Wednesday, March 27, 2013

27 March 2013

When I was in middle school, I was teased and called names. You learn to shake off a certain amount of this. By the time I got to middle school, I was used to a fair amount of name calling and meanness. I could just put my head down and ignore the people who were calling out to me to get my attention, just so they could look me in the face and laugh when they made a joke at my expense. People saying they liked my homemade pants, where could they get a pair; boys pointing at each other saying, "He likes you!"; the names like fatso and tub of lard were familiar. I had heard them from my own mother at some point in my life. She didn't like fat kids either.

But one day when I was in the hall on the back end of the gym, having either just come from gym or from the bathroom nearby, a boy called me Blubber Lips. I was mortified. I didn't even know that was a thing. I knew I was fat, there wasn't anything I could do to hide that fact. But blubber lips? Is that a Thing, a Bad Thing, to have fat lips? It bothered me a lot at the time even though I have no idea which boy said it and, truth be told, whether he was actually talking to me. I assumed he was, because it felt like most random comments shouted out in my direction were towards me, even though I tried to ignore them and pretend they weren't about me at all.

For some reason, the thought that there was another part of my body that could be fat and considered unattractive, a body part that I just had never considered as problematic, that was just hard to take. I think after that I deliberately tried to make my lips look as non-fat as possible. I kept them closed tightly often times.

A few years later I was in a musical with a local singing group. A woman was helping me apply stage make-up, and she drew a line around my lips with lip liner before she filled it in with lipstick. She told me she was making my mouth a little fuller as I had thin lips. I do? I asked in amazement. I wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing either, but it seemed like fuller lips were better. It was just a statement of fact, and I wasn't sure if it was good or bad, but later I realized I wanted fuller lips. I was a person with lips not big enough for the rest of her, it would make more sense if all of me was big, I thought.

My top lip is thin. It seems to have always been problematic. It has a scar, and it is uneven. When I was 7, I was in a bike accident. A boy deliberately rode into me and knocked me over...I think. I lost a bit of time around the accident. I remember riding down the street with a group of girls, going as fast as we could, and seeing this group of boys in a driveway. A boy was on a bike, at the top of a ramp, smiling. The next thing I remember is waking up as my dad was carrying me down the street to my home. He was wearing a maroon shirt, and my face was against his chest. I was in pain. My hands were torn up, with flesh gouged out of them, and my lips were a mess. I must have landed right on them. I had a giant swelled lip that was black and red. It looked like the bubble in a pizza crust at that pizza place at the mall.

My parents took me to the emergency room, and I had stitches. I remember lying on the table and feeling so sleepy, looking at the lights. They told me to put ice on my face to reduce the swelling. My mom and sister thought I looked so terrible that I remember being very diligent with the ice pack, wanting to impress my mother with my healed face. It worked, she was excited when it started to look better. I remember lying in bed at night, looking at my poor chunked out hands and crying that someone would hurt me like that.

My mom was angry at the boy who did it, and started making me go out with her into the street whenever she saw him playing. She would go up to him and yell, "Look what you did to my daughter, look what you did to her! Are you proud of yourself?" That was embarrassing, and I started resisting going outside, so she'd yell from the doorway. Eventually she got over it, thank goodness.

When I talked to friends about the accident, they told me I was passed out on the street and bleeding, and you could still see the blood stains. I couldn't see them when I went to look--they looked like old oil stains, there was no blood. And I wasn't damaged internally, so it wasn't like I was coughing up blood, as they said I was. Oh, the melodrama of that age. The girls also told me that the boy's mother came up to me and told me to get up go home and stop faking it. I was really angry at her for saying that. I wanted her to admit she was wrong. My sister apparently brought some kids by the house to look at me through the window, saying I was a monster. I don't remember that ever happening, thankfully, although maybe I would have thought that was funny. I remember getting to eat poundcake cut into little squares. My lip healed, but there was a scar at on the top lip where the little peak was supposed to be, and my lips were forever asymmetrical after that, although that probably isn't uncommon anyway.

I asked my father about that accident when I was an adult, what did he see when he came to get me. He said I was just sitting on the curb, crying. I seemed stunned. He told me come on home, but because I seemed out of it, he picked me up and carried me.

The other day I was putting lotion on my face, and lamenting that I have my mother's thin top lip with very little peak--unlike my husband and my daughter's beautiful little cupid's boy lips. My scar isn't even noticeable anymore, but it's the same darn lip my mother had, that's why I have thin lips. She did too. At that point I remembered when that boy called my Blubber Lips. I'm 46 now and was only 12 then, and he may not have even been yelling at me, but I carried it anyway. Funny how those things stick with you and come back at the oddest times. It probably explains some of my insecurities and why it is still easy for me to believe that I get less respect because I am a fat woman. But in some ways this can be freeing.

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