It all started because of OKCupid. (Doesn't it always, when you're on the Internet?)
When I recently packed up my entire life to move from New York City to Los Angeles -- leaving all friends and make-out partners far, far behind to pursue a dream of becoming a fancy lady television writer -- the thought of activating a profile felt like standard fare. Sure, why not, it's not a big commitment, putting mouths on other people's mouths is fun, whatever, etc.
A few weeks into this trial and error, I received an unsolicited message from a stranger. It was short, sweet, to the point: “Godddd you're fat. How is it that you're one of my matches?”
Appreciative of this stranger's willingness to make me aware of my mortal wrongdoing, I knew I had to thank him at once. Glory be: have I really been fat this whole time?! Forcing the world to gaze upon my girthy glides for all these years?! The horror! Having lived in my body for 26 years, I was way more aware of its penchant for rolling, cellulite-y shenanigans than this man ever could.
Being a child of the Internet Age (Millennial, for all buzzword enthusiasts), posting this meeting of the minds on my blog was the natural progression. If it's embarrassing (I mean I did make some rushed and grammatical mistakes, but I'm trying to forgive myself), put it on the Internet! It was a good venue to let my friends know about a silly thing that happened and how cool Random Internet Strangers are. Natch.
A few days later, I noticed that a young girl had reposted the interaction and added her own caption. I clicked through to her reblog and her words formed a sad, tiny cloud on my forehead:
“I think this goes to show that guys DO care what weight women are. So for all you dumbass girls out there who believe otherwise, realize it’s not possible. By the way, to the girl who got sent these messages, I’m sorry you had to hear that. What a jackass.”
Sadder still was realizing, upon further inspection, that this is what made up her entire blog. I noticed immediately the frequency of images of very thin girls, a preoccupation with thighs that didn't touch, concave stomachs, GIFs of guys picking up small-framed women with simple lines like “to be thin enough so my boyfriend can do this” attached below.
There were a few admission-style posts where the author degraded herself for her weight, for binge eating or for feeling she was ugly. Her headline stretched across the top: “100% thinspo blog. I'm tired of being fat so I'm going to do whatever it takes to not be fat. Thin for me, thin for him, thin for everyone.”
It's weird when you can look down at yourself and say “This. This moment right here is the moment that something really changes for me.” Because when a girl who runs a thinspo blog uses your fat body's experience as a reason to starve herself, things just become a little bit clearer.
I instinctively repositioned myself on my bed, needing to lessen the load of sadness that hung around me after taking it all in. I was so familiar with the root of this girl's self worth.
For years and years, the weight of your own body coupled with your own shame about that body can be nothing short of soul-destroying. It creeps into every action, every interaction, every perceived reaction. Feeling every glance, inferring meaning from every eye-roll, every motion or inaudible mumble from every person you pass on a daily basis -- to assume all of them must be so focused and disgusted by the body that you've found yourself in. I had those feelings for so long. And when even just one person validates your own negative thoughts, your self-hate takes it and runs laps around your brain with it.
I've struggled with my weight for as long as I've been alive. I still remember the first moment I realized I was fat and that meant I was not like the others. Third grade: We had a field day and when it came time for tug-of-war, everyone told me I should be the anchor. At first, I smiled and thought it was because I seemed so tough and strong. I remember scrambling on the ground to stay put: digging into the grass and dirt -- feeling as though I had a real significance in my quest.
I went to high-five a few boys in my class after we won, beaming with pride. When the boys laughed and said “Yeah, thanks for being so fat, Alicia!” I was immediately ashamed. That shame only continued and coursed its way through my existence. It found a nice, quiet corner of my psyche and nested. Real intrinsic-type shit.
Doctors, dietitians, gym memberships, personal trainers, playing sports; hell, I even did Weight Watchers while I was in middle school -- all of this was an effort to create a body that would finally, finally make me feel accepted as something other than sub-human. That body never came. And this girl's blog brought those insecurities of my own front and center.
