I am not unapologetically fat.
I’m hyper aware of my size; the way people either look me up and down or not at all -the invisibility of fatness, as it were- both heartbreaking in different realms. I’m aware that it makes me a second class citizen; my mother taught me that with her commentary on my not-at-all fat body as a child and youth. I’ve absorbed the message from the media, from friend and family that being fat isn’t something I should want to be, and most definitely, it’s not something I should be proud of.
Honestly, I live in this place where I don’t really feel fat. Until I go shopping because I have to go to specialized stores. Until I stand next to someone who isn’t fat. I’ve avoided pictures since my mother-in-law took one where my knees looked like they were the size of my head. I avoid mirrors, especially when I’m naked. I don’t like to have sex in certain positions because I’m worried that I’m making my own husband, the same one who has never made a single bit of negative commentary on my body, uncomfortable. I pretend that I’m not fat; I take pictures with the right angles, I untag myself in pictures. I wear all black and baggy shirts so you don’t have to see my stomach, even if it’s still there, always there.
Being invisible is hard work. Especially when you are a size 20.
It’s not as though I don’t try to love my body. I see those people – Tess Holliday, Lesley Kinzel, Lindy West, Fat People of Color – doing the work to remove all the ugliness I’ve just described. I watch how they exude confidence and a total “no fucks given” attitude about their bodies. I want to be like them. I know I should not feel relegated to a life of feeling ashamed of my body.
Shouldn’t. That’s a lot of pressure, especially when I feel so damn sorry for the space I take up, and that I should just quiet myself in other areas so I don’t take up any more space.
This is precisely why loving yourself is such a radical act.
I accepted my Voices of The Year at BlogHer ’16 this past weekend in Los Angeles. As per tradition, at the reception, there are large boards with all the pieces that won scattered throughout the hall. My roommate and friend helped me excitedly scope out the hall to find my board, and when we did, she had her camera ready to memorialize the moment.
They were candid and being taken by someone else; I couldn’t make myself invisible. When I saw them later, my heart broke and a stream of ugly internal commentary burst poured into my brain. I didn’t see a beautiful woman, even though I’d felt like a total queen when I’d left my room, overcome with emotion, celebrating her hard work and talent. I saw a woman with an arm too fat, and a stomach that couldn’t even be hidden by black and an empire waist.
How dare I celebrate my success when I look like that?
Except, you know what?
Fuck that noise.
I’m fat. That doesn’t undo any good I do in this world. It has never changed the power of my words, except when I’ve worked to quiet it. I’m not going to minimize who I am in anyway because I make someone uncomfortable. I’m not going to dim my light because someone thinks it’s too damn bright.
I am fat.
But I’m also kind and thoughtful. I’m also unafraid of calling people on their bullshit. I wear a fierce red lip and love white wine. My boobs are fantastic — to quote Jenny Kavensky, “With boobs like that, you don’t need a single business card.” — my sense of humor is delightful. I’m smart and I’m talented as fuck.
I deserve to own the space I’ve worked for, whether I’m a size 0 or a 20.