Fat made me

August 2, 2013

This week, I became invisible. Only briefly, though. I walked into a room full of smiling faces, saw people I have known for most of my life and watched as they looked straight past me. You might think this could be a snub in response to a previous act of unconscionable rudeness on my part. Sadly, no. The reality is they just didn’t know I had turned up – even though I was standing there with Jen, right in front of them.

The occasion, held in a church hall in Fleet, was a surprise 80th birthday party for my uncle. Our large family is spread over London, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, so the event was also a kind of reunion. Invisibility would be the perfect way of avoiding having to make small talk with people you dislike at gatherings such as this, but I like my relatives, so it was odd having to introduce myself to people who have known me since I was a child. And odder still was the means by which I attained my cloak of invisibility: I simply lost weight.

The weight loss and the attendant change in my appearance occurred around a decade ago when I started cycling for longer distances. You can see what I looked like in this snap of me and Jen at my parents’ home on my birthday…

29th birthday fat

…and here we are in the same place exactly a year later…

30th birthday skinny

The candles read “29” in the first photo and “30” in the second, which shows that it took less than a year to rid myself of that flab, and in both pictures I am irked (or ungrateful, some would say) that my mother is still presenting me, a grown man, with a ruddy birthday cake. Healthier doesn’t automatically mean happier.

I wouldn’t voluntarily go back to looking like I did in the first picture, purely because it would hinder me from experiencing one of my greatest pleasures, which is riding a bicycle as fast as I can. But however quick I go, it is unlikely that I will outrun being fat. Me and fat will meet again one day; fat, after all, is waiting for us all in middle age. And I’m not too bothered by how I will look, because by accepting fatness in my life once, I rid myself of the greater part of my vanity forever. More significantly, I spent more time reading, thinking and observing when I was a fat teenager and a fatter young man. So if anything in this blog has made you chuckle or briefly allowed you to look at things differently, then you can thank the fat version of myself. Because being fat was how I learned to be me.

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