on self-esteem

Not very long ago, I used to untag every tagged photo of me on Facebook if it made me look fat.

Of course, this is ridiculous–I AM fat, so it’s only natural that, uh, I look fat in pictures.  I was ashamed of my fat, and I didn’t want other people to see it.. despite the fact that I know the vast majority of my Facebook friends in real life.  I haven’t seen a lot of them in years, but years ago I was still fat.

So basically, I’d untag every full-body shot, every picture in which my double chin was visible, and pictures in which I was sitting and couldn’t suck in my gut in time, just in case someone who was viewing my profile decided to look through my pictures.  The approval of my own friends and, potentially, strangers who I didn’t want finding out about my fatness, was apparently Really Important.

I never would’ve DREAMED of posting an Outfit of the Day photo on Fatshionista, especially not a head-to-toe photo.  It took me a long time to stop cringing when looking at pictures of myself that didn’t make me look thinner.

For me, self-esteem came more easily when I started to feel comfortable with my gender presentation, which consequentially was shortly after my femme-ness began to manifest itself in my clothing choices.  I had qualms about being a fat femme, which stemmed from my fat shame.  I felt like being fat AND feminine was somehow not socially acceptable/”allowed” (well, maybe it still isn’t, but society’s hypothetical disapproval of the fat femme was the reason for my discomfort surrounding the idea) and didn’t really even believe that fat femmes existed until I met my downstairs neighbor, who is now one of my best friends.  She was fat AND not afraid to be beautiful, which is what fascinated me before we really became friends.

I was a freshman in college, and my standard uniform was jeans and a t-shirt, maybe with a sweatshirt over the t-shirt.  During one of my first experiences at Recital Hour, a class required for undergraduate music majors and minors, she was performing; she’s without a doubt the most talented vocalist at my school.  I was envious of her stage presence and confidence–and of course, her voice!–but I noticed that she wasn’t only confident on stage, she was confident (outwardly) pretty much all of the time!

I moved into her building this summer (2008) because she’d told the landlords she would find people to live in the apartment upstairs from hers and I needed a place to live.  We started hanging out all the time, and she inspired me to start caring about what I look like.  For years, I didn’t want to dress nicely or wear makeup–sort of as a middle finger to the patriarchy (this is what I would tell people, anyway), but mostly because I was waiting until I became thin to give a damn.  I’d been wanting to feel pretty all of this time, but I wasn’t letting myself actually do so.

I still don’t love my body 100%*, but I actually do pretty much like it most of the time.  I’m finally comfortable in my own skin, which I didn’t really think would ever happen as long as I was still fat.  I had my first doctor appointment since starting to read about HAES, and my weight didn’t even come up (okay, so I was there to get my ankle checked out, but I was sure the doctor would say something like “well, if you weren’t MORBIDLY OBESE BOOGA BOOGA, you probably wouldn’t have fallen down the stairs.”  Well, I’m clumsy and if I were thin I’d still be clumsy.) but I was prepared to defend my refusal to diet.

There’s a picture** on Facebook of me at an anti-war picket in my hometown at age 15, with my little sister (who was 9 at the time).  At that point, I was a size 16 and HATED my body and probably would’ve hated that picture if I’d seen it in that moment–even though a sign is covering most of my body.  Now, at a size 24-ish, I can look at pictures and appreciate the memories they preserve instead of worrying about what other people will think if they see them or instinctively planning my next diet.


*I still do long for a booty; I inherited a wide, frustratingly flat ass from my mother, who is naturally fairly thin.

**I couldn’t resist posting it!

Adam (the organizer of the picket), me (15) and my sister (9)

Adam (the organizer of the picket), me (15) and my sister (9)

It was windy (hence the hair in my face), but it was still a really good time.

March 23, 2009. Tags: , , . FA.

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