PJ
July 28, 2015 10:46 am

Chubby. It’s such a problematic word. It doesn’t carry the weight of fat, and doesn’t demand the same audience as skinny. It’s a word that has trailed behind me since childhood. The problem with being chubby is that you’re not enough of any one thing. Growing up, I was constantly caught in limbo. I wasn’t white enough to be American, and I wasn’t brown enough to be Indian. I didn’t have the grades to be a nerd, but I wasn’t careless enough to be popular. My weight was just another contradiction to my being. I was chubby — not fat enough to be able to complain with the other overweight girls, and definitely not skinny enough to do the same with the thin ones. I’m not angry or mad at the people who shunned me and threw me out of their shame parties, because I know that they weren’t happy with their own bodies, and who wants to be part of self-hatred anyway? But I do wish we could clear up a few things about being chubby, starting with the definition itself.

Chubby

When I Googled the word, I started with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which defined chubby as “somewhat fat.” OK, short and to the point, but there’s more to it than that. Then, I went onto Urban Dictionary. For those of you that are not familiar with this online source, it allows users to write definitions of colloquial words that would not be found in the dictionary, and more realistic ones for common words. Urban Dictionary’s definition read:

Thank you, whoopsimeangirl for your enlightening response. Crass as it was, this definition was actually more helpful than Webster’s, because what the formal definition lacked was details. Chubby is not the same on every person. It’s a stopping point right before a relative calls you fat. It’s for those moments when a guy describes you to his friends and doesn’t know what they’ll think of you (specifically, your body). It’s a word generally used by others to make themselves feel better for not calling you fat. And it’s ridiculous.

When I was really young, I was like any old baby and toddler — I hated eating. I was a pain for my parents and they worried their first born child would suffer some unknown ailment, because that is what parents do. But as I got older, I started liking food a lot more. I began ordering off the grown up menu, and “perfecting my palate.” I didn’t want the mac and cheese, I wanted the baked cheesy noodles thank you. Food became a joy, and I cherished it. I’ve always said this, but when you eat, eat well. I’ve never believed in going to a restaurant and eating a salad; I figure, go nuts now, and work out later. And that’s another big part of who I am.

I’m a dancer, so as I began to eat more, I didn’t worry because I was working out. As puberty came along, I was combating sweaty workouts with greasy pizza, but I was sure I’d be fine because, hey, I worked hard and played hard. I remember vividly an encounter with my mother on the day of my band concert in 6th grade. It was our last one ever, and we all had to wear white shirts and khakis. My mom brought home a bag of clothes for me to try on the night of the performance and when I chose the extra tight white t-shirt, my mother squirmed.

In my house, we yell to show our love, it’s just a loud person thing, so my mom and I ended up getting in a huge screaming match. She said the shirt didn’t fit right (it stuck to me in all the wrong places) and I said I didn’t care. In the end I wore the shirt, and the photo my friends and I took that night still resurfaces once and a while. All of my friends were skinny and curveless, and at that young age I had grown into my body a lot quicker. I hate that photo because I see myself, and I just think what a bad judgement call I made. I’m not a proud person, but I’m also human, and something about seeing my mom shake her head when I came out of the bathroom in the shirt made me have to do it. I knew it was the type of shirt all my friends would wear, so I would too. Case closed.

I mentioned before that being chubby means living a life of limbo, and I wasn’t kidding. All my life, I’ve had people simultaneously tell me I look great, and have so many great features, and then turn around and tell me they know a great diet, or have a great exercise routine to “lose those last couple of pounds.” When my friends and I went shopping, it was always a nightmare, only because there would always be that one person who exclaimed she looked so fat, and we’d all have to console her about the falsity of that statement. I’ve had people fatter than me tell me I have nothing to complain about, and that I should just shut up about it, and have had thin people tell me that I’m beautiful “without trying too hard.” And now, stepping back and looking at all these statements I can’t help but think how ridiculous it all is.

I’ve always been a very confident person, I’ve known to some degree who I am, what I stand for, and who I want to be for as long as I can remember. After 8th grade, I made a lot of final decisions, and when I was a freshman in high school, I began weeding out toxic things. First to go were the people that made me feel bad. I didn’t need to be around people who obsessed about their weight, and I didn’t need to hang out with people who made me feel worse about a number on a scale. I also came to terms with who I am. I’ve got a slow metabolism, I like to eat, and I keep myself in fairly good condition. I now know that if I want to lose weight I will, but not because some random Aunt knew about a great gym, or someone tried life-changing diet pills.

So here’s the deal: Regardless of what people say, chubby girls are not stuck. We’re not going through a breakup, not stuck in the freshman 15, we don’t have family issues, and we’re definitely not a “shame.” We’re just people, like everyone else, who know how to have a good time and not care what you think.

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