“Experiences of being a fat woman”

** Trigger Warning: some mention of sexual harassment**

‘Fat’ is a word which commands a lot of power in our society. I want to take you through my experiences of being a fat woman.

 

1987 Born

1997 Cousin persuades me to go on diet. Lasts about 20 mins before I have an ice cream

2000 begin to realise am fatter than other people

2001 Stepfather nicknames me ‘The Gut’ and sings ‘Feed The Gut, tuppence a bag’ regularly

2003 Size 12-14. Have more tits and arse than other girls. Get boyfriend.

2004 Stretch marks appear over stomach. Buy every cream available to help. Nothing works

2005 Boyfriend tells me I’m fat. Spend hour crying on toilet. His response ‘if you’re so upset about being fat, lose weight.’ Try to explain it was because HE thought I was fat, not that I WAS fat. Boyfriend dumped.

2006 Buy first T shirt in a size 16. Am officially plus size.

2007 Am size 14-16. Have to buy a dress in size XXL to find one to fit. Go on diet. Eat only a yoghurt, a plum and a pear every day for months. Manage to get down to a 14.

2008 Get new boyfriend. Take home to meet parents. First thing my mother says to him (even before ‘Hello’) ‘How to you feel about (name) being so fat?’

2009 Am told I can no longer take my contraception since am too fat. Lose some weight. Switch to from the injection to the implant to try and better control weight.

August 2010 Wake up with pain in side. Pain increases over few days. Am diagnosed with poly-cystic ovaries. Symptoms include fatness. And infertility. Mum’s reaction is relief that my fatness is ‘not her fault’, that ‘there was nothing she could have done’ and she’s ‘not a bad mother.’

September 2010 Am out with colleagues and a man grabs them. I push him off. He calls me a ‘fat fucking bitch’. Passers-by start a chant, circling me and shouting ‘fat fucking bitch’. This is not the first time I have been called ‘fat’ in street or sexual harassment cases, and it won’t be the last.

2011 Boyfriend’s mum asks whether or not I mind being fat

2012 Go to visit great aunt. Tells me I need to be thinner. Decide to write this article.

 

These are the incidents that spring to mind. This is by no means an exhaustive list of every time I have been called fat in the street, weighed myself, gone on a diet, been ‘tactfully’ asked how much exercise I do by my mum, not been able to find clothes to fit, not wanted to go out because all my friends were thinner than me, fancied a guy then not acted upon it since I felt he wouldn’t want someone so fat, and so on.

 

Up until the stretch marks appeared, my body confidence was sky-high. But this was based upon being ‘sexy’ – I had big boobs, and men liked me. Post-stretch marks, I felt that I didn’t want men to see my naked body since they would be disgusted, or they might notice my fat stomach before my big boobs. Since finding out about my poly-cystic ovaries, my body confidence is shattered. I feel that the very thing that makes me a woman is broken, that my body has let me down, and my punishment is fatness. But not to worry, I can’t have children to pass my fat genes onto.

 

More than anything, what prompted me to write this was how often other people have felt the need to comment on my fatness, often close family members, as if they were being kind in telling me, or as if I hadn’t noticed. MY fat is MY business. Since fat is something so loathsome in our society, it’s as if people feel ownership over fat people. I see adverts to ‘lose belly fat in one simple step’ every day, fat people are publicly ridiculed (as I have been myself), proposals for a ‘fat tax’ come up time and time again. A woman is not sexy if they are fat, and sexy is what a woman must be above all. ‘Fat’ is the ultimate insult in Western society. Three letters are so authoritative: they demean, desexualise and disempower.

 

My relationship with my body has always been defined by the fatty cells surrounding it, and the opinions of others. Whilst I always try my best to feel confident about myself, it’s very difficult when I am being criticised and mocked at every turn by adverts and articles, strangers and family. I am angry that I have been made to feel less of a woman simply by what is considered ‘beautiful’.  The result of this is that I see my fat as separate to me: there is me and then there is the fat attached to me. I have no concept of how big or small I am, I just am. And I get mad when others don’t have the same level of acceptance.

 

 


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