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It’s All Rooted In The System: A Commentary On The Body Positivity Movement

By: Nicole Wagoner

I want to start off this article by saying that I am not plus sized. I never have been. So maybe I’m not qualified to write this article, but if you will listen to me for a moment, I think we can both learn something and leave this article being more educated about the life of a plus sized person.

I have always advocated for the body positivity movement. I think every body is beautiful and I think it is amazing that (at least part of) the world is finally acknowledging this. I have always had trouble accepting my body. My few extra pounds make me get down on myself sometimes. But I have never been systemically oppressed because of my size, like many plus sized people have.

Some might find this statement controversial, but it is one that is deeply rooted in the history of the patriarchy. I think when it comes to the body positivity movement, we need to stop comparing skinny shaming to fat shaming. While both are harmful, they never have and never will be on the same level. 

Once again, this is because fat people are systemically oppressed.

You wanna know how I know that? Because when I said fat just now, you were taken aback. Fat is not a dirty word as society has now equated it. Fat is a descriptor for a type of body. But ideals have forced us to think being fat is bad and fat is a mean word to describe someone with. 

Skinny was not always considered the norm. For many years curviness and having extra skin was considered the ideal for beauty, with goddesses like Venus being artistically portrayed with pear shape, plus sized bodies. But over time, women started being held to an unrealistic standard of beauty, and they were forced to take on a “boyish” type of appearance. This included being flat chested and especially slender. Calorie counting diets brought women to periods of starvation, just so that they could fit this new impossible standard of thinness.

We can see this is rooted in the patriarchy for a few reasons. One is the fact that this standard was pushed so that the norm for women would be frail and they would therefore seem subservient. The other is when women are insecure about their bodies, they feel as though they deserve less when it comes to relationships. While we live in a world where this is no longer openly discussed, we can see how openly patriarchal the “ideal” woman’s body is in society. Women’s bodies are not made for men to gawk at. A woman is beautiful no matter what, and she has no obligation to appeal to anybody at any time.

But this insecurity is still preyed upon. Commercials for Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem air on TV every single day. One can try to escape the madness by going on Instagram only to see an ad for weight loss teas. No one can escape the way society treats fat people. They see them as an object that needs to be fixed, needs to be renewed and beautified. There’s nothing wrong with being plus sized. If someone is happy in their own skin, they should be allowed to be. 

Beanie Feldstein said in her essay, “Please Stop Commenting On My Body,” that, “A person’s body changing is simply not clearance for you to talk about it. I know that nothing will truly change until we as a society are able to unravel the ingrained notion that thinness is ideal. However, I do hope that on a more interpersonal level, we can attempt to stop commenting on each other’s bodies. Because sadly, I am here to tell you that even well-intentioned compliments can be upsetting. In my case, that brought to the surface feelings about my body that had taken years to work through. And it is not how I want to continue”.

Commenting on someone’s weight enforces the fact that the person being commented on is not beautiful regardless of size. This is why Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem and weight loss teas are bad for the soul, because they enforce that there is something inherently wrong with being fat. But there is nothing inherently wrong with any weight. 

But that is not the only example of plus sized people being systemically oppressed. Take one step into a doctor’s office in a plus sized person’s shoes. An article from medium.com explored many plus-sized people’s stories of going to the doctors office and not getting proper treatment because of their size. This has led to many deaths, and not because of their weight. It was because of cancer, kidney failure, etc. These doctors ignore signs of obvious illness because one is medically “overweight.” While being medically overweight can cause health problems, many doctors give lesser care because they believe the fat person deserves lesser treatment. Another example of this is when a fat person cannot get diagnosed with an eating disorder because they do not fit this ideal of a frail girl who can be romanticized. 

Now, where do we go from here? How do we take the information from these articles, these essays, these many sources, and apply them to our lives? By not overshadowing the body positivity movement by talking about skinny shaming. The body positivity movement preaches every body is beautiful, and that no one should be treated differently because of their appearance. So let us not take away the voices of those who are actually systemically oppressed in society because of their appearance. Show this article to your mom, your dad, your aunt, your cousin. Then encourage them to listen to plus sized voices. Because maybe you shouldn’t listen to me. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. But if you start listening to plus sized people and hear what they have to say about this movement, you’ll find that maybe you’ve been unknowingly feeding into society’s ideal and oppression of fat people. Don’t be that person. Keep yourself accountable, and call yourself to action. 

