Banter in the Garden
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Tea and Strumpets
This morning, I was noodling around on Tumblr, thinking about this post, and how I was having trouble figuring out what I wanted to say, when I saw a comment fat-shaming a manatee. A fucking manatee. And I realised what it was that I wanted to say.
It’s this: SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU IGNORANT, HATEFUL, SPINELESS PIECES OF SHIT.
It’s a year since I wrote this post. I was in a pretty horrible place then, and writing all that shit down didn’t help. Your comments and tweets and emails did, but even with that, it was a few days before I even felt up to leaving the house, and weeks before I felt like I could be myself again. I’m glad I wrote it, but darlings, that piece hurt.
A lot can change in a year, though. A lot. Everything. In thinking about how I wanted to re-write that post, I asked Twitter to talk to me about your bodies. And what you told me is that you love your body – in private and with the people that you love. You love it for what it can do, for its strength and capacities. But the world hates it, and you hate that the world hates it. Or, you hate it, but you still feel like you deserve respect and care and love anyway. Or, you hate it, and you try to hide it, and the world has taught you that it is your responsibility to hide it because your fleshsack is disgusting and unsightly and ungainly, and no one should suffer the indignity of having to look at it. Because Eeeew.
Darlings? FUCK THAT SHIT. And fuck everyone who has ever made us feel that way.
Here’s what I know now.
My body is capable of great things. Of incredible pleasure and immense pain, and a gamut of sensations in between. The world hates my body, and wants me to feel bad about myself because of it. And it is so easy to fall into that trap, so much easier than fighting it. To hide, and cover up, and not force the world to embrace my pasty ass. And hey, I’m fat, so I’m inherently lazy, right?
No. Walking the street in my body is an act of defiance. Wearing togs in public is an act of incredible strength. I’m Joan of fucking Arc in an tight dress. OK, I’m not, because beheading makes me squeamish and my French is schoolgirl at best these days, but I’m someone awesome.
And I’m not someone awesome in spite of my body. I inhabit it, I feed it, I feel it move. My stomach is as much a part of me as my ability to quip. And I am going to love it, even as a multi-billion dollar industry tells me every minute of every day not to. Because I am smarter than them, and I don’t care about their profit margins and their messages about perfection. Perfection is dull, and I am as cute as all hell, and anyone who thinks different isn’t worth my time.
So, my darlings, what can I tell you? Pour yourself a bourbon, or your self-medication of choice, and think about this. If you’re fat, or thin, or bald, or whatever way you fall outside the beauty norm, take heart. If you left the house today, you were brave, and you deserve a pat on the back. Your body is beautiful. Every body is beautiful. And you deserve better.
You deserve a world where your friends don’t tell fat jokes. Where ads implying you are unworthy of basic human dignity because of your size, or your hair colour, or your ugly hands, use that insecurity to sell you things. Where the fat girl in the movie is always a comic, and there are no fat men at all. You deserve a world where your health is a matter between you and your doctor and your loved ones, and not random strangers or well-meaning colleagues. Where people understand that the size of your thighs says nothing about the quality of your personhood.
I don’t know how to make that world, but I have to think that those tiny acts of defiance, of walking with our heads high and our chests out has to help. It’s not easy, and it’s not something I can ask of anyone, but it is something I am trying to do. Some days it takes all my chutzpah, but I am leaving the house, and saying Fuck The Haters, I like my short skirt, and if you don’t, you can kiss my ass.
I still feel all those things I felt last year. I still want to hide. I still want to curl into a ball and cry when I see the sandwiches scene at the end of Bridesmaids. But when we live in a world where some person can apologise for posting a photo of a manatee because it’s not “thinspo” we have work to do, and I am not going to waste time caring about people who are so shallow they think the size of my ass matters at all.