I am not fat, but I think I am

Growing up, I was skinny. Stupidly skinny. After puberty, and throughout most of school, my rib cage stuck out more than my breasts. My arms and legs looked like sticks. I graduated high school at 110 pounds and just under 5’10” (which is still bigger than most models, but definitely in skinny territory).

Beyond a modified princess phase as a little kid, where I wore pink nightgowns and purple corduroy skirts — and then horrified my mother by climbing trees and jumping into ditches (Southern Ladies just don’t do that), I wore a lot of tomboy attire. I wore baggy t-shirts and shorts and jeans that never quite reached my ankles, sweatshirts and sneakers. I wore my hair long because, contrary to popular belief about all tomboys having short hair, long hair is easy. It grows out, you stick it in a rubberband and you go. No styling, few haircuts, and once it’s long enough it’ll stay behind ears or over shoulders.

In my twenties, I bought my jeans in the men’s department and my shirts in the girls’ department. I tried padded bikini tops, but you can’t swim in those. Wet, they’re like sponges. Gross. I had a friend back then who was a hardcore fashionista. She’d loan me clothes, drag me shopping, and otherwise try to girl me up. She was very column-shaped herself, so that worked out well enough.

The thing is: I hate shopping. Those people who wander malls and stores for hours, for fun? I cannot understand. In fact, after the friend and I stopped speaking, I ended up buying most of my clothes online. This was back when searching for “vintage” on eBay returned results other than vintage-inspired tinywear from China or neon plaid from the 80s. Vintage worked on multiple levels: the dresses looked structured and cute without too much fuss and the sizes made me feel normal because I wore an 8 or 10 instead of a 2 or 4. I mean, 2? I’m taller than a half the population of Miami (okay, that’s no scientific, but it certainly feels that way), a size 2 just seemed…stupid.

In my mid-thirties, I took up martial arts in addition to my occasional slow running and yoga. Somewhere along the way, I developed some muscles and my rib cage and shoulders seem to get wider all the time. I also all of a sudden seem to have hips. I have no idea where those came from or why they’d suddenly appear between 35 and 40, but I can’t wear men’s pants anymore and women’s jeans are full of spandex so they’re crazy tight going on and then fall off a half hour later.

It’s really just too bad I can’t live in knit shorts and t-shirts or yoga pants and tank tops. Knit dresses and a few of those vintage dresses still fit. I have jeans that fit one day and not the next, jeans that fit great in the leg but are too baggy in the waist and jeans that fit fine in the leg but are too tight in the waist. All of this makes me feel fat, despite the fact that I’m still technically on the thin side of normal.

Yet my hatred of shopping means I keep trying to wear things that don’t fit and complaining about being fat. I apologize for that. I don’t want anyone to think that because I’m uncomfortable in my sister’s hand-me-downs (she’s three inches shorter and forty pounds lighter) and clothes I bought ten years ago, that I think other people are fat or that being fat is anything other than an adjective, a description like blond.

And maybe one of these days, I’ll get around to buying some clothes that fit better so I can stop whining. Just, don’t make me go shopping.