I don’t know if you all came across that piece from Cosmopolitan, the interview with two self-identifying fat women which was a surprisingly respectful interview for a mainstream media piece. Thanks to Laura at Tutus and Tiny Hats I’ve discovered that quite a few fat bloggers having a go at answering the questions themselves, to give some more perspectives on what it is like to be a fat woman. There is a list at the bottom of this one by Charlotte at The Reality of My Surroundings of others who have done it.
So I thought I might have a go myself. I think it’s a great idea to have as many perspectives of what it is really like to be a fat woman, so if you’re a fat blogger, I encourage you to have a go yourself.
How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?
It really pisses me off. Because 99% of the time, not only am I fatter than they are and it implies that there is something bad about me, but they actually don’t mean that they feel fat, they mean that they feel miserable, ugly, sad, frumpy, unattractive, bloated, unwell etc. “Fat” has become a catch-all negative word that women use when they don’t feel good about themselves. It’s time we expanded our vocabulary and used the actual words that describe how we really feel. You can’t “feel” fat… well, not unless you’ve got your hands on me.
How has your body image changed since high school? College?
Vastly. It didn’t really happen until my mid-30’s, but before finding fat activism, I honestly believed I was completely worthless as a human being, simply because I was fat. All of the other things about myself didn’t matter – I was fat, therefore I was worthless. How things have changed since then!
Have you tried dieting? What happened?
AHAHAHAHAAHA! I wish I could charge a dollar for every time I have been asked that question. What happened is that I completely fucked my metabolism, my teeth, my digestive system and continued to get fatter and fatter until I stopped dieting.
Do you think in your case your weight is partly or entirely genetic?
I actually think it doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant how I or anyone else arrived at being fat – we just are, and regardless of how we got there, we all deserve the same dignity and respect, and to live our lives in peace.
Do you consider yourself healthy? Have there been instances where people assumed you were unhealthy?
Again, something I think that is entirely irrelevant. A fat person’s health status has no bearing on their value as a human being. Not to mention that it’s also their own business and doesn’t have to be proven or declared to anyone. It is also ableist to assume that everyone is obliged to be healthy.
And people make assumptions about me and my body and my abilities all the time. I don’t actually care what they think, what matters is how I feel, and that I am treated with dignity and respect. (I’m gonna keep using those two words until the world gets it in their head!)
Are your parents both supportive of you at the weight you’re at? Have they always been?
I wouldn’t know what my parents think these days, I no longer allow them in my life. When they were in my life, they were both very abusive about my body, even before I was fat. I think it’s common for girls to be targeted about their bodies as part of abuse, no matter what size or shape their bodies are.
How do you think retailers can improve clothes for plus-size people?
This is an easy one. Provide the same clothes in the same amounts and same variety as they do for straight sizes. Simple as that.
Do you think plus-size women are judged differently than plus-sized men are? How?
Most definitely. While I don’t think fat men escape judgement, I think women are judged much harsher, simply because we’re women, and society believes the most important thing a woman can be is decorative. It’s already hard enough to be a woman in our culture, but to be a woman who “fails” to conform to society’s standards means that she is seen as less than human. Add more marginalised identities and you’re even more detested by societal standards.
Do you think there’s an assumption made/stereotype that exists about plus-size people? How would you respond to it?
How long have we got to go over the assumptions and stereotypes about fat people. There are many, they’re pretty much all negative bullshit. My response? This:
Do you think there’s ever a right way or time to express concern about someone’s weight?
Mostly no. In most cases, someone’s weight is none of your business or concern. Ask yourself, why are you REALLY concerned about that person’s weight? How about showing concern about someone’s feelings, or their wellbeing first?
What are the worst things people have said to you about your body?
Again, how long have you got? I think the regular calls for me to kill myself would probably have to be the lowest of the low.
How did you respond?
See the image of Homer above.
What have people said (or do you wish they’d say) that would compliment your body or appearance?
I don’t want people to compliment my body. Unless I am getting all sexy with that person, my body is irrelevant. In the case of lovers, the thing I’ve always loved to hear most is how soft I am. I am soft!
Though once a little boy I looked after when I worked in a child care centre hugged me and said to his Mum “Mumma she’s the huggiest lady in the world!” I thought that was pretty cool.
If people want to compliment how I dress, or what I do with my hair – that’s a different thing. That’s about my style and my taste, not about my body.
Do you find yourself hanging out with women who are closer to your size?
I hang out with women of all shapes and sizes. In my friendships, bodies and size don’t matter.
However there is something very special about being around someone close to your size, who understands what it is like to live in a fat body, and to share that commonality.
How has your weight affected your sex life, if at all?
Not the actual sex life. It has affected relationships, but not sex.
When you’ve been single, has your weight affected your dating life?
My weight itself hasn’t, but other people’s attitudes about my weight has. A lot of men think that fat women should be grateful for their attention, which I find infuriating. I’ve had men ask me out and then qualify it with “I don’t mind dating bigger women.” Really? Is that how you impress me? By telling me that you “don’t mind” dating women like me? BZZZZZT!! Next!!
There is also the fetishisation of fat women to contend with. I find it really gross when men don’t see me as a person, but see me as a masturbatory aid.
Do you feel weird if the guy you’re with only dates larger women?
Yes. I don’t date only one type of man, so I don’t want to be with someone who limits themselves to being attracted to me for my fatness. I want to be with a man who is attracted as much to the rest of the things that make up me – I’m more than just my fat.
I understand sexual attractions – I have some “things” that I find attractive too – very tall, thin men, men with chest hair, men with big feet and so on… but I’m not going to reject a man that doesn’t have those things – sexual attraction is about so much more than just body features.
Do you feel weird if he’s only dated slimmer women before you?
I don’t know – I’ve never been with someone who has ONLY dated slimmer women before me.