A few weeks ago, a man walked up to me and insulted my body while I was standing on the street with a friend waiting for a taxi. This isn’t the first time this has happened. The friend I was with didn’t know that earlier in the evening I had spent the better part of an hour continuously asking another friend of mine if my outfit was “flattering enough.” Many of my friends were/are not aware of my efforts to be a “good fatty.”
I am so grateful that when that man approached me and tried to embarrass me in public, my friend didn’t tell me to “let it go.” She looked at me in a way that I could tell she was waiting to see how I wanted to respond, and that there was space for me to respond in any way I wanted. That is how it should be.
I have learned not to share my sadness as a fat person. Growing up, I learned that my body was unpalatable enough without adding on cumbersome, messy feelings like sadness. Sad fat people would show up on TV, crying and sweating, their unsavory feelings the only space they were allowed to take up. The only time fat people could be tolerated was when we renounced our bodies, or made them disappear into our suffering. Fat people who stayed fat could be neither seen nor heard…
… When faced with false images of ourselves, distorted by the funhouse mirror of misperception, it can be cathartic to make ourselves their opposite. Not depressed, but eternally joyous. Instead of unsexed, burlesque. In place of slothful and gluttonous, starved and athletic. We become consumed by opposing who we’re assumed to be.
And in the process, we distance ourselves not only from the characteristics of those stereotypes, but from anyone who takes on those characteristics. A fat woman who is genuinely sad or depressed becomes a threat, a flesh-and-blood reminder of who we’re assumed to be. A fat person eating Cheetos represents the glutton we’re meant to be, and a fat person eating a salad turns into the paragon of dietary virtue we’re expected to become.
But, my darling, those are fat people, too.
Read the full article here.