“If I didn’t have so much of this life all wrong, I would have gotten it right by now.” – Buddy Wakefield
Welcome back to “The Misadventures of Fatty-Boom-Blatty,” or as I like to call it, The Captain Hammer Project.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine called me. She was walking around at a thrift store and called to ask me what size pants I wore. Cue phonograph needle scratching noise.
What. The. Fuck.
The emergency sprinklers in my brain burst to life trying to kill the panic fires that just started. This is an annoyingly common reaction with me, and I’m assuming with most people with weight issues. Under regular circumstances, we avoid the subjects pretty actively. So when something comes up that asks you to directly address your weight or something related to it and there’s no place to run, it causes distress. Your mileage may vary.
Being one of my closer friends, she picks up pretty easily on what’s going on in my head and reminds me that it’s her, the only other person alive who knows my starting weight.
There was another problem, in that I didn’t know the size off the top of my head. All of my clothes were fitting too loosely, so I didn’t have a strong idea of what I was wearing. In my head, it was all size “adolescent hippopotamus” or “small moon”
She told me the size of the pants she was holding and inwardly I winced. For all of my efforts, there was no way I was down to that size yet. I was confident that I could get there in time, but I wasn’t there now, and as the pants in question were a size that I see as unacceptable in the long term, this caused a twinge of shame. It’s that whole denial thing again.
That same denial that discourages me from trying on clothes where there is any question whatsoever as to if I can fit into it. That 19XLT shirt will double as a protective tarp for a VW Beetle, so I can put that on without fear that it will not fit and remind me that I’m overweight.
She tells me that they’re FOUR WHOLE AMERICAN DOLLARS, and I tell her to go ahead and get them. It was easily worth $4 to end that conversation.
Not terribly long afterwards, I see her and she gives me the pants. Fortunately, the meeting is just in passing and not a situation where she can ask me to try them on. I take the pants home and drape them over a chair where I could see them awaiting their day in the sun with the smugness that only denim can achieve.
A few days ago I’m on the phone with her and she asks if I’ve tried the pants on. I stammer out some lame excuse about how I haven’t yet. Like I didn’t have the time to try on a pair of pants. She makes me promise to try on the pants, I assure her I will with not even a hair of intent to actually do so.
The next day I’m getting ready for work and to my horror, I realize I fell asleep before turning over laundry, and all of my work-appropriate pants were wet. In a mild panic, I start trying to figure out what I can do. My eyes pass over those damnable pants and I curse. Well, I’m already in a fouling mood, so I might as well lean into the curve. I pick up the pants and brace myself for the tidal wave of shame that will hit shore when I can’t pull them up past my knees.
To my absolute shock, they pull up fully, and button without difficulty. They’re not tight anywhere. The pants not only fit, but fit well. Huh. Cool. Crisis avoided. I finish getting ready and head into work.
I was running a little late so I didn’t take the stairs. On the elevator, a co-worker of mine starts laying on the compliments about how much progress I’ve shown. I thank her, we part ways. I get to my desk and my boss double-takes and compliments me on the weight loss. There’s an internal eyebrow raising, but I thank her and go to get some coffee. En route to the coffee dispensary, my former boss stops me and exclaims about how much thinner I was looking.
Once, normal. I’ve been trying to do this for a while. Twice, not unheard of. Third time made me recognize it was not circumstantial. This happens two more times with two more people independent of each other in rapid succession. Five people inside of ten minutes had individually stopped me to tell me how good I was looking.
As it turns out, wearing clothes too big for you doesn’t look good. I knew it didn’t look good per se, but I always felt that it was at least concealing, which was a virtue in and of itself. Not the case. As it turns out, it just looks bad. I always pictured in my head that wearing clothes that fit would look bad on me, assumedly because it didn’t conceal my size.
At least somewhat jazzed by this, I text my friend to tell her about my strange morning, and she asks for a picture. Sigh. Again with this woman and the prodding. She knows how I feel about pictures. Still, she bought the pants and the pants worked, so I could at least oblige her.
I go to the only place I can think of with a mirror where I can snap an appropriate pic. I do so, and I’m immediately disappointed with the results. My shirt is too big and it looks awful. I reach one hand behind my back to pull the shirt tighter and awkwardly take another pic.
I look at it briefly with a sense of disconnection. The guy in the pic looked nothing like me. I send her the picture which she is very excited about.
I’m still very wary at this point, but was beset on all sides by enthusiastic onlookers. I go to eliminate the evidence from my phone, when I remind myself that I wasn’t going to hide from the camera anymore. Admittedly, I hadn’t gone looking for it either like I said I would, but this was an opportunity to do more than pay lip service to addressing my insecurities. So I posted the pic to my Facebook page.
And in the spirit of the agreement to hide less, I’m posting it here too
It gathered a lot of compliments, including from a number of people I wouldn’t have thought would weigh in on the subject. I’m appreciative of the compliments but it’s still very alien. And I’m not convinced that it’s not just a flattering shot, even if it was a quick snap taken in a bathroom.
All the same, even I can’t deny that it’s a good picture, and maybe even a little bit of a milestone.
So here’s a protip to the other people out there like me. Wear clothes that fit. Captain Hammer, meet Captain Obvious.
Wearing clothes that are too big may make you feel better, but they make you look worse, and seeing as visual appearance is undoubtedly the biggest source of insecurities that stem from being overweight, this is one way that you can start fighting back.
You know, in addition to the better eating choices, consistent exercise and complete mental rewiring.
NEXT TIME: I will continue my pattern of not actually writing about what I allude to here!