The word « fat » has such negative connotations that when I type « fat person » on google images or on any stock photo website, it shows terribly sad looking people. They are either struggling and dieting or eating junk food. But all I needed was a reference picture of a fat person sitting at a desk, or even on a chair. Silly me, I almost forgot that fat people are viewed as flawed, sad, ashamed creatures. How dare I think that by typing those very simple words I could find what I was looking for?
I do not wake up every morning thinking about my fatness. Being fat is just how my body is, it’s an adjective that describes it, such as « short » or « tall » could describe someone else. A simple google search made me almost cry, it gave me an electric shock I wasn’t expecting. But it also made me realize how much I have evolved. As a fat teenager, the only way I could imagine my future self as a happy person was if I lost a lot of weight. It never happened. I learned how to see myself differently, to see my body and I started loving it more and more. But I was so used to thinking that I was worthless and sick that taking care of my body is still a struggle, even after all the shit I have been through. My self-love fluctuates and I’m at peace with that, I don’t need to be at 100% all the time. But what is more constant now is the way I see fat people in general. We are not lazy disgusting things that should be kept hidden from all the thin people, we are strong and worthy of respect. Even if the world sees us like that, I don’t. Even if Google, iStock, Adobe Stock, Shutterstock and all these other « stocks » categorize us like that, I will keep fighting this.
After feeling sad and angry, I wished I had tons of photos of myself so I could just bombard those websites with a fat people doing normal things. So that when someone searches for a fat person sitting, they would actually find a fat person sitting, nothing more. Of course, I know that people who buy the photo licenses are looking for very obvious and cliché images. I am sure that if I search « tall person », it will show me lame pictures of a tall person being uncomfortable with their height or something. I get that, believe me. But all those clichés suck, they help no one. All of these words should be neutral, as there should not be any specific moral value attached to how a person is built.
No one ever chooses to be fat, tall, short, etc. We just live with it. And I learned that happy fat people are scary to others. We are supposed to be miserable, so that all of the efforts that thin people make to stay thin are worth it. But we make efforts too, we also want to feel good in our bodies, it’s hard for everyone. Why are we supposed to be against each other? A happy fat person is a menace in this society, it’s not logical, it means the repressive system has failed. We must hate ourselves every day, all the time. We buy ugly expensive clothes that are badly designed to keep us miserable (it has changed of course, thanks to amazing online shops, but you know what I mean, just enter any physical retail store). We go to the gym to make ourselves feel better, no one knows how to help us with compassion. Our bodies are foreign territories. If someone remotely « attractive » wants to be with us, it means that they have a fetish of some sort. Our humanity is being erased by all of this and so much more. I will not even start with doctors…
My partner does not understand why I don’t love my body enough to cherish it and take care of it. He wants us to live long and be old together. So do I. But when I try to explain what I am going through, I am lost. For years, I have been trained – by society, doctors, peers – to ignore my current size and always aim for a hypothetic thinner version of myself. Even when I think that I have made progress, there is always something that pulls me back in. Even my rational thinking is telling me that I am ok now, there is no need to put myself down, it’s never too late to treat myself better. Old patterns die very slowly.
Why am I rambling about this? Because I wish for any young (or not young) fat person to never have to think of themselves like I did (and still do sometimes). I want to make language neutral so that we see bodies as just bodies.
I am still in recovery, but it does get easier 😉