I’ve never really been much of a fan of the holidays. It isn’t that I dislike the comaradie of the season or the food or decorations or the charity it brings out in so many people or the food or the the trees and presents or the food or those cheesy holiday specials on TV or the food or having time off of school to spend with the family. It’s just… Having so much time to spend with the family. Oh, and the food.
See, my mother is a real health guru. She’s a vegan and works as a personal trainer… the kind of person who makes a spinach and avocado shake first thing in the morning and then does her morning routine. She feels great, and thinks the whole world would feel great too, if they would just follow her example.
My father is a chiropractor. He met my mom after she threw out her back on one of the weight machines at the gym. He’s a really laid back sort of guy, but is really into the whole “holistic lifestyle” movement. My parents’ idea of a “hot date” is spending an afternoon together getting sweaty at the gym. Blech!
And then there is my younger sister, Sonya. She’s just a sophomore in high school, but she’s already playing the dating game pretty hardcore. She’s a bit clumsy and not exactly the brightest tool in the shed, but she is personable and — most importantly — very pretty, so she’s quite popular. Her figure, at least, meets our mother’s approval. I, however…
Well, one look at me and you wouldn’t even think I was really part of this family. I’m… fat. Let’s just be honest here. I find athletic endeavors akin to some kind of cruel torture and would much rather be watching my favorite sci-fi programs on TV or have my face stuffed in a book. And when I see sweets…
“Jayla Johnson, what are you doing? You know these are for the annual school Snowflake Day Bake Sale! You don’t need that!”
…I just can’t resist.
“But Mom… Just one cookie can’t–”
“You may as well get your New Year’s Resolution off to a head start this year! Now then, out of the kitchen! Go on!”
“Pfft! Honestly, how many carbs can your gluten-free vegan cookies have anyway?” I mumble under my breath as I back out of the kitchen, feeling utterly defeated and, once again, terrible about myself.
The holiday season is always like this in my house. I don’t even think my family realizes it, but it is like they take the opportunity to turn the holidays into a way to make sure to poke me about my body image at every possible moment. Merry Snowflake Day and Happy New Year! …No cookies for you.
…And it’s like this every year.
On the morning of Snowflake Day, our family always gathers right after a breakfast of mom’s whole-wheat pancakes with fruit topping (never any syrup) to exchange gifts. Usually the ceremony isn’t that much different than you’d find in any other house. My sister and I like to use bacon-and-eggs wrapping paper on Mom’s gifts just to make her roll her eyes, considering both foods are on her vegan-taboo list, many itchy sweaters that don’t fit and kitchen cutlery that will never be used are removed from boxes, and many pleasant “Oh, I love it, thank you!”‘s are exchanged.
But this year, things went a little differently.
“Dear, do you think we should show Jayla her present now, or after the exchange?”
“Let’s show her now! These can wait a little longer!”
I was perplexed. I just wanted to start tearing into all that wrapping paper. What were they talking about?
I understood as soon as I was led upstairs, into the spare room Mom uses as a workout room. There, in the corner, was a shiny new treadmill.
“Happy Snowflake Day, Jayla! This is for you! It’s a special model that is especially good for beginners!” Mom immediately started gloating. She was certainly far more excited about this gift than I was.
“I, uh… ya, that’s… that’s great, Mom.” It was really hard for me to not hide the disappointment on my face.
“You can spend time working out with your Mom. Real mother-daughter bonding time as you work towards your New Year’s Resolution! It’ll be fun!” my Dad piped in.
“Once you lose some weight, let’s go shopping together with our Snowflake Day money and get some new clothes!” Sonya was quick to offer.
“Ya…” I felt numb. Attacked from all sides. “Thanks… Thanks everyone! This is great!” I said, pulling out that patented itchy-sweater-gift fake smile.
I was able to avoid the treadmill for a short time. The whole “New Year’s Resolution” idea to lose weight had been my family’s idea, and now, I was firmly using that to my advantage, claiming I had until the start of the new year before I really had to use that monstrosity upstairs in Mom’s home gym. Sadly, I couldn’t stop time, and as soon as the new year rolled around, Mom became adamant about my new workout regimen.
“Come on, Jayla! You can do this!”
“Mom… I’m… going to… have a heart attack…”
“No you’re not! You’re doing fine!”
I couldn’t believe my own mother wanted to kill her daughter so thoroughly. All for the crime of being a little chubby. Torture! Torture, I tell you!
I had to get my mind focused on something else. I had to…
I then looked up from the treadmill to the little TV against the wall, and saw her. A big, beautiful, black goddess. She was so round and voluptuous, but completely full of confidence in herself. “Large and in charge, chunky yet funky,” the voice from the TV said. She knew she was beautiful just the way she was. She was so proud. She…
…Wasn’t a she at all!
I clicked off the treadmill and stepped off.
“Taking a break already, honey? Let’s see, based on how much you just ran, you just burned 587 calories, so if you keep this up, you can reach goal at–”
I didn’t even listen to my mom as she whipped out her fitness-tracking app on her phone. I didn’t care. This wasn’t my New Year’s Resolution. It never had been. This had been my family’s idea. Get Jayla to lose weight for the new year. I don’t need that to be strong and beautiful. It just took a beautiful, confident Drag Queen to make me realize it!
I ate a slice of leftover apple pie from our holiday feastings, just to spite my family. And it had never tasted so good!
A week later, my mother found me on the sofa, my nose buried in a book, and gave me her patented disappoving stare.
“Jayla, what are you doing?”
“I figured that’s a bit obvious. I’m reading.”
“But it’s Wednesday. And it’s 4:00 p.m. Why aren’t you on the treadmill?”
“I’m not doing that anymore.”
She was exasperated. “It’s barely into the new year! You can’t give up on your resolution already!”
“That was never my New Year’s Resolution. That was your New Year’s Resolution. My New Year’s Resolution is to read more books. I used some of my Christmas money to join an online book club that will send me a new book each week, and I just finished off one of the books I grabbed from the library. I’m on the second now. So far I’m doing pretty good!”
She was stunned. For several moments, there was silence. Then, “But don’t you want to lose weight?”
“Actually, Mom, I’m quite fine being big and beautiful in my own way.”
I’m not sure the thought had ever occured to her. She looked like she was getting a headache. She didn’t say anything after that. Which was fine with me. I couldn’t wait to finish off that chapter, things were getting good!
…So good. This year was looking up already!
This was written for the December Monthly Short Story Challenge from the Sims forums, which tasked folks to write a story in 500-1500 words using 1-12 screencaps using the theme “‘Tis the season for…” It is a completely stand-alone story, not using any characters from any of my other works.
I know this is a pretty… odd story for a “holiday” piece, but there are some grains of reality in the story of the “fictional” family. Namely, I actually am a “big girl” that learned to love myself and get over my body issues from the positive image of real Drag Queen Latrice Royale, who appeared on the fourth season of reality TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race. (And a big shoutout to ValoisFulcanelli who provided the catwalk the Sim version of Latrice is struttin’ her stuff on in this story! I’d also like to thank RebornMonster who also built me a catwalk, but with such a limited amount of screenshots that can be used in these challenges, I was unable to use both for this! I appreciate it all the same, though!)
And now I shall end this little holiday nugget with a quote from RuPaul herself: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here?”