Yes, I'm Fat, & Yes I'm Beautiful — Stop Expecting Me to Be Self-Conscious

This piece has been syndicated from Her Campus at Utah. You can join a chapter at your school (or start your own!).

Hi reader, it’s that girl you’re friends with speaking. I mean like, literally, I’m a person you may or may not be friends with, but for the sake of this article, I’m speaking as that friend of yours. The one who wears size large clothing. The one with a BMI in the overweight or higher zone. Your fat friend. We need to talk.

I’ve realized there are a few things you might not know, that you really should. For my sake, and yours. Let’s take the time to learn here so we can both be happier, healthier, saner people.

1. Eating in public while fat is terrifying.

That might sound like a weird claim, but I’m not kidding. You might not have realized that for me, to eat and have other people see it, is anxiety-inducing. Okay, but tons of people feel that way! I feel that way! you might be thinking, but I need to ask you to take this as a time that we’re not talking about you here. We’re talking about the specific experience of a fat person and the baggage and prejudice experienced as such.

When I eat in public, I know that my choices come with an additional veil of judgment. Sure, you might feel like a pig eating a slice of greasy, greasy pizza, but for me, if I indulge in that slice of pepperoni and cheese, I know that anyone could notice that and hate me for it. This is why she’s fat, they’ll think. When thin girls love pizza or junk food, they’re quirky! Wacky! Relatable! But when I eat calorically-dense, yummy garbage, I’m suddenly Everything That's Wrong With America.

Okay, then don’t eat junk food in public? So, I could limit my happiness and regulate all my behavior based on other people’s judgment, but, actually, that doesn’t solve the problem. Even if I eat a salad, I know somebody is seeing that with judgment and added thought, too. Does she think that’ll help? Or even well-meaning condescension about my good choices: If she keeps that up, she really could be beautiful.

Obviously, I am not going to never eat in public. That’s not feasible if I want to like, be a person. But it’s still hard, it’s frustrating, and I need you to recognize your privilege and support me.

2. I know your medical concern is bullshit.

It’s probably about time I address this. I’m all for body positivity, but your health! I don’t need that. No one needs that. We’re well aware that there are health concerns with consumption of unhealthy food, with a sedentary lifestyle.

Just the same, tons of thin people with high metabolisms have the same unhealthy habits, and don’t face the same scorn. And even so, if someone is making terribly unhealthy choices, what the f*ck does that have to do with you? Maybe instead of worrying about that woman, you can have concern for your own compassion. Why do you justify cruelty about someone’s body with your “concern” for their “health”? Why not just accept the truth: you hate fat people. You’ve been taught to hate fat people by every cultural cue you’ve taken in from childhood. You think fat people are lazy, disgusting, gluttonous.

We get it. That doesn’t give you a doctorate.

3. I don’t get to see positive representations of my body in the media.

Sure, I get Melissa McCarthy. I get Meghan Trainor. I get Amy f*cking Schumer. And even then, most of these women are treated as the butt of jokes. Amy Schumer, otherwise known as The Worst, is currently promoting her new movie that is one long punchline based on the idea that a woman as somewhat-kind-of-fat as her could ever consider herself beautiful.

I cannot turn on the television, scroll through my Instagram feed, or watch a music video and expect to see women who look like me being considered desirable. You get that. It’s a guarantee.

And that’s not your fault, and not something you need to feel guilty about, but a privilege to acknowledge.

4. Telling me I’m not fat is literally so unhelpful in every way.

If I make reference to my body as being fat, and you immediately trip over yourself to say No! You’re not fat! You’re beautiful!  That isn't a compliment. I take that as you revealing that you a) do not believe that my body can be both fat AND beautiful b) that you are lying to me, you big lying liar-pants. I am aware that my body is fat. I know that as true. I see the stretch marks every time I look in the mirror, I’m well-acquainted with where it folds onto itself, I see the number when I step on the scale. I’ve calculated my BMI. I know what my body is. You can’t trick me, you are not a magician and cannot deceive me on a fact I have reaffirmed every time I look in the mirror.

And to suggest I can’t be both fat and beautiful is an insult on its own. A body can be fat and beautiful, a body can be fat and sexy, a body can be fat and glorious. Mine is.

And it’s time for you to recognize that or stop being my friend.

5. I hear you when you laugh at fat jokes.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if you didn’t realize: when we watch a movie or tv show and a fat joke is made, and you laugh, I hear that. Every hair on my body stands on its end when a fat joke is made, as I wait to see if the people I love laugh at it. They almost always do. And what a horrible betrayal it is, that I can receive such love and tenderness from friends, family, romantic partners, just to have it called into question when your friend’s friend Tyler makes a joke about the fat girl who hit on him at the party the other night. But I'm not laughing at you! It was just funny! But you are laughing at me.

You're laughing at bodies like mine. You're reaffirming that we're a subject to mock or less than human. And laughing at a joke suggests your subconscious opinion. You can be endlessly kind to me, reaffirm that you believe my body is beautiful, be wonderful in every way, and still laugh at fat jokes.

Even if you know you are body positive and support me, if your subconscious bias is there, you'll still laugh. 

6. I’m a person.

If the last one was self-explanatory, this should be more so. I’m a person. I’m a person. I’m not the prop or supporting role in your thin life. I’m not a funny fat friend, I’m not a DUFF, I’m a person.

Please treat me, respect me, and love me as such.