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As I approach my one year anniversary with Wear Your Voice, I’ve been reflecting deeply on the work surrounding Fat Phobia that I’ve been able to put out both in written and photographic form. It became clear to me that one of my articles actually stands out from all the rest – it is the one that I have gotten the most responses about and emotional connections from others who really resonated with the examples presented. This piece of writing was in fact sourced from a final project addressing Fat Phobia in the Psychological community with my partner Psalm Lewis: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Fat Phobia. Looking back, while I still love the name, I realize that while it is an amazing guide, it is not the ultimate guide – it feels more like part of an important compendium which hasn’t fully run through my soul to my brain to my fingers to the keyboard yet – one that is important to return to consistently through new lenses with new perspectives and discoveries being utilized. With that said, I realized that what felt like the most touching part of this article for most, was the real life every day and every year examples of lived Fat Phobia experiences, which are frequently silenced in shame and left undiscussed and unaddressed. In fact, I just received an email this week from someone that had read it and found it truly enlightening: 

“The article you wrote called “Ultimate Guide to Fat Phobia” was stunning. I desperately need to see more. This semester, I’m focusing on size and weight discrimination. Your article described my life so accurately, I cried. Will you please consider sharing with me your final paper that the article was connected to? And perhaps other resources you used to produce it? It’s so amazing to me, I didn’t even know there was such thing as fat studies until a couple week ago, I can’t believe what I experienced as a child actually has quantifiable research. I would really like to include your work in my sociological analysis. Thank you for your time.”

 

I was deeply touched that an article, which felt from conception so important to me, resonated this way with so many other womyn as well. It was a sacred reminder for me as I continue on my path of being a Somatic Psychotherapist, that a lot of the healing work I do is actually outside of the therapy office, and I couldn’t be more grateful to reach such a diverse population through my writing as well. With that being said, I feel it very important to continue encouraging people to speak about the first-hand accounts of Fat Phobia they have experienced in everyday life – it is not only a part of my personal #FuckFatPhobia movement and paradigm, but it certainly falls within the window of Wear Your Voice’s year-long campaign: #KillTheSilence2015. If we don’t start speaking out against these Fat Phobic acts bred out of bigotry and ignorance, they will only continue cyclically. Personally, I want to help create the type of world I would feel excited and safe enough to bring my own daughter into. One where it doesn’t take her 30 years to discover her worth, because society as a whole has been healed enough not to traumatize her simply for being born with a vagina. Now, this may seem quite idealistic and blunt all at once, but it’s certainly true. And I know that dream of mine may not occur by the time I’m ready to have children, but I will be proud to say that I’m working as part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem. 

For this article, I reached out to a myriad of womyn that I know personally or through the interwebs for their own first-hand accounts of Fat Phobia in action. Where have they experienced this and what went down? Continue reading for just some of their bravely explicit answers:

 

1. Family Pressures 

“I met my partner and his parents when I was thinner. My partner loves my body and totally accepts the changes it has undergone, but now when I see his parents, they say things like “Oh… well you’re still pretty” in a somewhat doubting tone, like it is impossible to be both fat and pretty, and “You guys need to go on more hikes and jogs!”

 

2. Stranger Danger 

“I was walking down the street with my partner and my compadres holding my godson. Some guy came over to us, looked at my godson and said “oh, better be careful or he’ll grow up to be like you four one day” three of us have visible tattoos so I kind of laughed it off like “oh, he’s just joking, were in Santa Cruz, right?” But then he keeps going… “You need to make sure he doesn’t grow up and get fat like you guys and become a burden on the medical system. ” I was kind of gobsmacked by that one.”

 

3. Mommy (and Daddy) Dearest 

“After being prodded about my weight by my “concerned” mother (because I usually refuse to discuss that with her due to her insensitivity), who is well aware that I have medical issues that make it difficult to keep off and lose weight AND that it is a sensitive subject for me, I relented and told her that with a new combo of medications I was feeling a bit better and had naturally lost 10 pounds. She responded by telling me that I don’t need to lose weight for just me, I need to lose weight for everybody who cares about me. Like I’m actually hurting other people with my extra weight or something? Thaaaanks mom! I have unsuccessfully tried over and over again to set boundaries around weight/body talk with my parents. One time, my dad told me he was worried about my weight because he wants me to be happy with myself (assuming that this would be impossible for someone who is “overweight”). And unfortunately, there’s plenty more where that came from.”

