On fatness and bullying

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I am fat.

I can call it luscious, curvy, voluptuous, overweight, obese, big, plus-size, Rubenesque, thick, whatever – the bottom line is, I have extra weight on my body. It resides in places both commonly desired (breasts, butt, and hips) and dejected (stomach, upper arms, and inner thighs). Love it or hate it, it’s there.

Being fat gets me into uncomfortable situations. I can be at the grocery store, at the mall shopping for clothes and bam. There go the judgmental eyes and grimacing expressions when my jeans are skinny and my arms are exposed. I hear the whispering and see the pointing when my stomach jiggles as I walk. Sometimes people even use me for a humorous Snapchat when I wear a dress and have cellulite in full view.

Being fat is used as a point of identification for me. “She’s the big girl over there,” they say so Minnesota nicely. Not a thing about my eye color, hair, glasses, nearby landmarks–but my weight. There are dozens of identifiers to pick from, my name included, and my fat body is the main feature.

Being fat is making me tired: not physically tired, but mentally so. I’m fed up with tolerating the inexcusable social behaviors and body policing. As if identifying as female wasn’t hard enough in 2016, I have the added pressure to look and live a certain way because my weight is too cumbersome and excessive.

So, to those who are body privileged and feel the need to offer sage wisdom to fat people, please find a seat and sit right down – I’m going to share something important.

Fat people do not need anyone’s body policing, and telling a fat person to lose weight or live healthfully is not helpful. The unsolicited “advice” is passive aggressive and hurtful. The actions and mistreatment is bullying.

I am aware I’m fat. And most fat people are aware of it too. Also, I know it isn’t healthy to be fat, and some of us choose to fix it; others do not.  But, I can guarantee that 100 percent of fat people have heard it from their doctors. I’ve also heard it from strangers, coworkers, friends, infomercials, all of it. And – believe it or not – I’ve seen it! I see it every day when I get dressed, or take a shower, or pass by a storefront and catch my reflection.

In spite of all this, people still feel compelled to tell me I need to lose weight and that I’m not worthwhile. I’m being told, directly or indirectly, that the size of my jeans has become an indicator of worth and attractiveness. The scale has become the evidence for excommunication. Somewhere along the line, whoever or whatever it was – fashion, media, healthcare, et cetera – decided that being fat was actually the worst thing that could happen to someone. People still fear stretch marks, cellulite, double chins, sweat, all of that, more than many things.

Being fat should not be socially uncomfortable. Being fat should not be a main identifier and label. Being fat should not be mentally exhausting. Being fat should not – and is not – the worst thing you can be. Yet, to many people, it is.

As if the struggle couldn’t get any more real, fatness is not eliminated overnight. It’s not an outfit or accessory, it’s a body. Changing a body in a healthy way takes time. Trust me, if I could pop my body like a balloon or change it like a pair of shoes, I probably would. I think a lot of fat people would because of the pressure and hot nasty breath down their necks.

This pressure builds and builds, leading to destructive action. There are overweight people who develop exercise or eating disorders because of this wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing advice and bullying. It makes me hurt deeply to see someone shamed for how they look to the point of destruction. I wish them healing and strength in their recovery.

On the other hand, there are those who have truly accepted their bodies as being beautiful and perfect with fat on them. Like we can’t shame those who hate their bodies, we can’t shame them for being in love with themselves. They have made a conscious decision to be fat and beautiful – and trust me, those two are definitely coexistent!

As for me, I fall somewhere in the middle of these hands. I am in the process of changing my body. I’m making decisions to live a different way than I am now. However, I accept myself in this moment and appreciate the body I have. Fatness is part of who I am, not all of who I am.

And this is how it should be for fat people – for any body that has been bullied, really.

If you are being bullied because of your size, I want you to know something – you are worthwhile. You are a beautiful, unique creation of this earth. You are YOU, and nobody can take that away. Nobody should be made to feel shitty in their bodies, you included.

Long story short, we are all going through our own struggle, and your discouraging words and actions are not creating solutions. Someone you’re calling a worthless fatass could have just celebrated a weight loss goal, and you wouldn’t know that because of what you’re seeing. If you see a fat person doing something healthy, don’t question it or mock them for it.

The best thing to do is go about your business and live your best life. Your best life is not someone else’s best life.