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To accept the others, first we have to accept ourselves and accept who we are “The Fat Girl” is a short story about a girl that tries to fit in today’s standards and satisfies her parents as well. The author , Andre Dubus , shows how trying to fit in the society standards , individuals have the pressure of conforming to a superficial image. This idea is developed through the early years of Louise , her weight change and new life , and back to the old habit.
First of all, Andre Dubus, takes us into the life of a young girl whose mother is convincing her that she will become fat and how hard is to make friends. We can see this after the mom tell her daughter , “You must start watching what you eat, her mother would say. I can see you have my metabolism”. As the mother doesn’t want that, she puts Louise onto a strict diet. In order not to displease her mother, but still satisfy her hunger, Louise started eating food when no one was watching. While her mother was strict and caring, on the other side her father was loving and misguided. Louise didn’t have a lot of friends. Her two childhood friends, Joan and Marjorie were both thin but they felt as a social outcast in other ways. Louise only feels comfortable in the presence of others who were also insecure and unhappy. Ironically Louise intentionally chooses friends who are not heavy because she worries about the way others will see her. “I was always thinking about what people saw when they looked at me and didn’t want them to see two fat girls”. It appears that Louise finds her weight issues to be bigger than her friend’s insecurities. She chooses to exclude those who are heavy from her life while welcoming those with different negative issues. In addition to her self-image issues, Louise also doubts her ability to find happiness in an intimate relationship. Her mother put in her head some negative perceptions such as “In five years you’ll be in high school and if you’re fat the boys won’t like you; they won’t ask you out” . This quote shows the overall feeling of the people who don’t meet today’s standards. Louise continues down this negative road when she decides to go to an all-girl college so she can avoid rejection from guys. Up until this point her only contact with a boy was at a picnic with a drunken kiss .
Once in college , Louise shows us how changing and losing weight makes a lot of difference in someone’s life. Louise continues her self-loathing into college where the only close friend she makes is this thin girl with emotional issues. In the story we can see a strong friendship between the two girls, which leads to the important point where Louise decides to go on a diet, and it is only because her best friend Carrie convinces her that she needs to become thin so that some boy will love her as Carrie does. Carrie pleads, “I want you to be loved the way I love you. Louise, if I help you, really help you, will you go on a diet?”. Although Carrie is trying to help her best friend, she is actually reinforcing Louise’s views of her own body. She starts losing fat and her mother starts threating her differently. She finds her way more beautiful and starts buying all kinds of stuff .As Louise progresses with her new diet, she becomes more and more irritable and unhappy with life. “In all her life she had never been afflicted by ill temper and she looked upon it now as a demon which, along with hunger, was taking possession over her soul” .With this quote the author wants to show us that Louise is being pressed into losing weight for strictly superficial reasons, and so she can get accepted into society and fit today’s standards. This can be further seen when Louise feels shame and embarrassment when she goes to Carrie’s house for thanksgiving, all because she is aware Carrie’s parents know she is dieting. Louise is uncomfortable and feels excluded in partaking of the many dishes the other thin people can comfortably enjoy.
In the end , we can’t forget our old habits and sometimes we should accept who we are and stay the way we are. After college, the new thin Louise meets a young lawyer named Richard, who finds her attractive and has no knowledge of her life before. Louise is sure he would never have looked at her if she had still been heavy. They get married and Louise becomes a housewife. While Louise struggles to keep herself thin, her husband can eat anything he wants and still remain fit. She makes him all kind of Italian food that she is unable to consume. It is ironic that she marries a person who has “the metabolism of a pencil sharpener” when Louise must watch every calorie she eats. The next five years shows a Louise who is thin with new friends, a loving husband, and an active lifestyle, which is by most accounts a ‘perfect life’. In her fifth year of marriage, Louise becomes pregnant and her eating begin to become uncontrollable. The new changes in her body frighten her as Louise remarks that she is starting to gain weight but she told herself it was only the baby, and would leave with its birth. But at other times she knew quite clearly that she was losing her discipline she had fought so hard to gain during her last year with Carrie. A baby is born, but Louise has now returned to her bad habits and though she cares for her child, she continues to alienate her husband. They fight at nearly every dinner over her appetite and weight gain . Andre Dubus finishes his story with a surprised Louise enjoying a candy bar and shocked to discover her husband Richard is still there.
In conclusion, The short story “The Fat Girl” by Andre Dubus shows many of the negative aspects associated with eating disorders, fat people, and the way society addresses them. Today’s standards are too high and people who don’t fit in them are getting rejected and they feel sad about their body. Sometime they try changing , but sometimes is better to be who you are and accept yourself.
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