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Embracing Our Body Hair

By: Sindura Vuppu

I was only nine years old when I first used Veet hair removal cream to get rid of the shame and insecurity that came with my “unwanted” hair. Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif, the face of Veet in India back then, said I’d feel more beautiful if I did so. Thick dark hair on my dark skin didn’t help meet the beauty standards of a South Indian. Ever since, I’ve tried various ways to “clean up.” I covered up most of the time and waited desperately to visit the salon and get waxed every month just so I could wear clothes that I liked. I felt less pretty. I felt less feminine. I wondered how femininity or masculinity had anything to do with how hairy one was. 

Until a few decades ago, being hairy wasn’t so problematic. In fact, people saw beauty in facial and body hair. Indian Actress Kajol sported a unibrow in the 90s and was considered beautiful. Unibrows became trendy among Indian women. In the Middle East, as well as East and South Asia, unibrows were considered alluring in both sexes. Additionally, pubic hair is seen as a sign of sexual health and fertility In Korean culture, and many Korean women got pubic hair transplants. Similarly, many foreigners have reported that they are often surprised to see unshaved private parts in Asian bathhouses. The West, too, was comfortable with body hair until the 20th century. In the Middle Ages, Catholic women were expected to let their hair grow as a display of femininity. The only “requirement” was to keep it concealed in public. However, being hairy wasn’t that big of a deal for a long time. As we go further back in history, we can find the possible reasons why the obsession with hairlessness  began.

Charles Darwin’s book “Descent of Man” (1871) associated hairy bodies with “primitiveness” and “inferior races.” According to him, having less body hair was a sign of being more evolved and sexually attractive.  Not-so-surprisingly, these ideas targeted women more than men, establishing control over women’s bodies in the most misogynistic and heteronormative way and linking their femininity and sexual attractiveness to the lack of body hair. Scientists drew a clear distinction between masculinity and femininity based on body hair, calling this distinction “higher anthropological development” in race. At the dawn of the twentieth century, changes in fashion that exposed more skin encouraged less body hair. In 1915, Harper’s Bazaar, the first women’s magazine, launched the anti-armpit hair campaign, calling clean armpits a “necessity” for sleeveless clothes. The first Gillette women’s razor was also launched around the same time. Soon, middle-class white women desired smooth, “clean,” and white skin. Gradually, this influence spread across the world, combined with a development in various hair-removal techniques. Today, hair-removal has become so common among men and women, especially women, that most religiously opt for hair-removal as if they have no other option. As if it was a requirement to feel feminine, hygienic, and respected.

The way women are expected to have hairless bodies and smooth skins like children is a form of oppression. Making grown women feel pressured to remain young in the way they appear and behave makes it easier for the patriarchal society to establish control and dominance over almost every aspect of their lives. The term “pretty privilege” also applies to this viewpoint. While beautiful and attractive women who fit societal standards of femininity seem to receive more respect in their professional and personal lives, women who challenge these standards are often looked down upon. Recently, women letting their “unwanted” hair grow out has become associated with the desperation to be “different” and prove a point. While this might be true and is just a form of expression, rather than a personal choice, letting body hair grow has become a sign of “rebellion.” By mocking such choices, society increases the pressure on women to follow the norms and be more “modest and respectable.” Additionally, getting rid of body and facial hair has become so deeply associated with femininity that men doing so is often mocked. This stems from queerphobia and the desire to eliminate anything that isn’t heteronormative. This notion only strengthens toxic masculinity and the need to prove one’s masculinity or femininity. However, such ideas are now being challenged on a higher level. 

