catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 17 :: 2010.09.24 — 2010.10.07


A huge gap

During a business trip to Albany, New York, this summer, a copy of USA Today slammed down at my doorstep early one morning.  I grabbed the paper and was intrigued by a teaser on the front cover featuring a picture of the beautiful Hayley Hasselhoff (yes, David’s daughter) next to a tagline about not being shy about her “huge” size in a new TV series.  I flipped to the article and read about the new ABC Family summer series, Huge, which portrays a group of overweight and obese teenagers spending a summer at fat camp. 

After a day of work I settled back into my hotel room and passionately grabbed my favorite traveling companion, Hulu, in search of the show.  Five episodes were already available and so I started watching; after just one episode, I was hooked.  The rest of the summer I watched every single show and became a Hulu “subscriber” to Huge, anxious each week for a new episode to premier.  Despite its mixed reviews, I found the show entertaining.  I was already a fan of Nikki Blonsky, of Hairspray fame, and am a new fan of the musically talented actor Ari Stidham. Along with Hasselhoff, each plays a leading role in the cast of curvy characters.

On an early morning drive to work one day I was contemplating what it was about Huge that me feel so connected to the characters.  Of course, there was the obvious.  I, myself, am huge! I’ve been a plus-sized gal my entire life.  My first diet (and one of my only “successful” ones) was in the fourth grade.  I spent the rest of my school years and most of my adult life always being the big girl. I can pretty much guarantee that in whatever setting I find myself, I will be the chunkiest chick there.  Whether I’m at work, or at the local dive bar on a Saturday night listening to my brother’s band, or volunteering, or among my group of friends or in my family unit, and yes, even at church: I’m the “huge” one! Ironically, the larger I’ve gotten, the more invisible I’ve become as well.  Often I feel like a minority, in spite of being a middle class white girl.  I don’t see myself represented (or represented accurately and acceptably) in TV shows, commercials, movies or other media outlets.  Even the ads for Lane Bryant, a plus-sized clothing store, have models who are still the stereotypically acceptable larger lady and bear no resemblance to me.

But there was something deeper than just my size that made me feel connected to the show Huge.  Finally it hit me! Emotionally, I am still stuck in a place similar to that of the show’s teenaged characters.  Despite being twice their age, I realized that I relate to those same insecurities and questions about love, life and size. I am a 34-year-old single woman…no husband, no ex-husband, no partner, no children, not even a pet! I realized that the majority of my friends and close acquaintances are in committed relationships and many have children.  Even those friends who are single again after a divorce are in a very different space.  So here I am, with much more life experience and even my own tragic heartaches and heartbreaks, still feeling those same feelings I did as an awkward teen.   It was a revelation and yet not really a new one as I’ve always sensed this “huge” gap between my peers and myself. 

My two dearest friends are a husband and wife duo who are the most creative, imaginative, hard-working folks I know (though I worry about their overcommitment).  Through conversation and e-mails, they share their plans, ideas, thought processes or whatever other brilliant revelation comes to mind.  Whereas I’m totally intrigued by what they’re saying, I’m more baffled (and honestly a bit jealous), wondering how their brains have time or space to process such things.  Why doesn’t my mind work that way?  At the risk of being labeled narcissistic for revealing my innermost thoughts and dialogue, I confess that my mind is constantly consumed by the running dialogue in my head about my size vs. my physical health vs. my emotional health vs. my creative passion for cooking vs. my diet vs. my relationships (or lack thereof) vs. my insecurities vs. my constant drive to portray myself as a strong, confident, independent woman while still truly feeling like that insecure, lonely teenage girl.  Even though the offshoots of some of those thoughts have driven me to do many fantastic things, it’s no wonder it’s hard for me to find time or space to think more creatively and abstractly.

So maybe the huge gap that I feel isn’t necessarily between myself and all the people around me from whom I feel disconnected, but more of a gap between my teenage self and my adult self.  At what point can I hug that insecure, overweight, lonely teenage girl and say “I love you just as you are” and start to love the adult me — the adult me who is still a bit insecure, yet gaining more confidence with life experiences; overweight, aka “huge,” but completely vivacious; lonely, though surrounded by amazing and loving friends and family?  I often feel like the odd one  out because not only am I the fat chick within my social network, but I am also the single one.  I desire to be in a happy, healthy, committed relationship, even though I recognize that it will not magically bridge the gap or make me completely secure in myself; nor do I live by the philosophy that the “grass is always greener…” as the saying goes.  But I do desire to be affirmed that I am loveable and capable of loving; and I am beautiful and sexy just as I am, whether a size 8, 18 or 28. 

If nothing else, the series Huge has presented an opportunity for me to come face to face with my teenage self and introduce her to the adult self.  I hope that the bridge between the two will be a little more well-traveled in the future, providing a stronger foundation as I gently guide myself toward love and security.

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