Imagine being told over and over—in words, in looks, in gestures, in subtle and unsubtle ways—that whatever you do, you are wrong.
You grew up doing pretty well in school. You had a good group of friends, even best friends who stood by you and loved you for who you are. That’s because you have a pretty wicked sense of humour and you do love to laugh and talk about nothing and everything. You’ve also been told that you’re a great listener and give decent advice.
You wound up going to university and you graduated with distinction. You found a job in your field even before you got your degree. You’ve been working in that field successfully for fourteen years now.
Even though you were a woman and single, you decided to invest in your very own condominium. A year into your mortgage (much to your mother’s dismay), you made the big jump to freelancing. And succeeded. To this day. It’s been eight years.
You faced your fear of cars and learned how to drive.
You faced your fear of the gym and signed up for semi-private training sessions so you would learn to do things right.
You picked up running. You’ve been running for over ten years. Oh, and you love it.
You bought a bicycle and are now enjoying biking everywhere from April to November (you live in Canada and biking in the snow just ain’t for you).
You started a blog (years after they were in fashion, but hey! Everything’s cyclical, right?). You began to write short stories.
You faced your fear of judgement and hired a private trainer to learn how to swim. You’ve been swimming for over three years now and you can butterfly stroke like nobody’s business.
Private. That word. Twice.
Because even though you do all of this; even though you always strive to better yourself, to push your limits, to not let other people dictate how you should run your life, you go against the grain because you’re fat, and fat people are not supposed to run, to bike, to swim. They’re not supposed to like who they are. They’re supposed to engage in a constant fight against their body, day in, day out. Oh, and they’re also not supposed to go against prejudices. Fat people don’t run. When fat people run outside, it’s totally OK to yell insults at them. But also: if fat people don’t run, then it’s OK to yell insults at them, too. After all, they’re being lazy, right? They should be called on it, yes? They need to be reminded of their fatness, just in case they forgot about it for a second. It’s not like they live in their bodies every single day of their lives.
So fat people cannot do anything. Fat people should disappear.
All my life, I’ve been fighting against my body. I’ve been told that it’s not right; that I should not be OK with it; that I should not be complacent; that happiness could only be within my reach if I lost weight.
All my life, I’ve been told that I’m failing at life.