Frida Kahlo exhibited one of the earliest and the most significant forms of defiance by growing out her facial hair and embracing it. More recently, celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Julia Roberts, and Paris Jackson to name a few, are encouraging the idea of embracing one’s body hair by publicly displaying their unshaved armpits and legs. In addition to being the first razor brand to show body hair on television, Billie, an indie razor brand, has launched campaigns such as the Body Hair Project and Red, White, and You do You Campaign with ads and videos celebrating the choice to shave or not shave body hair. It is also the first brand to show pubic hair on its Red,White, and You do You Campaign.  Januhairy is another campaign started by students  Laura Jackson and Ruby Jones in 2019 that encourages people to grow out their body hair for the month of January and share images of themselves online. There are many more such campaigns that strive to normalize body hair and empower hairy people. As years pass, we can expect the world to be more tolerant of all body and skin types. 

It’s time to normalize body hair. It’s also important that hair removal should remain a choice and should not be forced upon. There is nothing wrong if, as a feminist or a supporter of this movement, you choose to remove your own body and facial hair. It’s not hypocritical, but rather a personal choice. Having more or less body hair does not make one more or less feminine. Our body hair does not define who we are. Excessive or unwanted hair can occur because of several factors such as genetics or hormonal imbalance. It is normal to have more of it and it is equally normal to have less of it. The slowly fading dark patches in my armpits that came with hair removal creams, the bumps of ingrown hair that came with shaving, and the dreadful hot wax that burns my skin every month, continue to bother me.  I’m still learning to get rid of my insecurity of having a hairy body, but it is sliding down the list of my priorities with each passing day. While it’s not easy to readjust a brainwashed mind, it’s never too late to try. Let us learn to embrace our body hair, slowly and gradually. Let us appreciate what we have and be kind to ourselves. 

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Honey, I Shrunk My Tits: My Experience with Breast Reduction Surgery

By: Sai Siddhaye

In December of 2020, I underwent breast reduction surgery. After years of loathing my body and desperately wishing to change it, the tipping point came at the beginning of quarantine, when having no distractions from my body became overwhelming. My bra size was a 32F, which–as those educated in bra sizes will know–is uncomfortably large. My intense back pain, abysmal posture, and painful marks in my skin left by bras, which were constants in my life for so long, became unbearable. 

On top of all this, my already unhealthy body image was worsening in isolation. I had always resented my big chest, viewing it as something keeping me from achieving dainty femininity, but being quarantined and not having to perform gender made me realize how much I disliked having to cosplay femininity at all. It became clear to me that I was simply wearing inauthentic femininity as a façade to fulfill my expected social role, rather than acknowledging my inherent androgyny. Letting go of my gender performance revealed that the disconnect between my hyperfeminine curves and my authentic gender presentation was the source of many of my bodily insecurities. With even more discomfort and distress focused on my chest, I fantasized endlessly about getting breast reduction surgery, believing it was a faraway dream only accessible to celebrities and the like.

Remarkably, it was TikTok that came to my rescue. I happened upon a video of an ordinary woman describing her breast reduction and waxing poetic about all the good it did her, laying out the process and encouraging others to look into it. She spoke about her experience without the judgement that usually surrounds cosmetic surgery. What had seemed so out of my reach suddenly became much closer to me. 

I am very privileged to have access to health insurance, which made my process much easier than it would have been otherwise. After consulting my doctor and discussing the pros and cons of reduction mammoplasty, I was sent to a surgeon to iron out the details. The process of getting an insurance claim for my surgery was, as expected, a series of rather expensive hoops to jump through. My surgeon was very helpful in helping me game the system, so to speak; she recommended that I appeal to my insurance company from the angle of alleviating physical pain rather than body dysmorphic disorder to get the best possible insurance claim, and made the process simple and stress-free. After getting referrals from specialists and attending physical therapy sessions to ensure that mammoplasty was the best course of action, I was ready for surgery. 

My surgery took about 6 hours, and after an overnight stay at the hospital, I returned home sans-breasts. For the first few days, I did nothing but sleep and eat, sluggish as I was from the pain medication and residual anesthesia. This was probably for the best, as the swelling following the surgery was remedied by drains hung from my bandages like grotesque chains, which were just as distasteful as they were medically useful. This was probably the most unpleasant part of my recovery process. Though I began to heal surprisingly quickly, my incision scars were raw and painful for many weeks. In fact, the first time I was allowed to shower after the surgery, the sight of myself stitched up like Frankenstein’s monster–combined with my low blood pressure–was enough to make me faint right onto the bathroom floor. 

