Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, relationships, Uncategorized

Oh great, another fat girl post.

Yeah, I know. You’re sick of hearing about the body positivity movement. Because really, body positivity? You mean Obesity Apologists. Or Obesity Glorification. Am I right? How dare fat people, especially fat women, think that it is okay to flaunt their fat all over town? Don’t they know that it’s unhealthy? Not only that, but it offends my eyes! How dare they make me look at them!

Okay, please don’t take that seriously. And I know, you probably are sick about hearing about body positivity. But it’s still a problem. Here’s why.

This exact picture popped up in my news feed on Facebook. And sure, I agree that neither of these extremes are healthy. But what really bothered me were the comments on it. People blaming fat people. People talking about how disgusting those people are. Comments on how lazy fat people are, and how they just need to put the sandwich down.

Sure, some people have these problems because they can’t stop eating. But I find it hard to believe that it is simply that easy. If it was, why would so many Americans be considered overweight? I know all sorts of people who are overweight, and none of them sit there and stuff their faces all day.

Instead, the people who I know, and the person I am, seem to think that there is no way to fix the problem. Because it is a problem. We know it’s a problem. But there are often too many things to do in the day and not enough time to take care of ourselves.

And why would we take care of ourselves? We are told that we are less than. We are told that even though we may be “beautiful on the inside,” we are trapped within these bodies that will make sure that no one cares about our personalities. Why would you fix something you hate? You’d much rather tear it down or let it rot.

And even if people don’t constantly tell us that we’re not worthy of being considered human, they don’t have to. When was the last time that you saw a girl bigger than a size 8 on a TV show playing the romantic lead? When was the last time that she was anything mroe than the comic relief, or the good friend? Maybe she’s the drunk girl. But skinny girls? Even if they’re underweight, we see them as salvagable, as worthy of love.

So yeah, I don’t think that this picture is an accurate representation. Neither of those things is a good thing, but one of them is always seen as better. But you know what’s best? Loving who you are regardless of the outer trappings. Put work into the house that you love. Know that it is worthy of working on. Don’t let other people tear you down. Remember, you are more than just your body. You are a whole person who has feelings, desires, dreams, and goals.

I may not always love myself, but I know that I am worth fighting for. I have a son and a husband that I want to be around for. I want to feel strong and beautiful. And when I make those changes, it won’t be because other people have made me feel ugly and fat. It will be because I love me, and I want to be around for as long as possible. Body positivity means believing that you have the strength to do anything, including rebuilding the foundations of your “fixer-upper.”

 

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Posted in Random Thoughts

Within these Walls

Often I think about the impact that a teacher makes on her classroom.  I think I’ve written about it more than once.

It’s hard to express what happens to your heart as a teacher.  What happens with every group of students that enters your classroom. About the joy and love that you feel for them. About the guilt that you may feel when you finally decide that you may need to take a step back and try something else.

As a freshman, I remember her sitting there in the back corner of the class, obviously troubled.  Who was I to kid? They were all troubled in their own little ways.  But that day, she seemed more out of tune than any other. Another of my students went to her and they talked in hushed whispers about whatever it was that was going on in her life. As class ended, I saw her place a razor blade in the other girl’s hand, taken from concealment in her pencil pouch. I didn’t embarass her with her obvious shame. I went and told the counselor.  They committed her for a day or two, and when she came back, she thanked me.  Thanked me for caring enough to say something, for making her parents notice, even just for a moment.

***

I was standing in the hallway, watching the traffic jam of students that spread like the tentacles of an amoeba. All of a sudden, she raced around the corner, tears in her eyes, and she looked at me and asked simply, “Can I please just have a hug?”  I wrapped my arms around her, and she cried, never telling me what it was that had caused her tears.  I didn’t need to know.  And she didn’t need to talk about it.  She just needed someone to hold her so that she didn’t feel so alone with her tears.

***

It was two years after she had graduated.  She came back to visit, bright eyed and bushy tailed.  She loved everything about the college she was attending.  It had never been better. But then she stopped and looked at me seriously.  “I don’t think I ever told you how glad I was to have you as a teacher.  How much you helped me through that first year.” Tears welled up in her eyes, and I found my own composure cracking. “You may not have known it, but you were the best teacher I ever had.” I cried there in front of her, and she cried too, and we laughed through the tears at the rediculousness of it all.

***

He had graduated the year before.  I hadn’t taught him in four years, but I remember his freshman year well.  The one day when the girl said something to set him off.  Anger flared in his eyes, this man trapped in a boy’s body.  He yelled and railed against whatever invisible daemon he was fighting, fist meeting the metal of my filing cabinet one, two, three times, leaving knuckle dents that still grace its surface twelve years later.  I was scared for him, scared for us.  The year ended, and I never knew what had happened to him to make him so full of emotion.  But talking with another teacher I learned that he was living in shelters, bouncing from one place to the next.  His constant companions were rats and mice and hunger.  He never knew where he was going to end up next or where his next meal would come from.  I see his smiling face in my Facebook feed, a member of the military, all traces of that life seemingly gone from him, save for the small glint in his eye that speaks of things from that other time.

They run together sometimes, the stories that have come and go from the lips and fingers of my students.  One student in jail because he murdered someone.  Other students lost along the way.  One shot at gunpoint.  A few married with kids.  Some still struggling to make ends meet. Others flourishing.  And I know that maybe in some way, they all remember me just a little.  I remember them.  I may not remember a name, but a face and a story, that will always be there.

And so if I walk away from this classroom, find that choices have taken me someplace else, I will take those memories with me.  A stack of drawings given freely.  The Christmas picture of my class and me, hugging and smiling.  The video of my seniors presenting songs and skits, some not appreciated nearly enough.  And I will look at them. And I will smile.  And I will try to remember, that I made a difference. Even if just for a moment.