Do These Flannel Pajamas Make Me Look Fat?

I’m self-conscious.

About my weight. My appearance. Skin texture. Eyebrow shape. Everything.

A month ago – after editing late into the night – I groaned when my Messenger whistled in the morning. I was message-bombed. Moreover, weight-message bombed.

A perky person messaging someone in flannel pajamas – that’s right, I wear flannel – about Beach Body and Shakeology. Not what I wanted to read first thing in the morning. And not what I wanted to read, period.

I have nothing against Shakeology, Beach Body, Slim Roast, Pray the Fat Away, or whatever you’re into. And I doubt anyone’s been offended by a Sweet Legs, Forever 31, or Tupperware message.

But when you’re already self-conscious and – despite what anyone says – you feel akin to a beluga whale, you don’t need a peppy weight-loss spiel.

The back story. Picture it. September 2011. I accepted a job in broadcast television with Shaw TV Edmonton. I was thrilled beyond thrilled. However, before they could officially employ me, they needed photo ID to run a background check. The producers already saw my demo, but I was certain the job offer would be reneged when they saw a photocopy of my fat face on a laminated plastic card.

The job was still mine though, and I moved to Edmonton. Then I entered the newsroom – and I felt my waist and hips expand. On my first day, I met with my supervisors. I confessed I was uncomfortable being the only female journalist with over four per cent body fat.

At the time I was a size 6, and sometimes 4.

In size 4 pants and an XS shirt, I felt I had plenty of flesh for these Zombies, 2012.

I’m aware that’s not fat, but I also didn’t feel either pretty or thin enough to be in broadcasting. Each day before work, I made my husband take photos of me. After work, I’d analyze them. That colour drowns me out. That blazer makes my hips look big. Those pants are too tight, and so forth. And I loathed my standups. I became so critical, I refused to watch my stories at home.

My hips were too wide when I faced the camera. Sideways? Showed the disproportion from my smaller waist than hips. I tried to compensate. I was shot from the waist up. I used my voluminous hair and vast collection of lipsticks as my trademark. Think “Life or Something Like It” with Angelina Jolie.

In March 2012, I was preparing to interview the agriculture minister. I wore bold crimson lipstick, charcoal pencil skirt, and a body-hugging black turtleneck. As I fluffed my hair – resembling Reba’s, circa 1996 – one of the reporters called me “voluptuous.” My face fell. “Tammy, it’s a compliment. You have that hourglass shape.”

But “voluptuous.” I’m sure that reporter meant well, but the word triggered a scene from a movie I watched as a preteen. Where a little kid sees a photo of Marilyn Monroe. And he asks why she’s fat. The mother replies, “She’s not fat. She’s ‘voluptuous.’ ” My takeaway: a child sees a “fat” woman, and he has to be convinced she’s not fat. Although Marilyn Monroe’s measurements have been exaggerated since her accurate measurements were 35-22-35. Far from the urban legend of a size 12 to 14.

Though I’ve never dieted, I’ve been called over-weight, under-weight, anorexic. As a kid, called yellow submarine (yellow jogging suit, grade five, chubby), 80 pounder (lavender jogging suit, grade five, chubby). Needless to say, I stopped wearing jogging suits. But I was never a happy medium.

No doubt the perky morning Shakeology messenger had good intentions. She didn’t know when someone messages, “Hey, are you coming to the rink,” I respond with “But I look like crap.” And when I’d show up, I’d leave as quickly as possible. Because I look like crap. Or that I wear makeup when I go for a speedwalk or jog. Or that I’ve gained ten pounds since my broadcasting career ended.

And the mixed messages. Some say I was too skinny before my television days. Another said, when I told them I couldn’t fit into my broadcasting clothes, “You will again though, right?”

In the mirror, I see a fat person with a fat face, thick legs, and wide hips. And it depresses the hell out of me.

At least I have nice eyebrows though.

I just did them.