The other day, I got an email that touched me deeply. Mel was kind enough to allow me to repost it here. In our email conversation, we both agreed that a huge part of why BFD means so much to so many people is the community that has been created here. So this is a thank you from Mel to us, and a thank you from me to you: thank you so much for helping make this blog what it is.
Well. I’m not entirely sure how to start this, so I suppose I’ll begin at (what’s more or less) the beginning.
A couple of days ago, I was . . . down. Not for any particular reason; nothing especially momentous or even noteworthy had happened, I hadn’t been the victim of any fat-based insults or disgusted/pitying/mocking looks. When it comes right down to it, I just felt fat. That’s all. I felt fat and ugly and basically worthless. While I’d love to say that this is something unusual, it’s really not.
I’ve been heavy my entire life. Yes, heavy. No, not fat. Because looking back now, with a sense of perspective that you can really only achieve years after the fact, I wasn’t fat. Actually, I was pretty damn cute. I never felt that way, despite the fact that my family (and family friends) continually told me that I was. I knew the truth, though–when I went to school I got teased for being fat, and I didn’t look like the other girls there or the girls and women on TV, and surely society as a whole wouldn’t be constantly telling me I was fat if it wasn’t actually true, right? And the people who loved me, the very ones who told me that I was cute, wouldn’t all echo that sentiment if it wasn’t true. Would they? Of course not. They loved me, they were concerned, and I was Fat. I had no reason to doubt all those well-intentioned voices.
As it turns out (as I’m sure you know), living your entire life Fat doesn’t mean that it gets easier to deal with. I keep capitalizing the word because that’s always how it sounded when I heard it. I was Big, Overweight, Fat. (I have the most insane urge right now to start calling myself a Person of Weight. Apparently emotional vulnerability brings out my snark? Not terribly surprising, I guess.) The gist of all this being: most times I’m more or less fine, but sometimes twenty-seven years of insecurities and self-esteem issues all seem to hit me at once, and things are bad for a while. It’s nothing new, but it sucks just as much every time.
So, yes. I was having one of those days, and for reasons now lost to me in the whirl of whatever the hell was going on in my head at the time, I decided for the first time that I would look online to see if there was somewhere out there where people understood. People who had lived with being Fat, and who knew all the millions of tiny ways that you were constantly reminded of it and the damage–mental, emotional, even physical–that it could cause. Surely, I thought, there had to be something out there. The internet is so huge! So many tubes! Some of them must be big enough for us.
My initial results were less than encouraging. It seemed like every blog I found about Being Fat was, well, not. They were about Not Being Fat, about struggles to lose weight and look good and let me tell you it wasn’t helping my mood any. I’ve dieted and exercised and lost weight, but I can never seem to keep it off. I always “backslide” at some point into poor eating habits and inactivity, always pack what I’ve shed right back on again. So no, I’m sorry Random Internet Ladies, I’m sure you’re lovely but I didn’t want to read about your struggles against your own weight. What I wanted was someone talking about still being Fat, and how they dealt with that. I wanted someone to tell me that maybe, just maybe, it was still okay. I was beginning to think I’d never find it, though, when suddenly I followed a link and found your blog and . . . oh.
It was like a light being turned on. Here were these women–clearly intelligent, definitely funny, quite attractive women–who were telling me things I’d always secretly hoped but never really believed. That not only was it possible to be bigger than the “ideal” we’re fed and still be healthy, you can be healthy when you’re bigger than “average”, as well. That I didn’t have to be ashamed just because of my weight. That I was deserving and worthy and beautiful, and anyone who tried to tell me otherwise could fuck right off. I read posts about self-confidence, about the media’s acceptance of “fatism”, about fashion, about women I had always thought were beautiful “even though” they weren’t as thin as society apparently thinks we all should be. (Crystal Renn. Seriously. There are just no words.) There were posts about being conflicted, torn between irritation/outrage at the continued exploitation of Fatness for the sake of a punchline, and wondering if that was just taking things too seriously. There were some posts that I could’ve written, and some that I could’ve written if I were smarter and better informed. Insight and humor and acceptance from people who didn’t think I was less worthy just because of how I look.
I’ve been reading back through the entries pretty much nonstop for the past two days (excepting tedious breaks for things like “work” and “sleep”). I’m at the beginning of 2009 now, and I plan to keep going. Because you took a girl who really believed that she was less because she was more, and made her think . . . maybe that’s not true. Maybe I don’t have to wait to be thin to feel pretty. Maybe I don’t have to look in the mirror before going out and think, “Good enough.” Maybe I am already beautiful, already sexy. And wouldn’t that be something?
I won’t pretend that everything is fixed now. It will still be hard; I know it will. I’ll still have moments, or hours, or days when other people’s disapproval will outweigh (pun not intended, but not really regretted, either) my own hard-won self-acceptance. But tonight I put on some pretty clothes and some girly shoes and some sexy red lipstick; I went out with my friends, and looked at art, and had fun. I ate and drank without stressing over what other people were thinking when they saw me. I felt good, and confident, and yes, pretty. Desirable.
Tonight I wasn’t Fat; I was fat. And that was okay.
So . . . thanks.
She also reposted this letter at her Livejournal, where a terrific conversation is also going on. Thanks so much for sharing this, Mel.
Posted by mo pie