One of those bitch face kind of days:
I'm sure by now almost everyone has read Cosmo's "WhatBeing A Fat Woman Is Really Like" article, which was published at the end of February. The piece set out to interview two plus-size women proud to call themselves fat, asking questions that covered topics across the spectrum -- from diet to fashion; from health to sex.
I have been conflicted about this piece, because its existence is one of the many reminders that being fat is, and will undoubtedly remain for a good, long while, a negative stigma. It's almost as though we needed two women to talk about the hardships of being fat on a massively-produced, globally-acclaimed magazine for the mainstream to start believing it. Though part of me appreciates that Cosmo is trying to be more size-accepting and finally give space on the page to fuller-figured women (metaphorically, of course, because this was a web article), part of me is devastated that the problem today is still being fat as opposed to the way people who aren't fat treat people who are.
Another example of this recently: my breathtaking and inspiring friend Sarah Martindale, blogger and founder of the #BodyConfidenceWeek hashtag on Twitter as well as Fat Positive Liverpool, was on Daybreak a few weeks ago for a segment about the growing "obesity epidemic" in the UK. As a plus-size woman who is actively involved in spreading size acceptance, she was there to speak against fat shaming and to talk openly about the fact that just because there may very well be more fat people today than there were ten years ago, that in no way means that fat is normalized, let alone accepted (which was Dr. Hilary's argument -- the "health expert" on the show). It infuriated me to hear Dr. Hilary say that being fat is accepted in modernity. Tell that to the kid who is bullied and tortured for over ten years of school. Tell that to the thousands upon thousands thousands of men and women suffering from eating disorders. Tell that to the plethora of weight loss ads and campaigns that bombard the Internet and plaster city billboards. Tell that to the doctors who take one look at an "overweight" patient and decide he/she is unhealthy, without administering a single test. Normalized, really?
In the aftermath of the Cosmo story, dozens of curvy bloggers have set out to answer the questions for themselves, including two of my personal favorites: Cait from KitschVixen and Claire from AMonkey Fatshionista. themselves. The lack of ID in the Cosmo piece was, to me, the one of the magazine's biggest failings. If you wish to give voices to fat women who are supposedly confident in their bodies, please give them faces, as well. That being said, I wanted to answer these questions for myself. I have spoken openly about my ED past. And I've spoken openly about the evolution of my plus-size pride. So I'll try speaking openly about these issues, as well. Though I still don't know what to make of the Cosmo article, and I worry it isn't as beneficial as it could have been, maybe I'm wrong.
Though it will always frustrate me to hear slender women complain about feeling/being fat, what is more concerning is the degree to which being fat is seen as a negative thing. If women weren’t conditioned to think that being fat is ugly and practically sinful, they could go on with their lives worrying about more important things.
Immeasurably. I spent most of high school hating myself, feeling the need to change, feeling like I was doing something wrong by being heavier. I think deep down I have always felt that curves are beautiful, and that having a fuller-figure is attractive. But I was made to feel bad about it, and in consequence, turned those negative feelings into self-hate. Early college was pretty much the same. It was junior year, after going abroad and surrounding myself with positive people, that things began to change for the better.
I was on a diet from age 12 to age 20. As many of you know, the earlier years were spent crash dieting, and in reality, I was killing myself. The latter of those years I gained a lot of weight, and spent most of my time counting calories or trying desperately to lose it all at the gym. I don’t think I ever dieted in a healthy way, because to my doctors and sources of self-hate, doing it healthily didn’t matter.
I would say it’s an even split. My father’s side of the family is tall and very big-boned. Even at my lowest weight, I still looked larger than most people because of my bone structure. My mother’s side, which is the Colombian side, is responsible for my curves, large hips and substantial rear end. But at the end of the day, I like to eat. I no longer monitor myself and I indulge in the foods I love, regardless of calorie count.
My father grew up extremely poor with very little to eat or drink. A priority for him as a dad was, and still is, to make sure his kids are all well fed. To him, being thicker is a sign of good health, so I think he appreciates that I am fuller-figured. My mother struggled with her own body image for so much of her life that I think she projected it onto me from childhood and onwards. She is susceptible to all the “you can only be healthy if you’re thin” stuff, partly be because she feels healthier at a lower weight, and partly because she’s Colombian, and was taught to believe that one should be curvy, but not too curvy.
Well, the first step is to expand their size ranges, and actually sell clothes for plus-size people. And once they do that, avoid pricing plus-sizes higher than their straight-size counterparts. Yeah, I know bigger garments mean more fabric costs, but sales would increase so much by extending the size range that any excess fabric costs will seem minimal, I’m sure.
I think fat people, regardless of gender, will always be mistreated and judged harshly. Fat is considered a problem, and consequently, fat people are seen as a problem. I do, however, think plus-size women are under more pressure by the media. Melissa McCarthy, for instance, is probably far more fat shamed than Kevin James.
· Fat people are lazy/useless.
· Fat people are unhealthy.
· Fat people are unattractive.
· Fat people don’t have sex/or fat people are easy (apparently they are not mutually exclusive).
· And one of the worst things I have ever heard in my lifetime: fat people are never the victims of sexual assault.
I try my best to speak out against these things publicly, and through my blog, but at the end of the day, these comments are fired by ignorance, self-hate, boredom and human cruelty, which may just be human nature for most people. I have very little respect for homo sapiens and their treatment of each other, and don’t expect any better at this point.
No. A person’s weight is their business, and their concern alone. If a health problem is proven to be directly caused by a person’s weight, then their doctor should address it. That being said, people need to understand that fat is not a disease or illness. Illnesses can arise from being fat, yes, as they can from drinking or smoking or traveling and drinking the water in a foreign country.
I can’t remember the insults I received as a kid. I got a lot of “mira esa gringa gorda” – or look at the fat American on visits to Colombia as a child and teen. And a “mira esa barrigota” – look at that massive belly – from a relative. They may not sound hideous, but when they come from the people who are supposed to care about you most, then they are a whole different level of painful.
In the past, it was always tears or silence. I’ve always been far too passive aggressive for my own good. But today, whenever I get the: You have such a beautiful face; think how pretty you’d be if you lost weight, I try to make it a point to express that I already AM pretty, and part of that beauty comes from every bit of fat on my body.