Last weekend, I was at a frat party. About an hour into it, a guy wearing a green cut off tee escorted me out. He took me by the arm and said, "It's time to go; we have to leave."
At first I didn't understand why I was being asked to leave, until, while standing just outside the back door of the house, I overheard this conversation: The guy turned to his friend, who I can only assume was his frat brother, and said, "I just took this majorly fat girl out of this party." His friend's response? "Yeah, we can't have that here."
I just stood there in shock. Did I hear him right? Not in a million years did I ever think something like this could really happen. I didn't even think to I.D. him or his friend because at the time I didn't fully grasp what had happened. It was not until the next day that the whole situation really sank in.
I woke up with my mind racing. "Maybe I should have stayed on that all kale and ginger cleanse for the two day extension, maybe I should have picked the small liberal arts, city school, and man, why didn't I run four miles instead of three?"
My first reaction was guilt and shame – what could I have done to avoid this? I could feel myself beginning to spend more time than usual comparing myself to others at the gym, in the library, and at my morning Starbucks run. Then I realized I was letting some frat boy in a mutilated t-shirt win, and I just couldn't let that happen.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jana Pudles.
I am 19 years old. I spent last year travelling to 16 different countries on a program called Kivunim, and I learned more about myself and world cultures then I ever thought possible. A couple months ago I ran a half marathon. I was a high school athlete who held a varsity title all four years of her high school career. I also have a huge passion for the organizations in which I participate, like the Anti-Defamation League, and I took pride in being an orientation leader, helping the new freshmen adjust to the "scary high school lifestyle." Not to mention, I have been told I have the most diverse iTunes library in all of Eastern Philadelphia.
I can confidently say that I don't need a badly-dressed frat boy defining my self-worth. I am a girl, sorry, scratch that, I am a woman who sometimes loses her phone, and from certain camera angles can look like she just rolled out of bed, but I am for sure, 100%, NOT the "fat girl." And I will not be defined by some kid who thinks I am.
I am human, and this incident stung hard. I'm new to college and away from home, without my support system nearby. It shook me, and made me doubt myself. But, the more I talk to those I love, those that matter, the better I am able to see what matters, and what doesn't.
I refuse to be made to feel less than, and I refuse to define myself by trivial standards. If I like to read the Yahoo home page for hours while eating my favorite gluten-free, non-GMO, peanut-free cake recipe then so be it.
There is no sense in comparing apples to cyborgs, and I may not LOVE every part of my body, but I am grateful that I can run, walk, and most importantly shake my Nicki Minaj ass. I am lucky to know who I am. So, I'm sorry to the frat boy reading this who is now realizing that his desire to find his self-worth by putting down mine, did not work.
I am almost glad it happened to me. I am lucky to know who I am. It is so frightening what could happen if this was thrown at someone else who didn't have the kind of self-understanding it takes to get past it – the damage and the pain it could cause.
So, the next time you are on "Fat Girl" duty, or partaking in a seemly "harmless" prank, I am begging you to think more before you act – the effect of your actions others is monumental and far-reaching.
To the rest of you, find the beauty in the fact that we are all representations of our histories and that we are passing down the traits that have survived and thrived for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. Next time you're aimlessly grazing through your social media, making rash judgments, just remember there are many different ways to define beauty. And go to that frat party with your bros or gals! Remember, you may be too phat to frat, but never too fat.
Written by: Jane Pudles
Cover image via WeHeartIt.