7 truths that might surprise you because I’m fat

I recently read Ragen Chastain’s post on coming out as fat and realized that I haven’t come out to as many people as I had thought.

You might be wondering how you have to “come out” as fat. People can see you’re fat, right? But that’s not what she means. What she means is coming out as something that isn’t what the world thinks it is. Breaking out of the single story. It’s claiming your fatness and your satisfaction with your life as a fat person. She likens it to when queer people started coming out and suddenly the bigots couldn’t have just a vague, abstract idea in their head of what queer people were; they were now maybe still all of that, but also aunt Lucy and cousin Frank. And as sad as it is, it’s much harder to see people with certain identities as two-dimensional when you actually know people with those identities. (And don’t even get me started on the we should all care because it affects us, too argument.)

So here it is. This is me coming out as fat, with 7 totally true statements that might surprise you just because they’re coming out of a fat person’s mouth.

I have achieved all of my personal health goals

My definition of healthy for me is not the same as someone else’s idea of healthy for them, and I firmly believe it should be that way. We need to be able to measure our health by our own standards, because otherwise we fall into a trap of being super shitty to other people (think about how this can relate to ableism, for example).

My definition of healthy for me is the following:

  • Staying active by averaging at least a half-hour of physical activity every day
  • Eating a variety of vegetables and fruits (at least 3 different types) every day, at least one of them being high in iron and one of them being high in vitamin C
  • Making sure my blood pressure and cholesterol (which have been linked to conditions I’d rather not die from) stay within a standardized range
  • Making sure I can breathe well enough to get the oxygen my body needs

I have stayed active by this definition. I usually surpass my fruit & veggies goal dramatically (I’m vegetarian, so that helps). My blood pressure is right where medicine says it should be, and my doctor almost ate her hat when she saw how low my cholesterol was. My breathing is working well for me. So check, check, check and check.

Any questions? Too bad. It’s my body.

I feel good in my skin

I don’t loathe myself. I feel sexy when my girlfriend looks at my body. I love being naked. I regularly admire my body in the mirror after a shower. I pretty regularly just totally forget that my body is the size it is, because I just feel so comfortable moving through this world. It isn’t until someone else decides to be a shit-face to me or decides it’s their place to bring up my body and/or health that suddenly I’m like, “Oh, here we go…”

But it’s not me. It’s all of you projecting your insecurities onto me. Knock it off. I’m quite happy the way I am, thanks.

I don’t aspire to be thin

Honest to god. I don’t.

There are things that make it way easier to move through this world in a thin body. Do I want the same access to those things? Yes. Do I think I should become thin so I can access those things? Fuck no. You know why? Because if I’m not getting crapped on by the system, other fat people still will be, and I’d like to stand with other fat people, rather than just throwing them to the wolves and being like, “Hey, if I did it, so should you!” That would be a really shitty move. If fat people are to have access to the same things that thin people do, we need a more radical, societal shift.

So no, thinness in itself is not something I crave. I am totally A-OK with my fat body. Once the world catches up, I won’t even have to think about thin privilege, and we’ll all be the better for it.

I don’t automatically envy, dislike or feel irritated by thin people

I don’t know where this idea comes from, but everyone seems to think that I hate people for being thin. I don’t. I don’t feel jealous of them, dislike them right off the bat or find them annoying by default. Do some thin people piss me off? Yes. Do some people piss me off specifically with relation to their thinness? Yes. You know those people who have word-vomit about all their bodily insecurities in front of people with eating disorders? Yeah, those ones. Those ones piss me off. Do not hyper-criticize your already-thin body in front of people unless you know the impact it’ll have. That’s irresponsible. Life tip from Lia.

But no, I don’t hate thin people. Most of the people I know are thin. Many of them are my friends. And I love them. I get along quite well with thin people as long as they’re not being assholes.

I have outrageous muscle mass

I made a decision a while ago that I wasn’t interested in incorporating formal weight training into my life. Even so, one day I walked through a gym with my girlfriend on the way to the pool (where you’ll find a very happy Lia at every opportunity). They had these dumbbells on a rack, and I ran over and grabbed the biggest one and started doing bicep curls as a joke. My girlfriend’s eyes went kind of wide, and I couldn’t figure out why. She was like, “You’re curling 35 lbs. I can’t even lift that one off the rack.” I hadn’t noticed. It felt like hardly anything.

If I weight trained, let’s just say you would not want to try to take me in a fight. (In fact, you already probably don’t want to take me in a fight, all immature jokes about sitting on you aside.)

I don’t even like most deep-fried foods

One of the most obnoxious things about eating in restaurants is the assumptions people make about my side choice. I always ask the server, “What do you have that isn’t fries?” They almost always give me a sort of “Good for you!” smile, as though I’m choosing the “healthy” option. Because, you know, I’m fat. I am supposed to be a good fattie and choose the salad. The truth of the matter is that I don’t like french fries. Or potato chips, for that matter. Unless you’re sticking a fuckload of vegetables in the thing you’re deep frying, it’s pretty unlikely I’m going to want it. (About the only things I can think of that are on my to eat list are spring rolls.)

So no, when I’m in the process of picking my side and I ask for anything but fries, it’s not because I’m worried about the “healthiness” of the side. I just think fries are nasty.

I know a lot about nutrition

Like, a lot. Like, if you have a food sensitivity, you should really hit me up for some cupcakes. For real.

I started cooking for my family when I was about 10. When I was 12, my mother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned to cook and bake without sugar. When I was about 15, she was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance. I learned to cook and bake without sugar or gluten. When I was around the same age, I was diagnosed with anemia. I had to learn which foods were loaded with iron. When I was 27, I went vegan, and I learned to cook without meat, dairy, eggs, gelatin, honey and refined sugar. I still had to get my iron in order to feel well. So I learned how to do it. Period.

I know a ton about food. I know what has which nutrients and what foods combine in a way to give your body a ton of vitamins or minerals. In short: I know a lot about nutrition.

 

Now, I challenge you to re-read the list, believe me when I say what I’ve said above, and think about all of the preconceptions that it goes against. I really urge you to think about which of these statements surprised you, and also to think about how much (or little) they would have surprised you if they’d come out of the mouth of a size 4 marathoner.

This is me coming out, and an opportunity for you to re-evaluate the single story you’ve been told. I hope you take it.

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About Lia

Lia is a fat-positive social justice activist who's got a particular penchant for tough gender issues. She's a passionate vegan cook, dabbling crafter and avid gardener, and spends as much time as she can with good people in cafés, talking body and gender politics.

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