Monday, June 29, 2009

Body Issues: Fatty Fat Fat Edition

When I got home to Malaysia last December, the first thing Mum said was, "oh my God you're so fat now."

(Which might help explain my better relationship with my dad.)

The last time she'd seen me, I was rather svelte, a size 4 from Suzy Shier.

When I got home, I was a size 10.

There are reasons for this. When she last saw me, I was coming down from a high where I was walking to my university, dancing during rehearsals, and ... not eating that much for the amount of activity I was doing. I was very active: I frequently missed the bus and had to walk to university; I modeled, I... got out a lot for someone who doesn't like getting out a lot.

Before I last went home though? I was not getting out much. I was hosting NaNoWriMo (I'm the Halifax ML). I was starting a new full-time job. In between, I was stage-managing and acting in a play. It meant a lot of pizza nights, and a lot of meals at the food court downstairs.

The weight thing was inevitable. (However, the job thing, finishing NaNo for the sixth time in a row, and the play going well? Not inevitable. Very pleased at the success.)

That's not what bugged me. You know what bugged me? The fat-shaming.

A ton has been written about fat-shaming. Kate Harding writes a ton on the subject. Melissa McEwan frequently discusses it as well. I've written about it too.

But basically, when I went home, I was feeling fine. I was putting on weight and I definitely noticed it, but I sucked it up and decided to go home, and go hiking with my dad a lot. I was sure that with the amount of movement I got to do at home, I'd lose weight. My house back home has stairs. I tend to pace a lot, especially when thinking, and I would run up and down the stairs. I was sure I could fit back into my regular clothes when I got back to Canada, and if not, I could buy more clothes in Malaysia to fit me, for cheaper.

I didn't lose much weight. It's entirely possible I put on more. You know what else I got?

Issues. Hardcore. As in, while before I was happily moseying through life, suddenly? I didn't feel like going out anymore. I didn't feel like dressing nice. I went down to Singapore for a week to model, and I felt like crap before I even got there. I mustered it anyway and got a couple of decent pictures, but no good nudes like before. I felt like this all the way back to Halifax.

And one morning at my awesome new job, I got an email from my dad asking me very innocently, how's my weight? And I just broke down.

This comes from a person who is 5'2" and has an average-body type, who generally does not have issues with her body and who generally eats what she wants, goes where she wants, does what she wants.

But there is something about the culture at large which is so devastatingly limiting when it comes to our own bodies, particularly women's bodies which apparently exist for male consumption.

I have friends who wear the hijab out of choice when mainstream Western ideas decry it as sexist and oppressive.

I know more people in the West who feel the constant pressure of mainstream Western ideals to conform to specific body standards.

"Fatty fat fat" shaming is still a form of limitation on people. It's horrid precisely because it's so subtle and so acceptable.

3 comments:

  1. Hey, I saw your blog on Steampunk Empire, and while a rather loud part of me is yelling that I am creeping you out at this point, I do feel that this particular blog post hits a bit close to home for me, so I thought I would comment.

    As a guy who actually likes girls who are larger/healthy (As they say in Mexico, meat is for the man, bones are for the dog) I've been hit with a bit of secondary jabs. Nothing as bad as I imagine girls would go through, but the implications that I am with a larger girl because I can't meet "normal" girls, or because I think curvy girls are easy, are all very hurtful to me. I've always been of the opinion that personalty counts for 90% of dating anywho, heh, after all, you can't hold a conversation with cleavage, although many guys do try. Anywho, Just wanted to leave a little comment, and be off before I say something to humiliate myself or creep you out. Take care!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can definitely relate to the issues you write about. I was pretty overweight for most of my childhood (not to mention shy and somewhat socially awkward as well) and the occasional comments about my weight from my parents and peers, no matter how innocently they were made, really stuck with me and affected my body image for years to come. Now that I've turned around my perception of myself, I find myself very easily enraged by the kind of fat-shaming you speak of. Once, one of my friends mentioned to me that the fruit smoothies and almonds I enjoy so much "have calories" and would make me fat, I almost smacked her. (I'm also a vegan, what else does she expect me to eat?) My boyfriend also once asked me why I never tease him for his weight, even though his other friends often do and he says it doesn't bother him. He assumes it's just because I'm too PC to do so, but I actually couldn't ever imagine making those same type of comments that had messed up my own body image for so long.

    ReplyDelete