A friend sent me this animated video clip about Roxanne Gay and fat acceptance because it made her think of me. I don’t really identify with Gay although I admire her bravery. We are both fat women, but, just as I don’t identify with someone just because we share gender or race or nationality or taste in books or music, I’m not about to identify with Gay just because she is fat or because I agree with many of her opinions.
Gay became fat through eating in order to comfort herself after being gang raped. And she saw fatness as a shield, a way to protect herself.
I struggle with the way fatness is portrayed by the media and seen by the majority of people as a negative and repulsive thing, but on a personal level I don’t see fatness as a way of hiding and I’ve always had a healthy relationship with food.
In my opinion, Gay’s situation reinforces the idea many people have that fat people are damaged in some way. It’s more nuanced than that and of course there are many stories about fatness and fat acceptance, but I feel those who believe only negative things about being fat will tend to focus on stories like Gay’s.
Her book Bad Feminist is on my 2017 reading list and I will also read her latest book, Hunger, because I think we need to acquaint ourselves with as many different experiences of fatness as possible.
Fat people need to be seen as simply people, whose fatness is just one aspect of our lives, like the colour of our eyes or our hobbies. Our fatness is not the be all and end all of our existence. It is not the only thing we are. Although it tends to be how others define us, our fatness is not the only thing we are.
I have not been blogging about my fatness because, frankly, I haven’t found it much of an issue. Is that because I decided I was going to call myself ‘fat’ and accept myself as being so that it has become easier? I’m not sure.
Maybe it has to do with the fact I am so much at home and not exposed to strangers looking me up and down and thinking ‘Fat’ in a negative way. Maybe it has to do with not having to struggle as much as I used to when buying clothes (I haven’t gone smaller, there are just more choices these days, in Malaysia).
I am aware that I am considered a small-fat in the wider context of fatness. Being a size 12-16 is not too much of a problem in the States or the UK. But here, in Malaysia, I am still considered a fatty. However, the other day I met some new friends for the first time and one of them said, ‘But you’re not even fat.’ I don’t know if I was imagining that she said it derisively. I do think we look at people and they often seem smaller than we think we are. She and I are about the same size. However, she thinks she’s fat and I’m not. It’s normal. We tend to be harder on ourselves, focusing on the tiniest flaws.
I still have days when I want to go on a diet and lose weight, but then I come to my senses when I see that the neighbourhood bakery has baked a fresh batch of buttercake loaves. Haha.
Jokes aside, I do think I am happier in my skin and happier with all my wobbly bits than I used to be.
I can relate! Used to be if I found anything that fit and I liked it, I’d buy one in every available colour. I think it was a knee-jerk reaction to it being difficult to find clothes my size. I’m trying to break the habit, but it’s hard. However, an outfit sometimes does justify getting ‘one in every colour’.
Today I posted, on my Facebook wall, a picture of myself in a swimsuit.
It looked something like this …
It’s certainly not something I’d have done a month ago, but as I am trying to stop being negative about my appearance, I thought it was time to stop just talking about fat-positivity.