It all started at age eleven when I first exceeded the Body Mass Index (BMI) at the doctor. This was during the 1980’s, a time where fad dieting was booming everywhere. Susan Sommers, Slim Fast and “Saturated Fats” dominated everyday life. To be an overweight child during that time meant a lot of shame, confusion and discrimination. For me it was the beginning of a lifetime of fad dieting and social stigma.
I remember watching Oprah Winfrey on TV after I got home from school and thinking to myself that even this incredibly successful and powerful woman who is on top of the entertainment industry - even she can’t escape the judgement. No matter what Oprah’s lifetime achievements were, people still focused on her weight loss to the point where she became almost like a weight loss mascot. So what chance did I have to be accepted by society the way I am?
Even though every day the world was telling me that my body was the problem, and even when I was feeling inadequate or being discriminated against for my size I always wanted to believe. I believed in finding love, I believed in being athletic and active and I still loved my family and friends dearly.
My weight always held me back because some things weren’t accessible to me, but I was still capable of doing and accomplishing things. I just never had any living examples to connect with other people in a fat body. There was no representation of my people so I always felt like a weirdo in a space where I didn’t belong.
Today, I want to be that representation for others. We don’t get to see fat people have fun, find love, be on a podium, or walk down the runway - but we exist and we deserve those things just like everyone else. It seems like being thin is the gateway to fulfillment but I am here to tell you that it’s not true. The lack of representation makes you think you don’t deserve it.
I’m choosing to take up space and be visible as a fat woman, living my life to the fullest with as much joy and pleasure as possible in a world that would prefer I stay hidden or shrink myself into the socially acceptable body worthy of fulfillment. I share my stories but they are not unique. They are simply stories of life in a fat body.