When I was younger, I clung to these words like a shield.
Having an explanation for my weight made living as a fat person just a little more bearable. People were nicer to me, as long as I had a reason for being fat and did the things I was “supposed” to do, like eating salads in public and owning yoga pants I used for actual physical fitness.
Surely I was worthy of dignity and respect… as long as my fatness wasn’t my fault. As long I was trying really hard to be thin.
I’m 32 years old now and fatter than ever, and I stopped explaining my fat a long time ago.
Because here’s the thing:
Fat people deserve respect. Full stop.
It doesn’t matter if I’m fat because of a shitty thyroid or because I sit on my ass eating whatever I want all day — either way, I deserve to live with dignity. I deserve kindness. I deserve access to the things that all human beings deserve access to: health care, education, housing, food, community, love, joy.
Now that I’m older, I’m fat on purpose.
I’m not accidentally fat. I’m not “if only I didn’t have this slow metabolism I’d be thin” fat. I’m FAT. And I’m no longer embarrassed by the space I take up. I do not apologize for my size or blush when I ask the flight attendant for a much-needed seat belt extender.
I eat what I want, when I want. I do not feel bad about the food I eat, and I do not believe I have to “earn” my food through exercise or any other means. I will never again have another “cheat day” in my life.
I wear what I want. I can honestly say that I do not remember the last time I wore something that was meant to cover, smooth, or otherwise hide my fatness.
I love, date, and fuck who I want. And, as much as I can, I do the things I want to do — swimming, going to the park, mini road trips to the wilderness, traveling.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I never feel bad about my body. This world is literally built to exclude big bodies like mine — it would be extraordinarily difficult to feel great all the time under these circumstances. And I have chronic pain I’ve dealt with my whole life, when I was smaller and larger. (But the fatter I am, the harder it is to not internalize ableist fatphobic bullshit in the hard moments.)
It’s not easy to be fat. It’s not easy to choose to love yourself in a world that is hellbent on making sure you don’t. Being fat on purpose isn’t the easy way out — It’s fucking courageous. I’m proud of this fat body for getting up every day and existing when so many people would rather it didn’t.
The truth is, I’m happy. And fat. And happy to be fat.
And I hope that never, ever changes.