“Why are you so fat?”

I’ve been asked that question before.  Usually from a child who was trying to look innocent – and failing.  That sly look that says they don’t care what I say, they’re trying to make fun of the fattie. 

The most recent time it was from a tall, thin teenager who had looked on edge ever since he walked into the restaurant with a couple who looked so like him they had to be related.  Something about this stance and his face told me he was honestly curious and not aware that the question is considered inappropriate.  

“It’s how I grew,”  I answered.  I could have added that my weight is similar to my mother’s at my age, same as my height is only a couple inches taller than hers, just as his tall, thin frame was very like his parents.   Or that I’d dieted repeatedly to lose weight, and always ended up regaining more than I’d lost.   I could have told him that I quit dieting because I don’t want to gain more weight, or that I’d gone from “overweight” to “obese” when a back injury kicked me to the soccer sidelines at age 13.  But I wasn’t sure how much of this he’d get, and I didn’t want a long conversation and defining terms and citing references while I was still drinking my first cup of coffee.  

The teenager nodded and walked back to his table, where he talked a bit with his parents.  Shortly after he came back, looking sheepish, and apologized for the question.  Later, while he was in the bathroom, his mother – it was his parents with him – apologized as well, noting that he hadn’t realized it was an inappropriate question.  I forget if the word “autism” was mentioned, but the signs were certainly present. 

What surprised me and the man of the house was that I wasn’t upset.  The boy’s question was honest.  He wasn’t trying to make me feel like a freak, and, guess what, he didn’t.  I kind of wish now I had given him a better answer.

2 thoughts on ““Why are you so fat?”

  1. I know what you mean – I was staying at my old advisor’s house last weekend, and her almost five year old daughter asked me why I have a fat belly. My advisor kind of gasped, and I just told the little girl that people come in different shapes and sizes, and my shape was fat. My advisor has repeatedly yo yo dieted, and I wonder what kind of message her kids are getting, that at five years old the girl already saw a fat belly as something outside of the norm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s