how to be the good kind of fat girl

Jun 1, 2024 | 2024 Summer - More than One Letter, Poetry

by Grace Hedin

talk as little as possible and when you do
use a soft voice, barely there—
if your voice is light maybe the other parts of you will seem light too.
don’t be talkative, or—god forbid—opinionated.
freshman year, you said your body was your own—
proclaimed it in front of your class.
the boys in the back of the room called you a stupid feminist for the rest of the year
and when your cheeks got red from rage,
eyes starting to water,
they smirked and called you sensitive like it was a bad thing.

when in doubt, slouch.
make your body small as you can—that’s the goal, right?
the shorter you are the less chance someone will notice you
making yourself invisible is key,
fat girls shouldn’t be heard, nor seen.
you used to sit in the front of the class
raise your hand high with curiosity about everything in particular
one day the group next to you pretended to gag—
retched and pointed at your stained armpit
you lowered your hand,
and learned to hunch your back.

wear long sleeves, even when hot out
but not anything colored
sweat stains are displeasing to the eye
(and you’re doing enough to the eye already)
black is suitable—tight enough so your arms feel a constant pressure
when you were in second grade you wore a pink short sleeved shirt with a princess on it
a boy sat next to you and hit your arm for an hour
when you asked him why
he said he wanted to see how much the fat on your arms would jiggle.
a shame filled your body that has never fully left—
it was the first time you heard that word.

never question.
not the arguments against you
the answers you know are wrong
the seeming certainty that
you will end up alone.
happiness isn’t an option for a fat girl, not really.
not when the boy you have a crush on tells you to eat more salads and less cake
not when your girlfriend sees you naked for the first time and you start to cry in shame
not when the guy from tinder says that fat girls always give the best head
not when the kind-eyed doctor makes your entire physical about a healthy BMI
not when the most acceptable response to your presence is to ignore it.

you never liked the word fat,
and you never

Grace Hedin is a poet based in Portland, Oregon, U.S. Their work has been published previously through the Portland State University public catalogue, titled The Weak, the Wicked, the Divine: A Collection of Poems.

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