For the first time ever, my girlfriend and I wear the same size clothes. This may seem like a small feat, but I had to lose 120 pounds (and she had to gain a couple) for this to be the case.
There’s something strangely hilarious about seeing my sheepish tomboy girlfriend wearing a pair of my floral pastel granny panties. I’ll laugh; she’ll shrug and say that she needs to do laundry. Likewise, I can fit into her Gap jeans, t-shirts and flannels with ease, something I never could have imagined three years ago. I’m starting to understand why people think lesbians start to look like each other after a while. It’s true in our case, if only sartorially.
I’ve already written about my decision to have gastric bypass surgery last year. As time marches on and I lose weight, the way I am perceived by the world changes incrementally. People who haven’t seen me in a while ooh and ahh about my “metamorphosis.” Retail workers actually acknowledge my existence and offer to help me find clothes.
As a fat person, you automatically expect less from the world (and receive it, in abundance); you expect that seats and spaces won’t accommodate your body; you expect stores won’t carry your size, or if they do that they will charge much more for it (LOOKING AT YOU, H&M PLUS SIZES). You expect to be ignored at best.
When I get compliments from people on my new appearance, I try to take them graciously and not personally. I still spent every adult year of my life up until now, and most of my teen years as well, weighing well over 200 pounds. Fat is a part of me, no matter how much I lose.
I do not think I am better, more attractive, or more valuable since losing weight. If other people do, well…it tells me more about their character than I wanted to know. I let them tell me how I look good now, knowing in my heart that I looked good then, too. My girlfriend and the (mumble mumble) people I fucked before we got together all agree on that one.
Sometimes I interact with friends who are fat and it feels like they’re disappointed in my choice. I remember that feeling viscerally. Every time a celebrity lost weight very publicly, it felt like one less fat person visible in the world. It stung. For publicly fat people, they represented us in the public eye, and their choice to change felt personal.
Perhaps I’ve left my people behind in favour of some world of privileges I’ve never before experienced? Of course, that was not a part of my decision to have surgery, but a side effect that can’t be helped: other people are fucked up about fat bodies, and becoming less fat makes them happy. For me though, the decision was deeply personal and not made lightly, or for the sake of attention from thirsty straight guys or compliments from size-negative people.
As I’ve had to tell a lot of friends who are fat-positive, I am still fat-positive too. I also believe in bodily autonomy when it comes to reproductive choice, plastic surgery or tattoos, and weight. Everyone has the right to be whatever weight works for them – we do not owe anyone slimness, fatness, or anything in between.
No matter where my weight loss levels out, I plan to continue to advocate on behalf of my gorgeous, wonderful, talented and exceptional fatties who live in a world that actively punishes them for the sin of taking up too much space. Losing weight doesn’t take away the years of shame or stigma thrust upon me by the world, but it does galvanize me to use any privilege I gain for the sake of others who have not been granted a voice in this world.