By Virginia Chase Sutton
PROMPT — Ask Me.
Every day I wake, I am disappointed. I had hoped that I'd be dead. I'm 12 and suicidal and deeply depressed. I have to go to school where I will be tormented all day. But first I have to dress, always an issue with my mother who says, "You're so fat, you're lucky to have anything to wear. I feel any strength I work with slipping away.
And I'm tired. All night long I'm awake, hearing voices of those who hate me because of my size. At school I take it and take it and take it—abuse from classmates and strangers. As we change classrooms, a boy grabs my ass, yells, "She's got jello in her ass." Verbal barbs. Despising my body as I move slowly, my entire body is knotted pain, I try and hold my head high, ignore them, but ask me how I feel and I can tell you that each day is worse than the day before. I have no idea how bad tomorrow will be, but I can guess.
After lunch, where I sit alone, it's out to the playground and torment from three girls who merge into one. They make fun of my clothes, my orthopedic shoes, ask if I can make piggy noises, and the worst, don't I hate myself for being fat?
They seek me out every day and I don't even know them. They aren't in any of my classes, though we are all in 8th grade. They get bored when I make my face a mask, looking off into the distance, alone and fat. I don't have a safe place—Mother is an alcoholic and my father sexually abuses me nearly every night. My sister and I don't speak.
As I grow up, I stay fat. I marry and I am fat. I have 2 daughters and I am fat. I go to grad school and I am fat. I become a professor and I am fat. I go out in public, listen to the barbs sent my way because I am fat. I have internalized years, decades of torment.
This is not a story of triumph, but of unbelievable pain. It's still no good to tell me to simply lose weight. My psyche, heart, and mind are so scarred. So ask me about my childhood—there is no easy answer. I was a fat kid, fat teenager, am a fat adult. I am an "other" that people avoid, as if fat was catching, like a disease. I'm not challenging, I'm asking—
Virginia Chase Sutton writes from Tempe, AZ. Embellishments is her first book. Her second book, What Brings You to Del Amo, won the Morse Poetry Prize and was recently reissued as a free ebook by Doubleback Books. Of a Transient Nature is Virginia's third book. Down River is her chapbook.