Big Feet

I have big feet.  At least, I think they are big.  I was teased about them most of my childhood and grew very self-conscious as a result.  But even as recently as a few years ago, when shopping with a friend, she expressed amazement at the largeness of my shoe size.  She stated that, considering my height, my feet were rather huge in proportion.  So my embarrassment has continued throughout my life, in spite of the fact there is absolutely nothing whatsoever I can do about it.
This mortification over my foot size is indicative of my overall embarrassment and shame concerning my body in general.
I have big hands too.  And the nails of my big toes are large, as are my thumbnails.  I always hated holding hands at church, back when I still went.  Felt like my hands were the size of a normal guy’s hands.  Even though I’m fairly thin now, I still wear a size 6 ring on my ring finger.  I always wondered if they grew large because I used them so much when I was a kid.  I was always grasping tree branches, digging in the dirt, hammering, sawing, picking up rocks.  I helped my father build our house when I was 8 and 9, putting in some pretty hard labor.  Did it cause my hands to expand…all the stretching, holding, grasping, carrying, and lifting? 
Additionally, wearing sandals has caused me to squirm uncomfortably and redden, even though I love having my toes bare in the summer.  Because my big toes, darn it…they’re too big to be “cute.”  They feel unacceptable.  As do I.
I think I was a normal sized child until I was roughly 7 years old.  This is when I have the first memory of being called fat.  I was a very active, tomboyish child who loved to run, climb trees, ride my bike and jump rope.  I never once considered my body.  It did what I needed it to do.  It was strong.  I was athletic.  Muscled.  But evidently, I was chunkier than most kids my age and as kids will do, they saw my weakness and swooped in for the kill.  Teasing me.  Bullying me.  Calling me all kinds of names, all of which meant that I was a “fatty.”  Suddenly, I was self-conscious and humiliated.  And I didn’t like my body anymore.  I didn’t like me.
I grew much more quickly than my peers too.  I was 5’ 5” tall in 5th grade.  I’m only 5’ 3-1/2” tall now, having shrunk during my late 20’s and early 30’s…during a time when I ran 13 to 15 miles every single day without fail.    But back then, I was a giant for my age.  Not only was I tall, but I was definitely heavy at that point.  Well aware of my heaviness.  And ashamed.  Of me.
By high school, I was one of the bigger girls in my class.  I still remember when we got new band uniforms my sophomore year.  The pants that went with the uniform top were basically white Lee jeans.  They were junior sizes because, well, we were still kids.  Juniors.  But I was wearing misses sizes by then.  And when trying to fit my somewhat full and curvy butt into a straight up and down tight jean made for kids who had barely begun to fill out, I didn’t.  Fit.  I had to get the BIGGEST size available…a 14.  I was mortified.  MORTIFIED!  Horrified.  Deeply, painfully embarrassed. And I hated myself.
Another thing…though I loved knee-high boots, I couldn’t wear them.  My calves were too large for almost every single boot available for purchase.  A fact the shoe shop owner never tired of rubbing in my face as he teased me mercilessly.  Actually, he teased me about the size of my feet too, come to think of it.  My clodhoppers.  I hated it when I needed shoes.  Or clothes.  It was always a humiliating experience.  One that reinforced how unacceptable I truly was.
It was during this time, my early to later childhood, that I learned to be deeply ashamed of my body.  And I learned that being overweight was the worst sin ever.  Hands down.  I heard my father telling my mother again and again that everything would be fine, if only she would lose weight.  I was told more times than I can begin to count that I had a pretty face and would be such a pretty girl if I would only lose weight.  If only, if only, if only…if only I was small, thin, petite, if only I had little feet, if only I had small calves, if only my hair was blonde, if only my fingers weren’t so big, if only my nose was shorter, if only my lips were fuller, if only I had a more bubbly personality, if only I wasn’t so tall, if only my hands were smaller, if only, if only, if only.  I did everything I could to fit in and to avoid drawing attention to myself.  When you are mortified by your outward appearance in almost every regard, you don’t want to be noticed.  Because being noticed means being tormented.  Being badgered.  Being rejected.  Being treated like you worthless.  Because you are.
