by Leah Clouse
I suffer from a severe disorder. I believe the technical term is “I’m-loud-to-make-sure-I’m-seen-because-I’m-not-actually-as-convinced-of-my-awesomeness-as-I-want-you-to-believe-itis.” I discovered my ailment fairly recently in what some might call “therapy”. After 10 months of weekly sessions though, it came to be known as “crying hour”. Which is just as effective… eventually.
So there I was… crying… and I started to draw some connections to my personality and my upbringing. Turns out, my outgoing tendencies started to wane around the time I realized the amount of weight I’ve put on in my twenties has shifted closer to fifty than ten pounds. The combined realization that my boisterousness is a defense mechanism and that I scored as an INFP the last time I took the Myers-Briggs left me reeling, and curious.
Apparently, for an insecure women (me), being skinny is pretty much all she needs to become a completely judgmental asshole. Coin flip, getting fat is all that’s necessary to knock her down a couple (hundred) pegs.
Enter me, stage right. Noticeably heavier, less positive of my self-proclaimed awesome but far kinder. For a long while I was a slightly plus sized girl who still thought (and dressed! Yikes.) like a skinny girl. I’m not saying we full figured beauties can’t pull off everything the skinny-minis can, (yes I am. Put away the tube tops ladies, they’re not you’re friend) but we definitely can’t shop at the same places.
It took me a while to realize this, but during the process of venturing away from stores like Wet Seal and Charlotte Russe I noticed something. People are not as nice to heavy girls. Men and women alike. Being on that side of it made me realize that this whole damn stereotype of fat people being less-than has dug it’s heels DEEP into our culture. It’s everywhere. An overweight woman did a photography experiment recently with shocking results. Fat shaming is the last from of bigotry that’s still acceptable and friends, it’s ugly. One would need to venture no further than my favorite TV show Friends and take a look at how they handle and joke about Monica’s fat days. I cringe every time. Even worse is a show I’ve recently come to love about a grown-up Doogie Howser and his playboy antics which is always citing hard and fast rules about “fatties”. Apparently plus sized women are not sexy in the least, so says one of the most popular television shows on TV today.
Heavy folks are out there fighting tooth and nail to be valued and seen. They’re compensating by being funny or smart because after all this time even they believe they have something to compensate for.
Well, I’m here to call bullshit. Covering my body elbow to ankle only perpetuates the lie that my body is something to be ashamed of. No more.
I’m a better person now because I know life doesn’t look the same for everyone. I know that half of the battle is refusing to be shamed because no one can do that to you but you. These are lessons and world views I wouldn’t have if not for my size.
I also know that I’m just as precious to God today as I was eight years ago when I fit into the coral pencil skirt that’s still in the back of my closet. Knowing that has helped me see the people around me with new eyes. Getting fat is something I’ve grown into (pardon the pun), and now it’s something I own. My goal is no longer to be skinny; it’s to be healthy. And for my body healthy will always mean a thunder thighs and a tush; and that’s more than okay. That tush might just be making me better, or at least comfier in a chair.