I am fat.
There. I said it.
I was a fat kid who turned into a fatter teenager who became an even fatter adult. My parents are fat. Fat is a fact of my life. I could lose all the weight and somehow make it to 150 lbs, and the fact that I spent most of my life fat would be just that: a fact. It has taken me 27 years to realize that being fat does not mean I need to be miserable all. the. time.
A few nights ago, I started reading a book about an overweight woman. This book was designed to look like it was along the same vein as Bridget Jones’s Diary; the cover reviews all spoke of its wit and sly humour, and the back blurb made it seem like a coming of age/learning to love oneself type of story.
I made it halfway through the book before I realized there would be no humor, nor a happy ending for this character. And it made me mad.
We live in a world where fat people are told nobody could possibly love them. Friends only keep us around because they look skinnier by comparison, and people only sleep with us because they’re just as desperate for attention as we are. Say what you want about the Health At Every Size movement, but it has done wonders in making people realize that occasionally big people do have healthy relationships. We can be happy. Just because we are fat does not mean we are not still human beings worthy of basic human decency.
And yes, I realize that I am saying all of that as a fat woman who is actively trying to lose weight. I even have myfitnesspal open on another tab as I write this, because I just put in the calorie count for my breakfast (cocoa puffs and almond milk is super healthy, right?). Am I happy with my body? Hell no. But I am working towards changing that, both mentally and physically. I may never make it under 200 lbs. Maybe I will. Maybe in 2 weeks I’ll get depressed and eat my feelings until I’ve actually managed to gain another 30 lbs. Who knows. But at the end of this weight loss journey I’m on, I want to be able to be happy with the number printed inside of my jeans. I want to be comfortable in my own skin, even if that skin has a little extra jiggle to it. I want to be confident enough that I feel like an actual person, instead of just a token fat girl.
Which is exactly what pissed me off about this particular book. There is not a single character in the novel who seems to think of the main character as a human being. Instead she is a sex doll, a sounding board, a side kick they don’t really want around, but put up with. She does not even think of herself as a real person, instead allowing these people to use her all while she has inner monologues about fantasies of skinny girls eating until they explode. There are far too many people who think that this is exactly what the inner workings of a fat girl mind looks like, and the last thing we need is for anyone to feed into that stereotype. Are there times when I notice a skinny friend eating 3,000 calories of delicious ice cream and have a moment of jealousy? Of course, and yes, it’s probably more often than it should be. She eats ice cream, and she’s a cute girl enjoying a treat. I eat ice cream? Look at that fat cow, my god, she needs to put down the spoon. They don’t care if it’s my cheat day. They don’t care that I’ve lost over 25 lbs. They only see a fat girl, shoveling empty calories into her face. And I shouldn’t care, because they don’t know. I know how hard I’ve worked, and that this ice cream is probably the only real indulgence I’ll have in the next few weeks. I know that after this I’ll go back to salads with bland chicken, because I don’t know how to cook anything that tastes good while still being relatively low in calories and moderately healthy. I want to be able to happily enjoy myself, without feeling like I should hide in shame. I will eat this ice cream, thank you very much, and I will love it. I will also have horrifying issues later because I am also lactose intolerant, but that’s a problem for future me. Also, I’ve gotten off point. What I was trying to say was that yes, I and I’m sure many other women – dare I say even skinny women? – think about how a friend can eat twice their weight in junk food and not gain a pound, while I can feel my thighs getting bigger just from looking at it. That’s the society we live in, and it’s hard not to think about things like that when it’s shoved down your throat at every opportunity. However, I also have thoughts about how glad I am that she is healthy. She doesn’t have to worry about this shit, and fuck yeah, girl’s got some good genetics on her side. She should enjoy herself!
I know a lot of people think that I spend all day thinking about how my friends are bitches because they’re skinnier than me. I’m fat, easily the fattest of my friends (and most of my family), so how could I not? But truthfully, I don’t. I cheer those bitches on when they focus on their health. When they choose to be happy, I am the first person there with pom-poms waving. The first step to being happy is surrounding yourself with happy people, and if you’re sad? That’s fine, I’ll try to be happy enough for the both of us. Maybe one day we’ll all be 120 lbs and sharing unsalted almonds as a snack, or sitting pretty over 200 lbs while laughing over cheesecake about our thunder thighs. Because it is just as possible to be miserable and skinny as it is to be happy and fat. The trick is to find your happy.
So as a writer, as a fat girl, as a human being, I’m saying maybe it’s time we don’t feed directly into this kind of skinny vs. fat bullshit? Please?