One thing that has really stood out for me recently is the sheer amount of stuff that I have not tried or experienced due to my size/weight and the social fears which accompany being fat. I am by no means anywhere even the upper limits of “average” sized, but I am physically more comfortable at 128kg than I was at 156kg, and as such have been giving a lot of thought to my fat-girl knee-jerk reaction of saying no to various activities/opportunities.
I started thinking about it a week ago when I was overseas – we were out late at night and we were unable to get a cab, but had the option of plenty of lovely young men to ferry us on the backs of their scooters. My instant knee-jerk reaction was “no way”, because I was convinced that I would be too heavy for the scooter or that people would laugh at the obese girl on the back of a little scooter. As it happened, we really weren’t going to be getting a taxi anytime soon, and with a hefty amount of reassurance from my friends and the scooter driver, I reluctantly straddled the scooter, ready to hear the impending laughter or popping of budget Indonesian scooter tires. Guess what – neither of those things happened. But something else did happen – I really, really enjoyed that scooter ride! I’ve been to Indonesia about four times and have always refused the scooters because of my weight-related fears and I felt sad that I had never just turned off my internal naysayer and gotten on the damn things.
For some time, my partner and I talked about riding bicycles around together – he is an avid cyclist and I was interested because we lived in a flat and fairly low-traffic area. I spent hours and hours online, frantically trying to find information in forums about bikes for heavy people and, like so many parts of the internet, found nothing but contradictory pieces of advice and info. I decided that a beach cruiser seemed to be the sturdiest bike, but then got worried that when we got to the bike store and I had to test ride it, the spokes would buckle and the tires would pop and all the thin, athletic cycle pro staff would glare at me with disgust and anger. I relayed these concerns to my partner and he brushed them off, telling me I was being ridiculous. Still, I put it off for at least another year because I was too scared of my fears coming true. In the end we went and got matching beach cruiser bikes (he enjoyed test-riding my one so much that he bought the matching men’s one) and nothing went horribly wrong when I was test-riding it. Unfortunately we moved to a hilly area right on a busy main road, so I sold my bike, because I don’t even like driving on the same roads as Perth drivers, much less cycle among them on the busy streets!
There are far too many examples of situations that are almost identical to the two above. Here is a bulletpoint list of all the things I have refused to do because of my weight:
– Get back into surfing
– Go to music festivals, especially in summer as I will be judged for being fat and sweaty and cannot wear shorts.
– Go anywhere where there may be chairs with narrow armrests, like old theaters etc.
– Go to any restaurants where I haven’t been able to view the pictures online to ensure that we won’t be too close to other tables/diners, and that the seats won’t be narrow-armed.
– Take part in any activity where you have to use company-provided gear such as clothing, harnesses – in short, anything that a company would deem as fitting regular people but which will probably not come anywhere near to fitting me. As a side note to this, I hate when people say, “it’s ok we go up to a XXL men’s.” Yeah but an XXL men’s size still only has a bloody hip circumference of 100cm, which would render it a size 14-16 womens. My shoulders aren’t the issue, it’s my goddamn hips and thighs. So no, a wide shouldered men’s XXL wetsuit/safety suit is not going to come anywhere near fitting my hips, butt and thighs.
– Go to any event that will be full of athletic people or thin people that will surely judge me harshly and make fun of me or worse, look at me with disgust and/or pity.
– Pole dancing classes.
– Go to any event or activity where there could be even the remotest chance that I will get told loudly by a smug teenager in front of a bunch of strangers (or worse, family/friends!) that I am too heavy or big to partake. Things like theme parks, indoor trampoline and rock-climbing centers, any “extreme” sports etc.
– A day spa for wraps and massages and mud baths. That’s another thing – many weight loss plans tell patients to “reward” themselves for reaching a “minigoal” with a non-food item “like a massage”. Yeah, because what we really find relaxing is to go to a clinical, unfamiliar place and be given a robe that threatens to simultaneously expose both your gunt and your bum, only to then have some judgmental 19 year old beauty therapist limply-yet-cautiously prod you as if you are a sea cucumber, taking frequent breaks to ridicule your fatness to her friend at the front desk where she thinks you’re out of earshot – and for the record no, I wasn’t out of earshot. But I was out of pocket $250 for that whole “rewarding” experience.
