I have been working on, what I would like to call this, the FAT post for a few weeks now… Guess I just needed to be angry enough to finish it.
I am finding it harder and harder to swallow all the fat-shaming, fat-hating, bullshit that loves to pop up on facebook or when hanging out with friends or family… or well during EVERY commercial break EVER! While this no longer pushes play on that self-hating recording I once had in my brain/spirit….it makes it no less irritating, frustrating, and sometimes hurtful.
Incident #1: So… My family went on a mini-vacation to Gatlinburg, TN a few weeks ago. I walked into a store that was full of long flowy dresses (you know I wanted every single one of them)…and when I asked the clerk if they had plus size clothing she snarled her lip and sounded shocked that I would even ask as she said no. It was a slap in the face… all my education, all my whiteness, all my kindness and openness won’t protect me from the fat hatred and fat shaming that even complete strangers feel perfectly inclined to administer. (And frankly… if my whiteness can’t protect me from it… NOTHING can!) It had been a long time since I had felt that someone believed I shouldn’t exist… at least in my present body. So I wrapped myself in the thickest, most elitest (and honestly, problematic) blanket I could think of …. And walked out of the store and went and ate myself some deep fried oreos! (Not because I was eating away the pain… but because I wanted them and I wasn’t going to allow someone to guilt me into not eating what I want…. Take THAT heifer!)
Later that night… I put on my bathing suit and went swimming in the hotel pool with my siblings. There was a dance competition in town... so our pool was FULL of thin, attractive dancers. Scattered about were families, little kids, and the occasional of-age male. It was nice to swim unconcerned about how everyone else was seeing my body. To NOT be ashamed of it. I remember a time when it didn’t bother me to be in a bathing suit… but I was completely unaware of my body. Once I became aware… I covered it, hid it… never wanted anyone to see it or even imagine it. Actually, it was so bad.. I wouldn’t tell a man I had a crush on I was going to take a shower because I was afraid he would picture me naked and be disgusted. So..It’s a weird feeling when you become aware you’re not wasting your time concerned with how everyone else feels about how you look.
Incident # 2: I was in the grocery store the other day… the snack cake isle to-be-exact… and this woman throws two packages of snack cakes in her cart. She turns to me and says…” I’m on vacation screw my diet… “ and she laughs, uncomfortably. (She seemed like a very pleasant woman… and its very possible she was looking for some support… “Hey, we’re both women and society constantly tells us our bodies are wrong so I’m sure you know what it feels like….”) Then she tells her daughter it doesn’t matter she, the mother, has a year to lose the weight before she has to be in a bathing suit again. (This was the sad part because she is already (unintentionally or maybe, unconsciously) teaching her 7(?) year old daughter to hate her body, constantly try to change it, and never dream of wearing a bathing suit if you’re **gasp**… fat! Not to mention the potentially unhealthy relationship with food she could be creating…) Now…. It has come to my attention that people, strangers and loved ones alike… like to tell me when they’re not adhering to their diet. I have also heard things like… “I’m going to gain all my weight back now that you’re home…” So.. what you’re saying is…
1. My fatness is apparently contagious.
2. My fatness causes you to assume I’m NOT on a diet of some sort. (Which YAY.. cause I’m not.. I eat what I want… which is generally healthier than most assume..)
3. Or my fatness causes you to assume that I AM on a diet and I know what it means to break a diet…(cause I’m super fat so I must have zero motivation… had a doctor tell me that once. WOMP!)
Incident #3: My 16-year-old sister’s friends come over on a regular. I find them generally acceptable…LOL Well, today they were facebook stalking some people and her friend blurts out, “Wow.. she got fatter and uglier…” Immediately she turns to me and apologizes… hides her face in shame because she said it where I could hear it and continues to profusely apologize. I didn’t say a single word. How am I supposed to tell her that her assumption that I would be angry says WAAAY more about her and her fat-phobia than me!!? That she automatically associates FAT with UGLY? That her apology must mean that she thinks I’m an acceptable fatty… but NOT that girl? I Looooove being the acceptable fatty. (Sheldon… SARCASM SIGN) I’m nice or kind or smart. Or I carry my weight in a good way. Or I have a pretty face. UGH!!!
If they (being everyone in my home town, or well the US, in general) could understand that FAT does not mean UGLY, or BAD, it would be so much easier (like preaching to the choir, right?). Yes, I’m FAT! Hello!!! All the material in the world can’t hide my big back-side or my stomach (okay.. maybe ALL the material in the world.. but you know what I mean). I’m not trying to pretend I’m skinny… My little brother Ethan likes to tell me I’m skinny and that he is fat. I like to think that is his way of saying fat isn’t bad… or negative. He has also started this thing where he likes to pat my stomach and make it jiggle. Then he looks at me with the sweetest, most sincere face, and says… “I’m trying to make you laugh.” And it works. EVERY SINGLE TIME! LOL That would have horrified me a year ago and I would have swatted his hand away. Guess I had to learn fat jiggles and that’s okay. LOL! (Expect another post dedicated to touching stomachs… it’s much less pleasant. Trust!)
The first time I saw this photo... I wept.
I had never seen a man embrace a body, that looked like mine, in such a loving way.
I am beginning to see all the ways fat-phobia creeps in and sometimes in a not-so-subtle way. And I'm also beginning to realize that I am way more comfortable in my body than I ever have been. And that I tend to be happier with my body than some people I know. But it's still a battle... stay strong and keep fighting!!!!