Today I’m going to write about bullying. Bullying has many forms and it has affected me throughout my lifetime. I’ll start with being fat. It seems that fat hatred is the last form of regulated hatred. Fat hatred ranges from the comedic to the ethical. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it a fat person can be a punch line or the subject of Michelle Obama’s crusade. (For fuck’s sake the US has bigger problems than fat kids.) Being on the Internet I have experienced my share of fat hatred, some comical and some really mean. Last year a site took one of my photos, posted it and picked it apart. The member’s comments were even worse… My stretch marks, my lopsided boobs, my pubic hair, they berated every inch of me. This unpleasant experience taught me a valuable lesson. I learned that I could not control everything. From that day forward I did not try to control who took my photos for whatever purpose. I have had porn sites post my photos and quite frankly as long as those sites post links back to my blog I don’t care. It’s up to the viewer to read Claim Your Beauty and decide if it speaks to him or her. I’m fat if you don’t like my blog move along.
So it sounds like I have that resolved… well, not really. Yesterday, I posted a photo on my Tumblr blog and the caption read, “I’m not a size 4 deal with it…” Someone re-blogged my photo and wrote their caption. It read, “I have diabetes deal with it…” Because I have been made fun of so much online fat jokes usually don’t bother me but yesterday I was hurt and I had to evaluate why. This person is taking my photo and making fun of me in a public venue. He is bullying me. So I think to myself. “This person is an idiot, a bigot” Saying that a fat person has diabetes is a form of discrimination. Fat stereotyping is created in the malicious spirit of bigotry. Being fat is not a moral failing… being a bigot is… Problem resolved… then why does it still hurt so much? It hurts because he is bullying me.
I have dealt with my fat issues but the scars of bullying run deep. I will start by saying I don’t have very many close friends. When I say friends these are the people that I will do anything for. And they love me in return. I know this because they understand me. They lead me when I need direction and they hold me strong when I am hurting. I tell my loved ones about my injuries in bits and pieces. It’s not easy for them. They have to pay attention and they must wait to hear the whole story. The story reveals itself in sentence fragments between the small talk and silences.
This is a symptom of a past harm. Years ago I wore a victim’s wound, a partial handprint over my mouth. The bruise has faded but I still wear that handprint today. When the time comes to ask for help words fail me, they always have. As a child I sat next to my Mother and I could not tell her that someone had harmed me. So I would put my head in her lap and she would run her fingers through my hair until I drifted into the safety of sleep. This is how I run my life. I say very little, my friends comfort me and for a while the pain is dormant.
The problem with avoidance is that things resurface if they are not dealt with. I am no longer a child but I find myself in situations that resemble bullying. Work has always been a nightmare for me. I’m an easy target. I shy away from professional criticism and I can never say no. On a more personal level. There is always some form of coercion in my romantic relationships. This ‘no means yes’ phenomenon only exists in the movies. You say no over and over again and eventually acquiesce but your heart hurts. This is not consent this is coercion. Recently I had to report an assault and in the process I felt bullied. I had to repeat myself while answering unsavory questions until I was a crying child. To be honest the whole thing seemed so sinister. At the end of my statement the detective said to me, “I believe you” and I responded, “Of course you believe me because I’m telling the truth.” They ‘coerced’ me into telling the truth. Their course of questioning is to obtain compliance. Wanting to know if a person is telling a lie is not the same as wanting to know if a person is telling the truth. The entire process left me with an empty feeling.
So how do these things relate to being fat? Sometimes when a person calls me fat it’s so much more than being fat. Today the humiliation brought me back to a place where I was not safe. As an adult I have to learn how to cope with these feelings. This is why I write, why I take photos. I reclaim power and I create safety for myself and hopefully for others.
Navigating my life as a child has been treacherous at times but I need to say that it has also provided me with tremendous gifts. I laugh like a child, I give freely like a child and most importantly I love like a child. In the grand scheme of things it’s not that bad. When I am overwhelmed I remember one of my Dad’s pep talks. I was six. It was summertime. It was the 70s, lots of kids in the park with no supervision. I came home crying. I stood on the lawn trying to tell my dad what happened in between sobs. He bent over and while he was wiping my face he said in earnest. “Lisa, you’re alright. You’re a brave little girl. You’re MY little girl.” He turned me around. “No go back and play.” And I ran back as fast as I could…
Thanks for reading today,
Why is it accepted that some people who eat a ton of food can stay thin, but not accepted that some people who eat a small amount of food can be fat?
