kids these days; also, I’ve come a long way.
Ohai blog, it’s been a while.
Warning: The last part of this post contains potentially triggering material.
I was going to post about HAES and a job I might have this summer(!), but literally a couple of minutes after I got home one day last week I came across this article, which seemed oddly appropriate after what happened on the way home. I’ll make that other post later.
When I was walking home, I passed a house not too far from my own apartment and there were some kids playing outside. They might have been 10 or 11 (I don’t know, I’m no good at guessing ages), and there was at least one of them who was yelling “douchebag!”–which, I have to admit, amused me a little even though he probably doesn’t know what a douchebag is. Anyway, I was looking straight ahead and about half a block away from my apartment when the same kid (I think; I wasn’t looking) yelled “Fat lady in a dress!”–which was true. I’m fat and, like most days, I was wearing a dress. I’m guessing he wasn’t just making an observation; personally, I don’t tend to yell out everything I observe… but the notion does kind of remind me of Real Life Twitter:
So I kept walking and ignored the kid, just like I learned to ignore the kids just like him when I was in elementary school; the house was completely behind me when I heard him yell “there’s a planet on the sidewalk!”, presumably referring to me and my fatness. This would have upset me a lot if I were in elementary, middle or high school–or even my first 2.5 years of college, probably; years ago, I would pretend that the boy or girl calling me fat like it was a terrible thing to be (which I believed for a long time) wasn’t affecting me at all… then I would go home and cry and/or engage in self-destructive behavior.
This was actually the first time in a while someone’s maliciously called me fat to my face, and you know what? I didn’t cry. I wasn’t depressed for days. This is what I call personal growth.
I already posted about the fact that I now have something in the area of self-esteem, but FA for me has gone a lot deeper than that.
Warning: potentially triggering material below.
A little over a year ago, my father passed away. I was an emotional wreck; I spent the remainder of the semester (3 weeks) and some of the summer at home with my mom and siblings. Exactly two months later, I was raped.
Like so many other victims (I was still a victim at that point; I now consider myself a survivor), I believed it was my fault despite my better judgment. A lot of my close friends are sexual assault advocates and I’ve been participating in and organizing V-Day at my university for years, helping to raise money for a local organization that works to empower survivors and recognize that it isn’t their fault.
I convinced myself that this happened to me because of some bad decision I made; my common sense was compromised and because my dad had died, I wasn’t thinking straight. Therefore, it was my fault. In addition to this misconception, I figured that I deserved it because if I had just done things differently, it wouldn’t have happened. I also somehow figured that I should be grateful for being raped because hey, who wants to have sex with a fat chick? No normal, self-respecting person. Clearly, no one besides a creepy fetishist chubby chaser would ever love me enough to want to have consensual sex with me, so I should just take it where I can get it.
All of this sounds like something a particularly douchy troll would say. When an asshole on the internet makes comments like these, we as bloggers and blog-readers can ridicule him and kick him in the face with feminism.
My experience is eerily similar to one described by Kate Harding in her essay for Yes Means Yes, called “How do you Fuck a Fat Woman?”, except all of the horrible comments were made by me inside my own head. I didn’t speak my truth until 10 months later at the speakout portion of the local Take Back The Night; I had an intense fear of judgment. For a long time I thought people would think “who’d want to rape her? She’s FAT! Eww!” but I felt an enormous weight lift when I spoke at that podium and had an amazingly supportive group of feminists who supported me afterwards.
Treating someone like shit is not automatically justified if they’re fat. Fat women don’t deserve to be raped, nor should they feel gratitude for the experience. It seems like common sense, but just imagine if we could actually realize it. If I hadn’t accidentally discovered fat acceptance a few months ago, I think I’d still have the I’m-a-horrible-person-because-I’m-fat mindset, including thinking I deserved discrimination and ridicule and rape and thinking no one in their right mind would ever be attracted to someone who’s fat, EVER.
I’m so glad I know better now.