My fifty-seven-year-old sister started wearing sleeveless clothes just last year. Mind you, she has always been considered the beauty of the family and is as slim as I am fat. When I was younger I resented her looks – especially when my father, in his capacity as an official at a sporting event, insisted that she present a bouquet to the guest of honour. My mother had suggested eight-year-old chubby me, but my father said my sister (sixteen at the time) should do it because she ‘looked better’. I was furious and felt very much my fatness and grubbiness – I’ve always felt that fat children feel much dirtier than their thin friends. For a start, we are usually sweaty and hot, and often sport red, angry faces from being fat-shamed.
Anyway, my dear, beautiful sister did not wear sleeveless outfits for the longest time because she believed her arms were huge, misshapen lumps. I think that knowing this about her was one of the things that allowed me to forgive her her loveliness. I realised it’s not how you look, but how you think you look that matters. Of course, it helps when you’re actually thin and no one has ever called you ‘Fatso!’ but I think when you’re convinced your arms are thick stubs, nothing anyone says will convince you otherwise. It’s also interesting how one tends to believe the voices whispering or shouting ‘Fatso!’ more than those saying complimentary things. Are we programmed to believe the worst about ourselves?
Before I go totally off point, this was going to be a simple and brief post about getting over your worst fears when it comes to clothes you, as a fat (or otherwise), person aren’t supposed to wear. As a fat person, you can’t avoid knowing the sort of clothes that you’re supposed to avoid. The knowledge would have been drummed into you all your life: Nothing too short; nothing too tight; nothing sleeveless; nothing white; no horizontal stripes.
Nothing Too Short
This includes shorts, unless you have long, slender legs despite having a fat body: No one wants to see short, chunky legs.
Crop tops should also be avoided because only slender torsos and flat midriffs should be put on display.
Nothing Too Tight
Hello! Why would you want to flaunt your flab and bulges? Hide them all under a tent! In fact, you might as well stay home and never let anyone see you, you despicable eyesore, you!
What if you need to wave at someone? Are you going to risk jiggling the jiggly bits on your arm? How dare you! Have you no sense of decency and consideration?
I’m reminded of a joke I once heard about a fat girl who made the mistake of wearing white: her family screened home movies on her body cos she was so conveniently white and wide.
No Horizontal Stripes
These stripes create the illusion of width and so they are a no-no if you are already wide to begin with. Why would any sane woman want to appear even fatter than they already are???
Somehow, although I’ve, over the years, happily broken most of the above ‘rules’, I’ve found it hard to ignore the warning about horizontal stripes. At the same time, I’ve always loved the look of a striped t-shirt. Well, a few weeks ago I bought two of them (Wedgewood blue with navy stripes; and white with black stripes) and I’ve already worn one and the ground did not open up to swallow me whole. What a fuss about nothing.
I’m trying to remember what I was actually trying to avoid, apart from the obvious, but I can’t. And the obvious is just daft. Like stripes would make such a difference as to be noticeable. Sadly, I guess, those of us who are fat do try not to be noticed because if we are noticed there is more chance that we will be taunted and teased.
And those ‘rules’ – they are about hiding away. Keep fat hidden – that is what others want us to do, and what we think we ought to do because fat is, we’ve been told, unsightly, disgusting, even obscene. So, we’re supposed instead to ‘disappear’ into lose, flowing outfits that completely obscure our shape. We’re supposed to stick to lines and colours that are ‘slimming’. We are supposed to deny our actual proportions, and pretend that we can create the illusion that we are not our size, but something flatter, smaller, more narrow, less. We are supposed to think that what we are is to be covered and disguised.
Who says a large belly is ugly? Who says a jiggly arm is bad? Why should we erase a second chin and reduce a waistline using photoshop? Who made up these ‘rules’?
It’s quite amazing how we accept and believe these ‘truths’ without argument. Existing standards of beauty exist as if they are simple facts such as the sky is blue and sugar is sweet. Slim is more attractive because … well, it just is, isn’t it? I mean, just look at a slim body – clearly it looks way better than a rotund figure. But isn’t that just a matter of opinion? OK, so ask a hundred people, make that a thousand. How many would choose the fat body over the slim one? The thing is, we have all been programmed to believe that slim is preferable so, in this case, ‘opinion’ doesn’t mean much.
I am very far from thinking that I look as nice at eighty kg as fifty. I don’t know how long it would take to complete that sort of re-wiring. Instead, I shall just cultivate not caring. In that respect I’m more than halfway there.