Mom Was Fat: The Powerful Lesson She Taught Me

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overweight woman looking at water

When I was growing up, my Mom was fat.

She hadn’t always been a large person. In her youth, she’d won trophies in the discus throw, long jump, badminton, and table tennis. In black and white photos I saw her slim and smiling, with shining dark braids, dressed in beautiful salwar kameez. Mom loves pretty clothes.

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I never knew the thin Mom. She gained weight when she got pregnant. She gained more with the second child. She never lost it. It's normal, she's a mother. You gain weight when you have children, especially when you have more than one.

I thought Mom was beautiful. So did Dad. He and Mom loved each other very much. That's all that matter to her, that he loved her just the way she was.

I didn’t realize Mom was fat and that this was an issue until one day we were in a pizza shop, just Mom and me. I was maybe 10 at the time.

We were both enjoying our thin New York slices while we sat at the counter near the window. A man walked in through the front door. He passed close by us and said, in a low voice, “Die, you fat b*tch.”

I stopped eating. I felt the rage rise in me. I wanted to kill him.


She totally ignored him. Our eyes met. She looked at me with love. The pleasant expression remained on her face. I needed that as a kid, to see that those disgusting comments didn't bother her. That she would know herself better than any stranger that had felt the need to comment on her body.

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She didn’t care.

This was the powerful lesson she taught me that day. It took me many more years to really learn it. But as I incorporated it into my own life, it’s given me the courage I’ve needed to ignore the haters and the assholes.

They exist. They live to tear others down. It’s what feeds their miserable, angry souls.

My Mom didn’t care about them.

She ignored them effortlessly. So they had no power over her. Defanged, declawed, their venom could not touch the tranquility of her spirit.

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At some point, Mom decided to lose weight, for her own health. She cut back on the sweets she loved, but in a sensible way.

She still has treats, but only once in a while, and she watches her portions. It works for her. She’s still fat, but a lot healthier.

She’s over 80 and still going strong. She's fat, and she's healthy. A lot of people can't seem to equate the two, but my mother is living proof of that. She is fat, healthy, and happy.

Mom is fat. And beautiful. And strong. And loved. And she exists as all those things simultaneously.

Shefali O'Hara is a cancer survivor, artist, writer, and engineer. Follow her on Medium.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.