TW: fatphobia, eating disorders
I’ve been fat for basically my whole life. I was a chubby kid and now I am a plus-size adult. In middle school, an adult told me if I wanted to be happy I would need to lose weight and that started an era in my life of disordered eating and intense self-loathing. Now, I’m focusing on being happy, healthy, and confident in my own body. It would be a lie to say I don’t have days where I hate how I look and I definitely still struggle with guilt around eating, but I’m learning to prioritize how I feel and who I am instead of fearing how people will see me. Since I’ve been fat for so long I’ve been able to compile a list of things that specifically plus size women have to deal with that I’m tired of. There are so many things, but I thought I’d highlight a few of the more exhausting ones.
- People seeing “fat” as a bad word.
This one is probably the most annoying to deal with. I can not name how many times I’ve told someone “I’m fat” and they’ve followed with “you’re not fat, you’re beautiful!” as if being fat and being beautiful are mutually exclusive. This is extremely problematic. When I use the word “fat” I’m using it as a descriptive word because I am in fact fat. I know that I am and when I say it I’m not trying to be mean to myself. I am both fat and beautiful and when you say “you’re not fat, you’re beautiful” you’re saying you inherently don’t think fat people are beautiful and I am a special exception because we are friends.
This concept can also be seen when skinny people will say things like “oh no! I’m going to get fat if I eat that” or “ugh, I feel so fat today” in front of their fat friends. In other words, they are saying “I’d hate to look like you. Being fat is the worst thing that can happen to me” which is, in fact, offensive. On top of that, whenever you call someone out about it they’ll say something like “you’re not fat, you’re beautiful” which I’ve already touched on. It’s important to recognize if you do these things because they are fatphobic and hurtful.
- Backhanded compliments.
I think I speak for every fat woman when I say we are tired of hearing “OMG I wish I had your confidence”. This translates to “I don’t think people who look like you should be wearing what you’re wearing/doing what you’re doing and it’s shocking that you seem happy doing it”. When I wear a swimsuit or go out with my friends, I am simply existing, I am not being “brave” or doing anything exceptional. It’s honestly condescending when people who don’t even know me say things like that.
This also goes along with comments like “at least you have big boobs/ a big butt”. First of all, plus-size bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Not all of us have the perfect hourglass curvy figure that is now socially acceptable and desired. Second of all, I can 100% guarantee you do not want boobs as big as mine. My back always hurts, bras are always uncomfortable, and don’t get me started on working out (aka getting punched in the face every time you take a step).
- Weight being associated with health.
The first semester of my Freshman year I fell into a very deep depression. I didn’t leave my dorm room unless it was for classes. That means I didn’t leave my room to eat even if I was starving. I knew that I should eat, and I wanted to, but I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed. I was in such a bad place that I went to my doctor and told them I seriously needed help, and that I was worried about myself. My doctor told me that all I needed to do was eat healthy and exercise which would help me lose weight and be happier. Arguably eating healthier and exercising did help me in the end, but I’m positive that if I was thinner, and described the exact same situation to my doctor, they would have said something completely different. My skinny friends who also don’t exercise and don’t eat healthy would not have been given the same advice.
This has to do with the idea that thinness equates to being healthy which is blatantly incorrect. A lot of the time people will tell me to lose weight because “they’re worried about my health” as if there are not a ton of examples of fat people being healthy. Lizzo, who is constantly under fire for her weight, performs full shows while singing and dancing. I know of a ton of skinny people who could not do that, but they do not get shamed for how they look every day. As a society we do not care about health, we care about fitting into societal ideas of beauty. This is not more evident than how popular “The Biggest Loser” was for years when the way they made contestants lose weight could actually be considered psychological torture and is not sustainable in the long run. How is that “worrying about someone’s health”?
On top of that, people do not care how you lose weight as long as you do. There is a really amazing slam poem by Blythe Bard called “When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny” where she discusses her experience with having an eating disorder as a plus-size woman. The line “when you develop an eating disorder when you are already thin to begin with you go to the hospital. When you develop an eating disorder when you are not thin to begin with you are a success story” has stuck with me ever since I first heard it. All the time on TikTok I see videos about weight loss journeys where they significantly reduce calories with comments like “I don’t care if it’s healthy I just want to lose weight fast”. Sit on that for a moment. People would rather be thin and unhealthy than fat and healthy.
- Women’s clothing sizes and styles.
I cannot tell you how disheartening it is to go shopping with your friends and have everything you try on be too small. It’s also hard because of how unreliable women’s sizing is, I can fit into a size medium shirt from some stores or not even fit into XXL jeans from other stores, and it’s exhausting having to figure it out. It’s also annoying when stores will offer larger sizing that doesn’t actually cater to larger bodies like jeans that fit in the thighs but not the waist. On top of that, some designers think that plus size clothing needs to be loose and unflattering, when, in fact, some fat people aren’t ashamed of their bodies and just want to wear cute clothes.
There are literally so many annoying things plus size women have to deal with, and this is just a shortlist of a couple of things that I’m particularly tired of. Just remember that unless someone has specifically asked you to, you shouldn’t comment on other people’s bodies. The way others choose to exist and present themselves is none of your business, and you can not tell how healthy someone is just by looking at them, so you need to stop trying to. Happy fat people exist. Deal with it.