I’m now approximately two months post-op, and since I hit the one-month mark it has been smooth sailing. My incisions are still sore, but I can move normally and don’t have to wear gauze anymore. It has also been a year since I took my first steps towards my breast reduction, and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Taking control over my body has been an empowering experience that I strongly encourage everyone to experiment with.

My experience with cosmetic surgery has taught me two big lessons: repairing your body image requires more than changing your appearance, but making the choice to change your body should absolutely not be stigmatized. I am so much happier with the size of my chest now; I have far less back pain, moving around has become easier, and looking in the mirror is far less unpleasant. But changing my body has not fixed my issues with gender and body image. That is something I have to work on every day, and takes much more time and effort than surgery does. Regardless, if it weren’t for the stigma surrounding cosmetic surgery (especially mammoplasty), taking these steps to feel more comfortable in my body would have been so much easier. It is worth analyzing why our culture vilifies body modification, because unpacking it will give countless people the freedom to heal. 

To anyone considering breast reduction surgery: my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, and I am immensely grateful that I was able to have this experience. I strongly encourage you to speak with a medical professional and see if it is the right step for you too.

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Practicing Self Love During the Holiday Season

By: Shellsea Lomeli

There are so many things about the holiday season that I absolutely love. Late-night drives while blasting my favorite Christmas songs, driving through the neighborhoods that deck their houses out in holiday lights, wearing matching pajamas with my family, and more. I love the feeling of joy, family, and friendship. However, holidays can also have some downsides. For me, this time of year tends to evoke feels of guilt in situations such as straying away from a diet, not being able to afford a certain gift for a certain friend, and not spending enough time with family. 

During situations like these, we can often start to feel bad and blame ourselves when, in reality, we should be practicing self-love instead. The holidays are all about spreading love and joy but sometimes we forget that we need to try and give those feelings ourselves too, not just our loved ones. 

In hopes of alleviating some of the guilt that the holidays can bring, I’ve written out a few reminders for myself and for anyone who needs it. 

1. Allow Yourself to Recharge

If you’re like me, the holiday season means having a million things to do with a limited time to do them. From holiday gift shopping to getting together with loved ones (covid-safe, of course), I always feel my energy running out during this time of the year. When my social battery – or just energy in general – runs out, I often find myself feeling bad for not dedicating enough time to my family and friends. Or for not completing the list of things I set out to accomplish that day. We often expect too much from ourselves which is why it is so important to take time for yourself. Taking care of yourself is NOTHING to feel guilty about. 

Some of my favorite ways to destress are painting, going on a solo car ride while blasting my favorite music, or watching a sappy movie on Netflix, and maybe even shedding a tear or two. 

2. Money Doesn’t Equal Love

As a college student, money is often tight. A part-time job that pays $13 an hour doesn’t necessarily allow for buying your friends the glamorous gifts you wish you could. And that’s okay! Expensive gifts are not the only way to show someone that you care about them even though our capitalist society likes to say otherwise. 

Try not to stress about money this holiday season. Your mental health will thank you. Instead of focusing on the price tag, focus on the meaning of the gift you’re gifting. Personally, my favorite type of present is something that is personal and thoughtful. I’d like to believe a lot of other people feel the same. 

I recommend checking out customizable sites like Shutterfly or VistaPrint. If you’re trying to support small businesses, check out Etsy which has a lot of personalized gifts to choose from. Last Christmas, I used Shutterfly to make a customized calendar for one of my best friends. Each month had a different theme and was decorated with pictures of our friends, inside jokes, her favorite music artists, and more. I had so much fun making it and she loved it. This gift brought so much joy to both of us and it costed almost nothing.

