Even if you don’t say the word I can still hear you calling me fat.
Proof positive that you really aren't ready for this jelly.
Let me start this by saying I am fully aware that I am fat.
I am a UK size 20, US size 18, and at five foot eight, I'm a big girl. I am fat. There’s no point sugar coating it or saying “ I have fat, I am not fat, I am more than one attribute etc etc…”
I am fat in the same way that I am white, female, intelligent and bloody fantastic. Its just a fact of who I am. It doesn't define who I am and there are positives and negatives to all my attributes and features. However I have always been undeniably fat to one extent or another. I have been considerably heavier than I am now, (by about 20 pounds) and I have been considerably smaller than I am now (by over 200 pounds if we want to go back to my lightest. :-) We were all a size zero once!)
The thing I find strange about all this is that the one group of people who seem to be the most vocal and negative about my weight, are straight women. I have had far more disparaging comments from straight women about my physical state than from people who would be interested in getting physical with me. Why are those who are the very least likely to find me attractive (by way of gender and sexuality)the ones who get so het up about how attractive they perceive me to be? (I'm sure if I were to post revealing pictures of my self on line and allow the trolls to circle, I'm sure that the demographic that hand out the abuse would change, but lets not be silly, nobody takes a trolls opinion seriously.)
So why is it that the “sisterhood” are the ones so quick to get the jabs in? How come so many of the girls who chant for equal rights all over the twitter-verse, who like and share Emma Watson’s Human feminism speeches and Dove campaigns “Real Beauty” ads, are so quick to stick the knife into my fleshy rolled back.
A lot of the time its not an outright “Hey Charlotte, you big fat fatty, how are you and your big fat lard guzzling ways?” At least not always. Women are more subtle than that. And also more passive aggressive. Some of it is even well intentioned. I truly think that some women think that by not using the word fat, but by calling me “supersized” “plus sized” or “curvy” that what they say cannot be offensive.
While I've been thinking about writing this I've been wondering if I'm seeing criticism that isn't there. Am I self conscious about my weight and this leads me to see more than is really there?
On occasion, probably. But definitely not most of the time. Let me provide you with a few examples.
Example one —A mother of my then boyfriend took a huge disliking to me when I started going out with her son. One of her bugbears was my weight. Numerous examples abound of her comments about me, some more veiled than others. She once exclaimed in a fit of anger toward me, that she had always expected that her son would end up with a “thin tall blonde”. I am five foot eight, and my hair has been a multitude of colours, so I think its pretty clear what her real objection here was. When she was younger, her mother made her get on the scales on a regular basis and berate her saying no men want fat girls. (Shame she didn't pass that information on to her son!) I would have thought that having been harangued in this way, by her own mother, she would have been more forgiving when it comes to other women. In fact if ever someone posts some syrupy nonsense about “real women have curves, those aren't stretch marks, they are your tiger stripes and you earned them” on Facebook, she will like it with gay abandon….
Example two —I told a female friend about the above incident. Her response was “She should be proud that her son is open minded enough that he loves you despite the fact that you are overweight!” Hmm thanks babe….
Example three — Sat at a family function in a neighbours garden. A relative of the neighbour says she was cold so I offered to get her a jumper. She looked at me and said, “Oh you wont need one will you, I bet you don’t feel the cold with all that….with your size.”
She did not get given a jumper.
Example four— Two colleagues came to my house to have a drink before we went on a night out, and as she walked around they saw a picture of my husband.
“Ooh he’s quite good looking isn't he!” exclaimed one of them.
“You needn't sound so surprised.” I said. She became visibly flustered and tried appealing to the other colleague for help saying “Well its just that she’s….he’s….”
The other colleague looked uncomfortable so I just got on with serving the drinks.
(NB My husband is gorgeous. “quite” doesn't cover it!)
Example five — A friend tells me every time she sees me, for a period of a month, about the diet that she is trying. She is approximately a UK size 12 and not at all what you would consider fat. I personally find diet chat boring, but hey, she’s my friend and sometimes you suck it up because god knows I blather on to them about boring stuff too. After this has been going on for some time she says “I think its a really good idea. I think you should try it. I felt so big and awful and disgusting before I did this.”
I could go on, and on. About the eyebrow waxer who, as I lay down, poked my breasts and said, “Look at them when you lie down! You should loose weight!” or the boss who said to me that the weight watchers class in the staff room had been cancelled. “I'm not in the weight watchers group.” I said, she tried back pedalling with “Oh yeah, I know I was just saying!”, the woman who was visibly shocked that I go swimming on a regular basis and when I told her I play netball as well straight up disbelieved it, or the shop assistant who missed out on a LOT of commission by telling me that my choice of dress colour wasn't slimming and would I like to see the same dress in black as it hides a multitude of sins……and so on and so forth.
So what is the explanation for this barrage?
