Soy Gorda…y Que?

Yoly with Hello Kitty

Yoly with Hello Kitty

Ed. Note: This essay is part of the series, Accepting the Self: Latinas on Body Image. To enjoy the full series, please read the introduction.

yoly ovalleBy Yoly Ovalle

I have high self-esteem for being a fat chick.

All the credit goes to my father. I can’t remember when I was thin. I know I was. I have the pictures to prove it. But somewhere before Kindergarten I became Chunky.

I was a sick infant and my Cuban parents old school mentality thought that thin meant unhealthy. When I began to recuperate, they gave me appetite “enhancers.” They gave me that Aceite de Higado de Bacalao and Bisti (I still don’t know what that is and just don’t want to know). I was given one raw egg yolk every morning and the potaje de puree was a must. Who knows what other things that I can’t quite remember. But, oh boy, did it all work.

I remember being 8-years-old and on my first diet. Lean Cuisines meals, while everyone else was enjoying un Bistec a Caballo, arroz blanco y papita fritas for dinner. It’s a vicious cycle I’ve dealt with for most of my life.

I can’t lie, there are moments when I say to myself, “Contra, I need to lose some weight!” But I’ve never been one to cry or hate myself over it. That’s just not me.

Throughout my teenage years, I heard it all. From the loving “You are pretty, but you would be much prettier if you lose weight.” And the hurtful, “You will NEVER get a man looking like that.” Those are the most malicious words anyone can say.

My father would lose his top when someone said that to me in his presence. Los ponia como un trompo!

He once sat me down with me in my room and told me, “Eres gorda, y que?! One day the man of your dreams will come into your life and fall in love with you. And it won’t matter if you are fat, skinny, cock-eyed or missing a limb.”

Let me just say I thought he was nuts. Telling me all this to make me feel better. But the speech stuck in my head. And it did happen. Esta Gorda found the man of her dreams, became a wife and a mother. Twelve years and counting without having to lose weight or changing to fit what society wants from me.

Now it’s my turn to raise a daughter. The “Do I look fat in this?” question popped up some years ago after an outing with my female in-laws. And being my father’s daughter, las puse como un trompo!

I sat down with my 7-year-old and gave her the same speech, but with a bit of a change: “Eres flaca y que?!”

Yoly Ovalle is a 30-something Cuban-American Princess from Miami. She is a married stay-at-home mother of 1, who loves cooking, el
chisme, pero no la boberia. She writes the blog, The Barefoot Goddess.

Latinas on Body Image

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By Contributor on June 28, 2011 · Posted in the habla habla

28 Comments | Post Comment

Tracy says:

Loved this, Yoly. Being around women with self esteem is refreshing. So many of us hate on ourselves and it gets old.

Soy gordita (y qué?!) también. It’s funny because though my parents are Anglo, it happened the same way. I was a very thin child and was born with some health issues. My mother made sure to fatten me up. She did a great job and as a result, I’ve had to struggle with trying to accept myself, lose the weight, learn healthier eating habits – etc. It’s difficult to find balance sometimes, but the older I get, the more I love myself – so that’s a step in the right direction.

Saludos!

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Marta says:

Yoly,

You are a treasure! Thank you for sharing your sweet, sassy self!

Besos,
Marta

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Carmen Seiglie-Salgado says:

Very well said Yoly!!
I am very proud of you.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Jenny says:

I love your sassiness. Thank you for writing such an inspirational piece! More women should adopt your attitude!

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Carolyn G says:

Amen hermana! I realized a long time ago I was never going to be skinny. THen I went on with my life. I never accepted that the curvy ladies cannot be sexy or beautiful because we can. I never had a problem finding someone who accepted me for who I was and for my curves.

I wish more women would learn that lesson because it would make their life so much easier and happier!

Posted on June 28th, 2011

sweetlife says:

Hola Yoly!!
I admire your father for instilling in you great confidence. So true the man of your deeams will love you no matter what. Yo tambien soy and always have been gordita, y que? I love life, my family and myself. Hugs for a great post!

bonnie

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Sujeiry, 1st Lady of Love says:

“Aceite de Higado de Bacalao” – my mom used to give me this also! Hated it.

Loved your piece and how you tied it all together. And congrats on feeling good about yourself no matter what!

