On Being Fat Your Whole Life

Everything means something else when you’re fat.

“Such a pretty face” does not mean, “you’re pretty!” but rather, “unfortunately for your face, your body is fat. What a shame.”

“Are you going to eat that?” doesn’t mean, “hey! if you’re done, I’ll take it.” It means, “You should definitely NOT eat that.”

It means everyone’s love is suspect. You’re told by countless people and media that pretty girls get love. But you, yourself, cannot be pretty because you’re fat. And fat and pretty are mutually exclusive.

And I understand there are skinny people reading this, thinking, “I know, I know,” but you DO NOT KNOW. You CANNOT UNDERSTAND because no one believes your body to be the consequence of your moral failings. Your inability to rein in your urges. You are not WRONG in everyone’s eyes: your mother’s, your aunt’s, your friend’s mom’s, yes, even your boyfriends’ (that one cheated with you, that one cheated on you) because you are fat.

And I understand there are some formerly fat people reading this, thinking, “I did it! Why can’t you? What’s wrong with you?” But WHY did you do it? Because someone told you you’d be healthier? Prettier? Better?

Better. You’d be better.

Growing up a girl in the 80s meant you had two choices: SMART or PRETTY. Lucky for me, I was SMART. Because I was FAT, I wasn’t PRETTY.

How do I know this? Strangers told me so, walking down the street. Random women stopped me in the grocery store and commented on the carbs in my basket. Men told me they couldn’t possibly be with me, because their friends would make fun of them. My own mother told me so, my family, some of my friends, their parents, a litany of people stretching back as far as I could remember.

I went on my first diet at age 6.

I went on Jenny Craig at 12. Weight Watchers at 23. I did Curves. I drank SlimFast. I hated my body, and tortured it, and starved it, and fed it, and never once did I tell it thank you for allowing me to breathe. Never once did I tell it thank you for taking up necessary space.

I’m 43 years old, and I still want to be pretty. At a time in my life where no one could give one iota of care of whether or not I’m pretty, I still want it. And remember, I’m fat. So I certainly can’t be pretty. The best I can do is this pretty face of mine.

I have a supportive spouse who loves me, loves all of me, how I take up space and how I fight for others’ spaces. He has loved me for 21 years and still I wake up and ask him, “do you think I’m pretty? Do you really?”

I support other fat people, especially fat women. I dress my body in fun clothes and bright colors, all the things I couldn’t wear in the 90s because they didn’t exist.

Being fat means shopping in specialty stores. Lane Bryant didn’t have fun clothes for a long time.

Being fat means if the airline loses your suitcase, you can’t just go to any store and find replacements.

Being fat means flying in an airplane is problematic, not least because fellow passengers do NOT want to sit next to you.

You will take up space. You may have that “fat person smell.”

Being fat means being treated older than you are when you’re a child, and younger than you are when you’re an adult. It’s a statement on your intelligence, your morality, and your drive. You obviously care so little about yourself that you ALLOW yourself to get FAT.

If you have never been fat, and I mean fat, can’t buy clothes in a regular store fat, not lose ten pounds before your wedding fat, you cannot possibly understand. You can empathize. You can agree. But you cannot possibly know what it is like to live in my size ten shoes (wide width, of course) and have people HATE YOU because you are FAT.

I was 12. He asked me to dance. Then his friends laughed and he left me in the middle of the dance floor, because he was dared to dance with the fat girl.

I was 19. I told him I liked him. He told me he could only be with me secretly, because his friends would make fun of him.

You’re never enough because you’re too much. But the worst part of it all is that YOU BELIEVE IT.

Oh, you believe EVERYTHING they tell you, because that many people can’t be wrong, can they? Your own mother?

Pretty and fat are mutually exclusive.

It means that you support Fat Activism and Health at Every Size for everyone in the world but yourself.

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