About a week ago, I ordered some new bras online. When they arrived in the mail, I was surprised to find that my package came with something extra: a coupon to purchase cupcakes.
I love cupcakes! But did I really need a coupon to purchase them to come with my bras? I don’t necessarily put cupcakes and bras together, and I’m not sure others do, either, unless they are Katy Perry.
And yet, I hardly think it’s pure coincidence that my order came with a coupon for cupcakes.
You see, I’m fat. So I ordered my bras from a plus-size store. From a marketing standpoint, it makes sense, right? Plus-size stores need fat women to stay fat in order to stay in business — so if they toss a coupon to buy some cupcakes in with the clothes, then it’s a win/win, right? I get cupcakes and I remain fat so I have to keep buying my bras as this store.
Only that thinking relies on one of the biggest stereotypes of fat people: that we all eat copious amounts of food, literally all the time.
But we don’t. Or rather, we don’t all do that, in the same way not all thin people eat salads for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fat people, like thin people, come in all shapes and sizes, but they also come with different appetites, metabolisms, and food preferences. Some days I eat a lot. Some days I don’t. Some days I exercise for an hour. Some days I don’t.
I’m fat but I’m human, and to assume that fat people are anything but is, quite frankly, offensive. Fat people are no more or less likely to eat a bunch of cupcakes in one sitting than a thin person. Fat people are fat for any number of reasons, and while some are fat because they tend to overeat and under exercise, others just are. (Similarly, some thin people are thin because they really work at it, but there are some who are simply naturally thin with a fast metabolism.)
I come from a long line of fat bodies, so to have ever expected to grow up and be thin would’ve been nothing short of a miracle. I was a fat kid.
So, now, I’m a fat adult.
There’s never been a point in my life where I wasn’t fat.
And that’s okay. Being fat isn’t inherently bad, y’all, despite what the media would like you to think. In fact…
- Time Magazine wrote a piece about being fat AND being healthy
- UK’s Telegraph cited a study that found those who are fat and fit are just as healthy as those who are thin and fit
- Science Daily says the same
- CNN writes that overweight individuals (though not obese individuals) tend to be less likely to die early than those who are “normal” weight (according to BMI, which is kind of bullshit anyway)
- There’s an entire movement called Health at Every Size that focuses NOT on dieting, but on eating intuitively and moving our bodies so that we feel good, rather than focusing on the number on a scale. It works for some (and provides a relief from the perpetual diet talk) and Linda Bacon, Ph.D., penned a whole book about it
I’m not here to debate the claims made in these posts, but just to simply point out that being fat is not the end of the world — and also to beg you to stop making sweeping generalizations about fat people.
While we’re at it, I’d love to discuss a few other things, too.
Fat people, especially women, don’t inherently hate themselves. Crazy, right? I don’t wake up every day loving myself, but no one does. That’s a problem that plagues us all, not just fat people.
Fat people are not lazy, stupid, and gross anymore than thin people are lazy, stupid, and gross. In fact, many of us fats are quite active, smart, and gorgeous, even if you don’t think so. (Which is okay! You don’t have to find everyone attractive, so long as you’re respectful that different body types exist.)
Saying “But you’re not fat!” — no matter how well-intended — ignores the truth. I can’t tell you how many times my friends have told me I’m not fat. It’s sweet in that what they’re trying to say is that I’m pretty, I’m worthy, and I don’t fit in with the stereotypes that go along with being fat. But I am fat! Fat with a capital F, my loves, and there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I’m fat just like I have brown hair and I wear glasses and I’m 5’4” and my smile is crooked.
You cannot tell if someone is healthy simply by looking at them. I’m fat but I’ve got no significant health problems. No back issues, my blood pressure is awesome, my cholesterol is perfect. My biggest health issue is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome — PCOS — which also plagues Jillian Michaels, who you may know as a health and fitness guru on “The Biggest Loser.” I can’t tell if someone has a heart condition merely by looking at them just like you can’t tell if a fat person is healthy just by looking at them. So please save the faux-concern of, “I’m just looking out for your health!” or “I’m concerned for you!” The only thing you should be concerned about is that we may strangle you if you keep saying things like that. Stop.
It’s not possible for everyone to “just lose weight” if they want it bad enough, try hard enough, or go on a diet. I would bet you money that most fat people you’ve met have wanted it bad enough, do try incredibly hard, and have tried every diet under the sun. I know I have. If wishes on stars or blowing out the candles on a birthday cake actually worked, I’d have been skinny when I was 5. (Because instead of wishing for more My Little Ponies, I was wishing I wasn’t fat.) I’m pretty sure being on and off diets since before I was in middle school counts as “trying.” And that includes Weight Watchers and South Beach Diet and not touching a carb and that dark time in high school where I would only allow myself to drink Sugar Free Red Bull and eat ONE granola bar per day. Guess what? I’m still fat. And the ways in which I’ve tried to lose weight have been anything but healthy. That should concern you, not my fatness.
All bodies are worthy of respect. Even if you think I’m gross because I’m fat, I at least deserve to be treated like I’m a human being. Because I am.
It’s okay to be fat. I swear. I may not love my body all the time, but I’m trying, which is more than I can say for a lot of people. If being fat is good enough for Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, then it’s good enough for me.