This is a hard post for me to write, but I need to write it. It’s been on my mind since the woman at Old Navy posted the picture of herself after being fatshamed in the store. I was so proud of her for being brave, especially since I’m such a coward about my own body.
You see, there are side effects to fatness, to growing up a fat girl, in particular. And I want to share just a few of them with you now:
1) You judge yourself in relation to every other woman in the room, and notice if a) you are the fattest, or b) if there is someone fatter than you.
2) You imagine how great your life would be like if you lost weight. You even imagine extremes in which you have lost weight (cancer, lingering illness, depression).
3) You “hate” other women, skinnier women, simply because they are smaller than you.
4) You hide your Lane Bryant bag because maybe people won’t know you’re fat and can only shop at one store in the mall.
5) You learn to hate the words, “You have such a pretty face” because you know that means, “If only you’d lose some weight.”
6) When you get sick and lose weight, people congratulate you, nevermind the fact that you had an illness that took you down. You were down, weren’t you, and isn’t that all that matters?
7) Every conversation with a doctor means justifying your eating habits.
8) Self-loathing. All of the time. Never understanding the true size of your body. it’s either bigger or smaller than you imagine, but never knowing makes the loathing worse.
9) Meeting boys who either a) dare each other to go up to you and pretend to like you (yes, this happened!) or b) tell you, “I think you’re great, but I can’t date you. My friends would make fun of me for dating a fat chick” (yes, this also happened!).
10) Everything you put in your mouth is public game. You go to Waffle House, for example, as a then-vegetarian, and when you explain you don’t want meat, the waitress says, “You look like you just eat meat all day long.” (this, too, happened). Or, you’re in the grocery store, and a woman follows you to tell you not to eat carbs so you can lose weight like she did (do you doubt me yet, on the validity of these happenstances?).
So thank you, Rachel Taylor (I, too, am from Louisiana) for being brave. For standing up for yourself in a world that fatshames, regardless of truth, consequence, or effect. Because being fat must be the worst thing for some people. I understand that. It’s been the worst thing for me my entire life. I have struggled for 38 years to move past it, and still, I ask my husband, “Does this dress make me look fat?”
He’s a good one. He tells me, “You’re beautiful in everything you wear.”
Because I am.
If I say it enough, perhaps I’ll believe it.