(Left to Right: Alyson Hannigan [Date Movie, 2006], Philomena Kwao, Essie Golden, Tess Holliday)
For the typical size 18 girl like myself, the summer months bring along the ever complicated dilemma: wear longer clothes that cover up “problem areas” but threaten to cause heat stroke, or throw caution to the wind and go for the shorts and tank top that show every jiggle and bump. Up until my senior year of high school, skirts and shorts were out of the question. The last thing I wanted was for everyone to see the bits of me that made me the most insecure about myself. It was a question of comfort. At least clothes left everything to the imagination; I would rather burn under the summer sun to please others than show everyone my chubby arms and legs.
And that’s when it hit me. It’s not like my body was a secret. Even under layers of denim, the size of my thighs never changed. My arms were still large, and my ass was still huge.
So why did I pretend like covering it up in the summer would change people’s opinions? And furthermore, why was it that my comfort had the potential to offend people I didn’t even know? Well, after a long year of soul searching and chats with intelligent people, I slowly began to include knee length things into my closet. With time, I eventually evolved to skirts that ended just above the knee–which ended up being somewhat of an achievement for someone who spent all of high school afraid of her own knees. I’m aware that people stare; I’m aware that people make comments about my body because I’m fat. No one wants to say it, but it’s true. It’s not a bad thing, merely facts.
My eyes are brown, the earth is round, lambs bleat, and I’m fat.
Just because I acknowledge this doesn’t mean I hate myself. And I especially dislike when people try to beat around the bush by telling me that I’m “curvy” because they don’t want to admit that I’m fat. To them, fat is synonymous with ugly, unwanted, worthless, and lazy. But I don’t fit that stereotype at all.
So, obviously, I can’t possibly be fat.
I hate to break it to you (not really), but I am fat. My body is fat.
Side note, I believe I should make a few things clear: Just because I call myself fat doesn’t mean I’m okay with a bunch of other people calling me fat. For one thing, it took eleven years for me to get to unlearn everything society has ingrained within me. Even then, I still have moments of absolute doubt. When others call me fat, I know for sure that it’s used as a form of humiliation. Second, unless this person gave birth to me or has a genuine concern for me, they have absolutely no reason to comment on my body.
That being said, this brings into question the word “fat.” Why is it an insult? Why do we fear it? Why do we deem it unattractive and the worst trait anyone can have? Why are fat people the subject of so much toxicity in the media? And why are fat people considered untouchable and a burden on the eyes?
It’s no secret that people fear fat people, especially fat girls…it seems like a genuine phobia. Some people fear sleeping with fat girls, some women fear becoming fat, people fear looking at fat girls, and if a fat girl hits on someone then that’s the biggest insult to their ego. We’re stereotyped as easily screwable. We’re considered a last resort, an experiment, a one-time experience. Our enjoyment and self-love is frowned upon and made fun of.
All that this tells me is that our happiness and self-acceptance are a threat to other people’s perceptions. It is expected that we’re supposed to hate ourselves as much as others hate us. Our fatness doesn’t allow us the right to be sexy, or delicate, or energetic, or even aggressive. Our sense of sexuality is over-exaggerated, as we are painted as overly eager and desperate. On the off chance that someone actually wants to be with us, it’s because they have a fat girl fetish. We’re viewed as overly emotional women who sit in the corner and eat all of our feelings.
We eat full cakes…sometimes even whole pizza pies.
It’s funny when we cant fit in chairs, or when our clothes are too tight. It’s funny when we flirt, because it’s unbelievable that we’d have the audacity to try and find someone to be with.
We are not heroines.
We are not love interests.
We are not rebels or muses or poets or artists.
We’re just fat.
Some people believe that the hatred of fatness stems from the evolutionary desires within us. We want to mate with people who are healthy and strong; but because fat people (stereotypically) are neither, they’re immediately ruled out as potential partners. The problem lies in the fact that body shape doesn’t dictate quality of health. Ever. It’s very possible that someone at 300 lbs could have the same unhealthy conditions as someone who weighs 120. Likewise, they could both be incredibly healthy. The only person who knows for sure what a fat person’s health is like is a medical professional.
So unless you are one, or have an intimate knowledge of someone’s medical history, your assumptions are probably incorrect.
To be perfectly honest, I’m sure no one can truly say why they hate fatness. Some may say it looks gross, but when you get to the root of it all, people only think it looks gross because we were told to think that way. And unless it affects someone personally, there’s a very small chance that someone will put forth the effort to unlearn it.
And this is why I very rarely believe people when they try to be polite about their disgust with fatness. Just because someone doesn’t outwardly say how they feel doesn’t mean that fat people don’t know. We always know. Whether or not we choose to care is what makes the difference. And when people are only nice to the fat people they know/care about, but go on to make fun of those they don’t know, all it does is force us to look at them in a different light. Is this what you think of us behind our backs or when you’re angry with us? Sure, not all non-fat people think this way. But it’s not surprising when they do.
While I do believe that society is making some (albeit very small) advances towards body positivity, sometimes I feel like it’s not enough. Yeah, Tess Munster (size 22) has a modeling contract. That’s very cool, and I’m happy for her. But one person placed in every ad doesn’t mean we’re becoming a more accepting group as a whole. Especially when the majority of plus sized models (my problems with the term aside) aren’t even plus sized. In fact, many plus size models are below the average size of the typical American Woman. Some have even admitted that they used to do straight size modeling in the past, but had to give it up when they began gaining weight. When they realized that they were too small to fit plus size clothes, they used padding. In other words, instead of the plus size modeling industry actually hiring women who are a size 14-16, they hire women much smaller.
So not only do women larger than a size 10-12 have to worry about the typical standards of beauty, we have insecurities about being unable to fulfill the plus-size standard, as well. Not only are we fat, but we’re also the wrong type of fat.
How messed up is that?
I could go on forever about all the completely screwed up things that come with the normalized hatred of fat people. I could talk about how fat comedians typically thrive on jokes about their fatness, how fat girls in movies are only seen as desirable when they lose weight (because how many times have I heard the words, “you’d look so much cuter if you were skinnier”?), how fat men seem to have less of a difficult time finding work in mainstream media than most fat women do.
But since I’ve already rambled far more than I’d care to admit, I’ll end this entry with one last thing:
Your body is nothing to be embarrassed about. Other people’s desire to humiliate says more about them than it does about you. And just because people want fat people to hate themselves doesn’t mean we should. It’s difficult to push against the strong current of negativity. But it’s not impossible.
Lastly, if you want to change your body, cool. If you don’t want to, cool. Your body is no one’s business other than your own.