Those of you complaining about thin/fit shaming need to read this and understand that while shaming anyone for what they look like is awful, fat people have it way, way worse:
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I was relating to my boyfriend one day about how some people in the grocery store stared at me and my friend who works at the butcher counter. We’re both fat. I couldn’t figure out why people were staring. He suggested it was because we were both fat. That we represent the specter of fatness.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that phrase. It struck me. Recently in an ask I wrote a long reply about how my body is read in different contexts. This essay will focus on my fatness.
In public spaces my body is subject to scrutiny. I’ve written before that I feel my queerness and my fatness opens me to criticism and harassment. I haven’t examined what my body represents to people.
In Portland there is a strong fit culture, focused on healthy eating, outdoor activities and intersected in “green” culture. I think that when people here, especially skinny or “fit” people, see my body it represents the antithesis of this culture. My body represents greed, laziness, sloth, gluttony and other things that the fit culture demonizes. To these people, my body is disgusting. I’m not making this up, I can see it in their faces.
When my boyfriend said that it’s the specter of fatness, what he means is fat bodies represent the revulsion and fear that our society associates with fatness and is projected onto us by thin people. It is also a tool that others use to disenfranchise fat people and to deny our humanity. Basically our personhood is denied by separating our bodies from our selves.
Our bodies become the Other, and in that way they can be consumed, reviled and denied. This comes out in many ways. It comes out in the way people stare at me when I walk down the street, how coworkers recommend diets to me (as if to “save” me from myself but really to assuage their own guilt), it comes out in the humiliation I feel when shopping for clothes, going to the gym or riding my bike.
I feel like my fat body is constantly policed by others. I feel further alienated and oppressed when my fatness intersects with my queerness, my gender presentation and my brownness.
I pride myself on my body. I love my body, I like the way it looks (most of the time), I enjoy dressing it, putting makeup on it, adorning it with tattoos and jewelry. My body is my temple to worship.
However, when I walk out the door I am subject to millions of micro-aggressions every day simply for having the gall to take up the space I do. It’s exhausting to exist in the world like this.
If my body represents something so abominable to others, if I come to represent a disembodied, non-human specter of fatness wandering through the world, then I want nothing to do with those people. Their problem with my body is just that, their problem. It’s on them.