This is Thin Privilege

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{tw: weight loss/diet talk} one way that being fat has impacted my ability to have healthy relationships is weight loss talk. i don’t trust anyone, and that partially stems from all of my attempts to lose weight throughout my life.

and the subsequent failure.

here you are, attempting diet #28 for the third time, and everybody in the office knows. and they smile, and they finally accept you because you’re finally proving to them that you actually do hate your fat body as much as they do, and they’re giving you unsolicited advice, and you’re listening and smiling because finally, people are talking to you like you’re just ‘one of the guys’ and not the fat ass that it’s hard to tell fat jokes around (even though they do it anyway, but it’s totally your fault that they are made uncomfortable when telling their joke, duh!). and for  a few days, or weeks, or even months, people start noticing a change. and they congratulate you on your food choices, your apples and steamed vegetables and 2 oz portions of boneless skinless chicken breast and the 36 oz bottle of water you keep on your desk, they smile approvingly when you refuse cake at the office party, or take the steps instead of the elevator, and even though they all hate it, they’ve made an exception for you to cook your stinky fish and butter free salt free fat free popcorn in the break room microwave, and snack on your plain unsalted rice cakes during staff meetings.

and because everyone is so personally invested in your very personal weight loss and diet (fuck your ego, it’s not a ‘healthy new lifestyle’, it’s a diet, don’t get it twisted), they notice every. single. thing. you put in your mouth. that 2oz chicken breast looked pretty big today, more like 4 or 5 oz. hmm. oh, you’re ordering french fries instead of house salad with your your veggie burger at lunch today? i see that you got a s cup of froyo today. interesting, oh, so you’re back to red meat again? doritos? but what happened to your rice cakes?  did you leave your water bottle at home, i see you’re having soda today. hey, saw you in starbucks this morning — so you’re back to the full-fat latte instead of the skinny, huh? happy hour? with that calorie laden liquor? really? taking the elevator today, huh? hmmmm.


as a fat person, your body already doesn’t belong to you. everything you do with it, and put in and on it, is for other people’s approval. and the MINUTE you go on a diet and other people know about it, they are policing it even more severely than they were before, and their disapproval at your “mistakes” are up for public ridicule and debate now, because YOU MADE THE CHOICE to share with them your intention to lose weight, and it takes a fucking village you big fat ass i’m just trying to motivate you!

all my life. ALL MY LIFE this has happened. i remember once trying the slimfast thing, and i went and bought the powdered mix, and was faithfully drinking it for breakfast and sneaking it in between cigarette breaks for my lunch. i carried it in a little clear rubbermaid container with a built in straw. one woman saw me sipping and asked what it was, and i told her it was chocolate milk, and she just smirked and said ‘sure it is’. i went home and binged that night. i think i was like, 17 or 18.

when you fall off the wagon or, more likely, when your DIET doesn’t actually work, everyone knows. everyone can see. and they watch, they watch, they watch, every change in your eating or behavior, they know about it, and it’s basically your own damned fault if the diet isn’t working. 

i tried this one super restrictive diet once. you ate 300-500 calories a day for 4 days, then ate your own regular foods for 3 days. this diet promised HUGE results. it’s one of those “only if you’re serious about weight loss because you lose so much weight!” fad diets that they were purporting came from years of research at this medical school. i started this diet at least 40 separate times from ages 16 to 22. i only completed an entire cycle/week of the diet maybe 6 times. i will not say what my results were. instead, i’ll say that i was sick and dizzy with hunger and lack of nutrients and i could barely even move. i could usually only complete 3 of the 4 days, and then i’d binge and purge for  weeks and weeks to make up for all the food i missed, feeling like shit afterwards. and people knew. they knew at school, they knew at work. each time, i would proudly state that “i am going to get healthy!” and embark on my new diet, and on day 4, i’d be shoveling in giant carl’s jr. burgers and fried chicken and french fries from the corner store and burgerville milkshakes by the truckload. and people would just shake their heads in disappointment, belittle me for not being able to suck it up for just ONE MORE DAY, watch every morsel that went into my mouth and comment comment comment on it all.

so i learned, eventually, to not say SHIT about my dieting and weight loss plans. and that spilled over into other parts of my life, too. anything where the results weren’t 100% guaranteed, i would never share with ANYONE. applying to college, taking a test, job interview, making new friends, meeting a potential new boyfriend, getting an apartment, NOTHING. i became the most private, reserved person ever, i didn’t want to tell anyone shit, because i didn’t want to ever deal with the humiliation of not succeeding and hearing “sure it is” with a smirk or a snicker. 

as the fat girl, i’m used to being ridiculed. it doesn’t happen so much lately — like when it does happen, it always surprises me, you know — but i am always super cautious about everything when i’m in public or around other people, because i cannot BEAR to be made the ass of a joke. i don’t think i could stand to see the “i knew it!” look on someone’s face, or hear the comments and policing involved when i opt for a cookie instead of a carrot. 

being fat has taught me that i have to keep everything in my life a fucking secret. i am so terrified of being made fun of, even in jest, that i don’t say ANYTHING. i am so anxious about failing that i keep all plans to do anything to myself. i don’t trust ANYONE with ANYTHING personal about me, because i don’t want to become the ass of a joke if or when i am unsuccessful. this is one of the reasons i have refused to go back to portland since my separation and divorce, why i have been hesitant to talk to my mother or sister, why i don’t keep in touch with friends — i don’t want the ridicule, the i-told-you-so, the looks, the smirks, the smugness. 

because being fat has taught me that i don’t really belong to myself. so i have to hold shit super tight and close, unless i want to become a punchline. 

but of course, it’s all about my health…


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