The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
When I first started riding the school bus, I made sure to walk up the steps slowly. I wasn’t trying to protect myself from falling, but rather, ensure the bus moved as little as possible. I noticed how the bus slowly dipped when people entered and how running intensified it. . The larger the person, the further it dipped. So, I purposefully walked slower so that the bus didn’t fall as much under my weight, believing the other kids also paid attention to that. I was six.
I started to wear my sister’s bras when I was nine. My parents told me to start dieting when I was seven. I first thought about skipping meals when I was eleven. A grown man commented on my breasts at age twelve. The first time I heard a boy whisper to his friend that I was fat and ugly, I was fourteen. I still sit at the back of classrooms so that the students behind me don’t see my body…a habit I am trying to break.
As time passed, I developed my own issues with food and body image. But I finally felt hope when I was accepted into Emerson College! I expected so much to change and was incredibly ready to embrace my body as it was: beautiful and big.
However, I was ignorant and naive to believe that living in a fat body on a skinny, art-oriented campus was easy. It is still not easy.
Anti-fat rhetoric seeps into every aspect of my life. I thought the institutionalized stigma would be different in college; it isn’t. I look around my classrooms feeling ostracized. I see the girls that fit the “art school aesthetic,” and undoubtedly, I know that that’s not me. I sit in chairs that barely fit me and feel forced to suck in my stomach for an hour and forty-five minutes, filled with shame.
Emerson, I have noticed, is an incredibly thin campus. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but I believe that art schools particularly attract a certain person that I am not: skinny, pretty, fashionable, and oh-so powerful.
A friend of mine and I were talking about being plus-size on a campus that doesn’t seem to want us. It feels lonely. It feels like, despite the outpouring support of the body positivity/neutrality movement, we are shunned from showing our bodies or even, God forbid, having an opinion. We are the ones asked to take the pictures instead of the ones being photographed. While our physique may take up more space, our psyche feels squashed, pushed back, quietly ignored and told to be silent.
Fat-phobia comes in various forms—from friends to family to strangers, I have heard it all. Society labels the size of my body as a source of shame, falsely granting people the right to comment on it. Not all comments are covert; some sly jabs claim to be founded in love and disguised in concern.
Fat-shaming seems to be so deep-rooted that it often occurs automatically. I feel like before I open my mouth in classes, the students have already cultivated their opinions about me based on my appearance. They have minimized the entirety of my personality, deciding that its atrocity must resemble the body it inhabits.
To the people in my class that want to help combat fat-phobia instead of encouraging it, thank you. Let’s stop the talk about calories, flattering clothes, the new best diet and how ‘fat’ you looked in that post because, let’s be honest…you’re either fat or you’re not.
This is not to diminish the body issues of other individuals (because trust me, I get it), but rather to demonstrate that anti-fat comments from a thin person are directly negative and harmful to those larger around you.
To my thin friends whom I often catch perpetuating fat-phobia, I won’t keep silent any longer.
To those who look at me and see just my weight, I am sorry. I am sorry that you have fallen victim to society’s toxic mindset. I am also sorry that you missed out on having a pretty great person in your life.
Most importantly, I am sorry to the girl I once was and still struggle not to be. She did not deserve the years of the comments, of feeling worthless, of hiding in her clothes, and the toxic cycle of starvation and binge eating. Emerson College may not have been the evolutionary fat-acceptance place I thought it would be, but I understand now that I am unwilling to tolerate size-ism and fat-phobia in every aspect of my life.