In the spirit of Fat Amy, for this article you can call me “fat-ugly-heathen-cheating-on-her-fiancé-slutty-tranny” Dori. Sure, you could be nice and call me “curvy atheist poly-ish trans woman” Dori, but there will always be haters out there and I prefer to take the sting out of their hateful words. That’s why I jokingly refer to myself as a pissed-off tranny when I rant about trans rights. It’s why I call myself a slut when talking about my sexual practices/partners. And it’s why I’m calling myself fat right now.
I stumbled into “Fatshion” blogs last semester during my women’s studies class. At first it was just outfits that showed up in my Pinterest. Then I started reading the blogs the pictures came from. And then I decided I was tired of hating myself for the body I have and started accepting it.
The majority of my life, I was very happy. But when my resiliency reached its limit I would look at myself in the mirror and hate what I saw. I’d hate my stomach, the width of my breasts, my stumpy legs, my shoulders, my chin, my face. I would wonder how many people thought I looked hideous but were too polite to say anything. I would wonder how my boyfriend could possibly still enjoy looking at me naked and how much longer he would put up with me. To his credit, whenever I would bring these things up he would always attempt to bring me back to reality. But when you’re in that kind of spiral there’s not much anyone can say to stop it. The best he could do was hold me until the storm passed.
I don’t want to give my whole sordid history of my body image issues. Suffice it to say that it’s been a fucking roller coaster, dipping it’s way into eating disorders and unhealthy practices and peaking with the confidence I have today after embracing fat pride. I will never be thin. And that’s okay. The least I’ve ever weighed as an adult was around 180 pounds and I was a size 14. At my heaviest I was around 250 pounds and a size 22. And through all of those years I was an activist who fought for my rights and others, an excellent student, a leader, a lover, a friend, a daughter, a sister. Most importantly, I was a human being who offered kindness to just about anyone who asked, except myself.
But this year has been different. It started with the fatshion blogs, which made me question the fashion and media industries narrow image of who women were. I saw attractive women who were twice my size. I saw brave women who were willing to pose nude, despite the rolls and stretch marks that I had internalized as being ugly on my own body. I saw women who looked just like me. And they were all beautiful in their own way. A few months ago, when my doctor told me I was incredibly healthy for my age but he’d still like me to lose weight, I didn’t accept it blindly. I asked him why, and ultimately, he agreed with me. I fought against an institutionalized form of body shaming and I won.
After that, I started running and counting my calories. But unlike the many times I had attempted to shame myself into losing weight, I did this for a challenge. I focused on my progress. I remembered how much fun I had when I played roller derby and I wanted to feel that sense of empowerment about my body again. When I started I couldn’t run for much longer than 15 seconds without getting winded. Now I can run 5k in 40 minutes. I run in nothing but skin tight bottoms and a sports bra because, for those who don’t know, it’s fucking hot in Texas. When I’ve got my music on and I feel the adrenaline rush through me, I don’t give a fuck what the world thinks of my body. And while the changes to my body haven’t been drastic, I like what I see. My stomach is smaller. My boobs look even bigger by comparison. My legs and ass are amazing (just ask my fiance and FWB). I look good. Maybe not the conventional concept of good, but fuck the conventional concept. And most important of all, I’m confident.
My crowning moment was when I bought a bikini this summer. I walked into Lane Bryant and told the clerk what I wanted. ”Are you sure?” she asked. ”Absolutely.” I said, “Let’s just find one in the right size.” In the dressing room I started to feel nervous. Sure, I thought I looked good but would I feel the same way out in public? So I sent a picture to my FWB and other girlfriends and heard back nothing but compliments. So I walked out of the dressing room, where the clerk asked again if I was sure about the bikini. ”I’ll take it!” I told her. The moment of truth came when I went camping. The FWB and I finished setting up our tent and decided to go swimming while we waited for the boys. And when I walked outside and felt the sun on my legs and stomach and back…it was a weirdly spiritual experience.
I will never go back to hating my body. It has its imperfections and I’m sure there are plenty of strangers on the internet who will be more than happy to point them out. But you know what? I don’t give a fuck. Yeah, I’m fat. And this fat bitch has more love in her life than any troll could ever hope for.
P.S. Just to clarify, fat pride does not equal skinny hate. The bottom line here is accepting your body for what it is and other people’s bodies for what they are. I hate the phrase “real women have ______”. Because regardless of what you fill-in-the-blank with, there will be a woman who doesn’t. All women are “real women”. The way to work through your body issues is not by putting down somebody else’s.