I live in a bigger body. I’m round. Plump. Rotund. Chubby.
Whatever words you like to use, I live in a body that is not of a socially acceptable size. And this has so many consequences that have nothing to do with me or with my health. People like to tell me it doesn’t matter what I look like. Thin people especially like to say that. And yet, living in this body seems to signify to strangers that I can be a target. It’s like I’m wearing a sign that says “take it out on me!”
And I’m angry. I thought about weight stigma and how I could write an article explaining why having an eating disorder in a bigger body is hard and how often I feel invalidated. I thought about how kindness is important to me. And quite frankly, I’m angry. I don’t feel like being kind. Weight stigma is real and unjust and not okay. I’m not going to “sugar coat” what is painful and real for me.
I try to pretend that I love my body. I draw large women living their lives in bikinis, being sensual, loving themselves. And when I share my art on social media I get comments like “why don’t you lay off the pizza” or “you’re going to die young”.
One might argue that suggestions about diets are people trying to be helpful and supportive. People are concerned and want to help. Do you really think I’ve never tried dieting? Don’t you think I KNOW about my own body and my own health? Your interest and disgust about/over my body has nothing to do with genuine concern. And even if it did, what right does anyone have to tell me what to do?
I am what many people fear becoming. I am seen as the worst thing a person in this society can be. I am fat and therefore open to judgement and public humiliation because I am somehow at fault for not being in a smaller body.
This is what life is like for me. Every. Single. Day.
Scene 1: a crowded restaurant. Pleasant conversation. Server approaches and takes our orders. Someone orders the “Big Breakfast” and the server says, with a judgemental sneer, “somebody’s hungry.” I never want to eat again.
Scene 2: another restaurant. More pleasant conversation. I’m looking at the menu. Cue rude man to lean over to his friend and whisper in a non-whisper voice “she better just be ordering a salad.”
Scene 3: I’m crossing the road. It is crowded downtown Totonto. A man and I bump arms as we pass each other on the packed intersection. “Watch it, fat b**ch” he says.
Scene 4: an escalator in a crowded mall. A man says hello to me. I don’t realize he is talking to me. He says hello again and I still don’t reply. “Fine don’t talk to me you fat b***hc”
Scene 5: at a bar enjoying a game of pool. Two women walk by the table and one says to the other “I would never let my daughter get that fat”.
Scene 6: walking my dog. Beautiful sunny day. The world feels warm and good. A car drives by and a man yells “keep up the walking and the weight’ll be gone in no time! Good job!”
Scene 7: staff room. About 15 colleagues eating together. Someone says “you can tell you were a dancer by the way you carry yourself. Sometimes I don’t see it because of the fat though”
Scene 8: hospital. Elevator. A doctor enters. Doors close. It is one of my doctors. I say “hello.” He asks who I am and I remind him. He replies, startled: “Oh! It’s unfortunate you’ve gained so much weight.”
This experience is so common for me that I have grown to expect it. I’m afraid to eat in restaurants. I’m afraid to go out with my friends. I’m afraid to go to crowded places. I’m afraid to exist in my own body.
I was asked recently how I reply to people in these situations. I don’t. I don’t reply. There are always people around me, who hear what is said and they say nothing. It isn’t my job to educate people on basic human decency. I have a right to exist in my body. And no one else has the right to voice their thoughts or opinions about it. I am just as angry at the strangers who say nothing, who give me a pitying look and carry on without at least asking me if I’m okay. I’m not okay. I’m hurt and afraid. I’m also angry and I’m tired. I’m tired of having to justify my existence.
My body = my business.
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