My thighs are moldy Jell-o. When I walk, they jiggle with a delayed reaction, and I hate when that happens. I have to take my hands, move one leg forward and then the other. They are so heavy that my saggy arms become limp and so my leg drops and tremors pass from under my feet. Then I repeat the cycle all over again to move just a few inches.
I take a break from walking and see myself through the deli’s window. I want to gorge the ham and stomp on pedestrians who dare buy a quarter pound of my cold cuts.
I look to the left and see some middle school punks making fun of my jiggly ass. I shimmy and make my ass move in circles. One kid’s face turns green.
Finally, I’m home. I storm to the kitchen. “Give me!” I yell. I tear open Cheese Doodles, Ben and Jerry’s, Pepsi! Crumbs fly, fall, smear against my body.
It is then that I see myself reflected in the microwave door and face the truth: I am a monster.
* * *
Life’s tough when you’re a monster. You have to compensate for the lack of something else. My white skin isn’t silky smooth like that chick’s porcelain skin over there. Mine is rough, like sandpaper, only worse with bulbous fat pulsating and puckering.
When you think you’re a monster, everyone else thinks you’re one, too. So I play my role. I eat, and I eat some more, and I’ll scare you to death so I can eat your meal. Because when you’re a monster, you eat like one and there’s no going back.
Now that I am a gargantuan beast, I can’t remember being human. I know I was human until that sibling of mine called me fat. I was human until that jerk said I had a huge ass. Until I was called thunder thighs by pipsqueaks who thought they were macho because they had blonde hair and killer biceps. God, I hated them.
I used to hide in shame of my hunger, but now I chow down for all of you to see. While you all just count those calories and secretly wish you were someone else, I’m at least enjoying my meal. I at least know I’m a fat monster.
One more good thing about being a monster- I have a ton of monstrous friends. Like that dude staring at himself in the mirror as he works out. He’s the buff monster. He compensates by taking steroids, as I compensate by eating. We talk regularly. He calls me ugly, and I call him insecure.
I call my friend behind that Glamour magazine the jealous monster. She idolizes those humans with their wavy hair blowing in the fake wind, the perfect tan around their curves, their deep and exotic eyes. She gives us tough monsters such a bad name. She always cries when I tell her to suck it up.
But me, I spend days lifting my boulder legs around, growling at stupid kids and pedestrians who think I’m a joke.
But I’m real. Oh, I am real.
My friend told me once that she could count 1,001 of her insecurities. I was so sad because she was so naturally beautiful. I was also sad because I could relate.
I hate how our self-perceptions- or, rather, misperceptions- rule our lives. Sasquatch, Breastica and Rooster feel the same way. These aren’t my friends’ real names, but nicknames to describe their inner monsters.
Sasquatch stands in a desolate room with clowns surrounding him, screaming, “Take your shirt off, Sasquatch! Take your shirt off!” They pull and tug and rip away his clothes. They yell; they point; they laugh at his flabby arms, his hairy chest and his cowardly stance. He runs away, but finds himself stuck in the mirrored room with that stupid funhouse music on repeat. He sees the mirrors bend him in every which way so he appears abnormally tall, particularly rotund, deformed, disfigured. These mirrors are Sasquatch’s fears put on display, and he sees these images whenever he is in public. He’s constantly judging himself, but internalizes his pain to “be a man,” like his father said.
Sasquatch cannot physically define himself. He knows he isn’t a “typical man,” like the Buff Monster, but I think they should be friends. Maybe they’d realize they’re exactly the same.
Breastica says her family motto is, “If you’re not bigger than us, you’re not fat.”
She’s home for dinner with her family and finds that yet again, her family talks about nothing except how small she is in comparison to her cousins, her grandparents, her aunts, brothers, sister, mom and dad. She doesn’t feel small though; she feels like the size of her family.
During dinner, everyone yells across the table, passes the food for seconds and repeats the cycle over until they discuss tomorrow’s plans for losing weight.
After dinner, Breastica will sob in her room. She wishes her family didn’t eat such large portions and set a better lifestyle for her. Maybe if they ate less, she would never have picked up the habit of overeating when she’s stressed and when there are home-cooked meals. Maybe her breasts wouldn’t consume the rest of the body, and people would notice her face, starving for the attention.
Rooster, Jealous monster and I head to the mall so I can buy a bathing suit for the beach. Rooster wants to find a snazzy suit for her job interview next week. Jealous comes along to idolize Rooster’s sleek back and defined arms. Rooster wants to cover that up.
“I definitely have a face for radio,” Rooster says. “And I like that bathing suit.”
“Too bad you see my legs in it. Damn,” I say.
Rooster sighs. “If only you knew how beautiful you are.”
“You should listen to your own advice.”
“Whatever. Anyway, that bathing suit works. Fits your curves well. Work with it. Be you. Be fabulous.”
Rooster says this as if she believed she were fabulous herself. Despite her beautiful cocoa skin and exotic almond-shaped eyes along with her fun-loving personality, somehow she thinks she still falls short of being attractive.
“Now I want to look like I’ve got it all when I go in for my interview. I want to look like I’m confident and the best woman in the world. Do you think we could find a business suit like that?” Rooster asks while searching through the clothing rack.
“Why do you need a suit to make you feel that way? Why can’t you just be that person?” I ask and try to answer myself.
After shopping with Rooster and Jealous, I hung out with my friend Amy. She said she will no longer look at herself as a monster.
“Though I used to hate myself and my mom used to comment about what I’d eat and my so-called friends would call me names, I’m doing my best to love me. I won’t let those people and those images beat me down. I like eating, and I like food that’s healthy. I like food that’s knowledge for my body. I will no longer compare myself to someone I’m not.”
Someone should give her a merit. She has made it out alive.