Since thin people get diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, why is becoming thin suggested as a cure?
Why bother using BMI as a substitute for metabolic health measures when we can easily test metabolic health measures?
Doctors treat thin people for joint pain with options other than weight loss, why don’t they give fat people those same treatments?
Why do we believe that doing unhealthy things (liquid diet, smoking, urine injections coupled with starvation, stomach amputation) will lead to a healthy body?
If the diet industry’s product actually “cured fatness”, wouldn’t their profits be going down instead of up as more and more people were permanently thin?
Isn’t it medically unethical to prescribe something without telling your patients that it works less than 5% of the time with a much greater chance at leaving you heavier and less healthy than when you started?
Why do people continue to think that shaming people will lead them to health?
Why do we accept wide variations in things like foot and hand size, nose and lip shape etc. but expect every body to fit into a very narrow proportion of height and weight?
If weight gain isn’t proven to cause diabetes, high blood pressure etc., why would weight loss be recommended as a cure?
Since weight loss ads have to carry a “results not typical” warning, shouldn’t doctors have to give patients a similar warning?
Why do people take the time to come to my blog and make death threats?
Does anyone really succeed at hating themselves healthy? If so is it worth it?
If we’ve been prescribing dieting since the 1800s and still can’t prove that it works, shouldn’t we be trying something else?
How is it possible that suggesting that healthy habits are the best chance for a healthy body is controversial?"
YES to everything but the death threats.
Triggers: self injury, eating disorders
If you had told me just three years ago that I would be comfortale submitting pictures of myself to a site like this, I would have laughed until I cried. All through high school and into college I struggled with eating disorders and self-harm. I was never thin enough. Never girly enough. Never perfect enough. I hated my shape, I could never lose the weight from the right places. But now, after graduating college, becoming really independent, and seeing that I can really make something of myself, I’ve started to become less insecure. More than anything, I’ve become more confident in my body after becoming more confident in myself as a person.
You may notice the bruising - I’ve become very active in the kink community (public BDSM events), which has been a huge boost for me. Though the community is made up of very strange and often misunderstood people, it is one of the most welcoming I have ever been in. I can strip down in a room full of complete strangers and have every single one tell me how beautiful I am; I can be tied down and beaten and yet feel safer than I ever have. I am facing my own triggers, I am building myself up. For me, it is a place of vulnerability, of strength, of release, of safety.
I never once thought I would be confident enough to put myself on display, but the constant affirmation has really only confirmed what I myself had already begun to realise - you don’t have to look a certain way to be beautiful, and beauty is not skin deep. Some of the most beautiful, powerful, and compassionate people I’ve met at these events are not conventionally “attractive”; they are older, overweight, genderqueer, disabled, “skin and bones”, transgendered, and so many more. It is such an accepting community, and a place where inner strength and beauty really have the chance to shine through.
Though it is certainly not for everyone, all of my experiences have brought out more of the real “me” than ever before, and I love the feeling of not waking up hating myself every morning. I never would have thought it possible. But if I have any advice for people, it is this - surround yourself with those who love and accept you, and really believe in yourself. The rest will follow behind.
A picture of me in full Renaissance garb. Over the summer, I was in my deepest pit of body hatred. I was counting calories, obsessing over everything that went into my mouth. I was hungry, I was tired, but most of all I loathed myself. One day I google searched “why fat is unhealthy” and came across Kate Harding’s article. Within two days I had read every single entry in her blog, and I felt hope. Fat does nto make me unhealthy, or undesirable, or lazy, or stupid. Fat just makes me fat. I am beautiful just the way I am!
Y’know, fat chicks aren’t the only real woman out there… and this is coming from a fairly big girl with big squishy boobs, a big arse, and a pudgy tummy.
Girls with high metabolisms and teeny boobs are woman. Girls with big-ass tits and no hips are woman. Girls with big-ass hips but no boobs are woman. Girls with big-ass everything are woman. Girls whom happen to have a Y chromosome in place of an X are real woman.
Like, I get that us fat chicks are the ones whom never appear in media and are called, y’know.. “plus sized” instead of just like.. People. But can we please stop the whole “big is real”, as if small isn’t?
Even morbidly obese or anorexic girls are still woman. Just unhealthy. They are real woman with real health problems.
Therefore, everyone needs to shut the fuck up and go live life, being size eight, or size eighteen.