Let’s not sugar coat things. It’s tough being a fat woman.
There are so many negative stigmas surrounding fat women like myself. We constantly feel we must disprove insignificant strangers who judge us solely on our appearance. For simply taking up more space and having more flesh, we’re instantly with a whole thesaurus of ugly adjectives. Unhealthy, uneducated, unattractive, unloved…All the words that deem us less worthy than our slender counterparts.
Nobody should need to justify their existence or life choices to another, least of all an unfamiliar one.
So why is society not only expecting us to justify our fat selves but also offer an apology for the ways we look, live & love?
Misconceptions on body shapes
The fat woman who “looks” unhealthy because of her size might be an athlete who wins medals with her fitness. The slim woman who “looks” the picture of health might be a chronic smoker with the lungs of an 80-year-old. But we would never know any of this from the way we look from the outside.
There’s the ongoing struggle to dispel these myths to the narrow-minded judge on the street and it’s hard. Any time a plus size body is living unapologetically without covering our rolls or counting calories, we are “glorifying obesity”. Apparently, we are being “irresponsible” of our physical health and should feel sorry about it. Of course, there are countless examples of fat women being unhealthy. There will always be examples of uneducated, unloved fat women in reality.
No fat women are trying to deny any of the above. What we are trying to deny, however, is that fat is less worthy of the happiness. We deserve the normality other shapes get.
What’s wrong with “you are not fat. You are beautiful.”?
Even when we look beyond the critical stranger on the street to the more widely respected members of society such as medical professionals, the struggle is real. We face the dreaded (predominantly untrue!) get-out-of-jail-free line for every unrelated ailment from an infected insect bite to a hereditary condition inherited from our slim mother: “it would help if you lost weight”.
The only thing more frustrating is the backhanded compliment from those who actually mean well but still wreak of internalised fatphobia. It’s not a positive thing to be told the classic “you’re not fat, you’re beautiful”. It’s telling us that we can only be one or the other – we are fat and beautiful, dammit!
A strong sisterhood online
Fortunately for us, there is a fat positive community out there. We are slowly proving the world wrong. Our community is putting out any flames of fat shaming negativity with its relentless positivity. Dedicated to drive for fuller figures to be accepted. Embrace our wobbly bits. Encourage fellow fat women to live as much unashamed joy as slim women. There is a tight knit sisterhood lives on Instagram.
Instagram – although still a public domain with the potential of the same stranger danger we face on the street – is a safe haven where body confidence and self-esteem issues stand side by side. People can learn from each other. It introduces us to likeminded fat women. Those facing the same weight-based struggle. While holding the same positive values, likeminded fat women would rarely cross paths in “real life”.
Not only is it welcoming of us sharing anecdotes of our personal experiences, our personal growth (no pun intended!) in a thin women’s world, our visibly plus size bodies in all their soft, loose, extended realness. It births a community that evolves from a throwaway “you look fierce in that outfit” compliment into a whole support network.
The online curve community embraces all shapes & sizes at every level of body acceptance; the hourglass figures and the big bellies are in alliance. The outspoken fat activist is in union with the broken victim of fat shaming learning to love herself again. Fat fashion and comfort clothing to bring the best out of everybody’s body. The chronically ill are mutually supported by the fat fit fam.
One step forward
Much like our glorious back rolls over our bra straps, both the plus positive community and the fat acceptance movement are slowly spilling out into real life. The operative word is “slowly”. For every doctor who sees beyond our BMI, every brand that extends their size range, every individual woke enough to compliment (or even insult!) us on more than our shape is a step forward.
Small victories are still victories, hopefully soon to become fat victories of acceptance.