I finished my Major Academic Project; I celebrated its finished-ness; I am now sitting in the sun on my balcony with a glass of champagne from one of several bottles my mother sent in celebration of the finished-ness (my second glass, as a matter of fact) and also pineapple chunks; I am so happy it hurts.
I bought a graduation dress at Anthropologie, and, somewhat ridiculously, it is a size large. The sweet, perky salesgirl sized me up and asked me if I was sure I wouldn't like to try a 12 instead of a 14 in that halter dress. I was sure. I was only taking the 14 from her hands because otherwise she would know that I wear a size far above that size, which is a little scary to admit in Anthropologie. And actually, as it turned out, the 14 was only a little too tight, which says something odd about Anthropologie's sizing, as I wear a 20. But I tried on a stretchy red jersey dress in a large, and it fit just fine. I wanted an extra-large, to see if it would be less cleavagey (busts in plus clothes are always too big for me; in straight sizes, always too small), but the dress didn't come in extra-large. And so I will wear it with a cardigan, and peep-toe heels, and try not to let my bizarre bust fall out in front of my professors and my father. But the point is: shopping at Anthropologie. How the clothes fit, some of them, when really they shouldn't. How fat is something different when you have money. How the salesgirl will check the size of your ass, surreptitiously, and decide it's not really that big, and certainly, you are not a fat person. You are dressed too well to be a fat person.
And from other dressing rooms, you can hear it, women are buying three dresses at once, a little jacket, they are calling for an extra-small because the small is too big (this makes sense if a large will fit me, actually). For me, the one dress and cardigan was more than I could afford—my mother was paying, in authorization to use her emergencies-only credit card.
And maybe something clicks. Something about social power, and semiotics, and lifestyle fantasy.
The feminist movement used to talk about "click" moments. Moments in which you sense something falling into place. (Shopping at Anthropologie, and how proud I was to say my dress was from there, and how my sister reacted as if my size had changed rather than that I had discovered that Anthropologie makes very stretchy clothing: click.)
Or: something about the shifting boundary between fat and unfat. Who is which? Fat is a social identity. It is interesting that I call myself The Fat Girl, because I am only The Fat Girl to myself. In high school, we had a different Fat Girl. She was much thinner than I was. She wore maybe a sixteen. I wore a twenty-six. But she wore drab clothes and looked like she was waiting to be kicked (I also did the former, but not the latter: I looked like I would cut you if you kicked me). She was somehow doughy. She had a receeding chin and low cheekbones, a gummy smile. She was fervently religious. She was The Fat Girl, not me, and people made fun of her. I made fun of her too, though not for being fat.
Or: sometimes now (often?) I don't even feel like a Fat Person, in the way that means "abnormal, subhuman." But more than ever, I socially identify as a Fat Person.