The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Don’t Panic Everyone, I already know

Because there’s no such thing as a stigma against fat people, some days, it slips my mind that I am overweight. You see, I don’t ever get random abuse shouted at me on the street. The fact that I can only shop in about 5% of the clothes shops in my city in no way makes me feel like I’ve been corralled off into some paddock where the un-sexy fatties go to pig out and wear unflattering clothes. Buying clothes on the internet, and the extra cost involved, and hit-and-miss nature of it, passes me by. Going on that traditionally “girly” expedition, Shopping, with friends of “normal” sizes, in NO WAY feels like torture. I don’t ever end up buying, like, a $100 scarf, just to feel like “one of the girls”. And I certainly don’t own masses of shoes and scarfs and jewellery, because they’re the Fat Girl’s Consolation.

I don’t get well-meaning comments from my relatives, EVER. My mother doesn’t ever say “have you lost weight?” in a hopeful, but forlorn voice. Nor does she use the fact that I haven’t eaten for 4 days because I’m heartbroken as a positive, because I might drop a kilo or two.

No one ever comments on the size of my ass or tits or stomach. No stranger has ever yelled “hey fat bitch” at me, or mooed. I’ve never scanned the room to see if I am the fattest person in it, and hated myself for being slightly gleeful if I am not.

I don’t live in fear of being filmed as the “headless fat person illustrating a story of OH MY GOD THE OBESITIY EPIDEMIC!!1!!” I don’t ever feel like I have to apologise for taking up so much space.

I never worry that my size might make flying difficult, that things other people do without thinking, like canoeing, or cycling, or simply sitting in a chair might be hard for me. For the record, bar stools don’t ever fill me with dread.

It has never crossed my mind that my size is stopping me from finding True Wuv. I don’t worry that no one will ever find me attractive again, because I’m fat, and I don’t look like Charlize Theron. Never. That’s not a thought that keeps me awake at night AT ALL.

I don’t get told that I might not suffer from depression if I “exercised a little bit”, as if the person involved knows anything about how much I exercise. No one has ever told me they’re “just worried about [my] health”, without ever actually bringing up my health, just my size. And I’ve certainly never felt like I could tell those people to MIND THEIR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS, because of course my fatness is public property and a perfectly acceptable topic of conversation, and why on earth should I be offended about people bringing it up.

I never feel judged eating in public. No one ever looks askance at me if I happen to be eating a burger. That didn’t just happen in fact, like, yesterday. I’ve never not ordered what I actually wanted so as not to be judged by my fellow diners. I’ve never felt the need to lie about my eating habits, even when, in reality, they are perfectly healthy. No one has ever asked me if I “really need that“.

I’ve never felt the need to cover up my arms, or my thighs, as if my body is offensive to others, and it’s up to me to police that.

I don’t dress to emphasize my cleavage, because my big tits are the one socially acceptable thing on my body. I’ve never suffered the gauntlet of shopping for lingerie or swimwear for the “larger woman”, and the inherent humiliation. I’ve never worn clothes that are uncomfortable, or too hot, or too tight, or just Not Quite Right, because it was for a performance or uniform of some kind.

I never, ever, have to point out the simple fact that weight and/or size don’t correlate to health. I never feel compelled to point out my perfect blood pressure and low cholesterol. No one ever brings up the history of heart disease and diabetes in my family.

I’ve never felt ashamed of my body, wanted to hide in a corner and curl up to make myself as small as possible, because of something someone unthinkingly said. Or didn’t. I’ve never wanted to hide, just because I’m short and fat and round, and don’t fit how people should look. I’ve never, ever, not once, forced myself to be gregarious and happy and the life of the party, while secretly wanting to escape to the corner with a bag of chips because sometimes, it’s just All Too Much. I don’t feign confidence and sexiness that I often don’t feel because, hey, fuck you society and your strict interpretation of what is attractive. I don’t EVER, EVER feel like my size suggests I should act, or be, a certain way. And I certainly don’t feel like saying Fuck You to society in that way is exhausting and neverending and pointless.

So, thanks, Stuff. Because just in case none of us knew we are fat, it is fucking brilliant to know that you are on the case. I’ll rest MUCH FUCKING EASIER tonight.

42 responses to “Don’t Panic Everyone, I already know

  1. Amie February 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Thank you for posting this. Please don’t delete it.

  2. azlemed February 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    love your work, please leave this up, it made me sad, then made me realise how much of this bullshit I carry with me everyday cos of my size.

  3. Deborah February 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Brilliantly said, Tallulah.

  4. Msconduct February 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    And I certainly don’t own masses of shoes and scarfs and jewellery, because they’re the Fat Girl’s Consolation.

    And handbags. Don’t forget the handbags.

  5. Island Bay Girl February 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    This piece of writing and you… = AWESOME!!!

    So angry at Stuff for ‘re-printing’ this.

  6. sobri909 February 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    “I never, ever, have to point out the simple fact that weight and/or size don’t correlate to health.”

    Well, that’s clearly wrong.

    Lamenting the stigma is all well and good, but denying the reality of weight’s connection with a large range of health problems is not really a good idea.