3. Enjoy the Holiday Food 

As someone who’s experienced body image issues for quite some time, this particular piece of advice is probably the hardest for me to execute. Holiday food is my favorite, especially during Thanksgiving, but I’ve often found myself either limiting what I eat or feeling incredibly guilty after a holiday meal. As much as we are told otherwise by a society that often values “skinny” over “fat”, eating IS self-care. Food fuels our bodies, our minds, and even provides pleasure. It’s a good thing, even if the meal you’re eating is characterized as “unhealthy”. So if you’re considering getting a second helping of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner and the only thing that is holding you back are the calories or grams of sugar of the food, eat the pie. Make your tastebuds happy. It’s okay! 

While you’re sending love to your friends and family this holiday season, remember to send love to yourself too. You are worthy of it. 

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On Being Honest About Being Fat

By: Simar Dhaliwal

Right before I started high school, my family and I moved from India to America. The first thing I noticed when I walked on to the concrete that would support my footsteps for the next four years was how much everyone resembled barbies. With their straight hair, straight bodies, and defined thigh gaps, I felt shame and fear and insecurity because I looked so different. The second thing I remember doing is bursting into tears and frantically texting my older sister to regain some semblance of control over myself. I had never experienced feeling so uncomfortable before and it didn’t take me long to understand why. I hated my body, and I despised it so much that I couldn’t stand looking at myself in the mirror because all I saw was inadequacy. I remember feeling very anxious about walking in front of people, and this included being called on in class, getting something from the front of the class and going to the bathroom. I had severe anxiety about being late to class because it meant walking in and having people look at you. I unconsciously began the habit of hunching to avoid attention and crossing my arms over my stomach in hopes that it would hold me together. My only goal before starting high school had been to achieve straight A’s, but here I found myself in class unable to move, let alone focus on anything apart from the way I looked. 

I sought acceptance and peace from the internet, and instead, I received the message that my feelings were expected because I was not good enough as I looked but I could be good enough if I changed how I looked. I read articles and articles on ways to lose weight, to be healthier, to look your best, to decrease the amount of food consumed, to hide body fat, what to avoid when trying to lose weight, ten exercises that guarantee weight loss, and so on. 

My mother began to monitor my meals closely but my family never realized the full extent of my starvation. My parents tried to tell me that I didn’t need to lose so much weight, that they didn’t see anything wrong with me, but my eyes would roll over before they could finish a sentence and my legs would start walking away faster than they could say, “you’re beautiful just the way you are.” They noticed that I ate little, that I could list the calories in any item off the top of my head, that I was exercising frequently, but they didn’t know it all. They had no way of knowing that I would frantically chew gum whenever my stomach refused to stop growling, hoping against hope that my body would be tricked by the chewing into believing it was full. They didn’t know that I exercised off every single calorie that I consumed, that I overestimated the calories to fool myself into consuming less and exercising more. They didn’t see me at night, feeling my stomach, relishing in its flatness and reveling in the noise it made. They didn’t see me measuring my thighs with tape or marking the points on my body that I wanted to erase.

At school, I was terrified of someone seeing me eat and judging me or even worse, whispering to their friends about how I didn’t need more food. Looking back now, I know that I was projecting my thoughts onto others and that the possibility of these words being said was small. But at that time, paranoia and anxiety were my best friends because they helped indulge my disordered eating. I wish that even if people had noticed and judged me, I could have had the strength to choose my health over their fatphobia. 

Compliments, instead of bringing me validation, brought me close to tears. I wanted to believe them so much, but I could not see how anyone could honestly compliment the way I looked. What I did believe was that I was receiving this attention because of my lifestyle and I knew that I could never stop because finally, I was desirable. It didn’t matter that my eyes would be on the floor in front of mirrors, or that I heard the sound of my stomach growling more than I heard the sound of my laughter, or that I felt dizzy sometimes. I didn’t think that I had a problem, that starving myself to the point of consuming less than 500 calories a day was an issue. I looked at it as a lifestyle, a path that I had chosen. A path that got me results, made me look good to others, and feel worthwhile when it was noticed by other people. How was I supposed to find the words “Anorexia Nervosa” and “Body Dysmorphia” amidst so many articles filled with why I wasn’t good enough, or how I could change myself?

