Saturday, March 3, 2012

Julie

In a previous post, I wrote about my experience in high school with a girl named Julie who delighted more than others in tormenting me about my weight. I also mentioned that she had joined Facebook, though she had not requested me as a friend. Several days ago, she did request me as a friend and I accepted. This answered a question that had been on my mind since other people had discussed getting her to join our former class online. That question was, "was she now fat?" If you have read my other post, you will understand why this was something I would wonder about.

The main issue with fatness is that anyone who is very fat will likely avoid posting a picture of themselves. Julie's profile picture is the default grey box with white silhouette that Facebook gives everyone and she had not posted pictures of herself in her albums. However, someone tagged her in the background of a picture of two other people and revealed her current appearance. She has become extremely obese, likely close to or as heavy as I was at my highest weight.

My response to this is absolutely not a sense of triumph at the justice meted out by the universe. While I am happy that my life has been going so well, I find that I don't need others lives to be comparatively worse to feel satisfied with who I am and how I live. I mainly feel sad for her, though I'd be lying if there weren't a tiny little seed that is gratified that it is very likely she can't help but have some empathy for the fat girl she tortured in high school. I don't want her to suffer as I have, but I do want her to understand what it was like to be me and never treat another person as poorly as she treated me. Empathy is a powerful teacher and if she had to get that fat to ensure that she never hurts another fat person again, I think that is not the worst outcome.

I'm aware that I may be reaching conclusions with little more than a photo of a very fat woman as evidence. Just because she looks to weigh well over 300 lbs., it does not mean she is unhappy. Happiness, like health, is not directly related to weight. She may fully embrace bodily acceptance and be happy with who she is despite her size. However, I know too well how unlikely that is for many reasons. First of all, society makes it extremely hard to be happy at a high weight. Even if you have no health or mobility issues as a result, you are constantly reminded that you are a blight on society. Second, someone who does not post pictures of themselves and used their young, thin daughter's face as their profile picture (only to withdraw it later) is not demonstrating much in the way of bodily acceptance. For me, one thing which I forced myself to do at one point was to start putting my face out there for people to see. This was a form of accepting my appearance. Finally, Julie spent many of our youthful years using my fat body to elevate herself. There is little chance that she's now just peachy with a body which exceeds my high weight in high school.

Seeing this person who brought such misery to me in my youth end up fatter than me has been a complex emotional experience. I didn't expect necessarily to be basking in schadenfreude, so it's no surprise that I'm not doing a happy dance that my former bully is currently living out my former nightmare. Mainly, I find myself having to push a little harder to find my empathy for a fat person. This is something which has come easily for me for nearly everyone else with weight issues because I always had 100% understanding of their suffering. In her case, I think I'm having to push myself to find that kind place in myself for her. I feel little for her either way. That is, little happiness at what could be seen as a proper comeuppance and little sorrow that she is likely suffering. Considering how much glee she took in inflicting pain on me in my youth, I think I'm doing pretty well to be in neutral about her right now.

8 comments:

Princess Dieter said...

This is where my dark little side comes out. I'd be whooping it up with, 'karma's a bitch, babycakes"...and leaving a wall message encouraging posting of pics. Yeah, I can be bad. Especially to tormentors from ye olden days.

Yup. Being fat in a thin-loving society is hard, hard. I had lots of happiness in my obese years, but these came from love, relationships,and doing stuff I enjoy. Not from my body's condition, but I always had issues with my body (due to it's not workign right even when I was normal weight). Me and my body didn't always get along. ; )

But I would definitely be a gloater. Yes, I'm that small and lacking in virtue sometimes. Yup.

screaming fatgirl said...

I don't think you're small and lacking in virtue. I think your reaction is completely understandable.

Sometimes I think I expect too much of myself. This may be one of those times. ;-)

Arwenn said...

I think neutral is an impressive place to be with this situation. This is someone who went out of her way to make your unhappy life even more difficult. Unfortunately, I'd be willing to bet that she takes no more responsibility for her life now than she did when she struck out at softball. She sounds like one of those unhappy people who think everyone else ought to be miserable too. Hopefully I'm wrong and she's raising a healthy non-judgmental daughter.

I think this is my first time commenting on your blog and I just wanted to thank you for being so honest and sharing your story. I read through the entire archives and your insight is very helpful to me on my own attempt at weight loss. Realizing that I am going to have to identify why I've been abusing food and what I've been getting out of it - and then learn to live without that has been sobering but is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you!

screaming fatgirl said...

Thank you, Arwenn, for reading my entire blog and saying it has value for you. That really means a lot to me. I wish you well in your personal progress in your relationship with food. It's a very difficult and complicated thing.

Also, thank you for your supportive comment about this situation. My very best to you.

Human In Progress said...

I agree that a state of thoughtfulness and neutrality is a victory. Good for you!

Jenn said...

Hi, I'm a new reader. Just found your blog. Love your writing and look forward to reading.

What an interesting story about how your former tormenter has grown to be so tortured herself. I'm thinking she was always tortured, however, if she got such delight from making fun of you for so long. Her issues and life changed and somehow, like most of us, food became her comfort and she is now morbidly obese. That is just sad.

I haven't read enough of your blog to know where you are in your process, but I'm assuming there has been some noticable weight loss based on the little I have read. It will be interesting to see if the tormenter acknowledges anything that happened in the past and where you both are now.

screaming fatgirl said...

Hi, Jenn, and thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

In terms of my weight loss, I've lost a little over 200 lbs. since the summer of 2009. When I was in high school, I probably weighed around 300 lbs. when this woman was also in school with me and torturing me. I now weight about 175 lbs., so, still a ways to go, but a lot smaller.

Jenn said...

wow, congratulations on your weight loss. that is pretty incredible!