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Mercedes @BeChicMag says:

Great read! I laughed out loud a few times. You’re so witty.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Mary Lynn C says:

Bistic is a broth made from boiling beef and beef liver together and squeezing all the substance from it. My best friend’s mother made her skinny little self take it when she was young, and it has turned her into an adult vegetarian.

I also am gorda, have been for most of my adult life. I remember some panelist on Cristina’s old talk show once saying that he loved gordas “porque siempre tienen un nuevo rinconcito que descubrierles”.

O sea, tengo exceso de rincones! Viva a las gordas y los que tienen suficiente caracter para quererlas!

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Bren says:

Yoly, nice to meet you! From one “flaca” Cuban to a”gordita” Cuban, I commend you for being so candid and open about your weight. I’m not super flaca now but was dubbed that when I was young b/c I was super thin and had super long legs… while my sister on the other hand was always chunky and called “gordita” — til this day that’s how my parents refer to each us. Same applies to my two younger brothers… and then my niece was chunky all her youth (now 22) and we used to get on her about it… not just b/c of the weight but b/c of poor and irresponsible diet…. but like YOU, she’s uber confident and does not care what ppl say. There was a time when her feelings were grossly hurt and offended and honestly, we were a bit hard on her… all that being said, I do applaud your confidence but I would urge you to maintain your health in order, gorda or not! I don’t know you obviously, but as long as you’re healthy and happy, y que!?! ;)

Posted on June 28th, 2011

rachel says:

Love this!

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Aurelia Flores says:

What a lovely piece, and a wonderful story about your father inspiring that confidence in you! What our parents say — and how they treat our weight — has so much influence. Good for you for sharing, and for being completely happy with your beautiful self. Nice post. :)

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Alexandra says:

THis is the truth here.

Your father is/was amazing.

I had to eat beef broth, since my mother insisted that my boniness embarrassed her.

I was a reflection on her.

Unbelievable.

I am still thin, and still compare myself to women who have curves.

At my age…I still compare.

It was put in my head.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

It’s a never ending battle, but either you cry or laugh about it. I prefer to laugh. :) I’ve always had “Bodacious” friends with poor self esteem and I wish I could share an ounce of my self esteem with them. They are so much more than a number on a scale.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

You are very welcome, Marta. :)

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

Thanks, Mom! xoxo ;)

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

No, Thank you. :)

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

My mother passed at a young age, and I’m grateful to have been blessed with the father I once had. He was an amazing man. Despite always clashing with him, I keep everything he taught me close to my heart.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

My local Walgreens has it and I pass by the aisle covering my eyes with my hands. When my daughter was born, my dad insisted on giving that to her. I refused!

Btw, Thank you.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

Thank you very much.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

Ave Maria Purisima! WHY did you have to go there? Someone fetch me un palangana que me vomito. -fetal position & flashbacks-

I did the vegetarian deal in high school. My dad had a patatun. “NINA, LA ANEMIA!

We can play hide and seek with my curves. :D

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

I have to measure my words with my daughter, I can’t lie. She’s a “senorita” now. La hora del desarroyo is upon us. And I try to keep her weight in check. But that’s without letting her know.
My weight problem is that I don’t eat enough. (Stop laughing) Dinner and that’s about it. At times, I must force myself to eat lunch and you can forget Breakfast. But I have to say that this year, I’ve lost 20 lbs. I still have a long way to go. The one thing I’m not willing to lose is my Moxieness.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

Thank you.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

When I was younger in high school, I saw first hand when mothers/family members unleash their “weight discussions” upon my friends and I would leave wanting to slap the snot out of them. They try to mean well, but they would hurt their child in the process.
Many came sobbing and saying they wished they had my father as a parent. That I was extremely luck to have him. It would break my heart to see my friends so unhappy.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

He. was. Amazing!

The mind can make you or break you. Trust me.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

Thank you. The wittiness, well all I can say, I’m my father’s daughter. It’s a genetic trait.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Yoly says:

Thank you so much, Rachel.

Posted on June 28th, 2011

Sonia says:

Alabao, Yoly….te la comistes! This is wonderful! You my dear are also wonderful!

You should share this at Cocina Cubana…there are several members there who I think would enjoy reading this!

Posted on June 28th, 2011