It took me years to stop the vicious cycle of starving my body and counting calories, and even longer to stop feeling guilt and shame around food. Once I was able to eat the way I truly wanted and needed to, I gained back all the weight and then some. For years, my sisters and my best friend had told me to embrace myself. But it wasn’t their words that helped me heal. It was the body positive models, and fat models, and body neutrality models who helped me face my fears. If these people had never taken the step towards talking about their experiences, and their journeys, and if they hadn’t dared to pursue their dreams in a world that actively works against fat people, then I probably would never have seen what I could become. This is why representation is so important. Them refusing to put limits on who they could be because of their bodies showed me how I didn’t need to either. It wasn’t as instantaneous as it sounds, but the work it took to unlearn everything I thought was right was worth it. Ironically, I used to be horrifyingly paranoid that someone would see me following a fat person on Instagram and assume I did so because I was fat, and now those very models are the reason why I feel so deeply and completely whole in any size.

However, despite making so many steps in the right direction, I was still struggling. I had forced myself to conform to society’s standards of beauty by making them my own, reveled in my success, only to realize my mistake and work my way back to health. But still, what other people thought of me mattered to me more than my need to take care of myself. And yet, how could I have thought any differently when the people around me made sure to express their discomfort with my weight. 

One summer in high school, we went to India for two months. While visiting my aunt and cousin, along with being put on a diet, I was forced to go to the “best” dermatologist in the area for my offensive acne. The last time my cousin and aunt had seen me was amid the eating disorder and so the contrast between what they approved of and what I looked like now was enormous. I had had acne then too, but it had spread as it does as you grow into your teens. My cousin accompanied me to the appointment because she knew the dermatologist and spoke highly of him. This esteemed dermatologist weighed me, a highly humiliating experience in front of my fatphobic, diet encouraging, disordered eating cousin, and turned to her and told her to make me sweep and mop the floors every day because by doing so I would lose weight and my acne would disappear. If this respected dermatologist had bothered to have a proper, confidential appointment with me, he would have learned about how bad my sleep quality was, how I knew nothing about skincare, and how much stress I was dealing with to succeed academically where I hadn’t before. Acne is frequently caused by stress and hormonal imbalances, and therefore these questions should be imperative in skin evaluations. But, he only saw my weight. 

The year after that, while playing soccer with my family, my uncle, though on my team, kept up a steady stream of insults about my width, comparing me to a panda, until I was blocking goals blindly because of the tears in my eyes. Another year, one of my friends remarked that I shouldn’t attempt sitting on a bench lest it breaks from my weight. Last year, my boss’s receptionist commended how much weight I had lost from the last time she had seen me. I was shocked at the unprofessionalism and frankly, the audacity. I had lost weight because of depression, and for something born out of hopelessness and despair, to be complimented so proudly was almost too much to bear. These happenings, and so many others, reinforced to me again and again that my insecurities were real, that no matter where I was, no matter who I was as a person, no matter how hard I worked- the way my body looked was what mattered the most and I could never exist in peace as I was. 

All through the last few years, I have been constantly shamed for the way I looked. On social media, I presented the image of happiness, and in turn received validation, but in reality, it took everything in me to never show how destroyed I was by these taunts. I felt that I would emotionally burst at the seams at any moment, and as weird as it sounds- I was amazed at how much internal pain my body could endure. Many people know me to be outspoken but when it came to being bullied about how I looked, I had no voice. I was too emotionally battered to fight for the space that I took up in this world, and mostly I was afraid that if I showed them how much it affected me, I would have to defend why having fat on my body was okay. 

The problem is that fatphobia lives in all of us. My mom is my biggest inspiration for everything. She has taught me what it means to be confident and strong and loving. And yet, she is fatphobic. There have been countless times over the past few years when she has told me not to wear something because I “look fat in it”, or how I shouldn’t wear that because I have thick thighs. And yet, she is my strongest support system. Culturally and societally, what she says is both acceptable and expected. Despite the trauma that fatphobia has inflicted on me and so many others, I don’t believe that being fatphobic or acting on it inherently makes you a bad person. It’s just a belief that’s been fed to us repeatedly from nearly every avenue. It is so very important to look into your beliefs about being fat. It is so important to examine how you talk about fat, whether it be the fat on your body or someone else’s. For years I was scared that my fatphobia might have affected the way my younger sister thought about her body, and I was agonized by the realization that she might react the same way I had. Telling my story means laying my trauma and shame on the table for all to see, to show just one person that maybe their thoughts are leading them down a dark and unhealthy path, maybe their beliefs are born out of a toxic, ableist and fatphobic system, and maybe their actions cause deep-rooted trauma and pain. 

