I am overweight.
There, I said it.
My BMI says it. And before you say that a BMI isn’t an accurate measure because it doesn’t take into account muscle weight… I’m almost entirely sure most of my body weight is fat because I am in no way muscular and can’t even remember the last time I exercised.
I have a gut on me that sticks out over the top of my jeans… which are a size 14 by the way. I wear almost exclusively dresses (some size 10, mostly size 12), in particular ones that are fitted in the chest and flow out with no clinging. For a t-shirt to be big enough not to cling to my stomach it ends up way too big everywhere else, so I don’t wear t-shirts. I think I’m pretty good at dressing for my shape.
I’m overweight and it’s my own fault, nobody else’s. I’m lazy. I like food. I have a sweet tooth. I snack when I’m bored. I eat chocolate when I’m feeling down.
I know all this about myself and that’s okay.
The thing is, I’m at kind of an in-between weight. I don’t think someone trying to describe me to someone else would say “Anna’s fat.” They might say chubby or curvy or mention my boobs, but fat? Surely not. I still get hit on in bars by guys I find attractive so that must mean something right? Nobody thinks I’m fat right? But the sad thing is, when I think about this possibility, I really hope nobody would describe me as fat.
When I was in a musical recently, I was doing pretty well. Lots of great compliments on my voice from other cast members, the director, musical director and vocal coach. I put my all into it and felt confident doing it.
Then talk came of the next musical coming up – Hairspray! And lo and behold I get a bunch of people in the show telling me I’d be great for the lead. Tracy Turnblad. The Fat Girl.
I was upset.
It should have been a compliment, having people think I have the vocal talent to sing all Tracy’s songs and dance all her dances. Tracy is a kickass character in a high energy musical with a lot of really cool songs. She doesn’t let her body size get in the way of going after her dreams and she’s always happy, bubbly, and doesn’t judge others. I should be proud to play her.
But whenever anybody told me I just had to audition for Tracy all I heard was “You’re fat. You are fat enough to play the part of the fat girl in the fat musical.” It especially stung because not a single person said “Obviously you’d need to wear a fat suit.” Or “You’d be great as Tracy if they padded your costumes”.
All it made me think was “Wow. All these people think I’m fat. Time to lose some weight!”
Who knows if this is true, but who cares? What exactly is so terrifying about being considered fat?
A lot of it is the word fat. Sure you can call me curvy, voluptuous, and even chubby – but fat? No way. Society has told us all our lives that fat is bad and shitty people have treated fat people badly. A Tui billboard read “I’ll take the fat chick – yeah right!” Even though not everyone has this mind-set, it’s still prevalent enough to make some fat people, especially women, feel self-hatred and desperately want to change. I know I’ve thought a few times “My life will be better when I lose some weight.” Why am I thinking that when I have an awesome life as it is? I won’t go into the whole “media ideals of beauty are unrealistic and unfair” rant because you’ve heard it all before…
But if you think about it, you’ve probably all met one fat person who is unpleasant. They’re grumpy all the time, they seem miserable; they assume if you’re being nice to them you have ill-intent. They assume that if they’re being hit on it’s for a dare. They’re angry when their thinner friends get hit on, and yet respond coldly if someone approaches them. They’ve let being overweight change their demeanour. Years of snide remarks and being picked on has left them assuming the worst in everyone and hating their body. This makes me pretty sad. And it’s all because of fat-shamers. The ones who point and laugh. The ones who make jokes. The ones who act repulsed if a fat person talks to them because they’re desperate to let that person, and everyone else around, know that fat people don’t have a chance in hell with them and they’re offended by the idea that anyone would think so.
So a message for the fat-shamers out there: What does someone else’s weight have to do with you? It isn’t your body; you don’t get a say.
Yes, there are health issues associated with being overweight but frankly, that has nothing to do with anyone else. Somebody’s weight is nobody’s business but their own and their doctors. Yet some people act like it’s a personal insult to themselves to see a fat person. How dare they be there, looking like that, right in front of me! How gross! How dare they wear something tight fitting, showing off how disgustingly fat they are! How dare they eat a burger rather than a salad! Why don’t they go for a walk? Fat people are all lazy and unhealthy!
The truth is fat people are fat for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it’s health (even mental health), sometimes it’s a lack of motivation but sometimes, maybe sometimes they just don’t give a shit what you think and don’t feel like their body is here for anyone else’s benefit and viewing pleasure. Sometimes maybe they enjoy life more just chilling out eating whatever they want, whenever they want. Maybe they’re exercising and eating all the right foods and still aren’t losing weight. Maybe they like their body when it’s got more meat on it. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
My body is mine. It’s just what I live in. Fat doesn’t define me. It’s simply my body type right now. It’s a lot of people’s body type right now. Fat or thin, I’m still the same person with the same interests, intellect, sense of humour etc.
Yet I don’t like going to the beach because, God forbid, someone might see my chubs. What the hell is that even about? Why does it matter what anyone else thinks? It is literally just enjoying the sunshine, hanging out and going for a swim – you can do that no matter what size you are… so why is it such a stigma for fat people? Why do people worry that they will be made fun of?
