I’m exceedingly lucky in that I haven’t dealt with much in-person fat hatred since…well, middle school. I’ve never gotten cat-called by a stranger, and the people in my life are considerate enough that even if they’re pro-weight loss (which many of them are), they respect that I’m happy with my body.
Almost every post I read on This Is Thin Privilege makes me think, “Holy shit! People are TERRIBLE toward fatties, and it’s sheer luck that I haven’t dealt with stuff like this.”
And even still. Even still, I come across digs at fat people everywhere.
Almost every book I read–even my beloved Deep Economy–has some mention of the OMGBESITY!!1! epidemic (if it’s non-fiction), or a negative portrayal of a fat character (if it’s fiction or memoir).
And the internet? Forget about it. If I explore pretty much any topic outside of fat acceptance, there’s always a mention of how awful fat bodies are, regardless of how irrelevant that is to the subject at hand.
For example, I’m a Facebook fan of a couple of travel writers who call themselves Married With Luggage. Because hey, travel writing is interesting. I like to read about other people’s adventures, and fantasize about going on my own adventures someday.
And then I saw they had posted an article about how, between the two of them, they lost 70 pounds while travelling abroad. Of course, they prefaced the link with one of the most cliche stereotypes about fat people: “You may not want to read this if you’re having donuts for breakfast.”
I am so, so sick of people assuming that fat people eat donuts all the time.
Even worse, in one of their comments, they said:
As I pointed out in the article, there are plenty of overweight people around the world (and it’s increasing). But overall, [here in the US] we’re still the biggest, which is heartbreaking when we have the wealth and options to be healthy.
Leaving aside that fact that many, many people in the US don’t have the wealth and options to be healthy, this statement is still wrong–and painful to read–on so many levels.
There are people–seemingly reasonable, decent people–who think the existence of bodies like mine is heartbreaking. Who think that my life must be a tragedy because I wear above a size 14. Who refuse to believe that health comes in more than one size. And who refuse to understand that not everyone prioritizes health in the same ways, or at all.
My body is not heartbreaking.
The stories I read every day about fat hatred, stigma, and discrimination are heartbreaking. The stories of fat people getting sick or dying because doctors ignored their health problems and blamed them all on their size are heartbreaking. The stories of fat people who are denied the right to adopt children, or have even had their children taken away from them due to their size, are heartbreaking. The extremely common stories of men, women, and children suffering from eating disorders are heartbreaking.
My body, itself, is not heartbreaking. I am 5’5″, about 235 or 240 pounds (not sure exactly, as I haven’t weighed myself in a while). I usually wear between a size 18 and 22 (US). I’m gainfully employed, although currently in a temporary job. I’ve been dating my wonderful boyfriend for over a year, and I’m happier with him than I’d ever imagined I could be. I have an amazing circle of friends, with whom I attend parties and have adventures all over town. Just last night, I went on an experimental exploring trip with a few of them, and ended up climbing a playground rope structure while blindfolded! (Don’t worry, we were safe: I had a non-blindfolded friend giving me very good directions, and I only got about 5 feet up.)
I volunteer with an organization that takes inner-city kids into nature. I dance and do yoga, and enjoy hiking, swimming, and kayaking every now and then. Sometimes I exercise less when I’m busy or stressed out or have a weird work schedule. But I come back to it eventually because I like joyful movement. Same with food: I tend to eat too much sugar when I’m tired or stressed out. But I also love vegetables–there’s nothing like Brussels sprouts roasted with garlic, olive oil, and sea salt. I eat shit-tons of quinoa. In the summer, I’m all about tomatoes from the farmers’ market, and big bowls of berries garnished with mint leaves. I’m more likely to eat a bowl of Raisin Bran for breakfast than a donut, considering I don’t even like donuts that much.
But even if I were single, unemployed, less social, didn’t enjoy exercise, and/or actually ate donuts for breakfast every day? My body still wouldn’t be a tragedy.
My body would still be me. Whole, complex, imperfect–but in no way heartbreaking.