RSS Feed

Category Archives: Fat

Sleeveless and Fearless

Posted on

SleevelessFearless.jpeg

 

Instead of a blog post today I wanted to share one of my pieces of fat-positive art with you! I created the original version of this piece about seven years ago, but since I recently changed my name I wanted to update the piece. I hope you enjoy!

Advertisements

My Non Binary Body

Posted on

Like many, possibly most, I have a complicated relationship with my body. I always have. I’ve always been bigger. Bigger than what? Bigger than everyone else, bigger than I was supposed to be, bigger than what was considered good, right, or healthy. In my mind, as a child, I was huge. Looking at old pictures, I was a little bigger than the other kids, and usually taller, but that was it. But that self-deception is a blog post for another day.

Until a month ago, I identified as a woman. For 32 years, I was a girl, then a woman, who was bigger than everyone else. Girls are not supposed to be big. We are supposed to be small and delicate and cute and quiet. I’ve always been loud and big and bold and expressive. Not anything a girl is supposed to be. I’ve grown bigger and bigger as I’ve gotten older, more often than not being the fattest person I know, and the fattest person in the room. If there’s one thing proper women are definitely not supposed to be, it’s fat.

A month ago, I came out as non binary. I wouldn’t say I was closeted before then, because I didn’t realize I was non binary. I was fully identifying as and living as a woman. I was a big, fat woman. Now I’m a big, fat non binary person.

Since realizing I am non binary, the way I view my body has subtly changed. I’m at a point in my life right now where I am not physically comfortable and am trying to lose weight slowly via moderate exercise and eating a more plant-based diet. That being said, I don’t have hatred for my body. I think hating a body for being big is a waste of time and energy. It’s your body! It’s the only one you’ve got! When I was a woman, hating my body seemed like an obvious choice, because that is what fat women are supposed to do. I still didn’t hate my body as a woman, but I knew I was supposed to.

Now that I’m not a woman, I feel like I’m cheating the system. Haha, I don’t have a gender, you can’t make me do anything! You can’t make me hate myself anymore! Who is you? Society, I suppose. The world. The people in it. The people that want me to diet myself away to nothing because that is what fat people-fat women especially-are supposed to do. So as someone who no longer identifies with any gender, what has changed?

I feel like the rules shouldn’t apply to anyone, but not having a gender has almost given me a head start on breaking away from the idea of how my body is supposed to look. My body is not a woman’s body, so why should it look the way women’s bodies are supposed to look? And that being said, why should any body look a certain way? What’s the point? Why are there any rules at all? Who makes the rules?

Fuck the rules!

Out With The Old

Posted on

Today I went through my closet on a mission to get rid of things I never wear but it quickly turned into a mission with a different goal. Pretty soon, as I looked over the rows of clothes, I realized I wanted to get rid of everything that didn’t fit me anymore.

I’ve been putting on weight over the past couple years. Like many tend to do, I made resolutions this year to be healthier and be more active. I am doing this with the goal of getting stronger and having better stamina, but also wanting to lose some weight. I’ve reached a point where I’m not comfortable in my body and I want to navigate the world a little more easily.

Despite my goals to lose weight, I don’t see the value in hanging onto clothes that don’t fit in the hopes that they might fit again someday. I think this creates an unhealthy pattern where were lose a little weight, try the clothes on, find they still don’t fit, and get discouraged. I think it’s easier in some ways to discard everything that doesn’t fit and just get new clothes as we reach new weights. This is just what works for me, and to each their own.

As I rifled through my closet I thought about things that have changed. I used to wear lots of t-shirts and now I almost exclusively wear dresses, because I don’t have to worry about my belly poking out. I can no longer button up my favorite pair of ripped denim shorts that I used to live in a couple summers ago. I decided to get rid of my last two pairs of jeans, because I now wear leggings everyday (and have never looked back. Leggings aren’t just pants, they’re BETTER than pants. Fight me.) I hung onto my Star Wars shirts despite wearing dresses almost everyday, because those I knew I would miss too much.

