I’ve been a card-carrying fat girl since 1984, and for better or for worse, it has shaped who I have become. My experiences have been influenced by the way my body looks and fits into the world around me. I can’t deny that life in a fat body is different in some ways than life in an average-sized body.
But honestly, despite the way it influences my choices and my beliefs, being fat is just a piece of who I am. I’m a wife and a mom. I’m a writer. Ask anyone I know, and they will tell you that I’m an excellent cook, and a terrible driver.
So many things about me have nothing to do with my weight.
I recently asked some self-described fat people what they wish the world knew about life in a fat body. Here’s what some of us had to say.
1. Fat people aren’t lazy, and we don’t eat constantly.
This was by far the most common response. We live in the same world as thin people. We are moving at breakneck speeds to try to maintain all the obligations of modern parenting. For most of us, there’s no time to be lazy or snack all day. We have places to be!
Mandy expressed her frustration with this stereotype. “Just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I lay around all day eating. I’m in school full-time, and I work. I love to play sports, and I love hiking and swimming. I hardly ever sit still!”
According to Gena, “Sometimes the kids want chicken nuggets, so we eat chicken nuggets with them!” (Note: Thin moms do that, too!) “Our lives and diets are very much the same, no matter what you think our weight insinuates about us.”
2. We know we’re fat.
Sarah wants you to know that “it’s okay to acknowledge that we need more space than smaller people. You don’t have to pretend not to see our size.”
We live in our bodies, and we know how big we are. We don’t expect to always fit comfortably in spaces designed for average sized bodies, but we appreciate any time a business or individual offers a simple accommodation to make our experience easier. Any time an office with a waiting area provides a chair without narrow arms, a host at a restaurant seats us at a table instead of a booth, or a salon keeps a plus-size robe on hand, it makes our day that much easier. And it’s good for business — we are likely to tell our plus-size friends!
3. Some of us are working really hard to be thinner…
The amount of time and energy required to turn a fat body into a thinner one is immense. It isn’t always as simple as you imagine. Losing weight is hard for anyone. Adding a medical or metabolic condition can make the task a million times harder.
“It’s not a great feeling when your body is fighting you,” Amanda laments. “PCOS, thyroid problems and some medications can make weight loss feel impossible. Just because we don’t share it with you, doesn’t mean we aren’t fighting.”
We don’t owe the world our life history in exchange for decency.
4. But some of us aren’t!
Dawn’s attitude toward her body is healthy and positive. “I move my body for the fun of it through hiking and yoga, and I enjoy a wide variety of foods. I don’t care about attaining some ideal of thinness, and I don’t need your tips on how to do that.”
Lydia isn’t here for disrespect. “We shouldn’t have to be working on losing weight for you to deem us worthy of respect and common decency. We’re worthy, even if we DGAF.”
5. Fat isn’t a bad word, and many of us prefer it.
The word fat has been used as a weapon against women of all sizes, even those who are considered an ideal weight. I understand why people feel some hesitation when we use it. But, as Kia points out, “When I say I’m fat, I’m not saying it as a negative thing. I’m fat instead of thin, just like I’m short instead of tall. Most of the time I like me as I am.”
I call myself fat, and that is the word I prefer. I don’t mind if someone else calls me fat in a matter-of-fact way. I’m also not offended by overweight, plus-size, obese, or heavy. Honestly, unless you’re calling me names on purpose, any word that means I have a body with a higher than average amount of fat on it is fine with me. It’s true, and I’m not ashamed.
6. We realize people of all sizes can have body insecurities.
If we dismiss your feelings, call us out! We’ve been so conditioned to prefer thinness over fatness, that sometimes it’s hard for fat people to remember that just because you’re thinner than we are, doesn’t mean you don’t have insecurities. When we need a reminder, feel free to give it to us. Jeanne acknowledges, “We can’t expect respect if we don’t give it to you, too.”
Many of us are doing so much work to love our bodies here and now, critics be damned. Fat people might just be the best companions for your journey toward self-love.
7. We aren’t unlucky in love, and we don’t have trouble finding sex partners.
Everyone is attracted to different things, but our fat bodies don’t exclude us from the dating game. Plenty of people are happy with a plus-size lover. When it comes to sex and romance, fat people are doing just fine.
Candice says, “Fat and sexy are not mutually exclusive! Finding a fat person desirable isn’t a gift to them. Lots of us are hot AF, and rather good at the game.” Jessica adds, “I’ve been married 17 years, have 4 kids, and my husband still slaps my butt every time I pass by.”
8. We know our worth.
Gone are the days when fat people could be shamed into hiding behind over-sized clothes, disrespecting our bodies with dangerous diets, and feeling like we would be more valuable if we weighed less. We might be working toward thinner bodies, but we might not. We feel entitled and empowered to love ourselves today, and we don’t need constant reassurance that we are beautiful.
Nikki agrees. “If a fat person acknowledges their size, don’t counter by telling us we are beautiful. We can be both fat and beautiful at the very same time.”
Of all the comments I received, I think Natosha’s thoughts sum it up the best.
“The amount of fat our bodies carry is not a measure of worthiness. Every body deserves to be loved, admired, accepted, and desired in equal measure based on the soul it carries.”