Trigger Warning: This article contains mention of eating disorders and depression.
Fat is a pretty heavy word.
It is spat like venom, mouthed across rooms, and even gasped in horror.
One syllable that has engulfed conversation after conversation, has pulled focus of the masses.
“I feel so fat,” someone says after a large meal.
“She’s a fat bitch,” friends snipe behind the backs of their foes.
“I could never wear something like that, I’m too fat,” we say cruelly to ourselves.
Diet and exercise, they say. 70% diet, 30% exercise. That’s how you lose weight. Or maybe you give up carbs or count syns or pay Joe Wickes all of your money for a ‘tailored’ diet plan only to waste your remaining money on extortionate jars of coconut oil.
It’s not new information that self-loathing – particularly in women, though not exclusively–is a multi-billion pound industry. Diets and shakes and pills and surgeries and waist trainers and ‘flattering’ clothes and support tights and ‘diet’ drinks and GOD MAKE IT STOP.
We measure ourselves with scales and tape measures, with dress sizes and with our own scrupulous eyes.
“My body is perfect. It keeps me alive.”
About five years ago, I saw a conversation on Facebook between two of my ex-boyfriends. They were discussing me. Out in the open, for all to see.
“Clearly getting fat is a side effect of dating me,” one said. “I can confirm this,” another replied. Laughing emojis were shared, their new girlfriends ‘liked’ the comments, and I went to the bathroom and poked the end of my toothbrush down my throat until I was sick.
These two men were aware that I could see their conversation. And they were right–I’d gone from a size 8 to a size 16 over the course of a few years.
But these men were also people I had once trusted, people I had loved and shared my innermost thoughts and feelings with. And as such, these men were firmly aware that I’d suffered with an eating disorder. That I had starved myself; that I had binged and purged. They had seen first-hand the effects of my self-hatred, and now they were mocking it.
They probably don’t remember saying it, all these years later. But it’s scorched into my brain like so many memories you try to shake off do. Like being called Shrek a year or so later. Comments like that don’t leave you.
Since breaking up with the latter of the two, I had recovered. Moving to university and finding my feet and my voice had helped, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I lapsed. I dieted. I fluctuated. Because in the back of my mind, fat was the worst thing I could be. Everything would be perfect if my body was.
Well I’ve made a discovery, since then. My body is perfect. It keeps me alive. My heart beats, my lungs help me breathe, I am alive.
I’ve been every size, I’ve tried every diet and every fad exercise, I’ve read the books and joined the Facebook groups and told myself “I’ll drop two sizes by Christmas and then everything will be great!”
“When I was skinny, I was miserable. When I was trying to be skinny, I was miserable.”
I’ve used my weight as an excuse for my depression. I’m not depressed, I’m unhappy with my weight. When I lose weight, everything will be better.
Eating cake was ‘bad’ and I wouldn’t let myself. I occupied myself with getting ‘beach ready’ and worrying about what size dress to wear to my Christmas party.
Now, I am 27. I sit on the line between ‘chubby’ and ‘plus-size’.
Now, I wear what I like. I don’t opt for tankinis or high-waists over bikinis. I don’t shy away from bodycon dresses or sexy lingerie. F*ck it, just last week I spent the day on a nudist beach in all my size 18 glory–and got saggy boob tan line, of which I am immensely proud.
I stopped giving a f*ck.
I chose my mental health.
When I was skinny, I was miserable.
When I was trying to be skinny, I was miserable.
Now, I am not.
I’d like to say that you shouldn’t comment on people’s weight because you have no idea what’s behind it. But those two men did. They knew how miserable worrying about my size had made me.
Being fat does not make you a less worthy person. But thinking that someone’s weight is any of your f*cking business does.