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On Being the Fattest Person at the Gym

By Emily Milner

Twenty years ago, when I was on my mission in Ecuador, I weighed approximately 110 pounds less than I do now. I lost weight within the first few months I was there, from a combination of walking about ten miles a day, having intestinal parasites, and being unfamiliar with and unaccustomed to the food. When I returned home I was skinny to the point of looking slightly unhealthy.

No one could accuse me of that now. Instead I am fat. I’ve listened to a couple of Teri Gross’s interviews with fat women, and it’s interesting because she’s always very careful to refer to fatness in the way that the women are comfortable with. Would you rather I say overweight than fat? she asks.

No, they say. Fat is fine. I’m fat. You can say fat.

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I remember as a child being happy my mom was thin and pretty, unlike some dumpy fat moms I had seen at church. “I’m so glad you’re pretty,” I said. “And not fat.” She didn’t want me to think that; she wanted me to be kinder to the moms who were fat. But all I could see, as a child, was that my mom was undeniably skinnier and therefore prettier than the other moms.

My kids will never have that same pleasure in a thin, pretty mom.

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