The problem with fatness is not what you think it is. It’s not how difficult it can be to zip jeans up. Nor is it the horror of feeling your stockings roll down your legs while walking. The problem with fatness is that it monopolises your life.
As much as I’d love to be, I’m not a badass body positive machine who doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks and treats her body like the temple that God intended. In fact, I give quite a lot of fucks about what people think of me. I give so many fucks, that I sometimes don’t have enough fucks to go around when important things like home and family and friends come up. This is my problem with fatness. Unlike any of the other challenges I face in my life, it refuses to be ignored. It refuses to be consigned to the basket of ‘shit Lis will not let get in the way of badassery’ which I keep hidden in my hanging cupboard.
When I’m faced with gender discrimination, my automatic reaction is ‘Ah fuck no‘, and I do what needs to be done at that moment to address it. The same goes for racial bias. I cannot remember an occasion in the years since I left varsity where I felt the sting of unfairness and didn’t stand up against it. That is, other than the times my fatness was the catalyst.
The truth is that along with the ‘extra’ body weight, we fat people lug around the weight of shame; and each time we feel different, despised, mocked or embarrassed, that weight gets heavier. While my gender and race is something I did not choose and therefore feel proud to defend, the consensus is that my physical state could technically be changed, and my failure in this feels indefensible.
06:07 Monday__I wake up happy to be alive and grateful for the warmth of my husband next to me, and the sleepy cuddles I get from my dogchild. Next, I feel the dryness of my tongue and the hint of soreness in my throat. I realise that I’d been snoring again. For the first time today, I greet shame as it rushes through my brain and makes my chest contract just the tiniest bit. I snore because I’m fat and my husband was likely woken by it in the night. I resolve to take my diet more seriously — he deserves better than this.
09:12 Saturday__We’ve decided to head out and grab some breakfast. I jump into the car and reach for the seatbelt. I pull it over and wonder if anyone ever notices that the belt always slips and rests on my throat in the most uncomfortable way. My cheeks flush with embarrassment for a millisecond, as though someone might have read that thought. Anyone seeing my discomfort and feeling sorry for me is worse than the belt digging into the soft flesh of my neck. I remember the chocolate I ate last night, and feel sick to my stomach.
13:30 Wednesday__ I’ve just finished taking close-ups of my face for my Instagram page. I’m posting the fierce eyeshadow look I did this morning. As I browse through them looking for a good shot, I notice one that caught the bulge of my stomach. I’m living a lie. My posts are about being kind and spreading love. I advocate for self-love, but the sight of my own body makes me nauseous. I decide not to post today.
08:13 Thursday__Today I refuse to be held back by my insecurities. I jump out of bed, beat my face ’til it’s just about perfect and don my hottest pencil skirt, tank and cardi combo. My strut is confident and my chin’s held high. I greet familiar people around the office and note the approval in their smiles. Today I am bulletproof.
12:32 Tuesday__It’s lunchtime and I take a quick glance at the draft posts piling up on my blog. I haven’t written in a while and I’m keen to get back into it. I read the latest post and am struck by the sadness in it. The most illuminating point is that while the pain I read is real, it originates from within, not from outside sources. Society may be prescribing shame in response to fat, but perhaps we have the power to refuse the medicine. I resolve to practice deeper awareness.