I don’t know. I'm not an expert, but I have a couple of theories.
Totally unscientific theory number one — They are genuinely shocked that I dare to be fat.
Men don’t want to marry fat girls.
Fat girls cant have good looking boyfriends.
Fat girls sweat loads because they are always hot.
Fat girls are lazy and just sit around eating all day.
There is a thin girl inside ever fat girl dying to get out.
Fat girls shouldn't wear tight clothes.
Obviously everything I have just said above is true. Obviously. It must be, or there can be no explanation for why these women are genuinely shocked when they come in to contact with the reality of my life. Perhaps it is such a shock to find a fatty who actually does have a good looking other half, who is active and wears what she wants and has far more interesting things to busy herself with than the 5:2 diet, that the shock causes them to be rude.
Maybe it also saddens them a bit. They've always told them self that feeling good is defined by looking good, that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels and that nobody will want them if they are a fat cow. They have denied themselves many pleasures in pursuit of happiness and the body beautiful.
Well I'm sorry ladies, but it just isn't true. Thin does not equal happy.
Don’t get me wrong. I'm not saying that my life is an unparalleled festival of joy. I have problems, just like anyone else, but the idea that losing weight will magic all those problems away is nonsense. Magazines may gleefully announce that you can drop a dress size in a week with their easy to follow guide, but that wont stop the roof leaking, your kids wetting the bed, or that argument with a certain someone raging for weeks on end until you are so stressed out you cant sleep.
While I may be active, I'm not fit. I huff and pant and sweat all over the netball court in a most unseemly manner, and I’m sure that if I were to lose weight it would become easier. Purely in terms of health, being thinner would be beneficial. My blood pressure is fine, but apart from that, I’m not doing my self any favours, and for the purposes of longevity and sustained health I know loosing weight would be a good first step.
None of these comments, or thousands like them are aimed at my health though. Its ALL about how I look, how I “should” look, and how my life would be better if I did lose weight and therefore I was more attractive.
Which is really weird as I have never found it difficult to attract people.
I am fully aware that a lot of men and women (gay or bi etc) would not be interested in me because I am overweight. That is absolutely fine. When some one is weighing up whether or not they want to get it on with me, whether they find me attractive or not is clearly relevant.
If I were to go off the comments I get from the straight girls, you would think that I would need to ring a bell wherever I go to warn people to shield their eyes. Conversely, I am chatted up on a regular basis. I have had to turn down many a sparkly eyed chap and a few pretty smiled girls as well. So if it was true that being overweight meant that nobody was interested, then someone must be paying these people to do it as a joke.
FUN FACT: the husband of one of the woman quoted in this article cornered me at the end of a party to hug me for just a bit too long and whisper in my ear “I'm so glad you came, it wouldn't be the same without you, you naughty girl.”
Totally unscientific theory number two — I feel awful so you must too.
Maybe the women who have made these comments are suffering from cripplingly low self esteem. They are self conscious and feel that they are hideous, ugly blobs. They look in the mirror and Jabba the Hut’s bigger fatter uglier sister looks back at them. It fills them with loathing and self hatred.
And then they see me.
And they assume that I must feel even worse than they do. After all if they look in the mirror and see an irredeemable blob of hideousness, what must I see when I look?
So they think that they are in fact being kind by pointing out new diets, or telling me what clothes I “shouldnt” wear.
Maybe its just meaner that that. Maybe they see me and they just apply the same filter to me that they apply to themselves.
I am the living and literal embodiment of the thing they hate the most about themselves. As they are so used to attacking this part of themselves, they see no reason to hold their tongue against me.
All the things they think about themselves, that they shouldn't wear this, that they feel ugly and “awful and disgusting” translates into me being awful and ugly and disgusting. And it makes them angry.
Whatever reason you assign to these women it comes down to one thing. Its just plain rude. The difference between me calling myself fat and the comments I've pointed out here is that I am stating a fact, whereas these women are either perpetuating ridiculous stereotypes, or taking their own self loathing out on me. If you are still having trouble seeing what the problem is with some of those statements, imagine if they were about colour…”I imagined he would end up with a WHITE tall blonde girl” “Oh youre husbands white!” etc…..its not always about what has been explicitly said. You’re still being rude even if you don’t use a “rude” word.
Women are not objects, nor decoration to be placed strategically for the appreciation of men. But they aren’t here to be appraised by the other girls either. Bear in mind, it cuts both ways. If you want to claim you support the empowerment of all women, you cant be chanting along with nikki minaj when she starts on the “fuck the skinny bitches” nonsense.
So the next time you go to share a “Smart Girls” status, or post a pic of Marilyn and ask when did we start to think a size zero was hotter, think to yourself, how far into your real life do you stand by those ideals? Because unless you are looking for some one to go to bed with, comments on how attractive you find me are not relevant.