I thought about how this moment would be considered by many to be a failing of sorts. Here I am giving up, getting rid of my smaller clothes instead of striving to fit into them. But what do I have to gain (pun fully intended) but hanging onto the past? I have plenty of clothes that fit me now, and are stretchy enough to fit me as I lose some weight, so where is the benefit to be had by letting ill-fitting, uncomfortable clothing take up space in my closet? What will I get out of trying on my shorts every few weeks, hoping that this time they fit? I would much rather buy a new pair of shorts in six months. Out with the old.

There is a fear that comes with getting rid of things that only those of us with limited means really understand. What if I need this someday and it’s not there anymore, and I can’t afford to replace it? This is why so many of us hang on to things we don’t need, “just in case”. I used to do this with a lot of things. I hung onto large amounts of art and craft supplies, for a project I might do, someday, sometime in the vague future. I hung onto books I never read, movies I never watched, things I never used. As the years have gone by I’ve become quite fond of clearing things out. I love going through boxes and drawers, finding what I don’t use, donating things, only keeping what I really need and use. I have very rarely found myself missing something I got rid of, and it was never anything I needed, only things that had a small amount of sentimental value. So why hang on to clothes that won’t fit me for months, maybe a year, maybe longer?

I filled up three paper grocery bags with clothes I don’t wear or fit into anymore. I thought, oh, I’m supposed to feel ashamed aren’t I, that I’ve outgrown this much. But no, I just felt relief to be getting rid of that which is not useful to me anymore. There is something comforting and pleasing about looking at your clothes and knowing you can fit into all of them. There is something freeing in letting yourself be comfortable, in not punishing yourself for getting bigger. Outgrowing clothes doesn’t make you any kind of failure.

Today I took control and decided to do what was best for my well-being by letting go of that which does not serve me any longer. It felt good and even more, it felt freeing. I refuse to play the game of holding up a pair of pants, desperately hoping I fit into them this time. I refuse to hang onto anything that makes me feel less than good about myself. After all, I can always buy new shorts.

Exercise and Assumptions

Posted on

I used to work out regularly. I was younger, didn’t have a job at the time, had plenty of free time, and had a membership to a gym paid for by my mom, who went with me. I felt great. I was still fat-oh so fat!-but I felt better. I felt stronger than I do now. I probably weigh about the same as I have for years (I have a Winnie the Pooh t-shirt I’ve worn since middle school that can attest to that) but exercise made a difference in how I felt. As I’ve gotten older and busier, exercise has become less of a priority for me. I can’t afford the gym membership, am afraid to take walks around my neighborhood because I don’t want to be verbally harassed, and my body is usually so tired after work that the last thing I want to do is force it to do more work. But lately I’ve felt like crap and I’ve decided to work out more at home. I have no weight loss goals and do not own a scale. I have no desire to be a fitness blogger. I want to be able to get through a work day without my back aching or my knee twinging.

Exercise plan in mind, I took to Target for some at-home workout gear. I started simply with a resistance band. As I was checking out with my boyfriend, the clerk, a woman shorter than me but about my size otherwise, saw the band and said “So I take it like me you’re trying to lose weight?”

Hmmmmmm. Yes, this was an odd moment for me. I answered her honestly; I shrugged and said nope, I just want to feel better. My boyfriend said he might even use it too. I said I’m fine with my size. She looked at me and said “I’m not. I don’t like the size of my body.” She looked so damn sad when she said that. I wished her luck in doing whatever she needed to do to find happiness with herself, and I meant it.

As we walked out of the store we discussed this strange and rather sad exchange. I felt so bad for the woman. I saw that pain in her eyes, and I recognized it. It’s the same pain I’ve seen in my mom’s face over many years. I know the eyes of a woman who hates herself, who thinks she is ugly and unworthy. My mom couldn’t find that peace and love for herself until she lost weight, but I’m just glad she found it at all. I just refused to wait. I want to love and accept myself now, not twenty or fifty or a one hundred pounds from now. Today. Right this second. Finding the fat acceptance and body-positivity community helped me realize that I actually am not required to hate myself just because I am fat.

