I am still getting hits to this post, and a lot of them are from search terms that really break my heart:
-i self harm because im fat
-i’m ashamed to go out in public because i’m fat
-i don’t understand why i’m fat
-i’ve got swimming at school but i’m fat
One friend told me that it was good they were coming to my blog, but since this post is anything but fat acceptance 101, I still feel like my blog is not the most helpful place for them to be sent to. So, if you came to this post through search terms similar to the above, I ask you, beseech you, to please go watch Fat Rant 1 and Fat Rant 3. Don’t worry, despite the titles, they’re not actually *angry* rants. She just wants you to know that it’s okay to be fat and love yourself.
And if you want to talk to someone about self-hating or feelings of shame because of fatness, do feel free to e-mail this fat woman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a confession to make: I think I’m fat because I eat a lot of food and sit on my butt.
No, no! Don’t leave, Shapelings and assorted Fat Acceptance people! This is not going to be a post about how I hate my body or about how people who think it’s okay to be fat are stupid and wrong. I think you’re right! It’s OK to be fat just like it’s OK to be thin. I agree with most things Kate Harding has ever said! I AM ONE OF YOUR NUMBER.
OK. Still with me.
Shapely Prose goes on a lot about how much obesity has to do with genetics, and of course they’re right, you know, I absolutely believe it, although I am not sure whether when they say that they mostly have the “We are the face of the obesity epidemic! Most obese people have a BMI between 30 and 35!” people in mind for that. (Did you ever notice the parallels between the face-of-the-obesity-epidemic fatties vs fatty-fat-fat fatties, and the hueism discussions?)
You may ask, “Well, Quixotess, what are YOUR fat credentials then?” And I answer, “Fat enough to have been hit on exactly three times in my life.” (Long life of 19 years.) Of course that’s not the only factor, which we’ll get to in a moment, but I have this SUSPICION that it has something to do with it.
No, I’m rambling. Listen.
I was not a fat child. I was the lightest of my mother’s four children when I was born. My little sister and I would put our hands together, and our feet, and hers were always bigger than mine. She was a thicker child and a better eater (I was picky, often leaving the table having consumed the absolute minimum required by my parents, who would then slide the rest over for my little sister to eat.)
And yes, I remember a time–fourth grade–when I started to not go out to recess with my little sister. I wanted to stay in the cafeteria wait for the free seconds of the school lunches. I remember coming into the line with my mouth stuffed so full of food that the cafeteria server couldn’t understand me.
Fourth grade was when I got put into a four/five split class, with most of the kids in fifth grade, and most of the fourth graders boys. My friends from K-3 weren’t in that class, and I was lonely. I know, I was a middle-class child at a fairly nice public school in a pretty nice neighborhood and what’s the big deal? But it’s hard for a kid to be alone. By the time I got to fifth grade–at a new school, in the Highly Capable program in the district, which I tested into and decided to go because I didn’t have friends at my old school any more–by that time, I was a chubby little child. Not /very/ chubby, but, you know, I remember being the first kid in my class to pass 100 pounds.
Life only got worse from the new school. The girls in my new class were mostly bullies to me. I remember them all moving to a new table when I tried to sit with them. I remember crying at every lunch period, and never having a partner at gym, and I remember that I started talking to myself. I remember having hysterical, screaming tantrums at home. I remember being on my knees, punching my older sister’s legs with my fists while shrieking and sobbing.
And I remember sneaking food. Yes, I remember stealing my siblings’ Halloween candy. I remember eating three donuts at a time and my mother being angry with me. I remember not knowing when to stop, wanting to eat as soon as dinner was over, enjoying the motion of chewing, taking bigger portions than anyone else.
And I had stopped being active. I had never been very coordinated; now that I was getting fatter and no one at school would be friends with me, gym class was a nightmare. I did not have outings with friends (something my mom–another source of stress, always–would tell me off for.) I went to school and came home.
But mostly, I ate. Middle school came and went, and although my social life improved eventually, my home life was only getting worse and worse. My older sister left home at sixteen (I was thirteen.) Eating was one way to defy my mother, who often declared that I needed to go on a diet. (She sometimes declared that ALL her children needed to go on diets; my little brother probably would have been nine at the first instance of this.)
The things I ate began to not always be food. I remember hiding a bowl of pretzels between the couch cushions when my mother came home, and then eating them when she left, even though they had dirt on them. I remember eating paper, and chewing my fingernails and my toenails–I still do this. Sometimes I would bite on my fingers, hard, leaving marks. Still do.
Today, even though I work on body acceptance, I still have a very strong aversion to anyone seeing me being active. I don’t like them to see me breathing hard–I am very out of shape. I don’t like them to see me sweat. I don’t want them to see how slow I run. I try to buy clothes of my size, but shirts shrink in the wash and I still don’t want them to see my belly hanging out.
I stay inside, afraid to go out. I get bored. When I’m bored, I eat. My aunts make comments about exercise and “quarters in the bank,” and I scorn them for talking about being “good” in their own diets while my fat uncles are praised for their appetites. I scorn my mother for her perpetual diet and the amount of time she spends at the gym. I scorn anyone for worrying about their diet. I look at myself in the mirror and I know that I am beautiful.
But I also eat. Two days ago I bought a large bag of Halloween candy. Yesterday, I finished it, then went upstairs for dinner. It doesn’t happen very much now, not as often as it used to, but I still sometimes eat until I am sick.
I am writing this because I am sick of the “fat-is-not-a-choice” discussion. I think fat was a choice for me; what they don’t understand is that fat was a SMART choice for me. It was a GOOD way to cope with sadness and pain. I am fat because I eat and sit on my butt. I don’t believe it can be chalked up to my genes. But the eating, and the staying inside? It’s just a sign of my pain. I wear my pain on my body.
That’s why I’m fat.