15 out of 10. Fat is great.
Also, being your own weight is 15 out of 10. You’re fantastic as you are.
Pairs well with whatever kind of drink you want. I support your life choices, as long as you support mine.
Content Warning: Disordered Eating, Ableist and Fatphobic slurs at a child.
At Woodhull, I attended a panel called “Health at Every Size,” which addressed fatphobia in the sex industry (as it is in all industries). The room was filled with folks assigned female at birth, and 2-3 cis men. We were invited to share our experiences of when we first felt our bodies were wrong.
Now, I want to address disabilities before I go on. No one in that room spoke to disabilities. The speaker was not disabled, and so did not feel qualified to address it. Though that is a conversation that needs to be had, it was not the focus of this room. I have no disabilities, so I cannot speak to that issue, and would not presume to do so.
So many folks raised their hands and had a story that involved a parent or a family member. So many folks had stories about friends. Not one person who shared a story mentioned being over the age of 14. The youngest was five. I’m not a scientist. This was not a scientific study. But if you put 30 folks in a room and they have stories from 5 to 14, I believe that’s called a depressing range. The average age of “feeling fat” for the first time was 9. That means that nine-year-olds across this country are being socialized to hate themselves.
I will tell my story. At the age of 9, I was in my fourth grade classroom and I scratched my stomach. It raised my shirt a little and a classmate saw it. I felt her judgement from that moment, but it was ignored politely and we moved on. Later that day, another classmate came up and said “I heard Human A saw that you pulled up your shirt and there was just fat.” There was such clear disgust in her voice, and I suddenly realized: I am fat. And because of that, I am morally less than everyone else. I lied about the whole thing, and I didn’t make eye contact with my peers for a week. One full week of isolating myself because I was fat. Let me remind you again: I was nine. years. old.
This story was repeated in various ways around the room. “My parents,” “my sister,” “my friends,” “my loved ones.” All of us feeling in our bones the crushing weight of our scales.
One Christmas break, I spent a week not eating. When I was hungry, I would drink a bottle of water and play an exercise-based game. I lost 10 pounds in that week. I was cold for a month after and I shook constantly. With no one around to help me, I was taking my health and throwing it away. Until last year, I would have told you it was the best week of my life. Because I had will power for one whole week. I lost weight for one whole week. I wasn’t willfully fat for one whole week.
Somewhere along the way, I lost my ability to care. I can’t tell you how or why. I don’t really have a life-changing moment. But I know that it was fucking hard. I felt like I was giving up something important. I felt like I was playing into the hands of a devil. I felt like accepting my body made me a bad person because I was fat. In our society, being fat (or okay with fat) is ethically wrong. I scrambled to please my mother, who still thinks I’m a crazy fat idiot. And the memory of my long-dead father, who I can still remember yelling at 6-year old Indy for eating food.
Somewhere, I actually turned my self-hatred outward and lashed out at someone I loved. For fuck’s SAKE, fat folx and everyone around them suffer because of this. We are all of us suffering in silence on this.
I told you all of this because there are very real and wide-spread consequences from fatphobia.
For the last year, I’ve been doing great. My self-esteem is really on the mend, and my dashing boyfriend is only supportive, even on my worst, lashing days. And yet, I can still be triggered. One day, my friend Neil, needed to go to a dance for his work. He did not fit into his dressy vest because some stress at work had helped him gain weight. (Thanks for looking out for us, biology!) He threw a fit, which involved flinging the vest onto the couch near his girlfriend and not having a good time at all. Not because he had to change his outfit or he really didn’t have the money to buy a new vest. The whole episode began and ended with “I am fatter than before, and I hate my body.”
This episode brought out my anger because all of my youth and worry and stress came flooding back to me. After a year of being mentally stable, I spent the next week stressed and having suicidal thoughts because of my weight. He hated his body. Why wouldn’t he hate mine, or my boyfriend’s? We are fat and we don’t care to change it. How many other people did I know who think this way? Does everyone judge me when I’m not around?
I want to make one thing really clear for every thin, fat, in-between person out there: Your body positivity is my body positivity. Your body positivity is my body positivity. Your body positivity is my body positivity. Your body positivity is my body positivity.
When you look at yourself and say “Ugh, this muffin top is so awful,” and you work out to get rid of your fat and you eat so healthy, how should I feel? You hate your own body. How do you feel about mine? I’m not even trying to get rid of my fat. I love it. I grew it myself. Some people reply “Well, you carry it better.” Bitch, I didn’t train to carry these fat rolls. It’s not a matter of being “better at fat.” I am not any better than you at being fat. You know what I am? Pissed that you think luck or genetics helped me “pull off the fat look.” There is no such thing.
On top of that, if someone you know has no idea what body positive means, how will they get a healthy idea of it from you? When you judge your body and still call yourself body positive, you are turning into a shadow of what we need it to be, if not an outright joke.
And I get it. We all have those demons socialized into us. Sometimes, we look in the mirror and hate our bodies. That’s okay! Trying to do more things, be fit, eat healthy or stay in one size pants to save money is totally awesome! But if you constantly worry about calories or go to the gym based on being thinner than you are now (and nothing else), then you’re not even trying to accept your body.
To be honest, I haven’t even started on all my emotions with this subject. So let me leave you with some thoughts:
- If you say to someone, “I need to lose weight,” you’re telling folx that you see yourself as less for having fat on your body. Therefore, all who are fat are less.
- If you think that losing weight is “bettering yourself,” you aren’t body positive. Fuck off.
- If you think that exercising with the goal of making yourself smaller is good, you aren’t body positive. Move out my way.
- And if you think that it’s okay for others to be fat but not you, you are not body positive and I need you to drop that label so the rest of us can pick it up and do what’s right by it.