It was only after I recovered from the eating disorder that I realized just how much time, energy, and most of all, space it had taken up inside of me. After recovery, my fatphobic beliefs became crystal clear to me, as did the lens through which I had been peering at society. I realized how common fatphobia is, and how much trauma and bias almost every person carries with them. I realized how the idea of being fat is just another way for us to be distracted from what matters to each of us. For me, it meant not knowing who I was at my core. The core of who we are has nothing to do with the body we’re in and everything to do with how we use our minds. But if our minds are so focused on the idea of a body, on fitting a mold that doesn’t fit everyone, then we aren’t focusing on the important things that benefit us. Fatphobia is, directly and indirectly, to blame for people feeling insecure in who they are, and projecting those insecurities onto others, simply because the body they inhabit doesn’t fit a fake mold we’ve created. We don’t have access to our true selves when we’re obsessed with an idea of who we are supposed to be. Being thin does not equate to being healthy the same way that being fat does not either. Fat is not an insult, and nor is it a feeling (bloated is). It hurt me when taunted because of the cruelty and the connotations, but it is a body type just like any other. What your organs are doing inside of that is the business of the person whose body it is.

I don’t think this would be complete without acknowledging the privilege I have. I have privilege because I have not experienced the shaming and public ridicule that people who are fatter than me experience every single day. Along with that, I have not experienced the exclusion that they experience. Whether it be in ballet, or on planes, or in doctors’ offices. Whether it be in the line for food, or while exercising at the gym, or when being denied jobs because of the way you look. It may be while walking their pets, or at school, or enjoying in a pool. These are everyday occurrences for fat people, and my goal is for people who are impacted the most by these systems of oppression to be the center of advocacy. Especially plus size black women who are so often excluded from platforms of advocacy. It would not be fair of me to talk so much about my experiences without acknowledging this. 

This article is written in hopes that everyone’s existence can be respected equally. I have privilege as a cis-gendered woman because I am allowed the space to express my feelings without repercussions, but also because it is acceptable for a woman to be insecure about and obsessed with her weight. But it is not seen as “masculine” in today’s society for men to admit to that they are struggling or that they are insecure. Boys and men have eating disorders, they have insecurities, and they are frequently ridiculed for not looking a certain way. They are objectified when they fit society’s standards of beauty, and loudly rejected when they don’t. LGBTQIA+ people are marginalized on levels that straight, cis-gendered people are not and never will be, and when they are fat in today’s world, the consequences are usually direr. 

While people who are thin experience occasional shame for being skinny, they are not marginalized in society because of it. A doctor might encourage them to eat more and put them on a diet but the care and coverage they need will rarely be overlooked because of the way they look. They will rarely be denied jobs, or be shamed for lounging by a pool, or denied love because of their size. Their accomplishments will not be doubted, nor will their identity be whittled down to the way they look. Fat people’s very existence offends people. All pain is valid but some experiences are endured on a much wider, systemic scale. 

When I realized how powerful I was in any shape, it changed the way I viewed everything, but especially the way I carried myself. Confidence and self-worth are not size exclusive. Ultimately, you should be whatever size your body is. I wrote this article because I wish I had stumbled upon one like it before I forced my body into starvation. I wrote it for the people who instead of receiving water (from the internet, from friends, from family) to quench their thirst for acceptance, found poison disguised as nectar. This topic is so complicated, so entangled with opinions and stories and reasons that it felt almost impossible to articulate into words why your size should not make you any less worthy or any more worthy. All I know and believe is that separating your self worth from your weight, and adding self-love and confidence to whatever size you may be, can make this world less complicated, and so much more inclusive. Your body loves you and that is enough.