Now, now that I have shrunk in height and girth, I’m more content.  To be sure, the other kids caught up with me in height back then.  But I never got over feeling tall, like a giant, or a monster.  I enjoy being a little on the short side by most standards.  When they call me “shorty” at work, I get an inner glow.  Additionally, when they call me “skinny-Minnie,” I feel relief.  My soul sighs contentedly.  No one is rejecting me simply because of my size.  They’re even envious!  Of me!  Me!  I bask in being the thinnest person where I work.  Not because I think it makes me superior.  It makes me ACCEPTABLE.  In some way.  One small way.  Insignificant, really.  But huge.  Because no one is going to make fun of me for my weight.  For my height.  I’m easy to miss.  To overlook.  I can be invisible and avoid being a target of laughter and disdain.
My feet are still big.  Losing weight did reduce my shoe size by ½ of a size, but that isn’t enough.  I wear an 8-1/2.  My shopping friend, who is 5’ 10,” wears a size 7-1/2 and she was shocked that I didn’t wear a 7 or 7-1/2 too.  My foot is the same size my mother’s was.  It’s the size my aunt sometimes wears (sometimes she has to wear a 9 – gasp!).  Guess it runs in the family.  I can’t change it.  Though I still don’t like it.
My hands, fingers, toes…all still on the bigger size.  I think.  I mean, I wear a medium glove.  But they are bigger than the hands of most of the women I have encountered during my journey on the earth.  I can remember when I first started coloring my hair (let’s not talk about the grayness, and therefore the unacceptableness of my hair just now), the gloves provided in the home color kits barely stretched over my hand.  Now they fit, so maybe I’m not the only one to suffer anxiety over whether or not they would expand far enough.  Maybe some group of women raised an outcry and got the size changed.  All I know is, at this time, considering my fairly low body weight, my hands are as small as they are going to get and they aren’t small.
I can now wear boots!  Since I’m not running, but am thin, I haven’t found a boot yet that won’t slide over my once mountainous calves.  And most skinny jeans will fit me too…though I’ve come across some that are cut so small, my foot wouldn’t go through the bottom of the leg.
What I have found is this:  I can tolerateif only barely, my other annoying and embarrassing abnormalities if I am thin and short.  Especially if I’m thin.  It’s the only way I can keep from hating myself.  The only way I can keep from rejecting myself the way the countless children and adults I’ve encountered have rejected me. 
To remain thin, small, acceptable, I have to not eat.  Or, specifically, eat and throw up every single morsel of food that I can propel out of my body.  So though my eating disorder (MY eating disorder – I’m very possessive) is a tremendous enemy intent on destroying my life – and is largely succeeding – it is also my biggest friend.  A friend I love, nurture, accommodate.  Let’s get real…this is the ONLY thing that makes me a halfway tolerable person.  And I’m supposed to turn my back on it?  Walk away?  Give it up?????  Gain weight?  Become a giant again.  A freak.   An aberration.
When you only have one thing going for you, you don’t let it go.  My face may be long, my feet may be big, my hair may be gray and thin, my hands may be large, my skin may be saggy and baggy, my fingers may be hefty, my shoulders may be too broad, my toenails may be huge, but me?  I’m small.  My butt is non-existent.  My stomach is flat.  I wear a size 0.  I can move quietly and go unnoticed among the crowds.  No one is going to laugh at me or reject me because I take up too much space.  If they see me at all, this aging woman who colors her hair and wears skinny jeans, they will only glance briefly in my direction.  And seeing nothing, they will simply turn away and walk on by.  I don’t create ripples.  I am no longer a target.  I may not be wanted, I may be unloved, I may be broken and worthless, but no one notices me one way or the other.  So I am left alone.  In my brokenness and worthlessness.  I don’t make an impression.  My feet may be big, but I don’t leave a big footprint.  I don’t even scatter the dust.  Nor leave any lingering trace when I have gone. 


One thought on “Big Feet”

  1. I don’t really “like” how poorly you see yourself but I like how well you describe your feelings. As always, well written!

    Have you considered a 12 step program for eating disorders? For me, personally, asking God (or something bigger than myself) to take away my warped sense of self has released a great deal of shame. I know it sounds scary because you are comfortable in isolation — as was I — but 12 step programs are truly transformative. No one judges you because there are rules about cross talking, which makes 12 step programs very safe. You can open up only as much as you are ready to. Maybe you could check one out in your area?

    I’ve heard you say you’ve tried everything but I wish you would try again. You are worthy of compassion and love.

    {{{hugs}}} Fern

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