The average newborn is 7.5 pounds. I came into the world at 10 pounds, so you might say I’ve been a Plus Size Princess since the beginning. I was eight when I began feeling bigger than the other girls. I was 12 when my pediatrician wrinkled her nose and bluntly told my mother that I was fat.
I’ve been dieting, losing weight … and gaining more back ever since.
I never saw my weight as part of my identity, because being a big girl was always supposed to be a temporary thing. The plan was to do all of the things that skinny girls do: Moderation! Self Control! Eat Less, Move More! And then, a skinny body would be mine, too.
But here’s the thing: Exercise and eating well has given me a clean bill of health, but it has yet to make me skinny. Maybe my 10-pound birth weight was an indication that I was destined to be plus size. Maybe it's my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome that keeps me from being small. Who knows?
What I do know is that I have a choice. I can live my life miserable because of what the scale says, or I can live an awesome life no matter what the scale says.
When I saw Linda Kelsey of the Daily Mail asking why young women are so unashamed about being fat, I felt like she was writing directly to me. She told a story of seeing Plus Size Princesses in the airport heading out for vacation:
They sounded—and looked—happy and carefree. But what mesmerised me most about this jolly trio was not their conversation, but their appearance: they were size 18 apiece, at least.
Wait a minute. I’m at least a size 18, and when I’m headed out for vacation, I, too, am carefree and happy! Ms. Kelsey, were you at JFK when I flew to Mexico?
Far from body hatred, what I witnessed was a let-it-all-hang-out faith in themselves and a don’t-give-a-damn attitude to their evident obesity.
Okay, you’re in the UK and I’m in New York, so maybe it wasn’t me you saw. But let me explain to you what you witnessed with those three plus size girls in the airport.
We live in a world where men feel comfortable walking up to women and screaming, “Lose some weight, fat ass!” We live in a society where girls on a weight-loss journey stop jogging in public because people heckle them from their cars. We are brought up with messaging that our value as people depends on our body type, and the bigger you are, the less value you have.
Then to top it all off, we have, in your own words, “unapologetically fattist” people like you who think being overweight “should be as unacceptable as smoking.” Smoking is not allowed in the workplace, restaurants, and a good chunk of public spaces. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s what you’re suggesting should be done about us “fatties."
Linda, what you interpreted as a “don’t-give-a-damn” attitude in those girls dressing as they wanted, with no concern for your opinion, was actually them being vulnerable. It was them being themselves and being comfortable with their bodies—a tough thing for any woman to do at any size, but seeing big girls do it? In my opinion, you witnessed a miracle.
Those girls have heard you and your fat-phobic friends loud and clear their whole lives. They know you can’t stand anyone who isn’t thin. They know that the presence of their large bodies made you uncomfortable, and yet they were still able to get out of bed, dress as they wanted, and live. An amazing feat, I’d say!
Big girls know that we’re big, and most of us are working on our health. I started the #PSPfit online fitness community because big girls DO work out and eat healthy. If being skinny is in the future for any of us fatties, it won't happen overnight (heck, I’ve lost 55 pounds and I’m still fat). But in the meantime, as WE figure out what's best for OUR bodies, I think we should be allowed to just have a good day. I think we should be allowed to love our bodies as they currently are, while we work towards being our best selves. We should be allowed to smile, laugh, dance, go on dates, and break free from the body policing many of us have been dealing with since childhood.
Linda, listen to me (listen to me, Linda!). You’re unapologetically fattist, and I am unapologetically human. All humans have things they’re working through. I’m working through my weight, which means my struggles are on display for the world to see and critique in articles online. You have the luxury of keeping your struggles hidden, but I imagine that you don’t spend every moment of every day crying and hiding because of them, so please don’t expect me to do that. I don’t know what your struggles are, but if I did, I would be compassionate.
Some say we judge others harshly in the areas where we are insecure. Sometimes I wonder if it's not my fat body that people hate, but the happiness, joy, and full life I have in spite of it.
No apology needed, Linda… No apology needed.
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