Dear Virgie: I’m Having Fat Halloween Anxiety
Every Halloween, I decide I am going to go all out and finally wear a costume I love. All the costumes I’m drawn to are high visibility — either brightly colored or revealing or both. I always end up chickening out at the last minute because I will get anxious about people making fun of me for being fat or because I am too embarrassed to be seen in something short or low-cut. I need some help or maybe a pep talk so I can finally take the plunge this year.
I totally get your fear of visibility and of people commenting on your body. Going out in a highly visible outfit any day of the year when you’re a fat person is a vulnerable act. And, as you know, in this current cultural moment it is totally OK to be outwardly aggressive and bigoted toward fat people. This is actually totally unacceptable from a moral standpoint, but we unfortunately have not hit the cultural tipping point where people recognize this.
The truth is that your body is nobody else’s business.
What you wear is also nobody’s business.
You have the right to enjoy Halloween as much as anyone, and you deserve to wear a costume you love. When people say rude, mean or bigoted things to you or about you, it is not your fault. You are a victim of hostility in that scenario. And you don’t need to feel ashamed. Whoever is behaving like a bigot should feel ashamed. You do not need to alter your behavior to accommodate bigotry, but you do have the right to take care of yourself and take measures to protect your heart.
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It sounds like dressing to the nines on Halloween is something that is super important to you, and that you would be pretty disappointed if you decided to opt out again this year. So there are a few routes you can take. I will outline a few ideas and you decide which one(s) you like:
You do all the self-care you need in order to get yourself totally pumped and deep into feeling-yourself mode. This might mean that in the days leading up to Halloween, you plan on reading some fat positive blogs or books and looking at lots of fat babe pictures.
You buy tickets to a Halloween-specific event. To help yourself not back out, make sure the price point is such that it would make you think twice about bowing out.
Ask a friend to be your wingman. Tell them you are feeling anxious and ask them if they’d be willing to be your Halloween date. Make sure to thank them and buy them coffee if they agree.
Events that are contained can feel less intimidating than, say, wandering around on a busy street. If you end up going to a Halloween event, you can change into your costume when you arrive at the party and change back into regular clothes at the end of the night if you want. Even just packing a backup set of clothes you can change into can make you feel much safer. They can act as a kind of security blanket.
I do really hope you end up going out. It sounds like you really want this!
Hope this helps!
Virgie Tovar is an San Francisco-based author, activist and one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers in the areas of fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp. Follow her on instagram @virgietovar
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