As a kid, I hated the belt. I didn’t own one, but I dreaded it being slapped against my backside. And considering that I was a sulky, petulant kid, I frequently felt its sting.
There was a good reason that I didn’t wear belts. When you are obese, the belt it the las thing you’d ever want to put on your body.
Consider the rolls of fat that encircle the waists of overweight people. A belt would either have to fit between the rolls, creating mounds of flesh above and below, or sit on top of the stomach. Both would emphasize the amount of fat. Not a pretty picture.
My tops were more like dresses as they had to get wider the further south they went. And dresses were actually modified tents for the same reason. In either case, belts were unnecessary.
I never owned a pair of shorts or pants that utilized a belt. Not until I was much older, anyway.
Consider the waistband. If it requires a belt, it most likely has no elastic. The fabric is reinforced and somewhat stiff. A belt slides through loops until it passes through the buckle.
Now on an obese person, the waistband of pants fits, as before, between the roll of the stomach and the bulge of lower abdomen. It hurts, to say the least.
Add a belt and buckle. Every time you bend over, the buckle presses into the stomach. The pressure of that fat bends the buckle outward, often at a twenty-five-degree angle or more. Not only is it uncomfortable, it looks ridiculous.
While my school mates wore uniforms that had a tailored waist, I had to wear the old hand-me-down uniforms that were faded blue, which was embarrassing, but those old ones hung tent-like. Plus they were in my size while the new ones were not.
Imagine being the fourth grader who is so fat that she has to wear someone else’s faded tent to school? I was marked as being poor and fat, a deadly combination.
So until I became a teenager and had more control over what I was/was not eating, my only experience with a belt was as a device for punishment.
As many teens, angst hit me full-force. The sulky child became a depressed, withdrawn teen. I spent hours in my bedroom, whenever my sister was somewhere basking in the glory of my mother’s adulation.
I lost my appetite for anything my mom cooked, primarily because she relied on potatoes, deep fried foods, beans cooked with bacon or fats, and other such high-calorie combinations. And, emotionally I was a wreck. I hated being at home where I could end up in trouble for doing nothing or something. I seethed with unspent anger, at the parents, my brother and my sister. I had difficulty reining in my desires to lash out, so it just boiled and roiled inside.
Food didn’t taste good and what I was forced to eat sat heavy in my stomach.
I began to lose weight, which troubled my mom who believed that fat children had greater odds of surviving, which didn’t make sense as she was, and had always been, thin.
When I compared myself to her, I felt a sense of betrayal and confusion. There was a double-standard there before I ever knew the term. It was fine for her to have a trim, beautiful body, but not me.
My sister was allowed to be thin, but not me.
It was almost as if my mother didn’t want competition from me, and so she kept me ugly on purpose.
That’s how I felt.
In time, I could wear clothing with belt-loops, but I still saw myself as fat. It wasn’t until I left home for college that I believed myself thin enough to walk about in short, fitting skirts with belts.
My mother still made many of my clothes, and so I had tent-style dresses and elasticized waists, which I was force to pack when I left home. I didn’t wear them, however and my mom never knew. She wasn’t on campus to see.
This was not my first act of rebellion, but it solidified my understanding of my own power to say no.
No to being spanked with a belt. No to being the misunderstood middle child who’d been repeatedly told she was worthless. No to being the fat kid, the bullied kid. No to being the mindless person that my parents wanted me to be.
I bought myself a belt as a trophy. And wore it proudly.
Most people probably think that a belt is a fashion accessory. They most likely have no idea that it is also a weapon. A weapon of torture as well as a weapon that separates the obese from the rest of society.
The next time you see a fat kid without a belt, don’t tsk-tsk and shake your head.
Instead think about the reasons that child isn’t wearing one. And if you do that, your perception of that child and many others will instantly change.
The belt may be a fashion statement in your eyes, but in the child’s it’s a source of fear and humiliation.