It Started With an Article I Wrote, Which I Thought Was NBD. But Then, the Floodgates Opened…

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 10.23.31 PMI stood outside my tap-dance class using the very spotty service to check my Facebook messages. It had been a day and a half since the article I wrote for Mind Body Green – “What Losing 100 Pounds Taught Me About How the World Treats Overweight People” – was published, and I was freaking out. I had already received tens of thousands of likes and hundreds of messages from women (and a few men) thanking me for loaning my voice to their experience. I had also received a fair share of messages cursing me out for being so close-minded as to not understand that the reason people treated me better now that I was thin had nothing to do with my weight. According to these naysayers, 100 pounds ago I had provoked bullying with my low self-esteem, not my size, and now that I was thin and thought better of myself, I was “attracting more light to my life,” or some shit like that. And that’s why the world treated me better now. Mmmm-kay…

There were a lot – and I mean a lifetime’s worth – of messages in my inbox. All I had done was share my story and offer my observations of the world through the lens of a newly thin person. From the emphatic, zealous response from people all over the world, you’d think I discovered a way to breathe underwater. I seemed to have hit a nerve.

Even though I had been writing and otherwise expressing my opinions out loud for many years, I had never before had this kind of a colossal reaction to my words. People were outraged and thrilled. For better or worse, my story of going from a bullied, fat kid to a disillusioned (but popular!) thin woman struck a chord with them. In the process, I was brandishing the very thing that many of my peers were trying desperately to hide: my underbelly.

And by underbelly, I not only mean literally (significant weight loss often results in significant skin floppiness), but figuratively. What I was suddenly exposing was the yucky, often unspoken truth about how mean-spirited our society can be about size, a truth known only to those who – like me – jumped the fence and wound up in a sunnier spot than before.

I’ll tap it out, I thought! These days, that was how I handled the vast majority of my problems. Angst over environmental devastation? Shuffle on down to Christopher Street for a tap class! Grandma’s dying? Time to time step! When I shuffle-ball-change, nobody (including me) cares about anything besides whether my pleather tap shoes are making the right sounds at the right times. (And they often aren’t, but I digress.)

1512573_10151890445360892_598987501_nI was early to class, so I stood there wearing oversized, paint-splattered white overall shorts (tap-dance brought out the 80s in me), trying to pass the time, wondering why nobody else is ever early. I fingered my phone. “Don’t read the comments,” I said to myself, as I shuffled past the hundreds of messages that I’d respond to later, during my upcoming all-nighter that I was suddenly planning. “Need some goddamn coffee,” I whispered to no one.

Thumbing through these messages, one caught my eye, and I clicked on it. It was from one Allison Janice, an editor for Berkley Publishing – an imprint of Penguin Random House. I squinted, wondering if what I was reading was real: “…could be an interesting book… talk to your agent… would love to read a proposal… drop me a line…”

The backpack that had been casually draped over my shoulder, apparently half-unzipped, fell to the floor in a thud, and my scuffed up, vegan tap shoes noisily toppled out, causing me to jump. “Holy shit,” I said to my phone. “They want me to write a book. About me.”

Two years and one month later, my memoir,  Always Too Much and Never Enough, was born. (And I didn’t even get an episiotomy.)

Jasmin Singer
Jasmin Singer
Jasmin Singer is the executive director of the nonprofit Our Hen House, a multimedia hub of opportunities to change the world for animals, and author of the memoir, Always Too Much And Never Enough. With her wife, animal rights lawyer Mariann Sullivan, she produces a Webby-recognized weekly podcast and an online magazine. She has written for numerous publications, including the Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen, has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and HuffPo Live, and can be seen in the award-winning documentaries Vegucated and The Ghosts in Our Machine. Jasmin splits her time between New York City and Germantown, New York, with Mariann and their perfect pit bull, Rose.