Friday, July 31, 2015

The Biggest Little Ballerina

 “Rubenesque: the word for masterpiece curves. Screw you, unsalted rice cakes.” -Christine Heppermann

Over 75% of my life I have been overweight. The euphemisms thrown at me weren't necessarily soothing. I have been called fat, plump, chubby, cuddly, hearty, healthy and someone even dropped the word fluffy once like I'm somebody's pet.
When I was too old to hide behind my mother's skirts I would beg her to let me wear my hair down instead of the usual ponytail or braids. People would always be distracted by that part of my appearance because my hair was long, thick, and curly and if my father hadn't been a barber I would have let it grow down to my ankles as long as it kept comments away from my physical stature.

My Parents wouldn't let me take dance lessons. My mother was raised in a strict church that called it a sin. Sometimes I would pull down the shades, close the door and twirl around the room. My brother caught me dancing once, and he laughed and said I couldn't be a ballerina because I was too fat. He didn't tell my mom that he found me dancing but I believe getting in trouble would have hurt less than his words that would forever haunt my conscience. All I wanted was to dance ballet like my cousin Nicole who was everything I wasn't including thin. Whenever I was spotted climbing trees in my Sunday dresses or making mud pies, my mother would ask why I couldn't be more like Nicole. However, now that I was showing interest in something that Nicole was doing like dancing I was told “No”. I dared not bring up the subject again out of fear of a lecture pertaining to what is and isn't a sin. I just couldn't understand how a beautiful form of communication could be sin so unbeknownst to my parents I found a friend who lived nearby and was taking ballet. I gave a quarter every time she taught me what she learned in class.
Pretty soon I began to realize that dancing wouldn't have made things better, but worse. Even if my parents would have allowed it; I would have stuck out like a sore thumb. I would have been the center of attention, not for my hair or my dancing but because I would have been the biggest little ballerina.

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror trying to brush the red dirt from my new shorts. My legs were covered in stinging welts, some were bleeding and I had two big blotches of blood caked with dirt and grass that clung to my knees. I slowly removed my shirt and with tears clouding my eyes I saw red teeth marks on my chest and I cried. I wasn't crying because I was in pain. I cried because there was evidence that I had been violated, that it had really happened and it wasn't a nightmare. I starred at the mirror at my chest and immediately felt shame because it stuck out slightly. A fat girl problem mocking being an early bloomer but I was only six years old. I didn't tell anyone about the violations but I wished I did because it occurred many times afterward.

In school I discovered how much I hated other kids. Their mean and cruel taunts pierced my confidence and gave me a new hatred for my last name. I was easy prey and became a loner but not by choice. The boys in my neighborhood that lured me into the woods to beat and rape me promised not to tease me as long as I continued to let them touch me. I still hate myself for allowing it. I still can't forgive myself for not telling. I would go to bed crying every night praying and asking God to please stop the knotting pain of guilt in my stomach and to please not send me to hell for my dishonor. The knotting pain wouldn't go away and I ripped the pages of my diary into tiny pieces and buried them in the back yard because I thought I was dying and I didn't want anyone to read about what a bad girl I was.

In high school I was still known as the fat girl but I now had the camaraderie of many others. I was still a loner but had a few friends. My friends thought I was funny and they liked my stories of misfit teens and my poems that made fun at the expense of world problems and situations. I also sketched uncanny likenesses of my teachers and sold them for a dollar a piece (five bucks if you wanted darts to go along with it). Being called the fat girl lost some of its sting. I'm not sure if was because there were others like me or I just got used to it.

People who are overweight don't want unsolicited advice. Guess what. We know we're fat. We live in homes with mirrors.” - Al Roker