We hear it everywhere. That you can't judge a book by its cover, that it is what's inside that really counts. And yet, the message gets obliterated by everything else we do and say in life. Yes, we are biologically drawn to certain body types but it is more than that. Our media, our advertising, they tell us you have to be one way to look beautiful. You have to be thin. But sometimes, just sometimes, we meet someone who blows all this thinking right out of the water and turns everything you thought you knew about beauty on its head.
She squeezed herself into the seat beside him on a plane. Her massive arm taking over the armrest, her size dwarfing him beside her.
He recoiled. It would be a long flight beside this mammoth person!
She greeted him, offered a handshake, explaining "If we’re going to spend six hours side-by-side on this flight, we’d better be friends, don’t you think?”
She went on and on about her trip to Hong Kong, about the gifts she would buy for her students where she taught. She talked about how excited she was to see her friends, not noticing for a second the coldness coming from the seat beside her.
When the meals arrived, she was considerate, making sure he had room, telling him, "I don’t want to clobber you with my elephant size!”
It was then that he started to notice something. That face he had been so disgusted by before, now seemed warm and full of smiles. His guard began to drop.
He learned that she was well versed in a great many subjects from science to philosophy. He found her comments on even the most mundane things to be humorous and inspirational. At every turn, he was impressed by her intelligence.
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When the flight attendant came by to clear the plates, she made several jokes about her size, causing the attendant to laugh.
"Have you ever thought about losing some weight?" he asked.
"No," she said. "I’ve worked hard to get this way. Why would I want to give it up?”
He asked if she was scared of cardiovascular disease or other health problems related to obesity.
“Not at all. You only get the diseases if you’re worried about your weight all the time. You see advertisements from slimming centers that say, `Liberate yourself from your extra baggage so that you are free to be yourself.’ It’s rubbish!" she said. "You’re liberated only if you’re comfortable about who you are, and what you look like any time of the day and anytime of the year! Why would I want to waste my time on slimming regimes when I have so many other important things to do and so many people to be friends with? I eat healthily and walk regularly; I’m this size because I am born to be big! There is more to life than worrying about weight all day long.”
"Besides," she said, "God gives me so much happiness that I need a bigger body to hold all of it! Why would I lose weight to lose my happiness?” Unable to deny the cleverness in her reasoning, he laughed.
But she wasn't done...
“Folks often see me as a fat lady with big bosoms, big thighs and a big bottom that no man would even bother to cast a glance at. They see me as a slob. They think I’m lazy and have no willpower. They’re wrong," she explained. “I’m actually a slim person inside. I’m so full of energy that people won’t be able to keep up with me. This extra flesh is here to slow me down, otherwise I’ll be running everywhere chasing after men!”
When he asked if men chased her, he was surprised to learn that not only was she happily married, men were still proposing to her!
It was at this point that he noticed something. People were enthralled by her. By the end of the flight, the crew and half the cabin were joining in and laughing along with her. She was the center of attention and the cabin felt warm and inviting.
When they arrived at the airport, they waved good bye. He watched her walk toward a large group of adults and children that cheered wildly when they saw her. She turned back and winked at him.
It was then he knew for certain.
She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
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