But I’m not supposed to tell you that. I’m supposed to shout from the mountain tops that my weight doesn’t define me and that beauty comes at any size and whatever other body positivity platitudes the internet is spouting. But in fact, I am unhappy being fat. Actually, I hate it. Saying this feels dirty. Because, according to some of you, I’m not even that fat. In the words of Roxane Gay, I am “Lane Bryant Fat.” I am the fat of plus sizes models and those aforementioned body postivity campaigns. I am not the fat that gets bullied or the fat that can’t buy her clothes in the store or the fat that qualifies for the biggest loser. I’ve looked it up. So it feels dirty to complain about being fat when I could be fatter. But still. I am fat. Speaking so publically about my dislike of the way my body operates in the world seems rather uncouth. It’s 2016. Women are feminists who are loud and take up space and don’t apologize. I worry that it makes me a bad feminist if I apologize for taking up space. I’m sorry I take up so much space. I want, more than anything, to take up less.
I can’t remember the last time I didn’t hate my body. For years, my relationship with it has been…volatile. And it times, violent. I’ve tried every way to change it. A Beachbody program once. Weight Watchers twice. Starvation more times than I can count. I don’t eat anything without feeling guilty. If we go out to dinner I will be very conscious of how much I am eating compared to how much you are eating. I will always make sure I am eating less. I want everyone to know that I am eating less. I want it to subconsciously register in the mind’s of patrons at tables nearby that the fat girl is eating a salad. If you order a meal I will order an appetizer. Or, if I too get an entree, I will only eat half. I will engage fully in conversation while counting calories in my head and considering which meal I will skip tomorrow. This is what you do when you are unhappy being fat. Life becomes an all-consuming battle to be less fat. To be skinny. To varying degrees of success, all of my attempts have worked to change the weight, but the impact on my mental state far outweighs any number on the scale. And at 23, I’ve yet to find a diet that doesn’t make me want to kill myself.
I often wonder how many things my weight has ruined. How many nights I could have spent having fun had I not been worried how I looked in pictures. How much more relaxed I could have been had I not felt like everyone was staring at the fat girl and how weird her body looked.
I’ve also wondered how many people have been intrigued by my personality or my face but quickly changed their minds when I stood up. I worry that, if I don’t lose the weight, I’ll be alone forever. Because despite the number of times I hear people talk about how they “really don’t care what size someone is or what they look like” I’ve yet to find someone who is happy looking at me. “People can surprise you,” Carolyn once said to me when I expressed this thought.
They haven’t surprised me yet.
When my skinny friends call themselves fat or say they want to lose weight, I don’t empathize with them. I don’t recognize that we’re fighting the same insecurities. I get mad. And then sad. Because if they, many sizes smaller than me, have some weight to lose…..then how much do I have to lose? I have cataloged each one of these moments in my mind to use as ammo when I want another cookie. Or dinner when I’ve already eaten lunch. Or…anytime when I start to like what I see.
In the age of “love yourself at any size!” and endless self-love slogans, I feel guilty for hating my body. For not loving it as it is. For only loving it conditionally. I’m not supposed to care about the scale. Or the letters and numbers on the tag. I’m not supposed to want validation that my body is desirable. I’m supposed to love myself. Fully. Without any shame. And it kills me that I don’t.
I am unhappy being fat. And despite my constant efforts, I fear that I always will. I worry that I will never lose enough weight or make enough peace with my body. I worry that I am doomed to be fat and unhappy for the rest of my life.
People say “you’re not fat, you’re beautiful” as if one cannot be both. Well. I am not both. I cannot be both. I do not allow myself to be both.
I am unhappy being fat.
But I’m not supposed to tell you that.