to divorce your true identity as a child of the King from any and all of the types of tissue you have on your body, including fat, muscle, fingernails, hair, etc?
In my next few posts, we will talk about fat tissue. What is it? How does it get on us? How do we get it off of us? Who are we while all this is going on? It is easier to lose fat tissue when you realize it is not who you are, just something you may have more of than you need. If this is true of you, the next few posts are for you.