I am thirty-two years old. I know I’m thirty-two years old because every few weeks my best friend and I have a conversation that goes something like this:
BFF: I want to do something really special for my thirty-second birthday, like go back to Galway or pose as a wealthy Japanese businessman and offer David Bowie an obscene amount of cash to give me a foot massage while wearing those silver spandex leggings from Labyrinth.
Me: I think we better stick to Ireland. No offense, but you’re broke and couldn’t be any more Irish if your name was Sunburn McDrinkingproblem so I don’t think the Japanese thing would work. Wait, you’re going to be thirty-two?
Me: Then how old am I?
BFF: You’re also thirty-two.
and so on and so on.
I paint you that little picture only as a side note to illustrate that, despite my dewy fresh skin and inability to sleep through the night without a bottle, I was not born yesterday.
Almost a third of a century has slipped through my well-manicured hands and now, for the first time ever, do I have a nickname about my weight.
Okay, let’s be honest here. It’s entirely possible, plausible even that were one to look through the Vaseline and gauze-covered lens of the past I might’ve had a fat-related nickname kept carefully from my delicate, shell-like ears. But what are you gonna do? Reagan couldn’t fix EVERYTHING in the 80’s and haters, as the internet so wisely tells me, gonna hate.
But now it’s out in the open. Last night Hot Latin Boy and I were chatting about his mother and how much I like her. My personal maternal experience, while a blessing in the potential bestselling roman a clef arena (because it’s not libel if it says “a novel” on the front!), is a little light in the tiny little ball of cherubic goodness arena so I have taken to his viejita in a big way and want to do everything I can to make her happy, as long as it doesn’t involve my cervix or Roman Catholicism.
And she likes me. She can’t say my name –no one here can– but she likes me.
“Whenever I talk to her” reported Hot Latin Boy “she always asks about you. ‘How’s your gordita?’ she’ll say.”
It means “little fat girl” and, strangely enough to American ears where fat = insult, it’s usually an affectionate term for attractive girls with a few extra scoops in their milkshake.
Strangely, it doesn’t bother me.
I thought it would, and the first time I heard it, I felt odd. I felt like it ought to bother me, having been raised in a society where nicknames based on physical characteristics are not generally nice things, especially for women.
And yet I sort of like being gordita. It’s affectionate, non-judgmental, worlds better than “You have such a pretty face” and then a Meaningful Sigh –don’t pretend you don’t know what Meaningful Sigh I’m talking about– as their eyes survey the rest of my body in disappointment.
It’s taking some readjustment, this whole living in a culture where fatness is not a cardinal sin and it’s made me think about how we are so afraid of admitting our bodies exist in space that we just don’t talk about them unless we’re complaining about how they “should” be.
I’m interested in hearing your take on it, especially if you come from a culture where comments or nicknames on weight are acceptable and not shame-based. Put it in the comments.