WARNING: PROFANITY ALERT. ANGRY RANT AHEAD. TURN BACK NOW IF FAT BODIES OR THE F-BOMB OFFEND YOU
I’m pissed off.
I am beyond annoyed, angry-to-my-core, really fucking tired of this shit PISSED OFF.
I’m ‘I want to break things just to hear them smash’ pissed off.
I’m ‘punch the next person who pushes this button, even though I’m generally a pacifist’ pissed off.
I’m ‘I’ll say fuck you to your face and I don’t give two shits who you think you are’ pissed off.
Because people are shallow, small-minded, pigeon-brained fuckwads who need to learn how to mind their own god-damned business about other people’s bodies.
It’s summer. It’s hot. And for the first time since I hit puberty, I’m enjoying it.
Let me tell you a little story. Actually, sit the fuck down. It’s time to open your ears and hear what it’s like to live in a fat body.
It’s 1992 in southwest Ohio. Late August. I’ve just turned 13, and I’ve finally hit a growth spurt. I’m starting to get a little taller, but I’m still chubby. Whatever. It’s the last week of summer vacation, and I’m trying to make the most of it, so I head over to my friend’s house, because she has a pool. Like most kids going through puberty, my body is doing weird things in weird places – you know, my left leg had hair, but the right one didn’t….and, because I was growing faster than my skin could keep up, I had stretch marks on my chest and arms.
So I show up at the pool, and my friends start pointing out my stretch marks, and laughing.
Kids are fucking cruel.
I started wearing a shirt over my swimsuit, because I was embarrassed.
I grew up, survived a bunch of crazy shit, like a terrorist attack, an auto-immune disease that almost killed me twice, 13 years of steroid treatments that left me with way more weight than I wanted, a neurological disorder, and 4 grapefruit sized lymph nodes that left me with grapefruit sized pockets of skin at the tops of my thighs and in my armpits.
They’re huge. And ugly. And I was embarrassed, so I hid my legs under baggy pants and skirts, and never, EVER wore any kind of top that had sleeves shorter than the elbow.
My summers were MISERABLE.
I was constantly overheated because of wearing more clothing than I probably should have, sweating constantly, always turning down activities that would require me to wear a bathing suit, because I was embarrassed.
I didn’t want to make people uncomfortable by showing my body.
I didn’t want to be embarrassed by what they might say about it.
I made myself uncomfortable, so I wouldn’t make anyone else uncomfortable….
How fucked up is that?
This year, I decided that I’d had enough. My arms and legs may be deformed, but they’re MY MUTHAFUCKIN BATTLE SCARS, and I’m DONE being embarrassed by them.
I decided to wear the sleeveless dresses, the tank tops,
Hell, I even bought a bikini. [I haven’t been brave enough to wear that in public yet, but I own it]
And I’ve been COMFORTABLE.
I’ve gone tubing in the breeches without having to fuss with an extra layer of clothing, being wet for hours after my friends had dried off.
I’ve gone picking at local farms without being overheated and feeling like I’m going to pass out.
My Elmer’s glue-hued body actually looks a little more human now that the sun has actually touched it.
I’m having a FUN SUMMER for the first time since puberty.
But that fun has come at a price.
People are cruel.
Some people just don’t grow out of that 8th grade ‘I don’t like myself, so I’m going to make fun of you to feel better about me’ mentality.
And I’ve had just about fucking enough of it this week.
Sometimes, they’re micro-aggressions, like going to the ice cream shop with a friend. You both order the same size cone, but when they’re made [by the same person] yours is noticeably smaller, because some ‘well-meaning’ person decided that you should be watching your portions. [This was actually said to me when we said something about the disparity in sizing].
Or, when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone, and their eyes keep leaving your face to stare at your arms…..YO. EYES UP. MY FACE IS UP HERE. STOP STARING.
Sometimes, it’s way more overt than that.
Like when someone decides to comment on one of your photos about how ‘concerned they are about your health’ and that makes shaming you for being fat okay.
