When I was in 9th grade, I stumbled upon the wonderful Jessica Luxury's blog. I was so amazed! I was new to Tumblr, and I wasn't used to seeing girls anywhere near my size range any place other than on a “before” picture in an infomercial. But Jessica, and the wonderful people within the fat acceptance community, opened up a whole new world to me. I had always hidden behind layers of clothing. I had been taught to hide my body because it wasn't compact sized. These wonderful bloggers gave me the agency to begin to start wearing make up, to hunt for cute clothes to wear. There was just one teeny, tiny small thing that got in the way of my fully assimilating into this culture: the word “fat.”
In my 4th period class my freshman year, I penned Jessica an email that I wish I still had. In it, I said something along the lines of, “Jessica! Wow. You’re so beautiful and I really admire you. But…why do you put yourself down and call yourself fat?” She responded something like: “Well, I am, so it’s not putting myself down because it’s just who I am.”
This was a concept that completely boggled my fourteen year old mind.
"Fat" had always been a naughty term. One that you kept hidden, skirted around in conversation. It was a dirty word. After all, no girl friend would bounce up to you in the hallway and say, "Wow, you look so fat in those jeans!" In sixth grade, I told Matt Eagen that I had a crush on him because, as my fellow eleven year old friend instructed, "we’re adults now. That’s just the adult thing to do." Matt, my skater jean clad Adonis, replied, "I would never date you. You’re fat and ugly."
That’s just how things progressed the majority of my life.
Gift certificates to Weight Watches were slid in my stocking for Christmas. When my friends and I would play make over, my beauty regime would be the only one that included “six crunches and four jumping jacks.” Once, in elementary school, a girl forced me onto her mother’s bathroom scale and I cried in humiliation on the cold, tiled floor.
The word fat had never done anything for me. It hadn’t given me any liberation, hadn’t provided me with any solace. It had haunted me. It filled the void of worthlessness that I felt. I began cutting in the eighth grade. I felt ugly, inside and out.
Not once did anyone ever say to me, “Emily, you’re okay the way you are. You’re allowed to feel beautiful.”
That kind of thinking is just so detrimental for a little girl. The sense of guilt that would abound when I did feel pretty or felt like I would look nice always won over. “You’re not allowed to feel pretty,” a voice would shout to me from inside. “You’re fat. Fat girls aren’t pretty.”
Now that I’m older, I proudly call myself a fat positive person. I make it my life mission to eradicate body shaming views from this world. I can honestly say that I believe every body on this earth to be beautiful beyond words.
And yet, if my shirt ever hitched up to reveal the web of stretch marks on my stomach, I would immediately be transported back to that cold bathroom floor - frightened of my own body and it’s mass. The few times that someone has seen my stomach, the thoughtless questions abound. “What happened?”
I’m not sure what has inspired this post. Even as I sit here, typing this, I feel bombarded with anxiety. That the people on here who I call my friends will laugh and mock me. But, I’ve realized something.
I don’t fucking care.
I don’t care what you think about my body, I don’t care if my path to radical self love makes you uncomfortable. I don’t care if you wish I’d cover up. I don’t care if the sight of my skin revolts you.
Because, it doesn’t for me. This is my body. My body has seen great sights. My body has taken me up mountains. My body has been embraced by incredible, fantastic people who have never once judged my self worth based off of my body. It is with this body that I combated loss, depression, sickness, anxiety. This body is the one that contains my spirit, and my inner light.
As most of you know, my best friend passed away just about two months ago. The loss of someone so incredible crucial to my life has taught me that this body, this life? This is all I have. And I will be damned if I spend my time here hating who I am.
I sent a message to one of my favorite bloggers, Tori, the other day on anon saying that I was really self conscious of my stretch marks. She replied back with,
"Aw, beautiful baby! Don’t be self-conscious! Everybody has stretch marks, and believe me when I say that they don’t make you any less sexy or any less worthy. If it helps you feel any better, pretend that you’re a tiger when you look at them, because tigers are awesome and you are too!"
Every day, with the guidance of this community, I learn that I am beautiful and I am worthy, not in spite of my body, but because of it. I am sick and tired of wishing I could shrink, of wishing I didn’t take up so much space. I’m sick and tired of being told that I am not good enough, that the only way I can experience love and life is if I can fit into a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch jeans.
That’s not who I am. And as Janelle Monae says, "Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love myself."
Thank you for reading this,
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