Maybe it was moving across the country, or just being too tired to care anymore, but I had begun letting go of the hate I had for my own body. And though I could acknowledge that familiar cloud creep in after reading her words, it didn't manifest itself in a, “Boo-hoo, woe is my fat ass,” sort of way. I felt empowered by the knowledge that my fat body didn't define me. And I was down to take that road instead of what I always felt was expected of me: shame and embarrassment for my fatness.
I wanted to both comfort and help this girl, tell her it didn't matter. Tell her that what's important is that she's healthy -- mentally and physically -- and to fuck all the rest. Being happy couldn't be a more important part of all of that. But I also felt, for the first time, empowered by my own body, Short of running around Hollywood Boulevard and pounding my chest like a nutter butter, I felt like this was my, “I am fatty, hear me roar!” moment. So I hit the reblog button and got down to business:
Dear young lady who runs a thinspo-themed tumblr that reblogged my post,
Please, do not feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for me. I think you’ve entirely missed the point. Some guy who was, mind you, 100% completely NOT worth dating or worth an ounce of my attention (hence why I admitted to “feeding the trolls” because trolls moved from bridges to the Internet a few years back), sent me messages that aren’t worth caring about. Because what he thinks of my weight is none of my damn business. He tried to make it my business, and I sassed him for it, but that’s it. I’m not broken up about it. I don’t feel the need to change who I am because of it.
I spent a good five minutes laughing at this guy’s message before I replied. Because it’s fucking hysterically pathetic that he sent it at all, or that he thought I would hold his opinion in such high regard. And I really don’t care that someone thinks I’m fat. It’s the truth. It’s part of who I am. And while my weight issues are largely medical (but also, food is like, so weirdly delicious), I wouldn’t let a silly word that is an accurate description of my physical state be a problem for me.
It’s also completely beside the point because if I was instead fat because I liked to eat a bag of fucking Cheetos with every meal, that would be MY life to live, not anyone else’s. I do me, you do you.
And for that matter, I think you also missed the end of the post. I’m not “forever alone.” I’m not sitting at home crying because this thin douchebag didn’t want to date me. I get attention from guys. I’ve had men want to date me. I am no sad fatty virgin sitting at home thinking “If only!” while staring at a photo of some unattainable celebrity who would totally want to bang the fuck out of me if I were 100 pounds. Far from it, my dude.
Shit, I made out with a guy who aggressively hit on me in a bar very recently. And he wasn’t ugly! And guess what might blow your mind a little bit more here? (Put on your helmet.) He was thin! Skinny! And he told me I was sexy. And I didn’t beg him to say or do that. He just thought I was cute and interesting. He didn’t care that I buy my clothes in the plus size section of ASOS, or that my belly curves out rather than being tautly stretched around 6 ab muscles. How’s that for evidence, eh?
No guy worth anything is going to give a shit if you’re a 2 or a 22 if you’re a mentally and emotionally strong lady worth having around. (Which, shockingly enough -- my mental and emotional capacity are in no way correlated to how fat I am!) Letting other people’s opinions of what they find attractive dictate your life is no way to live a life.
Finding a man is important to a lot of people. Finding love, I mean (need to be inclusive here). I get it. We all want it -- shit, I would love to be in love. I have many friends in my life who are in love and it seems to add a certain richness to their experience that is nice and lovely and rosey-posey and all that. But it is not their whole life experience. And it doesn’t define them. Because being deemed physically attractive to someone is not everything. Being thin just so you feel like that’s one less thing someone with their own set of problems can judge you for, is not going to solve any of the bigger problems going on underneath your skin.
I’m not trying to make you feel bad about the sad struggle you’re exhibiting on your blog, but I want people to know that my intention with that blog post was mostly just to be a funny jackass, not to say, “Woe is me, some dude thinks I’m a total fatty, so clearly I’ll never find love!” Please. I already have tons (pun obviously intended) of people that love me. And they don’t care if I’m 120 pounds or 620 pounds.
They love me for my mind, my occasionally neurotic rambling. My jokes! My sass and my snark. And they especially love that I really know how to work a dance floor when a Robyn song comes on. And maybe one day, if a guy is really lucky, he can say that he gets to love me in a different way, for as long as we both shall live or whatever.
