Love The Body You've Got (Take It From A Fat Girl)
I recall a time in elementary school when a friend tried to defend me from a few bullies by saying that I "wasn't fat, just big-boned." A few years later, I had a teacher who — probably in an attempt to keep my ego intact — wouldn't let kids say "fat" in class, only "fluffy."
To set the record straight, I do not have abnormally large bones. And I am not, nor have I ever been, a rabbit. But whether it's these sugar-coated terms or the painfully unoriginal "ugly fat girl," I've never quite been able to shake my overweight status for long.
Despite a few traumatizing events (i.e. falling off the jungle gym, losing my paper pilgrim's hat on Thanksgiving, etc.), I have relatively good memories of elementary school. I was about a foot taller than everybody else and began experiencing all the joys of early puberty (ah, training bras!), but I still don't remember those days in terms of my body. Rather, I remember going insane on Field Day (I still have the ribbons to prove it), competing with my classmates to see who could write the most numbers (we had to sprawl our lists out in the hallway to measure them), and playing "The Magic Scrap" when our teacher needed to trick us into cleaning up our messes.
Middle school was a different story. I don't know what they started putting in the Capri Suns the summer between my 5th and 6th grade years, but everybody got meaner while I became more and more self-conscious. I was significantly - shall we say, heftier - than my classmates, and there were always those intent on reminding me that I was fat and they were not.
I was an emotional wreck. Whether people recognized it or not, I was basically writhing in my own skin, caught between trying to wear clothes that were "hip" (and feeling awkward), and falling back on dingy jeans and band t-shirts (and still feeling awkward).
High school, I am proud to say, is much better. No overweight teen is going to escape the negative comments that inevitably bounce through high school hallways, but I've found a comfortable niche among friends and clubmates where I feel almost immune to that sort of thing. I've been living by the mantra "If it won't matter in five years, don't worry about it."
But last week, after a several-month streak of body positivity, somebody really hurt me. And I don't even think they meant to.
Long story short, this person (who is probably a size 4 or smaller) complained about how much weight they've gained and, in a not-so-subtle way, alluded to the fact that I was unhealthy. Really? You're going to complain to me about how much weight you've gained? And then you're going to criticize my health, despite the fact you know how hard I bust my butt for school, projects, and all the stuff I'm involved with? I was literally thinking: "Sorry, insert-name-here, I haven't had much motivation to exercise lately. Hard to imagine why."
To top it all off, I also found this quote in a random comment on the Ms. Magazine website:
"The less we judge each other by the contours of our bodies, the more clearly we will see the true content of each other's characters."
Isn't that awesome?
It reminded me that in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter what we look like, just what we do. We're not going to be remembered for being a size 4 (or 24), so we might as well make the most of life without letting insecurities "weigh" us down. ______________________________________________________________
You may not know Beth Ditto (pictured above), but she's the lead singer of a band called Gossip (which originated only 30 miles from my hometown). Ditto is apparently well known for her outspoken support of both LGBT and feminist causes (according to the all-knowing Wikipedia), and is also an advocate of body positivity. Even if this isn't exactly my type of music, it's cool to see a bigger girl rock it out for once!
More articles in WMC FBomb by Category: Body image and body standards, Education, Feminism, Girls, Media
More articles in WMC FBomb by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Title IX, Gender bias, High school, Discrimination, Social media, News, Music