Do These Shorts Make Me Feel Fat?
If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting me in person, you’ll know that I have wild hair, bold lipstick, probably a baby on my back, and that I’m fat. Yes, I’m fat. It’s ok to use that word. It’s a descriptor, just like tall or brunette. Usually when I use the word “fat” to describe myself, I’m met with hurried sentiments of, “oh you’re not fat, you’re gorgeous. You’re perfect!”. It’s considered so shameful to be large that describing yourself accurately makes other people uncomfortable. There’s no reason that I can’t be gorgeous and perfect AND fat. Because I am, and I am also perfectly healthy. I’m going to say this again for the people in the back. You cannot tell a person’s health by their size alone.
You may be wondering about my little tirade here. I’ve worked really hard to come to the above realizations, you see. I’ve only just recently began to be okay with my body the way it is on this very day. I am working to become more active and strong, and yes, hoping to change my shape a bit. But that doesn’t mean I can’t love myself right now. As I’ve finally gotten to this momentous point in my life, after a lifetime of body-loathing, I come across this photo in the advertising on my Facebook newsfeed.
Just for a moment, I’m going to put aside my rage for this advertisement. I am absolutely perplexed at how in the world this company actually thought this picture would encourage plus size individuals to buy these shorts. Do they think that after reminding me that society’s “ideal” woman’s hips are roughly the same size as one of my thighs, I would want to spend my money on a pair of short shorts? It seems counterproductive to me, but I digress.
I’m angry that this ad exists. I’m angry that this photo has the power to affect me. I’m even more angry for others who are going to see the photo and react with sadness and self-hatred, rather than the dignified anger I’m feeling right now. Not long ago, seeing this picture would have put me into a tailspin of negative thoughts. I still have days of feeling horrible about myself, and it’s generally brought on by something small. A picture like this. A snide comment. A fat-shaming meme. A message from a Facebook “friend” trying to sell me pills or shakes or wraps to help with my unsightliness.
Shame on this company for contributing to anyone feeling this way. There are so many triggers that can create feelings of shame for one’s body. Many of them are completely innocent. Sometimes I see a pictures of beautiful, thin women and get down on myself because I don’t look like that anymore. I’m nearly double the size of most of the other women I interact with on a daily basis. Those kinds of instances can’t really be avoided, and it’s certainly not up to straight-sized folks to walk on eggshells so that our feelings don’t get hurt. But then there are pictures like this one. There are horrible, fat-shaming Instagram comments on the posts of stunning plus-size models. The public bashing of Ashley Graham, Sports Illustrated’s first plus-size cover model. The general insinuation that those of us who are fat are lesser individuals, lazy, gluttonous, ravaged with disease and somehow undeserving of equal respect.
Can we start recognizing and accepting that there is beauty in everyone? Could we stop raising our eyebrows at people who don’t meet standard requirements of attractiveness, but refuse to shrink into the background and be ashamed of themselves? I don’t like having to worry that my wearing a swimsuit and playing with my children this summer could possibly result in my becoming a cruel, fat-shaming meme on the Internet. But that is the reality we are living in. I hope that as a society we can all become a little more accepting of one another and realize that there are feelings behind the mere appearance of each stranger we meet.