If I want him to; if he can handle me -- I’m a lot of woman, you see. And not being skinny enough for him to throw me over his shoulder will be the least important thing in the world because we’ll vibe on a different fucking level entirely. Shit, he’ll LOVE that, too -- he’ll LOVE that I’m not some skinny girl that can be tossed around like a rag doll. He’ll love the shit out of that fact. Because he’ll love all of me and that includes the pounds of fat under my skin.
And I don’t appreciate you calling girls dumbasses. What’s with the girl-on-girl hate? Why are you mad at other girls when the real problem here is society, not other girls who believe that love exists beyond a size 4? Don’t be mad at girls that believe what they should believe. Be mad at advertisements. At the entertainment industry. At people who are insecure enough with who they are that they feel the need to pick something on a woman’s body (or anyone’s body!) and tell them they’re inferior because of it. Society tells us subliminally and literally that women are only worth their looks and their weight. Be mad at it, not these girls who have an open and hopeful heart that is far closer to finding love and self-acceptance than you are.
Miss blogger lady, I know you must not truly believe that you are only worth your jean size, right? I’m sure you have a mind! I bet you want to be an educated, independent woman -- not just a lowly sex object. Right? Maybe right now you’re having a rough patch. You don’t feel comfortable in your skin because you think it’s too big of a skin. That’s normal. Everyone in the universe (even the skinny girls -- sometimes, sadly, especially them) feels that way. EVERYONE. Please believe that because it’s true. You may say you’re fat, I say you just have a lot of life inside of you and it’s hard to contain. Also, you know, genetics. If you want to be healthy because you only get one body and one life and keeping the machine well oiled is important, then I support you in your quest for health. It can be really, really hard to do that -- I commend you if that’s what you want. I commend all people (ladies and dudes) that put themselves and their health first because that is an incredibly challenging thing to do.
But I don’t want there to be any ladies out there that think or misconstrue what my post’s intent was originally. Because I don’t live for other people’s opinions on my skin, my fat, my rolls. I live for the life that they embody and help me create for myself. Sometimes I laugh and think to myself that a skinny version of me would’ve crumbled under the weight of what I’ve gone through in my life a long time ago. Because I live for me and what I think of myself -- not a theoretical perception other people might think, maybe.
But it seems like maybe you do. Those people that make up this weird hypothetical you don’t even really know personally aren’t worth fucking shit. Because no one should think so low of themselves that they would wager their entire life’s happiness and worth and acceptance on what this hypothetical “they” might think about the size of the dress they put on in the morning. I mean, I hope not.
I noticed that one of the lines on your blog’s subheader includes the words “thin for him, thin for everyone.” Living your life for other people’s happiness is no life at all. Flip that idea on its head a bit and really think about how irresponsible you’re being towards yourself.
You love other people, warts and all, right? I imagine this “him” that you speak of -- real or otherwise -- you would love him and all of his faults, right? Like, if he had freckles, or if he maybe didn’t look like David Beckham. Or if his facial hair grew in a little bit patchy. Or if he started balding around age 40. You wouldn’t be so fair weather and fickle with your love of a person, right? Because love is real, and it’s deep. It doesn’t go away just because his one pinky finger might be longer than the other, right? Because we’re all adults here and we all know that if it does, then it was never real love to begin with; we know this.
Love is unconditional. It means without condition. You don’t say, “til death do us part…or one of us gains 10 extra pounds.” So why would you allow other people to hold you to this unattainable, unfair standard? What do you gain from that other than an existence that is woefully unfulfilled because you’re too busy trying to exist for other people than yourself? I’ll wait a minute and let you formulate a rational answer to that.
I really hope you find the strength inside of you to love yourself. No one deserves to not be happy in their own skin, to not love themselves or be able to find fulfillment in themselves. To define your self-worth by a number on a scale? I can’t even imagine how empty that must be. I sincerely, truly hope that one day you can find those things and realize that being skinny won’t automatically make you love yourself, or find you happiness. Fat? it’s just an adjective. Melting away the fat won’t melt away all your problems. Being thin doesn’t meant you no longer have room for all the self-hatred you seem to carry around. It just means you’ll be unhappy and hungry -- and who wants that?
The fat girl
The truth is: I am a fatty. Hear me roar.