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It felt like winning a

prize. I bragged about it. Only when

Ms. Sanchez informed me with a mouthwash-breath

huff that it was no point of pride, did I realize that I only

won contempt.


It is a lunch special to feel

heartache when you see a polystyrene

tray. We’d steal them to sled down snowy hills in

blue Januaries. I learned to go hungry, as was my

birthright. I told my teacher I had a

tapeworm. I told her I named him and he came out at night to rest with my

bones. She told me it was probably gas that made my

tummy rumble all afternoon.


Before I could control my hunger, I’d

beg. I’d beg my classmates for food and Ms. Sanchez would

send stern notes home. My mother would not read them. When I could not throw

them out of the Bus 8 window, I’d crumple them up and

eat the notes line by line. Nobody could see them that way.


The first lean learning the lunch ladies

doled was the idea that there’s no

free lunch. Even for me,

it came with a sticker price tag I would later use to help me

gag. After all, it squeezed me like a

boa constrictor into my hand-me-down jeans. First I’d skip it to

hide my status. Later I’d skip it because it was the

thing to do.


Today I am a Person of Authority. I do not hide my

pansa. I do not leave my plate un-

touched. And if a colleague says a lunch might leave her

dismantled, unable to




I do my best impression of Ms. Sanchez.


Your size is not a thing to toast.

Dr. Bunny McFadden

Dr. Bunny McFadden (she/they) is a Chicana mother who tinkers with words for a living.

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