I’m a little behind on my writing as I ended up getting pneumonia last week and haven’t felt like doing anything more than sleeping since then. This blog post has been in the works for almost two weeks, but only felt mental clarity today to get it down.
So I had a bit of a shocking realization the other day. I was on my daily commute listening to the audio book “Land Whale” by Jes Baker; an entertaining and raw memoir of her life as a fat woman. She was relaying stories of being fat shamed and I sat there, slightly nauseated at the sheer meanness of people and I started thinking about how I might react if I was ever body shamed in that way… and then it hit me; the only time I have ever been fat shamed was when I was both the aggressor and victim. I have only ever been fat shamed by myself.
Let that sink in…
I have ONLY ever fat shamed myself.
And, yes, most body shaming – period – was also done by myself. I was body shamed by a few people when I was prepping for competition and at the opposite end of the spectrum, I have a couple people say things like “give that girl a sandwich” because they felt that – at 135 lbs – I was too skinny. Yup. 135 lbs and too skinny – and that came from a dude. There were a couple of other times by a couple girls who didn’t actually say anything, but their looks spoke volumes – and they were a couple of heavier girls – so don’t say it’s only cis white males of normal weight who body shame – those who cry victim of this behavior are sometimes the aggressors! Yes, even being “fit and skinny” I body shamed myself, but I only got it externally at this time.
I have found that at a certain weight – overweight but not obese or morbidly obese – tend to be, magically, invisible. Maybe it’s because we can ride rides at the amusement park, fit into the seats of public transportation and airlines with relative ease (cause, let’s face it, they’re not too comfortable to begin with) but, for the most part, we can do things that, albeit with more difficulty than someone 50 lbs lighter, but we can still do it.
Coming to this realization that I have only ever fat shamed myself played a huge part of our weekend getaway the other weekend. One thing I have always wanted was to be able to wear shorts without shame – and not walking shorts or Bermuda shorts, but real shorts. The morning we were leaving for the cottage, I bought the smallest pair of shorts I’ve worn – possibly ever. As I stared at my reflection, turning this way and that, examining my cellulite and thick thighs, I couldn’t help but think it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. In fact, I really liked the outfit! The shorts and comfie t-shirt with a peep-hole and twisted back that would look cute with the right bra – hints of my back tattoo visible. SOLD!!!
The hardest part about this weekend is my BFF has a naturally small frame. I know I’ve blogged about her before and even though I am no longer envious of her body, I was worried about what others might think – as she can very easily get away with short shorts and I… well, why can’t I get away with it?
As I have only ever body shamed myself, I was the only one who would say I can’t get away with it.
So when we decided to go into town to look around, I changed into my shorts and top, and shyly joined the others – completely self conscious and trying to gauge how much ass cheek was hanging out by the reflection in the vehicle. My husband even commented that they were the shortest shorts he’s seen me in – and we’ve been together for 27 years!!!
So, there I was, in the shortest shorts I’ve ever worn, in public…. and you know what?
No one said a damn thing!
And later that day, I put on my new bikini!
If we want to stop body shaming, we need to start with ourselves. Yes, we are always our “worst critic”, but most of us go way beyond a gentle criticism to a debilitating negative self talk that holds you back from doing what you want and wearing what you want. There is nothing wrong with fat or cellulite or rolls. Most women have it and it needs to stop being demonized and start being normalized!