Fighting the Good Fight

I have been meaning to post here for a while. But we all know what good intentions are good for, right? Paving the road to parts heretofore unknown. I also had every intention of having a happy post, but today I have a heavy heart. Last night I received a call from my mom with some sad news. The youngest daughter of a family we used to go to church with has died. That, in and of itself, is sad enough, but she was 33 and we’re unsure of the circumstances of her death. I don’t know if it was a physical health ailment or by her own hand due to mental health issues. What I do know is that she was too damn young to die. I used to babysit her and her older sister. The last time I saw the family was 14 years ago when my mom hosted a bridal shower in that little town nestled in the hills of East Tennessee. It seems surreal to think of her as not being alive, and honestly, until I saw the obituary myself this morning, I was in a bit of denial. I don’t want to think of this young woman as dead, of no longer being alive. It hurts, and it hurts a lot more than I want to let on to my parents.

It hurts because I know in many ways she was like me. It hurts because I know she had a hard time seeing herself as being pretty. This is where I break out the plain speaking about the damage caused by fat-shaming and fat-stigma. I remember when she was 7 or 8, she came to me and confided in me that she saw me as a role model. She said I gave her hope that she could be big and pretty, because I was big and pretty and active. She inherited her father’s build. It’s hard enough being a fat woman in this society, but to be a fat woman with a masculine build is even worse. There is privilege among fat women, because those with an hourglass figure or a pear-shaped figure are treated differently than those with a circle figure or an apple-shaped figure. You’re somehow perceived as being more feminine if you have the curves. You’re somehow perceived as being more womanly. I’m calling bullshit on this asinine way of thinking. Just because this young woman inherited her father’s build does not make her less feminine or womanly.

Lest this post get derailed and be only about the physical appearances, I also want to speak to the fact that she was an intelligent young woman. She was musically talented. She was an interesting human being. She was so much more than just her looks. My hope is that somewhere along the line she realized what an amazing creature she was. I hope that someone took her by the hand and told her it was okay to be fat. I hope someone showed her a way other than hating herself. But I suspect that she didn’t have someone to do that for her, because we live in a society too wrapped up in achieving the socially-accepted ideal of skinny. One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s okay to be stupid as long as your skinny and beautiful. I’d like to call bullshit on this asinine way of thinking too.

I want to honor the women and men involved in fat acceptance who are putting themselves out there and dealing with the trollish asshats that wish death and other ill things upon them. I want to honor the women and men of size who are not waiting for someday and the magical thinness to go out and do the things they want. I want to honor the women and men of size who are doing amazing things simply by living their everyday lives to the fullest. 

I will mourn this lovely human whose candle has been snuffed out far too early. My heart goes out to her family and her friends at this time. My thoughts are with them, and I know I’ll be shedding a few more tears for this loss. I also know I’ll be fighting for the day when young women like her can go about their lives without having to worry about fat-shaming and fat-stigma!

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