I discussed with my boyfriend how it kind of annoyed me to have someone assume I wanted to lose weight because I was buying a resistance band. Fair enough assumption, yes. I’m a big, fat woman, buying exercise equipment. There is just something about that assumption that makes me feel like I’m being watched as a fat person. It’s the same feeling I got when a co-worker once mentioned how good I was being when she saw my eating raw veggies at work. Can’t a woman just eat some damn cucumber slices because she wants to? At the same time, I know this cashier was looking for solidarity. She saw in me someone who can identify with her struggles. And she’s right, I can. I struggle to find clothes that fit, I struggle to find doctors who will diagnose my symptoms and not my size, I struggle to walk down the street after having someone in a moving car “moo” at me one too many times. And like just about any human being with a body, I struggle with loving, or just accepting, myself.

Our world makes it hard to love yourself. I support people doing what they need or want to do to take care of themselves and reach a place of happiness. My goals are probably not what people think they are, or should be, given my size. I hesitate to mention exercise around anyone, lest they think oh, of course she wants to lose weight! Finally! My path to health and happiness is mine, and I wish luck to anyone in theirs.

I Think You Forgot To Mention Something

Posted on

Do you ever experience a moment when it seems like someone is on the verge of a truth but they end up just skirting around it? It seems like that happens often around issues of weight. We hear a lot of talk about how horrible life is for fat people and we activists sit there, mentally filling in the blanks; “Yes, life is hard for us because people discriminate against us!” Unfortunately, many people never seem to reach that logical conclusion. Instead, it’s “Doctor’s treat fat patient’s poorly, so you should lose weight.” “Kids bully fat people, so you should lose weight.” “Airlines kick fat people off of flights, so you should lose weight.” And on and on it goes.

Last week I was sitting at the break table at work, flipping through the most recent issue of Mental Floss magazine, and I had one of those “avoiding the truth” moments. The magazine included a feature on how the seven deadly sins may not be so bad for you after all. I mostly skimmed the article, but of course I wanted to see what they had to say about gluttony. Now, I don’t really need a magazine article to give me permission to practice some good old fashioned gluttony. I don’t believe in attaching moral value to food or drink anyway, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that indulging in something you enjoy makes you happy, so just enjoy it already!

Even though I wanted to see what the rag had to say about gluttony, I didn’t get very far, because right at the beginning of the section was a parenthetical that warned against being too gluttonous, because heavier people (their words) tend to get raises and promotions less often. Hmmm. Mental Floss, I feel like you’re missing something.

See, this is true. All of us fat activists know this is true. Apparently the writers of Mental Floss know this is true as well, because they threw it in as a little tidbit in an article about why it’s okay to indulge (but not too much, I guess. Don’t over-indulge that indulgence, folks). The thing is, I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to include this fact without bothering to talk about why it’s true.

Being less likely to be hired, promoted, or given a raise is not some odd little side-effect of being fat. It’s not a coincidence. It’s not an unavoidable trait. It’s discrimination. Fat people are discriminated against. We are less likely to be hired, promoted, or given raises because the people in power see us as lazy, unintelligent, or just ugly. The article in Mental Floss mentioned this fact of discrimination against “heavier people” so casually and quickly that it wasn’t clear whether or not they actually see it as discrimination. Reading that line I felt like saying “….Yes, and?”

The thing is, it’s not our fault. It’s not our fault we are less likely to be given these opportunities in the workplace. It’s not our fault we are discriminated against. To throw this fact out there so casually, and then not explore it, makes it seem like this is just an interesting and unfortunate side affect of being fat. What it really is, is a side affect of living in a society that views fat people as lesser beings. We are headless blobs on the evening news, miserable bed-ridden guests on Dr. Oz, reality show contestants desperate to lose weight in order to “take our lives  back.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I just want to be a person.

Yes, fat people are less likely to be given raises or promotions. And that is fucking unacceptable. 

My Experience of Flying While Fat

Posted on

I recently went on a trip and I thought I would share my traveling experience.

