Fat Hatred, Cont.
Originally published on Not Sorry Feminism
See, that headline is funny because fat hatred is always continuing. It never stops! Hahaha!
Anyway, my hero Ijeoma Oluo has been writing recently about fat hatred in our society and how difficult it makes things for those of us who are fat or generally deemed to have too much body fat to be healthy or attractive or whatever. She wrote about her own experience of going to extreme measures to become thin and how it changed the way people reacted to her.
In these past couple years, I’ve gotten fat. At 5'5" I’m over 200 pounds, or at least I was last time I went to the doctor. I won’t allow a scale in my home unless it’s very small and for the purpose of precisely weighing food ingredients. When I was in high school, I was nearly underweight at 115 pounds. I began to gain weight in college as many people do, but I was still within the range of what the bullshit “BMI” thing considers “normal.” I was happier with my body during that time than I ever have been, because society told me I was beautiful for it. I could wear what I wanted without judgement. I could eat in public without worrying if people thought I was terrible for it.
That was also a time in my life when any kind of dieting “worked” for me, as in it caused me to lose weight. I started exercising and counting calories and keeping track of my weight to ensure I didn’t get “too” heavy and it produced the results I was looking for. But as I got older, it got harder. After I graduated college, I’d have to eat very little and exercise daily to lose weight. Finally, it got to a point that the extent I was willing to go to lose weight no longer worked. Diet and exercise did not cause my weight to decrease even after months of trying.
So I finally decided to give up. During this time, I’d always wanted to just be okay with my body rather than wanting a different one, but I’ve never been able to shake that voice that says I’m not beautiful anymore. I’m not like those beautiful thin girls. The voice that says I can’t wear certain things or makes me hesitate before getting any kind of food in public. That makes me sigh with disappointment at my expanding gut.
But I don’t want to go back, and I won’t. Looking back to where I was just after college, I’m surprised that it didn’t occur to me that under-nourishment could have been a factor in my increasing anxiety and depression. I used to make the tiniest little wraps, first with sliced turkey, then with hummus, and have that plus carrot sticks and something a little sweet like teddy grahams for lunch. I’d have a granola bar for breakfast every day. This meant spending every day at work hungry. I’d be unhappy and preoccupied for hours every day waiting for lunch or waiting to go home so I could have an insufficient dinner.
It was miserable. Food is life. We need it to live. Yet we’ve made in into a vice and an addiction. And I have no doubt that I’m more than a little addicted to sugar and probably other strange things that massive corporations have put into our food, but I don’t have the money to get everything organic and untouched. And you know what? I fucking love sugar. I love chocolate. I love food! It’s something I can look forward to every day. I take delight in trying new recipes, whether it’s something vegetable-heavy or the most ridiculous ultra-dynamo brownies you’ve ever seen. I love mushrooms and bell peppers and all kinds of fruit and I love burgers and fries and those nasty potato chips with the fake cheese dust on them.
And I get to love that. But unfortunately, I too can see the difference in how I’m treated as my body naturally (yes I said naturally) grows. People don’t make eye contact and smile at me like they used to. Honestly, as the years have gone by, the world seems less friendly even though I continue to make an effort to be friendly to strangers, whether they’re checkout clerks or people passing by on the street. This is corny as all hell, but I’ve always felt like a little friendliness or a smile helps make the world a little bit better each time, so I smile at strangers. As long as they’re not young white men in a pack, because, you know.
But people don’t smile back as much. They don’t seem to want to look at me. And it makes my world a little more sad.
Why? Because I look different? People think that fat individuals must lack willpower or have some kind of fundamental flaw that makes us unworthy of kindness or humanity. Because our bodies are a certain way, we don’t get to be visible or feel beautiful. We’re disgusting.
It’s really sad, especially since so many of us naturally get fat as we get older. It’s normal and healthy. I eat so much more fruit and vegetables than I did when I was a teenager yet people would compare teen me and present me and think that she’s healthier. News flash, she’s depressed. And at the same time, healthy is not synonymous with good. Some of us have chronic health issues but that doesn’t make us bad people. Some of us could be healthier but choose not to take that path, whatever it entails, for personal reasons that are nobody else’s business. Me? I could eat less sugar, and as I approach my 30’s I’m naturally doing so because my body can’t process it as well as it used to, clearly. But I’m still going to drink a milkshake sometimes because it tastes good and I like it. Why is that disgusting?
And don’t say it’s because you have to “pay” for my “health problems” because that argument is bullshit for many different reasons and if you even try I’ll dedicate a post to how ignorant and hateful you are while I hand you ass to you.
People talk a big talk about acceptance and loving each other, but fat people don’t get that. And they can make up all the excuses they want but the fact is that if you think a fat person is disgusting for being fat then you’re being judgmental and hateful and you are, in fact, the disgusting one.
I’m going to keep enjoying life and learning to love my body the way it is. Because that makes me far happier than dieting ever did.