Or when you’re picking fruit at a u-pick farm, and a group of farm workers drives by in the back of a pickup truck, pointing, laughing, and mooing at you.
Or when you walk down the street, and people literally point and laugh, while you’re just trying to live.
This all happened to me, every single one of these scenarios, in the past week and a half.
It’s exhausting, fighting the urge to hide, to cover up… to not drop kick the fuckers into next week. It would be so easy to just make myself invisible, uncomfortable, again.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I deal with a fair amount of body-shamers on the regular. It just seems that it’s amplified lately. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m daring to wear *gasp* seasonally appropriate clothing on a fat body. Maybe it’s the degradation of manners in general. Maybe it’s the full moon. But it’s been way worse than normal lately.
The worst one in a long time happened the other day. I was downtown, enjoying my community, when I encountered a ballerina and her mom, also out enjoying some time off from the CPYB summer intensive. The young teen girl asked for a simple snack – nothing outrageous, just a snack. She asked her mom, who responded with such inappropriate, shameful vitriolic bullshit that I wanted to throat punch her.
She [the mom] pointed at me and said, “if you eat crap, you’ll end up looking like THAT.’
The ballerina looked horrified.
Something inside me snapped.
I stopped what I was doing, stood up, came around until I was in full view of them, and stood there for a moment… And then I let her have it.
“Take a good look. You know how you end up looking like this? You end up looking like this when you survive the worst terrorist attack that’s ever been on this nation’s shores, and stay to serve, when others are trying to get away from the pit that looks like hell itself. You end up looking like this when you breathe in the dust down there and end up with THREE different neurological and autoimmune diseases that require 15 years of high dose steroids and chemo to just stay alive.
You look like this when you refuse to give up. When you refuse to let what happens to you define you. When you refuse to listen to assholes like your mother who only see someone’s skin. You get this way by being a total fucking badass. You keep being a badass, and if that means being a ballerina, you go for it. But don’t you ever let anyone, ever, tell you that you are less because of the way you look, even if that person is your mother. ESPECIALLY if that person is your mother. So don’t be afraid to eat the snack, or do what makes you happy. And YOU [to the mother] are a shitty, shallow human being who can take your misplaced judgment and FUCK OFF.”
The mother looked at the floor, red faced, muttered an apology, bought her daughter the snack, and walked off without saying another word.
Most days, I’m not that brave, but I couldn’t bear the thought of my fat body being weaponized, used against another person to make them afraid to eat the snack, or do something that would make them happy.
I sat down and tried to go back to enjoying my book and my coffee. But the damage had been done. I couldn’t stop feeling like everyone was staring at my arms. My fat body. I bolted out to my car, put on the cardigan I keep in the trunk for emergencies like this, and sobbed.
I wanted to disappear.
I got quiet.
And then, I got angry.
Really fucking angry.
Who the FUCK do these people think they are? What right do they have to make any kind of commentary on another person’s body, or their worth as a person because of how they look?
So here’s the deal. If you’ve ever body shamed someone, SHAME ON YOU.
If you’ve ever pointed, or laughed. SHAME ON YOU.
If you’ve ever stared at someone who is disabled or disfigured, instead of looking them in the face and talking to them normally, FUCKING SHAME ON YOU.
If you’ve ever tried to justify your perceived need to comment on someone else’s body because “their health” – FUCKING SHUT UP, BUTT OUT, AND SIT YOUR ASS DOWN. FULL STOP. Because I gauranteee that the person you’re “concerned” about already fucking knows they’re fat, already knows the health risks, already deals with the bullshit associated with being fat on a daily basis. YOUR COMMENTS NEVER HELP. THEY ONLY HURT, AND ARE NOT WELCOME.
So seriously, JUST STOP.
Stop using fat bodies as weapons, as depictions of laziness, or slovenliness, evil, or any other representation of moral, social, or mental failing.
And FOR FUCKS SAKE, STOP STARING.
Let us live our lives, and maybe, just MAYBE, enjoy the summer like a normal person.