When you don’t feel big (or small) enough for fat activism.
Hello there. If you’ve read my last piece (https://medium.com/@leighb/fat-and-bullied-6fbed573a665) you’ll know I associate my body type with fat, you’ll understand I’ve been bullied for my fat, and you’ll understand I’ve struggled, but have I really struggled enough?
I’m quite privileged in terms of my body. I can still fit straight sizes, there is no chance I’d leave a plus size store without fitting anything, and I haven’t experienced any effects on my day to day life such as mobility and accessibility. (I have experienced mobility issues caused by my time of the month, but lets save that for another story). Overall I’m pretty fortunate to be where I am but I still experience other problems that come with fatness. I’ve been denied jobs for being fat, I’ve been relentlessly bullied, and I’ve cried in dressing rooms because of insecurities I have been taught to associate with my weight and shape.
This year I discovered fat activism and I love it. Filling my twitter feed with activists, writers, and fat fashion bloggers has had a huge impact on my self-esteem and happiness. I have been taught that regardless of my weight I am worthy of respect and acceptance, and I don’t need someone else to tell me if I’m good enough or not. Despite all the positivity fat activism and body positivity has bought into my life I still don’t feel like I belong. I either feel too fat or too small for these spaces.
Let’s start with not feeling small enough; this is usually associated with the body positivity movement, where thin women show they have small rolls when they sit down and athletes and celebrities share their insecurities with tiny white stretchmarks and unnoticeable cellulite. I feel too fat for this space. I have rolls all the time, my cellulite is deep, and my stretchmarks are deep and red. I don’t want to take away from these peoples insecurities, I know anyone can feel bad about the way they look but that doesn’t mean I fit in. I experience constant bullying for the way I look, and didn’t swim all of last summer because I was self-conscious about a bit of extra weight I had gained after starting birth control. Body positivity seems to be a movement for those on the smaller side with minor imperfections that can be hidden until someone actually wants to bring attention to them. I don’t have the privilege of hiding what makes me feel insecure. My fat is here, seen by all. I don’t get to hide behind makeup and shapewear.
“But Leigh, why don’t you feel big enough for fat activism if you’re so clearly fat?” I only just fit straight sizes, I don’t need a seatbelt extender and I don’t get strangers approaching me in the streets telling me to lose weight. I see many fat activists talking about people who wear straight sizes not belonging, being too small to belong, and excluding people who don’t wear exclusively plus sizes from fat conversations. While I relate to many of their struggles I don’t feel like my body is enough of a statement. My obvious lumps and double chin aren’t big enough for the fat aesthetic that some bloggers prefer. There is also another reason I don’t feel like I belong — I have started to lose weight. My weight loss isn’t an intentional goal I am striving for but a side effect of trying to consume less sugar and strengthen my body enough to achieve a hike I have always wanted to do. Weight loss and diet culture seems to be almost frowned upon in some parts of the fat activism community and leaves me alone, trying to find somewhere I belong and feel accepted with the body I’m in.
I don’t want people to see this as a call out piece for both the body positivity and fat activism movements. Both of these movements are great and I have been accepted by some members of both sides, I get the opportunity to learn and discuss with people who feel the same way I do, and I get to write this piece that might get twelve readers over the week. The intent behind this piece is to let both communities know that there is exclusion from some popular figures that play a huge part in their activism and it leaves people like me, an insecure almost 20 year old with a body that has never fit anywhere.
I want acceptance too, I don’t only want to interact with your movements anymore. I want to be part of it. I want to know my body is okay. I want to know I belong somewhere. I want my body to be accepted, and I’m sick of being told I’m somehow too small and too big to love myself.
If you enjoyed this please consider buying me a cup of coffee! Thank you.