What a week it has been! My last post got the most hits I’ve ever seen on any of my blogs, and a couple of days later the BBC World Service contacted me asking could they do a phone interview with me on fat prejudice and discrimination, particularly in relation to airline seating.
Unfortunately they left the messages at midnight my time, wanting an interview at about 2am from what I could see, and of course I was tucked up in bed by that time and didn’t get the messages until the next morning. But it was still quite a delight that they contacted me at all.
So, tonight I wanted to talk a little bit about friendships of fat folk. (Alliteration!) I saw a post over on Fatadelic on Fat Women, Social Denigration and Social Rituals that really got me thinking about some of the “friendships” I’ve had in the past and how that has changed a lot as I’ve found my confidence and strong self esteem. There was also another post somewhere, which I’ve sadly lost the link for, on a bridezilla who ditched one of her bridesmaids because she was fat and would “ruin the photographs”.
I wanted to talk a bit more about the friends we have as fat women in particular, and how our non-fat friends can stay our friends/be good friends.
Because we fats are plagued with low self esteem and confidence, we often tend to accept behaviour from “friends” that many other people would not accept. I knew I certainly have in the past. Right from downright nastiness (the bridezilla I was bridesmaid for who said to another bride, in front of me and the other plus sized bridesmaid “You’re so lucky to have thin bridesmaids.”), to insensitivity (the older female friend who said “You’re so lucky, fat people don’t wrinkle.”) to those who mean well, but are casting their own insecurities on to you, and not being supportive of you (“Are you sure you should be into this fat acceptance thing? I worry that you’re just using it as an excuse not to diet and exercise.”) Quite often, we accept this because we think we deserve to be treated this way, after all, aren’t we fat? Shouldn’t we be grateful for the friendships we have. Maybe nobody will be our friend if we’re fat and don’t accept how people treat us.
Well, I’m here to tell you that if you love yourself, regardless of your body shape and size, and only surround yourself with people who treat you well, you WILL have fantastic friends, no matter what your size or shape.
There is nothing selfish or conceited about holding the expectation that your friends will be supportive and respectful of you. After all, isn’t that who friends are? Your support crew? When I think of the amazing friends I have now in my life, especially in comparison to those I had when I was younger and lacking in self esteem, they are my ultimate support crew, as I try to be theirs. I honestly never would have believed that I would have friends like I have now back a few years ago, because I really didn’t think those kind of awesome people would like me, a horrible fatty.
To those of you out there who are non-fat friends of fatties, firstly, you’re awesome! Awesome for not buying into the shallow shit that so many other people do, those charming folks who seem to think they’re better than someone just because of the size or shape of their body. But I have a few things I’d like to ask you to remember when being a friend of a fatty.
- Please don’t criticise your body. Not only does it do you no good, but how do you think it makes your fat friend feel when you say your smaller body is “too fat”?
- Please don’t talk about how “sinful” or “naughty” food is. Food has no moral value, and when you refer to food in this way, it implies that your fat friend is sinful or bad for eating at all.
- Suggesting your fat friend should find more “flattering” clothes is a big no-no. Flattering usually means “hides your fat” or “makes you look thinner”. Fat people don’t have to hide their bodies away or not wear certain things because they don’t make them look thinner. If you like an outfit that a fat friend is wearing, say so. Otherwise, it’s best to stay Mum.
- Don’t exclude your fat friends from events and activities under the assumption that they won’t be able to keep up or participate. Ask them. They’ll say no thank you if they don’t want to participate.
- If someone insults your fat friend in front of you, or engages in douchebag behaviour towards your fat friend, speak up if you can. If it’s not safe to do so, make your your fat friend knows that you are horrified at this and that they have your support. One of the worst things I suffered for many years were “friends” that would either laugh along, go quiet and pretend it never happened or suggest I was overreacting to douchebag behaviour. It was always so hurtful.
- Most of all, remember that your fat friend has probably had a whole lot of shit heaped on them for a long time just for having a fat body. Some understanding and support will go a long, long way!
I am sure there are a lot of other things that my fellow fatz out there appreciate from their friends. Feel free to leave them in the comments if you have any to add.
What I guess it all boils down to for me is that the best thing that ever happened to me was the realisation that I am a worthy person to have good, caring, supportive friends, and that I don’t have to settle for people who use me to either make themselves feel better about themselves, or people who feel sorry for me.
Real friends are awesome, but faux friends just aren’t worth the time and energy.