‘Fat stigma’, which is prejudice against people who are overweight or obese, is a hot topic on Twitter at the moment (or maybe that’s just among the people that I ‘tweet’ with!). It’s an incredibly emotive subject for many people – to understand why you just have to have a look at #thingsfatpeoplearetold (for those of you on Twitter). It’s pretty shocking stuff. For me at least. For people who deal with fat stigma on a personal and often daily basis, it’s probably just the norm. Such is the case for an amazing young woman that I have had the privilege to follow on Twitter, Renee: Renee writes several blogs, all of which are worth checking out, but the one that is relevant to this post is her blog “Confessions of a Twenty-Something Fat Chick”.
I was having a look through some of her posts last week and I came across one post that really got to me, and with her permission, I would like to share it with you:
This is a reasonably accurate account of a day in my life. On this particular day I’m actually going out in public. It’s not overly exciting but I advise caution as you watch for the potentially embarrassing moments.
Wake up. Yes, we do that too. No, you don’t have the monopoly on sleeping, sorry for that brutal brush with reality.
Fifteen minutes after waking, slide out of bed and clutch head simply because it’s morning and the light hurts my fragile eyes.
Shuffle to the toilet. Shuffle into the bathroom and shower. Yes, I do take my pj’s off before I shower just like you do.
Spring out of the shower, awake, beautiful and ready to spend the next 30 minutes deciding what the hell hides most of my flab.
Sit on my bed for 30 in my towel deciding what to wear.
30 minutes later….
Finally decided, dress and then apply small amount of make up. Blow dry hair.
Change outfit to less flabby revealing clothes.
Let everyone know that I am now beautiful and ready to go. Oh, just one more application of lipgloss.
Change outfit back to first choice. Yes, feel much better now.
Leave the house.
Go to public place, usually a shopping centre (Civic for those in Canberra).
Quickly check that outfit is still in place – not too much cleavage, top pulled down over my arse, pant legs aren’t crooked or somehow folded up. Good, all good.
Get out of car and walk around.
Standing on the escalator and some guy stares at me. I’d like to think he’s staring at me because he thinks I’m so adorable and gorgeous and he must have me right then and there, but the sneer of disgust smeared across his face tells me otherwise.
Step off escalator and dodge crowd so they can’t accuse me of not watching where I’m going.
Set determined look and proceed to walk purposefully to City Chic.
Avoid looking at all those sneers of contempt and repulsion. Just avoid it. No, don’t look! Oh, too late, saw the group of people standing in the middle of the thoroughfare, all looking at me. Some sneer, some laugh outright, some just point horrified that I exist.
Spy City Chic, almost there.
People walking past make comments to each other, “wow she’s fat. She should really lose weight if she wants to live much longer”, pretend not to listen and just keep walking purposefully.
Practically run the remainder of the way to City Chic. But don’tactually run because that would attract more vitriole and, anyway, jiggly bits will definitely jiggle too much while running.
Step into City Chic store.
Sales assistant approaches, all smiles and light while looking at me from head to toe. Some distain as masking attempt fails. Le sigh. Here we go again.
“Just looking thanks”, please avoid talking to me any further as I’ve just endured almost as much as I can take. Kthanxbai.
Try on some stuff.
Figure out the sizes are getting smaller as, no, I haven’t put on any more weight and anyway half my clothes are feeling a little loose lately.
Look at the price of something particularly nice and of the right size. Wow, that much for this?
Put the item back.
Prepare to leave store, smile kindly to the sales assistant and notice her returning smile is now radiant. Is that because I’m leaving her store?
Step out of store and eyes are immediately drawn to another scowl of disapproval, hatred, disgust. Avert eyes.
Wonder why shoes are suddenly so loose, look down and realise the laces have come undone. Bugger. Look around and realise that if I bend over to tie them more comments and looks will ensue. Decide it’s best to leave shoes untied and keep walking.
Look at art supplies, books and techie stuff. People still commenting, sneering and laughing.
Sudden cramping in stomach, gasping for breath. Anxiety hits. Scamper to bathroom to sit and breathe and hide from the looks. Tie shoes while in there.
Return from bathroom, advise company it’s time I leave, feigning illness. Although illness isn’t completely feigned it’s not as bad as I make it out to be.
Resolutely start back towards the car. Avoid looking at that person staring. Avoid listening to that couple talk and point at me while they walk past. Avoid looking down – I will not give themthat satisfaction.
Stand on escalator again, will myself to be smaller – take up less room – woman pushes past and mumbles “move over fat bitch”, while she power walks up the thing. Didn’t she read the “do not walk on escalator while it’s moving” sticker? I know it’s always on the base of the escalator and it’s very small, but it clearly says remain stationary. Oh well, I might be fat but it appears my eyesight is better than hers. Smile smugly.
Make it the car. Collapse into the front seat, holding back tears. They have not defeated me… Well…
Walk in the door and walk back to my room, get changed into comfy pj’s and watch some Mighty Boosh or IT Crowd or The Big Bang Theory or (if it’s been really bad) Firefly. Cry a little.
Fat Chick’s note:
You might have noticed I didn’t eat before I went out. Nor did I eat while I was out.
Firstly, I don’t eat before going out because of the anxiety. It upsets my stomach and the less in there the better.
Secondly, I will not eat in public, unless I absolutely have to. The looks, smirks, sneers and comments come thick and fast when I eat. It’s almost like they have free reign because I’m sitting and eating and can not possibly hear them.
Well, fuckers, I do hear you and you’re wrong. Very, very wrong.
It probably won’t shock you when I say that I don’t go out very often. It takes a little while to regain any kind of composure and enough confidence to go back out again. Yes, fine, I’m the obligatory overly emotional fat girl. But that’s me and I don’t think I should turn into some cruel and heartless bitch just to survive out there. That’s not who I am.
Anyway, I shouldn’t have to build up that kind of armour. I should be accepted just like everyone else.
I can’t thank Renee enough for allowing me to repost this. I for one was blown away by it. Let me know your thoughts and reactions?