Full disclosure here: I am a fat woman. I haven’t always been fat. It used to be really important for me to tell people that. To make sure I let them know that I am only currently fat because I quit smoking. I hurt my knee. I had a baby. It was like saying, it’s okay for you to like me because I’m not one of “those” fat people. Those gross, horrible humans that dare to co-exist with the beautiful ones. See, right there, I was a part of the problem. It’s like a gay person gay bashing because they hate themselves so much. It only perpetuates self-hate, loathing and destruction. Oh and by the way, I’m gay too. A lesbian. Femme, most would say. I tell you that because I want you to know what you’re working with. I denied my queerness the first half of my life because I thought it would make people not like me. In the end it almost killed me.
“Being beautiful doesn’t teach you how to change a flat tire!” ”Being beautiful isn’t even a guarantee that somebody will love you”
The perception, that I was liked by someone, even someone I didn’t like, used to rule my world. I qualified myself for people when I was scared they would think poorly of me. Like, when I was ashamed that I dropped out of college when I got pregnant. I took a job dealing blackjack in a casino. I made sure to sneak it into every conversation, that I was college educated and was taking a “little break.” I’m not like most of these losers, it’s okay to like me. Until I stopped. Finally. I realized how ridiculous I was being. How hateful. How much I was in denial. That if I didn’t find happiness and love for myself in the now, in the present, in the imperfections that were me, I was going to waste the power of truly living. I realized that I had been sold a bunch of propaganda about the perfect woman. I bought into the social construct that there was this standard of perfection out there and that I needed to achieve that before anything else. Hindsight is 20/20. It took a while to stop apologizing for my imperfect existence.
Somewhere along the road of self-care and self-discovery I realized that I do not need to ever justify the space that I take up in the world. Not to anyone. Not even myself. No, woman, no person needs to justify their space to anyone. As women, especially, we are socialized to put a value on our personal beauty that trumps all else. Why?! This is so dumb! Being beautiful doesn’t teach you how to change a flat tire! Being beautiful doesn’t teach you how to write the perfect five paragraph essay! Being beautiful isn’t even a guarantee that someone will love you. So, why do we teach women to learn how to decorate ourselves before learning how to defend ourselves? How to quiet our voices before learning the power of our voices? To care for others, before we care for ourselves?
Since, I became fat I’ve realized that a lot of people, whether they realize it or not, try to comfort me about being fat, by reminding me that I’m pretty. Again, beauty is the answer! The salvation! The ticket to acceptance from society. But what if I lost my beauty? What if my face got mauled by tigers? Would I just be a nothing? A worthless piece of flesh and bones. I want to say that sometimes, out of sheer frustration. I know they are not trying to be giant assholes but they really are being giant assholes! People: Hear me and hear this if you hear nothing else. My fat means as much as my beauty does. Our bodies are but vessels for us to move around in. To do the things that we are meant to do on this earth and to experience all that we want to experience. It is up to us to write that story. Beauty is a reflection only of the beholder and all bodies are deserving of love and care. All bodies are deserving of respect. To believe that your personal worth is at all connected to your waistband, the color of your skin, the curl of your hair or the freckles on your face, is absurd. It is a response to the patriarchal capitalism pushed upon us by the fashion and diet industries. Follow the money people. Don’t believe the hype. Make your own rules. Develop your intellect, learn to think for yourself, question everything. Mindfulness is a powerful tool to the advancement of women around the world.
Confidence is a hallmark of attraction and if being attractive to others is a goal of yours, then remember this: You get back what you give. Qualifying yourself because you’re not thin enough, beautiful enough, too dumb, too smart, too whatever, only demonstrates that you believe you are lacking, not good enough, that you are less than. This is not attractive. This is sad. This is totally sad clown criteria. This perpetuates falsehoods that have been used to keep women down for centuries. Sing your own praises, women! No one else is going do it for you! (Okay, I probably will, because I think you’re pretty great, but I still want you to do it!)
Personal appearance and worth are not correlative! Buying into that lie is the only thing that gives it power. So snuff it out like a burned match. The power and privilege that society places on the ideal construct of beauty is what is making the feminist movement stutter. Let’s change that! Let’s demonstrate to other women that being a proud feminist means you believe you deserve equality and you’re willing to fight for it.
The perverseness of women who proudly boast that they are “not a feminist” is the direct result of not wanting to appear less desirable to men. Somewhere along the lines, women were fed a lie that we are merely a supportive player to the much more necessary and worthy man. That women are only meant for decoration, the bearing of sons and frosting of cakes. It is time to demolish those lies. I believe we can make steps toward a more united feminist movement if we stop believing in this pre recorded tape in our minds about what our life is supposed to look like. There is no “supposed to” in living. There is no road map. We are all in this together. If gender is fluid, if sex is fluid, then most certainly life is fluid too. Women, it is in our hands to create our stories. It is together that we will make change. Next time you don’t let yourself participate in life because you feel ugly, slap that bitch and tell her to get moving.