No fat women live in the Marina, the shuttle bus driver told me.
"They all take care of themselves," he said, and then he casually added this shocker:
Yes, he was handing me a line, but despite the driver’s stated stereotype, I know that there are fat women who live near the coast. Not long ago I was one of them.
Until recently, I carried more than 200 pounds -- oftentimes well over 200 pounds -- on my 5'7" frame. After losing 75 pounds and dropping from a size 20 to a size 12 over the last year, my world has taken a surreal turn: I'm now masquerading as a woman who takes care of herself, and I catch the eyes of strangers.
Life is different for my thinner body. It wasn’t bad for my fat body, but now that I’m simply chubby instead of morbidly obese, I’ve noticed a lot of differences, just in going about my daily life.
I get more genuine smiles from clerks in stores or the local baristas.
I see grey-templed heads turning as I pass.
I get chatted up at the grocery store or on the shuttle bus. All kinds of men, but particularly the middle-aged ones, start telling me – not-so-subtly, at first meeting -- about their workout routines.
I’m much more fascinating to talk to at parties.
And, I’m learning to be careful not to smile too much or be too attentive to men who aren't my husband.
That last one was the biggest shock. I didn’t realize that I had gotten away with being a bit of a flirt when I was fat and no one looked twice at me; now, I definitely have to tone things down a bit. I’m married and happy to be that way. It hadn't crossed my mind that talking with and smiling at men would give them the wrong idea as to my intentions – it certainly didn’t 75 pounds ago.
One theory, though, is that it’s not totally my weight but my level of confidence that has been the major change. I’m not anywhere near gorgeous, particularly in a city with as many pretty women as L.A. Plus, at 41, I’m not young, and I’m not medically enhanced in any way. But, after losing the weight and exercising regularly, I feel as though I’m 25. My husband says, “You have your strut back.”
It could very well be that strut – as well as improved grooming that comes from feeling so good – that is drawing the looks and the lines. As I was gaining weight, I wasn’t happy about it, and I wasn’t focusing any attention on my appearance. Now I dress a lot better, and I’m figuring out how to wear clothes that flatter my changing shape even more.
For me, the biggest block to slimming down hasn’t been the effort of hours with the weights and the treadmill or the longing for a dessert deferred, it’s been the removal of the shield of invisibility that carrying too many extra pounds brings.
When I first became aware that I was being looked at, my weight loss stalled; now that I am learning to accept the eyes newly drawn me and am figuring out how to behave again, I’m confident the last 30 pounds will disappear as well.
A Foot Update
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