Now, before I delve into how fat feels for me (and I can only speak for me as everyone’s experiences will be different) I would like to clarify something:
Fat is not a bad word!
We treat it like its something dirty. Something heinous. Something to be avoided or shunned.
We throw the word into flippant conversations. When we eat too much we groan, ‘Oh, I’m so fat!‘ When a pair of jeans doesn’t flatter us: ‘Urgh! I look so fat!‘ We use it as insults: ‘Oh look fat she’s got!’ Interestingly, I’ve never heard that last one thrown as a man.
Fat has become synonymous with so-called bad food; gristle, grease, lack of nutrition.
Fat has been demonised. We’ve forgotten that fat can be good; avocados, yoghurts, eggs. All products that are, at their core, nutritious and, quite frankly, scrummy.
So yes I am fat! You can read my story of how I got fat here – although, really, now that I’ve grown in body positive journey, I don’t feel the need to justify my fat history any more.
You are fat also … or at least you have fat. Because we all do. Some just have more than others.
How Fat Feels
I think the first thing to say is that, in the grand scale of things, I am small fat.
I am a size 18 who can shop on the high straight and wear both plus and straight ranges. I am fit, or relatively so. I rarely get out of breath (unless the hill is immense) and I can actually find gym wear to fit – something that is not an easy fete for someone over an 18.
I am also hourglass, and therefore an “acceptable” form of fat in that my fat is carried in the places that are deemed appropriate for a woman – my bum and boobs.
Therefore, my experience of being fat is very different from someone that wears, say, a size 22. And their experience, in turn, will be different from someone who wears a size 32. After all, one size can never fit all and all experience is different.
But I am still fat. I worry that I won’t be able to adopt because my BMI is too high and I frequently feel large – I take up space in a room. My mother says that is my presence – that I am a larger than life character who fills the room. I guess, metaphorically, that is correct. But I also physically fill the room and struggle to sit comfortably on those flimsy little chairs that are so often tightly packed into event rooms and conferences. Those little seats are simply not big enough for my bulging butt cheeks.
But my fat doesn’t stop me from doing anything. I am active – I ride horses, spend hours walking the dog, swim, and will soon be learning to sail. I travel, obsessively when allowed. I can fit into an airplane and, if I need an extender for the seatbelt, airlines have these readily available. I have friends and family that I love and who love me. I have a husband and a very healthy and active sex life. I enjoy dancing – when the moment and the music is right.
I am fat – and I am just like you whether you be fat or thin.
But would I be fat if I had a real choice in the matter?
Honestly, no I wouldn’t.
I will likely garner hatred from fellow body positive activists in this statement. And I even have a little bit of distress in myself for that fact – I don’t believe in leaning in, I believe in changing the system. Yet by admitting that I would not be fat if I had any choice, I am essentially leaning into a societal belief that thin is better.
But who doesn’t, at their heart, want to fit in and be normal. Living a life of ‘otherness’ is difficult. Being ostracised is difficult and lonely.
I am lucky that I have found a community that is supportive – but this is largely through the digital age. In real life, outside of the world of social media where I have created a wonderfully safe cocoon for myself, I still have to listen to women describe that delicious cake I just ate as sin. Or someone suggesting they need to ‘hit the gym hard’ because they ate a burger for lunch – not because they enjoy hitting the gym!
It would be nice to not have to deal with society bull-sh*t standards and as much as I try, I know that I’m mostly fighting a losing battle in standing against. It would be easier to just be thin …
but should I starve my self, work myself into the ground in the gym, deprive myself of my Friday night rum, just to fit in to ideals that are flawed?
Of course not!
Because I do love my body. My body is what gets me out of bed in the morning. I take delight in dressing it. I love the feel of my husbands hands on my body.
I love my body and I am happy in my fat self.
So that is how fat feels … to me at least.
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