This, my little round one, is the truth.

There is one brief shiny moment, when one is an infant, when roundness is adored. But the adorable, roly-poly baby overflowing with cheeks must soon acquire lines and angles or forever forsake adoration and admiration. Now, I was luckier. In my time, people got to keep their cheeks for another year or so. You, my dear, are too old at 9 months for such sinfully sagging cheeks. The world belongs to long and pointy people.

I look now at photographs of myself as a toddler, even a four, five, six year old. I was never long and pointy-well, somewhat long, but you would never have pointed me out as pointy! (Sorry, couldn't resist that!) But I was not flabby and fat. My schoolmates however were already getting a march on their lean, mean looks and encouraged by the taunting of our not-so-lean sports instructor, convinced me that movement-supple or swift or both-was beyond my capabilities. Add to the mix, my own distaste for getting dirty and my love of books, ideas and stories, and it is no wonder that I always used my quick wit and eloquence to dodge outdoor activities that I might have enjoyed.

Sweetheart, I want you to play in the dirt. I want you to enjoy the exhileration of a long run. I want you to hear music that lifts your heart and allow it to lift you off your feet. I want you to sweat away anger and resentment. I want you to feel the cool breeze on your hot skin. Listen to what I am saying. Do not pay the price I did—be long and pointy.

Okay, so maybe the dirt thing never was a priority. But I look at those photographs of me at three and four, twisting if not shouting, and I think of all the years I could have been dancing. I want you to dance. So don't fail to be long and pointy or your peers will snigger at your jiggling tyres.

Long and pointy people never have to go to clothes stores and be shamed because nothing fits them. Adolescence must be easy for those who know they will emerge like swans from those years of being all legs and neck and limbs that don't quite move in unison. No trial room sermons followed by embarrassed re-emergence into the store: "No, nothing fit." What a problem! Even when long and pointy people don't fit into things, there is virtue and envy in their state. Non-long and non-pointy people simply eat too much.

And the greater their scorn, the larger I seemed to grow, wearing the hurt I could not speak as layers of flesh that would steel my breaking heart. When you are not long and pointy, everyone has a recommendation for you. Since you are not the right size, you must be both intellectually impaired and impervious to insult or injury. Those who are smart and sensitive enough to be long and pointy will always tell you how to be like them. For every 'try eating boiled eggs, they have negative calories,' or 'eat more spices, they will counteract the curds you love and eat so much of,' or 'I am worried about her, she eats so much,' the sensual, sentient being that is you retreats a little. One insult, one pound of fleshy armour.

Someone—an unwittingly kind soul—once told me that fat people were jolly and musically gifted. To that I clung with hope. I think fat people are kind. We don't tell the long and pointy people that we can see their ribs and if they are not actually living in a famine-stricken society, that is not pretty. We don't tell them that being able to see the skeletal structure of their hands is not very attractive no matter how many gem-stones stud the hands. We wear their hurtful words on our bodies, and we let them get away, still long, still pointy.

What actually saved me were words—I read them faster than most, I used them better than most and they gave me universes where people did not need to be long and pointy to fit in. And I could sing—from the recesses of my roly-poly abdomen emerged a voice that could carry a tune and carry it to the ends of a large room. But I could not dance. I want you to dance. Please quickly become long and pointy.

My mother would tell me that long after my long and pointy peers aged, my round cheeks would still look young. I am reaching that point. I still have a dimple where the long and pointy have hollow cheeks. I have breasts when the long and pointy don't. But it feels too late. My hair is grey, my eyes dimmer, my spirit is sagging and my heart is heavy. Being long and pointy would have been better.

But as I hold you, and I see my round cheeks in yours, I know this too: you have no long and pointy genes from me. From your luckier aunts, from your grandmother, perhaps you do, but there are no guarantees.

What you have is the inner resilience of my sagging spirit. I have never lost the desire to dance. I cannot re-create you as a long and pointy creature although I recognize that would have been a far superior way to create you. I can give you the power I have to resist the hegemony of the long and pointy, to keep within you the desires that the world will tell you are inappropriate to roly-poly people. I can give you the gift of walking past those who snigger and hearing nothing. I can give you the ability to freeze the preening long and pointy twits with the superiority of your intellect. I can give you the confidence-albeit the lonely confidence-of those who become disembodied persons, persons who not having perfect long and pointy bodies decide to have no bodies at all—unconstrained by body image issues, unfettered by the lusts and desires that come with bodies and unconcerned about the appearance of one's appearance.

You can re-claim your body when you are ready. Perhaps there will be some things you cannot do, but bubble baths will still soothe your senses. Lavender lotion will still feel good. Silk will still slide off your curves. And you can still dance. And you will indulge yourself and exult in the movement-all for yourself and no one else. It is not as lonely as it sounds.

Would that you could be long and pointy, my baby, but if I cannot give you that, I will give you courage and resilience. I will give you a singing voice that will remind your body of its desire to dance. I will give you the gift of words that will remind your heart of passion. I will give you a universe of dreams that will stand guard against those who would limit your possibilities. But that is a very difficult road, my little roly-poly love.

Just quickly become long and pointy. The world belongs to long and pointy people.

December 16, 2002

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