Fat bitch

I’m sitting with B in the library
and she’s talking about K’s face,
how it looks thinner than last semester,
how that shirt looks bigger on her,
how this semester she really is “that bitch.”
She amends quickly, says,
“I mean, she’s beautiful either way,”
and it takes everything in me not to ask,
“Is she?”

A few minutes later, K shows up,
and B says something along the lines of,
“Oh my God, we were just talking about how
this semester you look so much smaller!”
And the smile that breaks across K’s face
locks my knees and she says,
“Really?! Thank you!”
as if we’ve given her the highest honor we could,
as if, thank God, we noticed her shrinking.

Before dedicating myself to new friendships,
I check your Instagram for fat people like me,
see if you include us in your carefully curated,
aesthetic rows of neutral colors and new outfits.
I do the same twice before new relationships,
check your likes just to make sure.
It’s predictable when I don’t see us,
shocking when I do.
Sometimes, I check the people you’ve tagged,

and the fat girl is often the one behind the camera.

I hate how happy K gets when B tells her she’s smaller.
I want to tell her I like her with roundness,
I like her soft edges and shape,
but I’m afraid this will invalidate any work she’s put in,
and I hate the work she’s put in
just to avoid looking like herself,
to avoid looking like me.

M says, “Oh. Em. Gee. You are not fat!”
And I know she thinks she’s giving a compliment,
I know she thinks she’s being kind,
forgiving, willfully ignorant or maybe just imperceptive,
I know she thinks I want to hear this version of the lie
I keep getting told by people who think fat
is the worst thing I could call myself,
not realizing that I am describing a body,
not passing moral judgment,
and I know M doesn’t mean to, but here she is.
Aggravated that I could be so mean to myself as to say the word
fat,
dismissively kind enough to think she is instilling confidence in me.

The girl in Starbucks is curled up in a chair,
and it is one of the many moments I wish I was smaller,
to fit myself cutely, quaintly
into these picture-perfect moments,
to be someone prettily candid
in a tiny sort of way.
To be pick-up-able, climb-a-tree-able,

fit to become one of your tiny IG friends
with jean jackets tied around waists,
bralettes and oversized shirts that look purposeful,
your matching Halloween costumes
and symmetrically bodied beach pictures.
I wish I was thin enough to be a part of
your curated collection of experiences,
to be necessary in your filtered highlight reel,
I wish I was thin enough to be a part of
your highlight reel.
It is one of the many moments I wish I was smaller,
to fold myself into bite sized, consumable pieces.

When K’s face lights up,
I ask myself what I am doing wrong.
I ask myself what I could be doing better
to convince these girls that being more
pocket sized does not mean being more beautiful,
or that being more beautiful
does not mean being more lovable,
but I don’t know how to convince them
if I can’t convince myself first.

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