    • tallulahspankhead February 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      This may not be the column on which to start this fight.

      However. I would point you to Kate Harding’s piece on this, (http://kateharding.net/faq/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/) and make the point that it is _lifestyles_ that cause health problems, not weight.

      And let me ask you a question. If my GP, who I see regularly, is happy with my general physical health, then who are you, or Stuff, or anyone else, to question it?

      Actually, fuck that. I don’t have to prove my health to anyone.

      • azlemed February 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm

        right on, why should we have to prove something just cos someone else thinks we should

      • sobri909 February 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm

        Coming from a medical family (GPs et al) I can assure you that, without specific qualification, your GP is not always a reliable or authoritative source of health advice. The “general” in the title is the give away. Their knowledge is broad but frequently superficial.

        The latest or deepest research on individual specialisations is beyond their focus, and even well accepted general health knowledge can be occasionally out of their reach, depending on how much effort they put into staying current.

        If you’re advocating fat acceptance on grounds of inclusiveness, tolerance, or just plain being nice to others, then that’s your thing. If you’re hunting for cracks in consensus science as a form of escapism or denialism, you’re not doing yourself any favours.

        Thanks for your link. It gives some interesting reading. There’s plenty in there to discuss, much to dispute (and some not), but if you’d prefer not to go into it here I’ll leave it at that.

        • tallulahspankhead February 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm

          So….that medical degree hanging there on her wall, that counts for nothing? The barrage of tests she subjected me to late last year, that involved medical professionals of various different kinds, they count for nothing? Shit. I better find myself a new doctor. Or, despite my fatness, I could be trusted, like everyone else, to make decisions about my own well-being. Like, you know, a fucking adult.

          And no. I would prefer not to discuss it here. Because I don’t consider myself an FA blogger, and my knowledge on the subject isn’t what it should be. I can certainly point you to some places where they would be happy to, and I highly doubt they’d put up with being patronized like you seem so certain to do.

          I would however point out the seemingly self-evident fact, that there are unhealthy people of every size, and that creating a “obesity epidemic” and victimizing overweight people has done sweet fuck all to fix that.

          • sobri909 February 9, 2012 at 8:56 pm

            “So….that medical degree hanging there on her wall, that counts for nothing?”

            She should be able to advise you sufficiently on most general health matters, for sure. Lab tests, physical and history assessment can tell you a lot about your current health. She should also be able to tell you with some authority what impact on your future health your current lifestyle choices will have, provided they are areas that are well understood by current medical science.

            If you are obese or significantly overweight and she is not advising you that the wealth of current medical science strongly implicates obesity with poor future health and increased mortality (even when controlling for other lifestyle factors, as your link suggests), then she is not doing her job well and she is leading you astray.

            I’m not purposefully trying to be patronising, and apologise if it’s coming across that way. I recognise the stigma you describe is likely very unpleasant and understand your anger.

        • nikkitheknitter February 9, 2012 at 9:31 pm

          Um, whut? So Tallulah’s own doctor, who has assessed her personally, is not always reliable or an authoritative source of information, yet a random blog commenter *is*?
          What the fucking fuck?

          • sobri909 February 9, 2012 at 9:45 pm

            Nikki, I’m making no claims about my own qualifications or authority.

            I recommend that anyone who has concerns about their health seek multiple qualified opinions. A single GP cannot know everything about everything, and all will have blind spots and mistaken beliefs.

            Considering the availability of primary sources on the internet these days, it’s probably a good idea to do your own research too.

            Although reading blog posts and blog comments (my own included) should never qualify as research! If someone makes a bold claim, hit up Wikipedia then Google Scholar or similar and find the primary sources.

  7. Karen February 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    That brought tears to my eyes – brilliantly written. I’m not a large person but my darling sister drew the short straw genetically. We’ve pretty much done the same-ish food and exercise our whole lives, but just developed differently. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say.

  8. Caitlin February 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    This is so beautifully written and filled with so much truth. Thanks so much for publishing it.

  9. coleytangerina February 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    You are so fucking amazing. I am so proud to know you x

  10. Bri February 9, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Love your work.

    My GP couldn’t care less about my weight because other than a number on the scale, I am healthy. All my labs prove that. Sure I might be ‘at risk’ for conditions but breathing is a high risk activity these days. The BMI is a crock anyway and was never designed to be applied to individuals. I am not going to spend my life yo-yo dieting and weight cycling and being obsessed with calories. I am going to live my life, try and eat fresh nutritiously balanced food intake and find a physical activity I actually enjoy rather than one that feels like punishment. If I stay fat then I stay fat. If people don’t like that they can go get nicked.

  11. cjpause February 9, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Thanks for such a GREAT post! I’ll be highlighting it on my radio show, Friend of Marilyn, next week (Access Manawatu 999AM on Weds at 6pm, also podcast on iTunes). Would love to have you as a guest on the show sometime too – let me know if you are interested.

  12. Good Gravey February 9, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Love this so much. So much that saying so does it a disservice.

    I so despise Stuff.