– Going to the gynaecologist (even though I have worrying issues like no period for 2 years followed by one period for 7 months) because of horror stories. Yep – if there’s one thing society has taught me as a fat women, it’s that I do not deserve adequate medical treatment.
– Too many more to list, and I’m sure many of you have about a million other things you could easily add to this list.
Some of these are due to my own fears/insecurities and I should just let the fear go and do the things anyway. However there are many that are legitimately off-limits to people like me, and it is really fucking annoying having your size 8 friend telling you that you’re just being silly and of course they will have wetsuits/snowboarding pants/thigh harnesses etc to fit you. I spend so much time online trying to find adventure wear that is plus-sized and I know how small the sizes actually are, so don’t tell me I’m being silly just because you’ve never failed to fit into anything in your life and have no idea what it is like trying to navigate the world as anything other than a size 6-10!!! And for the record, every time you buy a pair of $250 Lululemon leggings (and you’d better have the world’s best box gap to actually wear them), somewhere in the world at least three unicorns will die.
The stereotype of a fat person only being interested in doing sedate things like reading, or playing video games, or not wanting to go out in public much, is not actually how most of us prefer to live!
Do people have any idea how much some of us want to partake in rock-climbing, surfing, music festivals, science lectures, trampolining, day spa pampering, laser tag, snowboarding? The list goes on and on.
I bet that if fat people were actually catered for in terms of correctly-fitting clothing/equipment and fat-friendly activity companies that go to the effort to engineer their equipment to cater to higher weights, then fatties like me would actually be out and about doing all of that awesome stuff that is seemingly only available to people within a certain size or weight bracket. I’d be happy to throw all of my fat dollars at businesses that are proactive about inclusion of larger sizes and have clear guidelines on their websites about sizes of gear etc so that people can check it out to make sure they won’t have to be sent away in front of all their friends for not fitting the clothing or whatever.
People are always complaining that fat people appear inactive/lazy, antisocial and “sensitive about their weight” – well maybe if we were actually given some exercise options other than walking, running, swimming, or gruelling personal training which is not fun, then perhaps there wouldn’t be such an issue for fat people not being able to lose weight. Give us options to engage in fun physical activity that we enjoy for the sake of the activity, not just monotonous exercise choices that are only there for us purely to punish our fat bodies solely for being fat. If the aforementioned activities were loudly fat-positive, I’d probably be a size 12 by now, because I’d be out there “doin’ extreme sports shit” every morning before work and most weekends. Why can society not understand that the best way to eradicate the so-called “obesity epidemic” is not to shame and judge, but to encourage and include. Fucking DUH, you guys. You catch more fat people with honey, I promise.
I’m not actually “sensitive about my weight” at all – my weight is just fine, as is everybody else’s on the planet. I’m a beautiful woman who deserves to feel good about herself, as does every other person on this planet.
Nevertheless, I have to lose weight so that I can enjoy the privileges that smaller people get – which actually feels like I’m selling out my personal morals, because instead of insisting that society change it’s views to accept that all human beings are equal and that fat people are no less deserving of opportunity than thin people, I unfortunately know that this will most likely never happen within my lifetime, therefore it is me who must change to fit in. I am forced to change myself to avoid being excluded, hated, blamed for “wasting tax dollars” (what?!) and judged harshly, solely for the shameful crime of having a bit more adipose tissue than others. Ergo, I feel like I’m meekly giving my lunch money to the bully, and I kind of hate myself for it. This is a topic that is likely to come up often on this blog, by the way.
No. I’m not sensitive about my weight at all. What I’m actually “sensitive” about, is society’s treatment and exclusion of fat people. Let us do the damn adventure/fun sports. It’s not that hard to make slightly larger fucking ski pants or slightly thicker trampoline material. Surely you can add another bit of length to harnesses to allow them to adjust to a more rotund body. It’s 2014 for fuck’s sake, the technology exists so stop trying to pretend it can’t be done.
Love, a Fellow Fatty xoxoxooxoxoxxooxox
P.S. By the way, the point of this blog was to say that I am no longer going to let the social stigma of being fat prevent me from having the experiences I want to have. And then it turned into a rant about the shit that I am actively excluded from due to my size! So yeah – go forth fellow fatties and don’t let society tell you that you’re a piece of shit who doesn’t deserve to have seaweed wraps and massages just because the day spa robes only fit up to a size 16!