The Fat Lady

When I was about 12 years old, my siblings came up with the idea to do a circus show for our parents and neighbors. The plan was to set up rows of chairs outside and make tickets and popcorn and lemonade for our audience.

Through clever disguises one brother appeared to have very short legs and an unnaturally long body. I remember a clown, a sword swallower, and perhaps our blind-in-one-eye pony. Someone more creative than I tossed out different ideas, and suddenly declared, “and Lani can be the fat lady!”

Under a blouse and full length skirt, I wore a big inner tube around my midsection. Ropes over my shoulders kept the tube in place but allowed me to move freely. The tube bounced against my legs as I walked and the effect was hilarious.

Even though nobody said I was fat, I felt embarrassed. Was it because I was the logical choice among five sisters for the role? Or because it didn’t seem quite right to dress up as a fat lady? Probably both.

At first I worried that our mom, whom we insisted was not fat but “pleasingly plump”, would be offended by us having a fat lady at our circus, but she laughed and I relaxed. The audience loved it. I remember relishing their laughter and affirmations.

Still, all these years later the memory brings mixed emotions; a smile at the creativity and fun of making our own circus and a smidgen of shame that I was the fat lady.

The shame I feel reminds me of the sad truth that I lived most of my life deeply ashamed of my body. As I reclaim the truth of who I am and receive my whole self as gift, I’m replacing shame with gratitude.

There’s no question I was a pudgy toddler. But I no longer see cause for shame in this photo. I see a happy little girl, fully alive.

I hope my grandchildren and all children everywhere grow confident in their bodies and grateful for them. I hope they run and dance and move freely all the days of their lives.

God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.

Genesis 1:31a

4 Comments Add yours

  1. emily cullen says:

    I love this story and the reminder to be gentle with ourselves, as we are all created in the Lords image. Sending love as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shirl koneke says:

      Love the story. Lani.


    2. lanibogart says:

      I’m so glad! Thank you.


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