08 September 2016

Ready To Stare x Migg Mag: The Importance Of Fat Friendship

My first best friend was fat. We met in the fourth grade, and I still wonder whether we would've clicked as much had our body types not given us something to relate to one another with straight off the bat.

Two young women who'd later become some of my closest friends, and whom I met the year after, were living in similar, round-bellied bodies. In our small, conservative town — where "ideal beauty" was akin to the standard thinness and whiteness typical of Western dogma at large, but with the addition of fake tans and surfer brands — we all stood out. But none of us felt particularly good about that fact. So if we couldn't physically shrink, we could do our best to do so in speech, in personality, in voice, in presence.
These women were all incredible people: They remain some of the kindest, strongest, most brilliant individuals one can hope to meet. But I often wonder how our formative years would've played out if we'd come across some confident, like-bodied women a lot sooner: Fat women who didn't believe that it was inherently wrong to be fat; fat women who wore the clothes they wanted to wear; who knew that they were no less desirable because of their VBOs; who realized that the problem lies not with fat people themselves, simply for existing, but with the folks and institutions that insist on shaming them, simply for existing.
These days, much of my time is spent online: Soaking up imagery of fat, empowered humans who wear the bright colors, who laugh and live loudly, who take up space with no apology, who fight sizeism in both their day-to-day lives and in grander politics. Alysse Dalessandro of Ready To Stare is one of the fat women whose online presence has deeply touched my life.
We first came into contact with each other through Bustle, after she joined my team and produced some of the most fearless, thought-provoking stories I had the pleasure of editing. Although our relationship began under the umbrella of professionalism, I had the utmost pleasure of meeting her IRL earlier this summer when she visited New York for The Curvy Con. Her work had long inspired me — her writing and her designs alike — and we literally ran into each other's arms at first glance.

That afternoon was spent taking photos with my partner, Patrick, walking through Midtown, and eating some pretty scrumptious tater-tots. But most importantly, it was spent talking. The online fat acceptance community is immeasurably important. But having encounters with fat positive people, in the flesh, is of utmost value as well: To spend time with someone in a body similar to your own, who realizes so acutely that fat bodies are subject to deeply ingrained intolerance, and who makes a conscious decision each day to fight that intolerance, is beyond empowering.

When you spend so much of your life being told that living in your body type makes you inferior, meeting someone who so boldly reminds you that nothing could be further from the truth is motivation to keep striving for better. Not just for yourself, but for all those people who still haven't realized that they've been lied to.
Being fat still comes with its fair share of socially-constructed issues. We are frequently denied health care based on BMI alone. We remain the punchline of many a film or TV show. We are told that love does not exist at our size: That sex is not for us. That clothes are not for us. That we cannot start living until ~the thin person within~ is revealed after rigorous, even life-threatening lifestyle changes.

As we await, and fight, for this social narrative to change, re-framing our own narratives through fat positive friendships — both in person and on the Web — can do wonders. Taking pictures that show off your double chin, with someone who has one, too, can do wonders. Eating unapologetically with someone who knows that your meal plan does not equate to your moral compass or "goodness" versus "badness" can do much the same. And putting on those clothes — those bright, flowery, tight, or quirky clothes — can help, too.

And when much of the world insists on proclaiming otherwise, your fat positive friends can hopefully put things back into perspective.
What We're Wearing
Alysse: Plus Size Tropical Floral Plunge Dress, Deb Shops
Marie: Denim Overalls, ELOQUII

For more fat pos friendship, you can read Alysse's post here <3


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