Sometimes people’s reactions to other people’s bodies can be depressing though. When I used to go out to clubs with my friends, we would almost always get hit on in order of our clothing size. The thinner friends get talked to first. The bigger girls get ignored. At first this annoyed the plus sized ones. We’d sit around saying “We’re much nicer than her! We’re just as fun as her! It’s not fair that guys automatically go for her over us!”
But you know what, while I don’t think it’s necessarily fair that people might rather get to know a mean person who is thin than a nice person who is fat, I also think it’s not fair to be annoyed at someone for who they happen to be attracted to.
I’ve heard formerly fat people complain that people don’t hit on them when they’re overweight, but do once they’ve lost weight. I think if it’s the same person then yes, they should know better than to be so obvious as to shun the fat-you then hit on you when you’ve lost weight. That’s rude.
But I also feel like we all need to stop blaming other people for who they happen to be attracted to which they can’t help!
Yes, if someone blatantly ignores you when seated next to you at a dinner, or talks to all your friends and ignores you – that is definitely rude. Just because you’re not attracted to someone doesn’t mean it’s okay to exclude them. But I don’t think it’s fair to be annoyed at people for not hitting on you or wanting to date you.
Yes, in an ideal world everyone would look past appearances and get to know your personality and then date you no matter what you look like – and there will be many amazing people who will do just that. But there will also be a lot of people who aren’t attracted to you; perhaps they don’t find fat people attractive. Perhaps they do, but not as much as thinner girls. They can’t help that. I know I personally am attracted to skinny white guys almost exclusively. I would never ignore someone or not bother to get to know them just because I’m not attracted to them, but I also know it’s unlikely I’m going to end up kissing them if there is no spark, no attraction.
I just think we need to be realistic. It sucks that skinnier people get hit on more, but people can’t help that they happen to be more physically / sexually attracted to some body types than others. You could be missing out on someone very nice, but you could also be missing out on a judgmental, image-obsessed asshole who literally hates fat people and won’t even get to know them as a friend. PS: a certain male I was seeing once said he doesn’t like fat people. Seeing that pretty much all of my relatives on both sides of the family are overweight and all awesome, intelligent, hilarious people… this pissed me off. How can you just write someone off because of their weight? How does what their body look like negate all the wonderful things they have to offer? Shit’s sad. Good luck to the woman he marries if she ever becomes overweight! But I’m rambling…
So now the hard part: I know that when I am no longer overweight, more people will likely be attracted to me. Do I go for those people? Do I say “fuck it”, stay the weight I am and hope I find someone who digs it, or do I lose weight to increase the amount of people who will be attracted to me? Losing weight for the benefit of anyone but me isn’t cool… but being single (pretty much) for five years is getting old too. Dilemma!
If you want to only go for people who are attracted to you at any weight – that’s cool, you’ll probably end up with an amazing person. But there are probably just as many amazing people out there who you’re missing out on by being mad at them for not being attracted to fat people.
I think what it comes down to is whether or not you are happy with yourself. I don’t hate my body but there are parts I’d like to change. I’d like to be fitter. I’d like to wear t-shirts and slimmer fitting dresses. I’d like to see my arms in photos and not wish they were hidden. None of these things make me unhappy and none of them make me dislike myself or lose confidence – they’re just minor inconveniences in an otherwise awesome life. Perhaps that’s because I’m in the in-between weight, or perhaps that’s because I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I genuinely don’t care what other people think of me that I feel this way, but either way, there really are only positives to getting healthy, so it’s time to do it!
What I’d like to see is a world where fat is nothing but an adjective used to describe a body type. Where people can say they’re fat without it being a bad thing.
What do you do when a friend who is fat, says they’re fat? It’s just a fact. Yet it’s so hard to find the right words to say. “Yes. Yes you are fat. You’re fat and you’re awesome.” Not “BUT you’re awesome.” That’s what I’d like to say, but we’ve been taught our whole lives that fat is a bad thing. If a friend says they’re fat, the instant response is to say “No you’re not! You’re not fat!” But all that does is reinforce the idea that fat is bad. They know they’re fat, you know they’re fat, yet somehow acknowledging it is like saying there’s something really bad and wrong with them like they’re contagious. Like we have to pretend everyone is skinny. That’s just silly kids.
So to all the fat-shamers out there, just let this sink in: Sometimes people are fat. This does not change who they are as a person. This does not mean they should have to cover up to appease you. If they want to wear short shorts and get their tits (or man-tits) out, all the power to them. This does not necessarily mean they are lazy and even if they are – laziness doesn’t negate all the good qualities they have to bring to the table! You don’t have to be attracted to all people, that is your right, but you do have to be respectful of others no matter what their size. Fat-shaming is bad. It’s mean. It’s useless. Calling someone fat won’t make them say “Woah am I? Shit, you’re right, guess I better go on a diet.” No, it’ll just make them hate you and maybe even hate themselves.
Summer’s coming. Fat bottom girls, it’s yours to enjoy just as much as anyone else!