Compliment (The Fetishists – BBW)

Shortly after Valerie hit thirty, some of her friends started making playful jokes about her body. “Who’s the father?” was a favorite, and the least subtle. Her friends were terrible and she hated them, but she could not deny the motivational merit of their abuse. She started going to the gym, and even after the comments stopped, she maintained her routine every morning.

“Excuse me,” someone said, poking her in the shoulder. His finger was now covered in her sweat, but he didn’t seem to mind. Valerie almost apologized, and she hated that that was her instinct.

“What is it?” she said. “People don’t usually talk to each other in here. There are rules.”

The man looked nervous. He was young and a little chubby, though not in the way men usually are. All his weight went straight to his chest, and he tried to hide his figure by slumping his shoulders.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I just wanted to let you know that I think you’re beautiful. Don’t think I’m hitting on you or harassing you. I’m not. I just like seeing a confident woman. You have a good day.”

Valerie resumed her workout. Her earbuds blared Ride of the Valkyries as she climbed the final mountain of the elliptical’s Himalayan Trek. What the hell did he mean by confident? She wiped down the machine and changed in the locker room. The flaps of skin that poured over her waistline could suspend her in water like a jellyfish.

“You’re beautiful just the way you are,” a towel-clad stranger said, noting her distress. It was just the sort of thing they tell fat people.

#abuse, #aging, #awkward, #body-issues, #haters-gonna-hate, #misogyny, #negging

Role Model

When they were children, Jill’s little sister copied every aspect of Jill. She chose her favorite foods by her sister’s inclinations. She followed every hobby — piano, karate, theater, video games, origami, track, underage drinking — and came out as lesbian, right at the same time.

“I actually am,” Jill said sternly, and her sister insisted, “I am too. You’re not the only one in the world, you know.”

Jill decided later she was bi, and when she married a man and went to live in Colorado, she expected her sister to follow along behind her somehow. When they fell out of contact, Jill took the opportunity to take up knitting and existentialism, pleased that for once her interests were her own and would remain hers. Her husband wasn’t interested in anything, and that’s why she loved him.

Her daughter was a similar blank slate. Occasionally Jill noticed the baby mimicking one of her gestures or trying to imitate her speech, but she did her best to gently discourage this behavior. She left the television on, just so the baby would have some other input. The baby had her eyes, and that was enough.

“I want to learn the piano,” her daughter said, age five. Jill frowned. “I already know how to play the piano. We don’t need two pianists in the family.”

When the girl came out as lesbian, Jill was supportive, if skeptical. “You should talk to your aunt,” she said, after a obligatory hug.

Her daughter made the call, and when she was finished, hugged her mother again. Jill wasn’t sure what was going on, but the girl, now a teenager, wouldn’t let go, and she kept saying, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Jill didn’t know where that self-loathing had come from. It certainly wasn’t from her.

#aging, #identity, #imitation, #microfiction, #self-fulfilling-prophecy, #self-loathing, #siblings, #sisters, #twins