13 Ways of Looking At a Fat Girl

images.jpgMona Awad is an Arab-Canadian and the product of creative writing schools. I don’t know if she had any first hand knowledge of her subject, but her 13 vignettes in the life of a woman with severe body issues certainly seems viable. Awad has a strong grasp on the essentials of good fiction. As someone once said, It’s all in the details.

Each individual story (vignette) shows a different view of a fat girl’s involvement in the everyday elements of life: food, clothes, exercise, friends, sex. The conflict comes, however, not with ripped seams in an expensive dress or an extra cannoli for dessert.

After several vignettes, it becomes obvious that we are experiencing the evolution of a fat girl. Problem is, this fat girl grows up and becomes obsessed with becoming and remaining a not-fat woman. But here is the real conflict: you can’t take the fat girl out of the fat girl no matter how much you exercise or diet or lose weight.

This is an interesting theme to contemplate: in today’s world where body shaming is bad and plus-sized models are good, what is Awad telling us about being a fat girl?

featherline

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright 1954 by Wallace Stevens

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