People don’t make fun of me because I’m fat.
I can count on one hand how many times someone actually looked me in the face and made fun of me because of my weight. However, pretty much my whole life, people have treated me like shit. I’ve had my share of school bullies, attitudes from doctors and teachers, dirty looks from strangers, sales people would follow me through stores like I was some kind of criminal. For a long time I didn’t understand why.
One day, a few years ago, I was in an antiques mall. As I was browsing, I passed the front desk and caught the eye of the young woman behind the counter. I smiled, because it’s the polite thing to do and, in return, she gave me a dirty look. I ignored it, because maybe she wasn’t really looking at me. Or maybe she didn’t realize she had that look on her face. Or maybe she’s just having a really bad day. Or maybe I was being too sensitive and didn’t really see what I saw. And all those other “maybes” I’d told myself all my life when I couldn’t understand why people looked at me like garbage.
I browsed some more, but I didn’t really see what I was looking for, so I went back to the front desk to ask for help. There was now a second woman at the counter and the two of them were chatting quietly. I stood by the desk and waited for them finish their conversation (I didn’t want to be rude). But they ignored me. I was standing literally 3 feet from them, only a counter between us and they did not even acknowledge my presence. At the end of the conversation, they turned in separate directions walked away from the desk. My “Excuse me?” as they walked away, was also ignored.
Later, I recounted the incident to mom. I asked her, “Is it because I’m young? Is it my clothes? They don’t like my hoodie or my dark makeup? I don’t understand. You taught me right. I walk with my head up. I smile. I make eye contact. I’m polite. I’m confident. I like people. I’m nice, right? I did what I’m supposed to and acted respectfully, right? So, what’s the deal?”
Normally, when I told her these kinds of stories (there have been so many over the years), my mom would tell me all the same “maybes” I had always told myself. But on this day, she said, “Do you think maybe… it’s because you’re fat?”
And there it was. All this time, all these years, is that it? Is that why complete strangers treated me like shit? Really? For all the shame and self-hate and poor self image I had always had about being fat, it never occurred to me that other people hated me for it too. And the reason it never occurred to me? Because it doesn’t make any fucking sense. I could never hate someone for being fat, or for the way they looked, so why should I have expected that from others? Why should I have to accept that from others?
Now, I am blessed in that grew up with a close family, who is awesome and supportive. In the past few years, I’ve also found a support system online and I have learned to be a better person. I have learned to recognize hate and oppression in all it’s forms, and to speak out against it. I’ve also met some amazing women who accepted me and befriended me for exactly who I am. I’ve learned that my body is good and beautiful. And that the way I look does not define me. And that I deserve respect. And I deserve autonomy. And I deserve dignity. And I deserve love.
While I know all these things to be true, there are some days when knowing these things doesn’t stop me from hating my body. And hating myself. And believing all the people who made me feel worthless. Because I am fat. Those days will probably never go away, but those days are becoming fewer, and further apart.
Nope, people don’t make fun of me because I’m fat. But they do hate me for it. And I’ve learned to love myself anyway. And I will always fight against that hate.
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