by Baruch Porras Hernandez
- When you get to the house say, “Boy! That sure was a brisk walk! I walked all the way here, from the city!” Then grab your parent by the ears and scream as loud as you possibly can into their face. “Because I believe in taking care of myself!”
- When they ask what you’ve been up to, say “Oh you know, running marathons every day, twice a day, every hour!” Slap the tray of holiday cookies your brother is holding to the ground. Then scream “Sweat More, Bitch Less!” at him. Run into your old room, slam the door, and eat the Taco Bell you’ve snuck into the house in peace.
- If you go out to dinner, when the server asks what you’ll be having, pause for a sec, look at your mother, then look at the server and say “I’ll be having a single piece of cold chicken breast please, and by having it I mean stare at it while I silently weep.”
- When you hug your father grab onto his love handles, look him in the eye and say “You’re only doing this to hurt me, aren’t you?”
- When your mother asks “When are you going to start eating better?” say “Today, mother! Today!” Go to the fridge, take out that giant bowl of potato salad and start to eat it in front of her. Keep eating it with the voracity of a demon feasting on a lost soul, do not break eye contact, and when she tells you to stop eating it say, “PAIN IS TEMPORARY, QUITTING LASTS FOREVER, MOTHER!”
- Every time your father walks into the living room, look down at his gut, shake your head slowly and say “You know, my friend Pete’s dad goes to the gym. Pete’s dad takes care of his body, ’cause he loves Pete.” When your dad gets mad and leaves the living room, follow him. He can’t get away, he’s old. “That’s how Pete’s Dad shows his love, by going to the gym, this way Pete doesn’t have to stay up at night worrying that his dad will die of a heart attack!” After your dad locks the door to his bedroom, through the door say, “Dad, I can take you there myself! I’ll talk to them for you if you’re embarrassed! We can go now! They’re open 24/7, that’s why they’re called 24 Hour Fitness, Dad!”
- Buy your mother a really nice Nordstrom’s winter coat that is two sizes too small, and then act devastated when it does not fit her. Aggressively push her to try it on anyway, even though it clearly, logically, because of science, does not fit her. Gasp and say “Oh, I thought you were smaller.” As you force her to try it on in front of the rest of the family, keep gasping, “Too much Costco Cheesecake, mom!” Gasp some more. “Oh, but it’s such a nice coat.” When her arms get stuck in the sleeves of the coat and her face is red with anger, pat her on the back like she is a failed Little League child who tried, then say, “At least we tried.” Pretend you’re going to help her take it off, then surprise her by trying to get the coat over her shoulders again, say “Now! Now! Don’t get mad at me, I’m just double checking.” Then whisper angrily to yourself “Just trying to make sure I didn’t waste my money…again.” After she kicks you or forcibly gets the coat off her body, hold the coat close to your heart, pet the coat like a hurt cat as you stare at your mother with a judgmental look and say “Well, don’t blame ME for trying… good thing the new year is coming.” Keep petting the coat. “Maybe this will be a nice incentive for you to…” (pause to look at her belly) “make some important resolutions?”
- When you see that the pictures on the fridge of you are from ten years ago when you were slimmer, and that there are no pictures of you on the fridge as you are now, fat and fabulous, go to the photo albums. Find a picture of your parents in their 20s. Walk up to them and hold the picture close to your face, cry a little, gulp the air as if you cannot breathe, look at the picture, then look at them, then look at the picture, then shove the picture their faces, and through the tears ask, “What happened?!” Take a deep breath, cry some more, then: “What happened to my parents!?” Look at their stomachs, wince, and look away in disbelief. Cry some more, but make it a really angry, sloppy cry, like, let a Blair Witch booger slowly fall from your nose as you cry, throw in some “Why are you doing this to yourselves!?” When your parents become upset and/or get agitated, act surprised, like you’ve done nothing wrong, like they’re overreacting, hold up your hand to shush them, and say “Okay! Okay! I’m sorry! I’m sorry I’m the only one who cares about your bodies!” Grab the eggnog from the fridge, pound it, and when you’re done, fist bump the air.
- When they pull that fucked-up crap where they tell you you’re too fat and need to eat better but then serve a fatty holiday meal and keep asking you why you’re not eating? Take the entire holiday meal, all of it, and throw it in the trash. Take their food from their mouths, grab the potatoes, the gravy, the ham, the pies, the salad, the tamales, whatever your culture holds dear during the winter, all of it, even the leftovers, and in the trash they go. Even if your mother is crying, make sure to stomp your foot into the garbage can so the family can’t take it out. Then yell, “The diet starts today! This is for our own good! I’m doing this because I LOVE ALL OF YOU!” Grab your keys, scream “GOING TO THE GYM! EXCUSES DON’T BURN CALORIES!” Exit the house, slam the front door. Drive to a nice restaurant that is still open. Order something delicious because you’re an adult who can pay for food and eat it comfortably without assholes judging your every bite. Smile. Enjoy your meal.
Being fat during the holidays can be rough. If you’re looking for real advice on how to survive fat shame from your family, please read the incredible work of Sonya Renee Taylor at thebodyisnotanapology.com and the amazing work of Virgie Tovar at virgietovar.com, both great activists who get all my praise and love. Have a fat happy New Year’s everyone.
Baruch Porras Hernandez is a writer and performer. His work can be found in Assaracus by Sibling Rivalry Press, Quiet Lightning, Divining Divas with Lethe Press, Aim for the Head with Write Bloody Publishing, online with Drunk in a Midnight Choir, and several other anthologies. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry for 2014, he is the voice of the SHIPWRECK SF erotic literary fan fiction competition and podcast, and regularly hosts literary shows with KQED. He has performed all over the place– NYC, LA, DC, and parts of Canada, from The Moth to drag cabarets, from fancy universities to dark, damp caves. He was born in Mexico and lives in San Francisco where he pigs out on gummy bears. For more, go to baruchporrashernandez.wordpress.com