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The Elephant in the Room

June 19, 2011

She stands there, invisible in her excess flesh, trying to squeeze herself into a smaller space so as not to draw attention to herself.  She has made an effort; left the house with a confident bounce in her step.  Make-up perfect, clothing attractive but not inappropriate (god forbid she should also be mutton dressed as lamb), hair neatly styled.  She looked good.  Until she arrived, and saw ‘other women’.  She did not want to be in competition, she would lose.  She would always lose.  She did not conform, did not fit the mould.  Her flesh would fill two moulds, and still spill over the edges.  She would make two of her, and her, and three of her.

She turned away from others, clutching her drink and wishing she felt comfortable.  She knows these people, they are friends, acquaintances, friends of acquaintances and acquaintances of friends.  They accept her.  They love her.  They repeatedly tell her how good she looks, but she can hear the unspoken “for your size”, soon to have “for your age” added to it.

Men find her attractive, she has not been alone always.  She has had lovers, who grabbed her, touched her, made her mind reel and body arch.  But.  But…

It was not the judgement of her friends she feared, it was their thoughtless words.  The complaints of how fat they were feeling – they were still slimmer than her, did they not understand that to judge themselves was to judge her, and to find her wanting?  She was healthy, more so than most of her slimmer friends.  But that is not what is desired, it is not health but lack of space that women were intended to inhabit.  Slimmer, smaller, feminine, curves which please but don’t invade, dainty.  Don’t take up the space you need, your flesh is too much, too overt, too in-your-face.  Your womanhood is too much, too overt, too in-your-face.

Her body did not conform, it was not meant to.  It was not natural for her to conform to that slender type.   Her body had a code it should conform to, and it didn’t.  The code was distorted, it had a virus, it expanded where it should contract.

She was the elephant in the room, the woman other women feared they might be, the woman men feared they might end up with.  She would reflect badly on their social status, she was not a 10 or even an 8.  She was fat, she was a 4 at best.  Rated, slated, put in the discarded pile.

The elephant in the room, too scared to imbibe for fear of judgement, too scared to mingle for fear of rejection.  Too big to be seen, too big to see.  Too big.  Just too, too.

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From → Ideology, political, Prose

4 Comments
  1. One of the best things I ever read was a comment that it was a sad commentary on the state of the world if the best thing a woman could be was smaller, less.

    Fuck that noise. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Always have; always will. The sooner everyone accepts that, the sooner we can all live in peace, and live with peace within.

  2. Lisa B permalink

    I am a 5 foot 10 inch tall woman. I take up too much room too.

  3. Tracey Corbett permalink

    As always, superbly written – you really should write more. You capture a lot of curvey womens thoughts, mine included x

  4. Not just women, I can assure you from a point of primary sourcing that the feeling mirrors that of those of us males who take up too much room. The pressures, whilst expressing themselves through different methods are nevertheless as isolating and mentally debilitating. The defence mechanisms are either bravado, the mask that hides the self or getting in with the insults first and confining the nature of the hurt to known parameters in the hope that attention drifts elsewhere.

    No matter how many mantras of self-affirmation one may try to cite it is not a question of reality but of the subjective way in which one sees oneself in it. Self-awareness can be a good thing in moderation but when it becomes merely a weapon against any self-confidence it is the hidden dungeon for no-one sees the shackles of the mind.

    Your piece is written with much heart and soul and does indeed show that within our seemingly comfortable Western world confines society is creating the sort of damage which permeates the generations and will be irreparable if not halted.

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