I am not one of those people who tries to pretend there is some upside to being born a female. I just try to remind myself things like "at least I'm not blind!" and "at least I wasn't born in Algeria!" etc. etc. when I get all "victim"-y feeling about it. Because we get less pay and less respect and more hormones and more emotions and more responsibilities and more vulnerability to STDs and, it even turns out today, we get more emotional distress when our husbands or boyfriends get cancer than they even do.So anyway, no, this revelation is not going to shock you anymore than it would Judd Apatow, but it is much easier to be a fat boy than it is a fat girl. Writer Sandy Hingston has a chubby son and daughter, and while the son, a football player, looks at his size as something of an awesome feat, her daughter got an eating disorder. "By 10th grade, she was Kate Moss-thin. I was impressed by her self-control — until her hair began to fall out in clumps."
With the help of a therapist, she conquered her eating disorder. But now I was totally confused on what messages to send my kids about food. Of course I wanted Marcy healthy — but damn, she sure had looked good when she was thin. Except for the hair.Hingston (a former colleague of mine, full disclosure) writes with an almost morbid fascination at her son's swelling size:
ake got big like a beanstalk, like a fairy-tale mushroom, big like Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Jake got big overnight, went from boy to man in a twinkling, so quickly that I really thought if I sat by his bed, I could see him grow. His feet and hands turned massive. His forearms became immense.And with little but resigned sympathy at her daughter's trip back up the scale:
Last summer, a few months before my dad died, Marcy and I went to visit him. As she settled in beside him on his sofa, he observed, with cruel accuracy, "You look like you're putting on some weight." Marcy burst into tears and ran out of the room. I wanted to run as well, from a rush of old memories: Dad tucking a slim sister on either side of me before snapping the picture for our Christmas card. Dad frowning at me at Thanksgiving dinner, scolding "Not so much pie!" in front of everyone. Dad offering to pay me a hundred bucks if I'd just lose 25 pounds ... He was a kind man, a good man, but he didn't understand about girls and size and shame. Though he did realize something was amiss, at least: On our next visit, he confided to me that he'd told a number of female friends about his remark to Marcy, and that every last one of them upbraided him for being a heartless pig. Jake happened to be along on this visit, and Dad took the opportunity to ask him: "So, what do you weigh these days?"Ugh. I know it's wrong to speak ill of the dead, but fuck him. Alas, Hingston's only consolation for her daughter is that she someday gives birth to a fat son:
"Three hundred 20," Jake said.
My dad smiled indulgently. Then he turned and asked me, "How can two kids be so different?"
I hope she has sons someday. I hope they're big, too. I hope she gets the chance to revel in what otherwise has been a curse for her. It doesn't make up for society's scorn, not completely. But it's oddly, beautifully empowering, just the same.Ugh. You know what sounds more empowering than giving birth right now? Beer.
Living Large [Philadelphia Magazine]