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Your Fat Friend writes about the social realities of living as a very fat person.

Humans 101

A marble statue of a thin woman looking off to the side, angrily and mistrustfully. The statue stands in front of lush ferns.
A marble statue of a thin woman looking off to the side, angrily and mistrustfully. The statue stands in front of lush ferns.
Photo: Adam Wilson/Unsplash

I know that you have learned to hate your body.

I know the messages, the images, the comments, both cruel and well-intended. I know the sinking feeling of seeing your changing body in the mirror, the sharp pain as your clothes dig into newly soft flesh.

I know it hurts, and the pain can sometimes feel immeasurable. I know it is tempting to validate that pain by asserting that you are the intended target of an oppressive system. I also know that, if you have never been a fat person, the name for that pain is not “internalized fatphobia.”


Express Yourself

Photo: AllGo — An App For Plus Size People/Unsplash

Just say fat.

Not “curvy” or “chubby” or “chunky” or “fluffy” or “more to love” or “big guy” or “full-figured” or “big-boned” or “queen size” or “husky” or “obese” or “overweight.”

Just say fat.

Do not screw up your face, straining as you reach for phrases like “he…struggles with his weight” or “body image has always been difficult for her.” Do not say “body positivity” or “self-love” or whatever lets you forget that you’re calling someone fat.

Just say fat.

Do not rush to correct fat friends who name their own bodies for themselves, using the words that fit their…

Note: contains discussion of anti-queer and anti-trans violence, including suicide.

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

I’ll never forget my first Pride. I had been one of precious few out kids in my small high school at the turn of the millennium. My experience of queerness, like many before me, was one of isolation. There is a deep uncertainty and pervasive fear that comes of not knowing other people like you, or of seeing those few others targeted by violence. That fear wraps itself around you like a cobra, its grip ever-tightening, and it had taken its hold on me.

As a fat, queer teen, school…

This Is Us

An eerie image of the silhouette of a person seen through frosted glass.
An eerie image of the silhouette of a person seen through frosted glass.
Photo: Chayapon Bootboonneam/EyeEm/Getty Images

I was 18 the first time I met a fat sister in arms. It was my first semester of college, and we immediately gravitated toward one another, buoys in the choppy waters of an unfamiliar sea.

That year, we became closer than either of us expected. Both of us had been the fattest kids in our high school classes, held at a distance from classmates by virtue of our bodies. We’d both hoped college would be easier, but most of the time, it felt familiar. The desks weren’t built for us. Classmates stared openly at our bellies and thighs. Lengthy…

This Is Us

A blue-tinted photo of a shattered mirror.
A blue-tinted photo of a shattered mirror.
Photo: MirageC/Getty Images

“I’ll give you my old dress! You’ll love it.”

A family friend is offering a kind gift: a dress she thinks I’ll like. She is a size 10. I am a size 26.

“That’s so sweet of you,” I say. “But I don’t think it’ll fit.”

“It’s got a lot of stretch!” She chirps. I wonder what kind of dress stretches to three times its size.

“I’m happy to try it on,” I offer, “but some plus-size clothing doesn’t even fit me, so I don’t want to assume this will. I am a fat lady.”

She looks at me with…

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

I never thought I was a work from home person. I’d spent a dozen years in high-pressure jobs in big and bustling offices. I couldn’t fathom staying motivated without the exoskeleton of regular meetings, accountable face-to-face relationships with colleagues, and more. I couldn’t imagine a work world so different than the only one I’d known for the last decade.

But last year, I took the plunge into freelance writing and editing. …

Humans 101

A photo of five sculpture-like human faces.
A photo of five sculpture-like human faces.
Photo: Ozgur Donmaz/Getty Images

The conversation is always the same and no less heartbreaking for its familiarity.

After days, weeks, months of talking with their fat friends and family, a straight-size person (that is, someone who doesn’t wear plus sizes) realizes that anti-fat bias isn’t just the work of devoted bigots, bad actors hell-bent on tormenting fat people. Something has clicked into place: She now realizes that the bias lives and breathes within her, too.

Anti-fat bias is, she finally understands, something she’s been perpetuating and replicating without even realizing it or meaning to. Every well-intended weight loss compliment, every “sweetie, no, you’re not…

Photo: Tetra Images/Getty Images

I spent nearly a decade away from doctors’ offices.

I was insured. I could afford my copay. But I weighed around 400 pounds, and nearly every doctor I saw made it clear that bodies like mine weren’t worth their time. So I simply stopped going.

And I’m not alone. 62% of fat women report that they’ve experienced inappropriate or stigmatizing behavior at the doctor’s office. A 2018 study in the journal Body Image found that women with higher BMIs both experienced and internalized weight stigma at higher rates, leading many to postpone health care or avoid it altogether. …

Photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash

It was 105 degrees outside — a nightmare for someone like me.

I am 36 years old and 338 pounds, which means strangers regularly comment on my body, my clothing, what I eat. Despite spending the lion’s share of my life on weight loss programs, my body remains stubbornly the same — the same size I was when I graduated from high school. The same size I have always been.

Over time, I have learned to show as little skin as possible, sporting long sleeves through the summer, avoiding swimming pools, hiding my body away — not because I am…

Jillian Michaels. Photo: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

Celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels seems to want it both ways: She insists that she’s “inclusive” when talking about people’s bodies, yet at the same time she can’t help but editorialize on the body of a plus-size pop star. This most recent series of public jabs isn’t a simple gaffe or slip-up — it’s a perfect illustration of Michaels’ legacy with The Biggest Loser, one of the most harmful shows in reality television.

Last week, Michaels made headlines for her unbidden comments about the body of pop star Lizzo during an interview on BuzzFeed’s AM to DM. Michaels claimed to…

Your Fat Friend

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