 

4. Daily Microaggressions 

“Some more mild daily things I get are: ‘Your skirt is super short!’ and then the person says nothing to the other 5 thinner girls wearing dresses/skirts just as short. Also when shopping with non plus sized ‘friends’ spending a lot of time shopping in stores with clothes that fit them, and having them be unwilling or rush through stores that have clothes that fit me. Which is super frustrating because I LOVE to shop and am a super supportive shopping buddy so when that is not reciprocated I am very frustrated. Also from parents, ‘you should really put on leggings/tights.’ Honestly my skirts aren’t THAT short, it’s summer, and I’m dressed seasonally appropriate, and typically all pieces are at least mid thigh, not booty length, and even if they were, I am allowed to wear what I want.”

 

5. Body Shaming 

“Having chub rub referred to as “fat girl rash”… and the shame (internal and external) around the discoloration of that area. Honestly, thigh rub rash is an everyday issue I think about when getting dressed.”

 

6. Workplace Discrimination 

“I was told during a meeting about hiring (at a previous employer) that we should not hire fat people because they are lazy, obviously have a lack of willpower, and have more health issues so will be out sick more. I was the only fat person in the room and one of the consistent top performers.”

 

7. Internalizing Society as Self 

“I think in terms of fat phobia the most damaging things have been what I’ve put upon myself after a lifetime of fatness in this body and a lifetime of people that I love, the general population, medical professionals looking down on and making assumptions about this body. I am an adult who has this privilege of all this knowledge, all these truths I didn’t have at 14, 24 and somehow others have gotten in so deep that now I am hurting myself by reinforcing it. That I’m lazy, worthless, not worthy of love, disgusting. When your mother tells you at adolescence that you will never be loved because you are fat, and then after gaining weight your husband leaves you after cheating. When the hurt over their indiscretion is met with ” you must be jealous” of the other person’s looks in comparison. It’s almost a cruel validation. The world doesn’t think you are worthy, you don’t get the right to exist in anyway as beautiful or good enough. You believe it and become your worst offender.”

 

8. Concern Trolling

Here are just a few phrases that I’ve heard repeatedly over my lifetime:

“I just worry about you”
“I want you to eat healthier.”
“I DONT want you to put on ANY more weight”
“watch your weight make good choices”
“you’re gonna clog your arteries and need heart surgery if you keep eating like this”
“maybe on your time off you could do (insert physical activity) with me”
“make better life choices”
“you need to eat less of (insert food here)”
“I just care about you…”

 

9. Cat-Calling

“I was walking down into the subway one day while a man above me attempted to get my attention with words like “Baby” and “Beautiful” – mind you I had my earphones on and this was relatively easy to ignore at that moment when I didn’t think I had the energy to give to the situation. That was until I ignored him a few steps further and he screamed ‘If you lost that belly, you’d be curvy.’ He may as well have screamed; “If you lose weight, you’ll be beautiful,” for all the commuters to hear. For one split second I felt a hint of shame, and then just like whiplash I spun around and screamed back, ‘Oh I know you’re not talking to me! I fucking love EVERYTHING about myself thank you very much!’ I didn’t hear one sound sputter from his mouth after that, but I did feel my spiked adrenaline rushing and feel my energy depleted and disappointed.”

 

10. Food Shaming

“I was recently grocery shopping and went to the aisle where my favorite cookies are kept. When I tossed them into my cart and started walking away, I actually heard a mother whisper to her daughter that couldn’t have been older than six; ‘See sweetie, that’s why we don’t have sugary foods in our house – you wouldn’t want to grow up and look fat like that lady would you!?'”

[RELATED POST: #DropTheTowel Tackles Food Shaming]

 

We know that there are an endless amount of stories left to be read and to be shared – and we want to help you tell them! Huge thank you to all those who bravely submitted their stories. If you connect with this article, please consider sharing your story with [email protected] – we are happy to keep your identity confidential. If you’re feeling like you want to be seen in this experience as well, please feel free to leave your story in the comments below (all for the opportunity to be shared in future articles).

Featured Image: Flickr user Christi Nielsen via Creative Commons 

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