I love to eat. Love. It. Like I would literally marry the act of eating if I could. (Can I do that? I can’t, right?)
But there’s a problem. Eating also makes me fat. So as much as I enjoy doing it, I have to fight to practice moderation. That way, I can at least stay towards the smaller end off the overweight spectrum (somewhere between cherubic and chubby).
But I don't feel comfortable being on that spectrum at all, which is why I’m trying to keep this whole being fat thing a secret. From certain people especially. Like the boyfriend for one.
No, he’s not blind, but I enjoy pretending that he hasn’t noticed the 20 extra pounds I’m carrying around. For him, I like to create something that I call the “illusion of slimness." This “illusion of slimness” is a personal state of delusion in which I believe that someone has failed to realize that I’m overweight, despite it being painfully obvious to anyone with eyeballs.
I achieve this through three very strategic means: never discussing how uncomfortable I am with my body, wearing dark-colored clothing and eating like a malnourished bird.
That’s how I eat when I’m in the boyfriend’s presence at least. Because I’m afraid that eating bad food will only draw attention to the weight that he’s politely ignoring. So when we go out or eat in, I’m always sure to eat something light and healthy. As if gnawing at a bowlful of bok choy will somehow mirage morph me into Naomi Campbell.
It’s not just what I eat that I’m self-conscious about. I’m self-conscious about the way I eat, too. With fatty carbtastic foods like messy sandwiches and pasta, more ends up on my shirt than in my stomach. Little bites of skinny-friendly foods like vegetables, however, can make the trek from my plate to my mouth without incident. So not only do I make myself look like a supermodel, I also look dainty and neat, effectively reinforcing that I am, in fact, ladylike as fuck.
And don’t get me wrong, I usually do eat fairly well and happily so. Not just for the sake of appearances, but for my actual health. And I probably eat that way a good 80% of the time. But then there’s the rest of the time when I eat total bullshit. I mean, I’m from Philly, home of the worst food in our solar system. Cheesesteaks have absolutely no nutritional value, but, my God, those things taste awesome.
But I would never eat a cheesesteak or any of the other junk food that makes up that other 20% in front of the boyfriend. It might not make sense, but I feel like shoving crap into my face would be shoving my weight into his. And even though he has never so much as uttered a remotely negative syllable about my body, I just couldn’t do that to him.
Then, Saturday night happened.
The boyfriend and I headed to a new restaurant so that he could sink his teeth into what a local magazine dubbed, “One of the Top Ten Best Burgers in Philadelphia.” It was an outing that he had been looking forward to for weeks.
And me, I was all prepared to pick at some grilled fish, or some mixed veggies or something. But then my stomach growled and I realized I'd forgotten to eat that day. By the time we were seated and I inhaled the scent coming from the kitchen, I was famished. Christ. If the best burger in Philly smells that heavenly, what did it taste like?
So, delirious from hunger and having eaten seared salmon flavored in every possible way imaginable, something miraculous happened: I decided to tell my self-consciousness to shut the hell up. I wanted a burger and, damn it, I was going to have one. If the boyfriend truly loves me, then he’ll love the real me and not just the me who orders a salad when I really want something gross and greasy. So I got a burger and ate in front of the boyfriend, who actually seemed stoked that I was finally eating “real food.”
It was messy. It was fattening. And it was gloriously delicious.