I feel the need to start this off with a disclaimer: I am fat. And not in the way that people call Lena Dunham or Christina Hendricks fat. I am actually fat. I’m talking can just barely fit into an airplane chair, can hardly squeeze into a 3X dress, gets winded after walking up a flight of stairs kind of fat. I know it, and everyone else knows it, but they’re afraid to acknowledge it.
I’ve been around people who will make a fat joke about Rob Ford only to glance nervously in my direction to watch my reaction. Even if I bring it up, most people are still afraid to say anything. While hanging out with my sister-in-law recently, I told her that I had to put an end to my bad eating habits. As I munched on a perfectly crafted Cheesy Gordita Crunch I explained, “I’ve got to stop eating this junk.”
“Why?” she asked.
“Because I’m fat.”
“Nooooo, don’t say that!”
Her protestations surprised me because I am fat. Anyone who looks at me can see it. And yet, actually saying it out loud seemed to cross some kind of invisible line. That’s why, oddly enough, I was so relieved when I was recently told by a specialist that I need to lose weight. Without getting into the specifics of my condition (and no, it’s not Type 2 Diabetes) I was told in no uncertain terms that I need to lose weight for the good of my health and to get rid of the few symptoms I have. If I continue to gain weight, I could put myself in serious danger—and I really prefer not to do that. Although at the time I could feel my face turn red with embarrassment, I’m still grateful that a doctor finally told me I need to shape up.
I haven’t been perfect. I’m still working on my eating habits and sometimes the temptation of a gourmet food truck is just too much to bear. I even had reservations about writing this piece, because my experience has been that most people want to tell me what to eat all the time despite the fact that I know a lot about nutrition (knowing what I should eat and actually eating it are two very different things).
But even as I work on becoming a smaller me, I have to hope that people will let me own my fatness. It doesn’t define me—and being fat isn’t inherently bad. I have to think that maybe if fat people weren’t ridiculed by most of society, we wouldn’t be so afraid to acknowledge our fatness. So fat girls, say it with me: “I am fat. And that’s okay.”