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  • Zainab Zaheer

“Almost” Fat Girl


This short story was written by an old member of the Girlz fam, Zainab, and can originally be found on Medium.

You’re not fat You’re not fat… You’re not fat…

I look down at myself with twelve year old eyes, wet with tears. The jeans won’t fit. The flimsy waistband stares up at me, open zipper like a right angle, it’s stretched so far apart. Like a mouth that can’t be closed. My cold, bloodless thighs clog its throat and my fingertips are sore from straining against the inflexible denim — the half-moons at my back will not fit, and I fall to the floor exhausted, six inches of denim trailing past my ankles.

…just chubby.

I look down at myself with sixteen year old eyes, outlined in sparkly kohl. I slip my thumbs between the pillowy skin and its restrainer, exposing the harsh red marks underneath. My middle bit’s been smushed into this artificial waistline for over 3 hours now, and it’s not happy. I’ve only got a minute before I have to go back into the party, so I just breathe a little and let my skin relax. My fingers itch, wanting to undo the button, but I mustn’t dare — once it’s open I’ll never get it closed again.

…just adorable.

I look down at myself with nineteen year old eyes, covered in a pink and blue shadows I’m particularly proud of. I’m wearing a dress, “almost” bodycon — it’s got a bit of extra room for my waist. I reach up under it quickly, finding the reinforced nylon waist-trainer, and with a firm grip, tug it down. It’s a little tighter than it used to be, and no matter how close together I keep my legs when I walk, it has a way of riding up around my tree trunk thighs, letting all of me just billow out. This is the third time tonight I’ve had to adjust it.

…just thick.

I look down at myself with twenty-two year old eyes, stinging from the anti-redness drops I’ve just put in. Through the furry flutter of my false eyelashes, I note my figure with satisfaction. These compression tights might just be worth the $80 I spent on them. They’re double-lined to push up the round full moons at my back, and have spaghetti straps that hook onto my shoulders to hold them in place. I’ll get a good few hours in before they start digging into my fleshy bits. He won’t be able to call me thick again.

…just healthy.

I look straight at myself with twenty-six year old eyes that droop at the edges. I’ve just taken off my mascara with soft dabs of cotton. Between the outposts of my femininity lies a pale stretch of stomach — it’s got slopes like sand dunes, gentle, curving, punctuated only by natural creases. At the southernmost border lie the remnants of an angry scar, now just a knot of skin, but once the reason I was in bed for a month straight. I smooth my hand across the landscape I’ve carried with me, speckled with freckles, and a light dusting of hair. I note that we’ve grown — there’s a new scar, and new land to the east. I note that we’ve healed — the spots of acne are gone. I look at this expanse of myself with respect — even now I can feel the tightened coils inside.

This stomach did 50 crunches last night, and 20 burpees the night before — and it’s not the first time. This stomach ate its way through Manhattan & Mexico, Thailand & Turkey, letting me discover my favorite foods. These thighs carried me up a Mayan ruin, propelled me across a lake in Uzbekistan, through ancient caves in Cappadocia. This apple-shaped backside sat in a canoe in Michigan, a roller coaster at Universal Studios, a chair lift in Azerbaijan. This body — my body — has lived my stories, has lived my life, with me. How dare I disrespect it with my shame?

Damn, it’s beautiful.

Damn, I’m beautiful.


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