I know, I’ve been getting all fat up in your face recently – but it’s been on my mind a lot, and it’s my blog, so nyah! In all seriousness, I’ve been exposed to a number of troubling situations lately regarding body acceptance and the treatment of plus-size people in general, so I feel a certain social obligation as a fat chick to throw some truth out there to counterbalance all the bullshit. Here’s a small list of myths perpetuated about fat women (because that is my personal experience and what I feel most comfortable speaking of, but that is not to suggest all genders aren’t subject to similar falsities) :
Myth #1 : Fat women never exercise and always overeat. All fat women could be thin if they only “behaved”.
Speaking from my own and others’ experiences, this is not a universal truth. Fat women engage in all manner of lifestyles – assuming they all act the same is no different than assuming that all thin women eat only high-nutrition, low-calorie foods and exercise regularly in an aggressive manner. Puh-lease. We all know women who can eat anything and never work out (as is their right to do) and stay as slender as ever. There’s something to be said for biology, folks. Just as no two humans are exactly alike, no two lifestyles will produce the exact same results in different people.
Myth #2 : Fat women have given up on their appearances – they are slovenly and unclean and don’t care.
While I still believe that people are free to treat and present their bodies any way they choose, I don’t know any women of any size who deliberately choose to be dirty or unkempt. All women are at some point forced to brave the public eye with minimal preparation – think running out for infant fever meds in your pajamas or popping into the grocery store on the way home from the gym, still in your sweaty sweats – but that’s different than saying, I’m just not going to care for myself or my garments regularly. I think fat women are subject to more intolerance by society when they dare to venture out without being carefully styled and coiffed. I also think that fat women wear what is available and affordable to them, which can be VASTLY different than similar clothing options for straight-sized women. For example, as of today there are 59 skirts pictured on Old Navy’s website in the Women’s section. In the Women’s Plus section, 21. Now think about this – numerous statistics have show that 50% or more of American women wear a size 14 or larger. So a major retailer’s response is to provide less than 1/3 the number of buying options for half their potential shoppers? Huh?
Myth #3 : Fat women are always on a diet/hate their bodies/are pleased to engage in conversation that centers on weight loss, body shaming, or food policing.
Um – NO! We don’t all want to engage with the society-driven bullshit that says we’re supposed to loathe our “problem areas” while in search of a “lifestyle change” that will help us resist “bad foods”. Naturally, many fat women do participate in these activities – mostly because they have been brainwashed into believing that they are unworthy and subhuman because they are fat – but at the end of the day it makes for really superficial and boring conversation to rattle on about Weight Watchers points, the horrors of back fat, and the self-flagellation you have planned for later because you dared to eat a fucking corn dog.
In fact, you may well be hurting people you care about by engaging in that behavior while in company. Raging about the size of your ass when it’s equal to one of my cheeks? Yeah, that is insulting ME too. Do whatever you want with your body – feel free to look however you want to and hold yourself to no one’s standards but your own. Just leave me the hell out of it. You’re so disgusting because you gained 10 pounds over the holidays, huh? AHEM… I weigh 100 pounds more than you! Am I somehow NOT supposed to feel offended by your commentary? Would you rant about how horrible your blonde hair is, and how you can’t wait to dye it red because blonde is just gross, in my (blonde) presence? I rest my case.
Myth #4 : Fat women are bad mothers.
This one really chaps my fat ass, ya’ll. There are numerous versions of this myth – fat women have disastrous pregnancies and/or deliveries, fat mothers don’t play with their children, fat mothers don’t provide good nutrition for their kids, fat women are bad role models, fat women are destined to raise fat (and therefore unhealthy and unhappy) children, and fat women are embarrassments to their kids are just a few.
Fuck. That. I don’t have access to every living room and backyard in America, of course, but the world is full of fat mothers (and mothers of all races and ability levels, btw) who do right by their children. Fat women play soccer in the backyard and board games on the floor. We provide balanced food choices for our kids (and some of us work extremely hard to avoid passing food and body related prejudices to our impressionable little ones) and encourage them to listen to their body’s cues for hunger, thirst, and activity. Fat women engage in numerous pursuits that positively influence their kids, from enjoying active lifestyles, to being creative and learned, to demonstrating good citizenship and community involvement; you name it. Fat women have loving relationships with their children. In special, precious moments, fat women can even influence the next generation to be tolerant and embrace diversity despite society telling them otherwise. And this fat woman had three physically healthy pregnancies and three natural deliveries of beautiful, thriving babies. Go on with my bad self, I know.
These myths are only the tip of the iceberg, but I don’t want your eyeballs to fall out from reading, so I’ll reign myself in for now. Let me just say this: be nice to a fat woman today. You’ll probably surprise the shit out of her.