    And this so soon after NZH publishing the “hey, why don’t we shame fat people into not being fat” article. And the comments. Just …. this is part of why I have been so damned ragey lately.

    I haven’t checked to see if my comment posted, but I flamed one commenter who talked about the fact of BMI. I advised them to tell the entire All Black squad that BMI tells them they are unhealthily overweight.

  13. Andie February 10, 2012 at 3:57 am

    This post is absolutely incredible. Thank you for writing it.

  14. Jackie Clark February 10, 2012 at 11:09 am

    That you open yourself up, and share your vulnerability, says so much about your humanity. I can imagine that this post was excruciating to write, and that it caused you much angst. Know that your pain was worth it though – I wonder just how many people you have helped with your openness? Most of those people will not comment here. But they are there.

  15. notbigondignity February 10, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Love it. Thanks for your honesty

  16. Latasha February 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    That was awsome inspiring and encouraging man that is so true thanks for standing up saying somehting for all of us out there who live life and eat , fat is such an ugly and nasty word i hate it…. Go you

  17. Lizzard February 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I really like your post I am post gastric bypass. I had the operation based on the fact my health condition should have been weight related. I lost the extra weight and am now a ‘small’ my condition was not weight related and I was told by a health professional after my surgery when my condition had not improved that it wasn’t worth having it tested because i couldn’t have that now I was thin. I insisted on the test and was actually worse. I am not angry at my doctors but people need to realise thin does not equal health. People treat me differently now I am small and it’s really sad.

    • Jackie Clark February 11, 2012 at 5:13 am

      And that’s the truth of it. For years, doctors and the media have pinned ill health on the content of body fat, one has. If one has “excess” bodyfat, then – “That thing you have wrong with you? Well, let’s face it, there’s only one thing wrong with you.” So short sighted and so easy to blame. So dangerous. So lazy. I hope things go better for you, Lizzard, and that you get whatever help you need.

  18. Jade February 11, 2012 at 2:30 am

    Loved iht girl ! Thanks 4 sharing, yur an inspiration . . Fatties 4 Life ! (:

  19. Annanonymous February 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    There’s so much to hate about that article, and Stuff more generally. I’m heartily fed up with the way they dress up as concern an article intended to provoke readers into making fun of a particular target group.

    All of what you said resonated with me. I’m one of those who used to be fat, but now goes hungry instead because I personally find that easier than psychologically withstanding the negativity. Which is a form of cowardice, really. Kia kaha – you’re awesome.

    • tallulahspankhead February 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      I don’t think it’s cowardice. I think it’s self-care. And it’s perfectly reasonable, in a society that hates the way you look, to attempt to change that. The problem becomes when you are doing even more harmful behaviors (starving yourself) to look a certain way.

      One of the things I’ve been thinking about after this article (aside from the dozens of other examples I’ve come up with) is the focus on this faux concern for the health of overweight people.

      Do the people who think it is a good idea to say “did you know that being 5 kilos overweight increases your risk of heart disease” (or whatever), really think that’s an incentive to go to the doctor?

      I’m really lucky that I have a good relationship with my doctor, because, owing to my fear of things medical, going to see her is hard enough. If I felt like I was going to get a lecture about my weight every time (and I’ve heard horror stories), I’d never go.

  20. Annanonymous February 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Yes, I’ve got a deep problem with people dressing up their aesthetic gripe with fat with scientific concerns, then feeling legitimised in their shitty meanness. And I likewise hate programmes like The Biggest Loser that imply losing weight is some kind of moral transformation – you come out a new, more worthwhile person who’s repented and now has some self-respect. Frickin spare me.

  21. superleeni February 16, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. It really struck a cord with me.

  22. ludditejourno February 18, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Thanks Tallulah, beautiful.
    I think there’s also some class hatred stuff going on in fat ridicule – a kinda middle class cringe at those poor people who don’t control themselves properly – especially for women. What do you think about that?

    • tallulahspankhead February 18, 2012 at 10:27 am

      Oh, I completely agree. Fat = lazy, and lazy = poor.

      There’s this idea that if fat people just ate “proper” food and exercised, they’d be thin. One of the things that myth ignores is that healthful food is _expensive_. Organic kumquats don’t some cheap.

  23. faeteardrop February 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I see you also share my hatred of stools!! What kind of chair doesn’t have a back on it, while also having such long legs, you literally have to climb up onto it!?

    They should be banned.

  24. Pingback: I’m Fat!? I Never Noticed!! « That Girl, Fae

  25. Mari (@tearosemoon) February 21, 2012 at 12:01 am

    BEAUTIFUL. Thank you for writing this.

  26. Cheri Eir February 21, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Genius. I know I have never been able to relate. xoc

  27. Angie Never February 28, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Thank you so much for writing this. We need more voices like yours in these increasingly loud and often hurtful discussions about our bodies and what they’re “supposed” to be. I truly appreciate your bravery in sharing your experiences, because they’re all our experiences.

  28. nytewulf February 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Very eloquent dissection of reality, at least as I’ve experienced it. You’re awesome. :)

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