TT: Tuesday, August 01, 2006 - Eating, Sitting, Loving, Living While Fat

TT: Tuesday, August 01, 2006 Eating, Sitting, Loving, Living While Fat The real meaning behind “I cover the ground I walk on.”

Yes, there is still a new layout to come. No I have not forgotten. But this Black Girl has been chewing on some things recently. (No pun intended, and you shall see why.) What I am thinking about is fatness. And while a number of scholars and thinkers have been able to scholarize the subject, and as much as I will take there cues here in this blog, there is something so personal, so raw and open about the subject for me, that I cannot fully articulate all of what I see, all of what I have felt here. But I will try.

The most trepedatious thing about fatness is actually coming out as a fat person. That seems strange because it is visible, but because it is something to be ashamed of there is a coming out process that most of us I would argue have not quite undertook. I had a closeted fat moment this evening. And I am sure, many times before that. You know—the moments where you are too afraid to pointout a moment of fat-based lookism because it would draw attention to your own relatonship to fatness? Yes, that’s what I call a closeted fat moment.

And you don’t want to think of your thinner friends as “the man” or insensitive to their fat friend. But after a while it becomes painfully clear that you’re fatness is something that your thin friends have tried to avoid in conversation because they think of it as ill as the rest of society, and even you do. (Totally replace “you” and “your” as me, I am aware that these are my observations alone.)

But coming out as a fat person would have to involve claiming the space as a fat person. It is so odd, the way in which fat people try our best to take up as little space as possible in order to make comfortable the lives and eyes of the thinner. When I think of the many airplane rides where I have made myself wholly uncomfortable by balling myself up into nothing I cringe. Or think of the moments at the mall where I willfully decide not to even enter the “skinny heffa” (read all mainstream stores and boutiques) store so as not to take up room I am not meant to occupy because of my fatness. (Even my use of the phrase “skinny heffa” surely inspired by comedienne Mo'nique is also a part of the mistrust and hurt from the privileges thinner women enjoy by living the physical ideal, and being acknowledged as real and human by the rest of society.)

It’s a complete way of shifting the mind–what if… instead, we thought of mainstream stores and boutiques as a place where we are mindfully excluded, instead of ourselves as unacceptable and unworthy of being in them? These establishments are fully aware that larger women exist (I exclude men here because men’s clothing has been far more inclusive of the fat.) yet they choose not to desire our outward patronage because of our fatness (the gap carries larger sizes online but not in the stores so our fat asses wont take up space there). We would not accept this treatment on the basis of race because we are aware that racism exists, we critique racism and the pain that it has caused people who have been abused by it. But lookism on the basis of fatness… no such luck.

And it is the closetedness which is the most painful aspect. The feeling of intrusion that interjecting the subject of fatness would take. Instead, we often obfuscate it by talking about general ideas of “beauty” (whiteness for example) without looking to the particulars of sizeism as an issue. And we accept and aplomb the abuses we endure. The numerous news reports which film fat bodies anonymously as exotic, and pitiful specimens of human indulgence and repulsion. How often have I looked closely to see whether or not it is my abdomen or rear end filmed without my consent? Yes we watch… looking for the most recent health study that does not even contend that our fatness actually kills us. We endure the commercials that insult our beautiful divine bodies for the “sake” of our waistlines. We ignore the most intimate part of ourselves in order to heal what is torn apart daily.

Our bodies can no longer be sensual. And I mean that in every sense of the word. Our fat blocks nerve endings in the public eye–and therefore we should no longer feel the pain of insults towards our bodies. We shouldn’t feel the pleasure of making love–we shouldn’t because our bodies are not worthy of love. Most of all we shall never enjoy food.

Not in public. And eyes (whether real or not) will watch over our fat asses chewing. Marking the calories, fat grams, sodium (water retention) in each bite with panoptic scrutiny. 

Or maybe it is just me. And this is the most real aspect of fatness–Isolation. Fat people talk the worst about other fat people. Judge our own bodies against those of fatter people. “At least I am not that big.” A constant if not unconscious, extremely present refrain. We as individuals are not fat. Others are fat, I am just [insert fat euphemism here].

But sometimes in the quiet, when it becomes too much one will find comfort in a fellow fat person. I will share with them how little I ate today, how far I ran, just enough stuff to prove my humanity another. My worthiness of thinner company in the human race.

I will always secretly find pride in my anorectic and bulimic days. The days I ate nothing more than a cucumber, I will sigh and reminisce about my former size during those days (which was even then not thin enough)… I will relive them for moments in my more weak days where I actually nourish myself.

The politics of it are so very personal. And they live in the quiet of our everyday lives so that lookism on the basis of size and sizeism itself goes unchecked. This changes nothing. This only reifies our invisibility, our desire to be invisible, unwatched– free to eat, sit, live and love while fat without a question of our humanity. It’s gotta change. The first step is to come out–all fucked up and bruised–we are bound to be.

Come out with me. Step a round toe out of the closet door and find a world that fits just right.


Another blog on fatness: Revisiting Aunt Jemima’s Big Black Ass.