You know that part of your body that you wish you could change? That thing you obsess about; the reason you spend too long in the mirror fussing with things only you notice? You know when that thing is your whole body?
I’d like to show you a picture of how I like to look when I leave my room for the day.
This isn’t a belly shirt, it just happened to be riding up at the moment. I don’t wear belly shirts. As you can see, my goal when I get dressed is to emphasize my breasts and my hips and distract you from everything else. I try to distract you from the fact that underneath my clothes, I really look like this:
If you don’t see much of a difference between these two images, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not missing anything. My point is that I see a difference.
My point is that, if I’m not covered up when I look in the mirror, I tend to think about how I have rolls of fat, my stomach is huge, my thighs are enormous, my legs are short and stubby, my skin is sooo white, and my arms have all this excess fat. A lot of people think that I look just fine, but many more will consider me “overweight.” Here’s the thing about throwing words like “overweight” and “underweight” around; they imply that there is a standard weight that everyone is supposed to be. I don’t think there is but somehow I have been conditioned to look at my body and feel the need to dress it up in ways that give off the illusion that my body is smaller than it really is.
When I was ten years old, I cried because the doctor told me I weighed 150 pounds. I had always been on the chubby side but when I fractured my leg the year before, I was stuck at home in a cast for seven weeks. Since my self-control is shit, I spent every day pigging out and watching Maury. Yes, I have favourite paternity test episodes. More importantly, I was never able to lose the weight I had gained. I was, however, perfectly capable of adding to it. I have never had a problem there.
Every once in a while I would get on an exercise kick and set out to jog around the block for 30 minutes. This would invariably end the same way every time; I would get bored after ten minutes because the block I lived on was dead and, even if I could afford an iPod, they hadn’t been invented yet. Also, because god has never been on my side in this weight loss thing, a squirrel would pop out of nowhere and I would get scared. I am a New Yorker and all rodents terrify me. So, boredom and fear would unite and send me back to my house where I would sit on my ass watching TV and not try this again for several months.
Now, ten years and somewhere between 60 and 75 pounds later, I still don’t do the jogging thing. I don’t see how I could; squirrels still freak me out and I still don’t own an iPod. I also have huge tits, which is a full time job. Don’t get me wrong, I love my girls and show them off with frightening regularity, but there’s something so uncomfortable about having them bounce around at their own free will when I’m just trying to do innocuous shit like, oh I don’t know, walk down a flight of stairs. This is why I hated my High School gym class. It’s not that other students would make fun of me; no one in my school cared enough to pick on me, at least not to my face. It was all a case of paranoia. It was sort of an irrational fear that I looked ridiculous running and doing jumping jacks. If there’s anything I love about college, it’s the fact that Physical Education is now permanently out of my life.
I can see how all this may sound like I have some huge issue with my body, like I hate it or I’m not comfortable in my skin or something like that. That’s actually not the case. At least, that isn’t the case anymore. I wouldn’t say that I am 100% in love with my body, and I clearly have my problems with the way I look, but I would never cry over my weight like I did when I was younger. I am much more accepting of it and I’ve even reached that point where I am comfortable with the word “fat.”
Yes, I’m fat. No, it’s not an insult.
I have friends who weigh a lot less than I do who complain to me about their weight, and I honestly don’t know what to say to that. Seriously, what do you do in that situation? Here I am, I haven’t been under 200 since Junior High School- and I’m 5’ fucking 4” too, so it’s not even like I can balance it out by being tall- and I have people coming to me all freaked out at the thought that they might weigh like 30 pounds less than I currently do. It’s like complaining to someone about your salary when you actually make $20,000 more than they do.
Of course I acknowledge that everyone is different and that people have different comfort levels with their bodies. Clearly, I don’t expect everyone to be satisfied with their weight because I don’t have a problem with mine, even if they do weigh less than I did in seventh grade. And I know that this is what I must seem like to people who are bigger than I am. My point is, this is a vicious cycle, and it needs to stop. There shouldn’t be any stigma attached to being fat. There really shouldn’t. I obviously sympathize with that feeling of looking at the scale or in the mirror and not liking what you see, I’m not going to invalidate that dissatisfaction, but I refuse to offer “you’re not fat” as comfort.
If someone is not fat, it is merely a fact. It’s not something to give gold stars for. And if someone is fat, it’s not a bad thing. It may be treated like it is, but it’s not. We need to stop associating “fat” with such negativity. One step in that direction would be to stop creating euphemisms that tip-toe around the issue. Everyone is always so quick to find excuses for the people they like. My personal favourite is when I get told that I’m not fat; I’m “just luscious” or “just juicy.” So now I feel like a strawberry, which is great because, let’s be honest, I definitely am luscious and juicy, but what does this say about society’s attitudes towards fat people in general?
Well, one thing I have noticed about society is that it does not want us to exist much, outside of punch lines and cautionary tale segments on crap talk shows. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to feel in a clothing store that doesn’t carry anything above a size 12 or XL. I wear pants anywhere from 16 to 20 and I can breathe in a Large top, but usually I need an XL or even a 2XL because, you know, boobs. The fat girl’s dilemma, of course, is that “plus size” clothes are boring and shapeless and sexy clothes just don’t fit. It’s a stupid dilemma and we shouldn’t have to deal with it, but we do. We are forced to deal with this double-edged sword all the time; it’s a stifling and oppressive world in which we are told to put our bodies on display, but when we do, we are told that our bodies are not good enough to flaunt. Well fuck that because I like to show cleavage and if I have to go to a maternity store to get a cute outfit, I do. Again, I really shouldn’t have to resort to that, but I sometimes do.
I mean, seriously. Plus size stores need to step it up. I want clothes that are flattering to my awesome curves. Maybe you wouldn’t call me a feminist- hell, I don’t- but I like when people find me attractive; it’s very comforting. I try not to define myself by it, but I like it. I like to look sexy but when the image of sexy is a physical impossibility for me to achieve, I think something is wrong. I shouldn’t have to settle for someone who’s only going to fetishize me because being “a fat chick” puts me so low on the totem pole of fuckability. This is not to say that the only reasons to be against fat hate are that we can’t get laid or find cool clothes, though those are major issues. Overall, this movement is about respect and being treated like human beings, rather than consistently being insulted, bullied, or made to feel guilty about our weight. That’s just a basic human right.
And honestly, I would really appreciate it if the media didn’t programme everyone to find my cellulite repulsive.