Throughout my whole life, I’ve only ever flown Southwest airlines and had no issues with the staff. I find this amusingly ironic considering how often they make the news for harassing someone based on weight or dress. I do not fit comfortably into their seats but I find that as long as I check in online as early as possible, I am able to board early and avoid sitting next to anyone. For me, the worst part of flying is having to sit next to strangers. I feel obligated to squeeze myself into as small a space as possible so as not to end up on the wrong end of an angry blog post about how HORRIBLE it is to fly next to fat people, so I basically spend a couple hours being extremely uncomfortable unless I sit alone. Luckily for me, unless a plane is full,  no one willingly sits next to fat people!

Unfortunately on this last trip, I had to fly United. Now, I can’t speak for the airline as a whole, having never flown with them before, but I can say that the two planes I flew in were about the size of my apartment and about as uncomfortable as my apartment would be if you filled it with sixty strangers and couldn’t open the windows. On the first plane, going to my destination, I was one of the last people to board the plane as we were called by boarding group. Sadly, unlike Southwest, we had assigned seating. This meant I had no choice but to be wedged next to a stranger who was probably none too happy to be sitting next to the fat person on the plane. Since I was one of the last to board, my seat buddy was already in place, so she had to move while I did my best to load my luggage, and myself, without elbowing anyone in the face. I spent the ninety minute flight leaning as far against the window as I could.

On the plane ride back, I caught a bit of a break. Even though our boarding passes were labeled with boarding groups, we were called to board the plane all at once. I got my butt on that plane as early as possible and I beat my seat buddy to our aisle. I was able to situate myself and my bags comfortably and get settled in before the neighboring passenger arrived. This would be my number one tip to my fellow fat flyers: board as early as possible! Check in online as early as possible and get to the gate well before they start boarding. As a fat person, I can say I always feel like I’m being judged and scrutinized by my fellow passengers on public transportation. Even if I’m just being paranoid, that feeling is still a result of the fat-phobic  society we live in. That being said, getting on the plan as early as possible eases that feeling a bit, since there are fewer eyes on me and fewer people that have to move out of my way.

While I was as uncomfortable as ever on this particular trip, I can say no one was rude to me, no one made comments to my face or tried to make me buy two seats (as these planes were full, my main concern was getting kicked right off). The United planes carried seatbelt extenders so I was as safe as I could probably be. I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t faced any of the bullying or discrimination that other fat flyers sometimes experience. The fact that I consider this lucky is sad indeed.

I wanted to talk about this experience to draw attention so something that doesn’t always get talked about during discussions of flying while fat. People are quick to point out how horribly uncomfortable it is to fly next to fat people. They might have to touch a fat person’s arm or thigh with their arm or thigh, the horror! Sometimes those fat people might be sweaty, or smell bad, oh no! Of course, if it’s a thin person who is sweaty, or not so great-smelling, or maybe hogs the armrest, that experience isn’t used as an example of how gross thin people are, how they should be forced to buy two seats, how they should just be banned from flying entirely. What I really want to talk about, what I really want you to understand, is that flying is infinitely more uncomfortable for the fat person in question than for anyone else on that plane.

We have to deal with the mental and emotional stress of worrying that we might get kicked off the plane, or asked to buy a second seat that we can’t afford. We have to be the recipient of dirty looks. We have to wonder if every time a part of our body makes contact with someone else’s, if that person is going on an inner rant about how they had to touch a gross fat person. We have to be extra conscious of how we smell or how sweaty we are, lest we be labeled a gross smelly fatty. Never mind the fact that travel is always stressful and airports often include lots of walking while carrying heavy bags, heaven forbid we break a sweat. You might have a little bit of your seat taken up by a fat person, but that means we take up our entire seat and then some. How comfortable do you think that is for us?

The next time you travel and start to feel annoyed by someone near you on the bus or plane, ask yourself, are they doing anything they can control? Are they blasting music through their headphones, wearing far too much perfume for an enclosed space, or kicking your seat? Or do they just have a body type that you are uncomfortable with?