[image description: ben is sat eating an ice cream cone with 3 scoops (it was espresso, Malteser and cherry, very very nice) he has short pale blue hair and glasses, he’s wearing a denim jacket/hoodie and a burgundy top. Ben is holding his green crutches and is sat outside with flowers in the background.]
I am fat.
I was a fat kid, a fat teen and now, a fat adult.
I spent those years as a fat kid/teen/young adult thinking that my body was wrong and disgusting, that my size was what made me im/moral or a good/bad person. As I grew up I never saw fat people being celebrated, I heard phrases like “X is fat BUT they are beautiful”, “fat BUT handsome” or “fat BUT confident”. I never heard the word “and” no one was ever fat AND confident, fat AND beautiful. I grew up believing that it wasn’t possible.
But at that time fat was a word I thought was worse than swearing. Being called fat was the worse thing someone could say to me. Bullies taught me that I deserved it because I was fat, I was told that everyone gets bullied, it’s just a phase and just part of growing up. Since when is it okay to tell that to children, that instead of ending bullying, it’s just become another part of growing up. My fatness became an excuse for the bullies to carry on, they were never taught any different, they’d been brought up in the same fatphobic society.
But being bullied was never just ‘a phase’, neither was my fatness. I was bullied all the way to sixth form college, mostly by the same people (oh the joys of living in a small countryside village). I was also fat all the way through primary school and beyond. It wasn’t for lack of trying, I’ve said before that I started my first diet around the age of 11.
Needless to say the dieting didn’t work, I was bullied to the point of developing an eating disorder I’m only just recovering from. I tried everything to lose weight, but because I never lost ‘enough’ the bullying didn’t stop. The only reason it stopped was because I finally ended up at a different school to the bullies and the people I went to college with never said anything to me. But the damage was already done, I already had the eating disorder, I already had all those years of being told I wasn’t good enough, that the only way to be happy in life was to be skinny. Fat was still the worst thing, it was still a personal failure.
I spent college in an abusive/manipulative relationship where my weight rocketed and fell dramatically, nothing was stable and I was at my lowest point in my relationship with my body. I wont say the numbers but if I was in a thin body I would have been hospitalised, but because I was in a fat body already I was complimented. Friends and family all said how great I looked, how ‘skinny’ I was (I was still overweight) and it just fuelled the disordered thinking. I couldn’t be doing anything wrong if everyone was being so positive. The only experiences of eating disorder I’d had were seeing anorexic girls at school, on tv or in gossip magazines. I was this overweight queer kid, we obviously didn’t have eating disorders.
It was only after going to group bulimia therapy in 2015/16 that I learnt how to stop cycles and why my body wasn’t actually losing weight and keeping it off (there’s a lot of science), I didn’t implement those skills for a while but I had them and that was something I never had before. It’s only this year I’ve properly felt like I was in recovery and more in control of my eating/thoughts.
BoPo has changed my life, I’ve been working really hard challenging my internalised fatphobia and beliefs about not only my body but others too. I used to covet bodies which were smaller than mine, thinking that they were better people than me. I’ve been trying to listen to my hunger cues and listen to what my body wants. It’s been hard, I’m still in donut land (as Jess Baker calls it) where nothing is off limits so I want to eat all the things I’d refused myself or made myself feel guilty about eating before. But I’m sure soon it’ll even out and I’ll learn how to listen to what nutrition my body wants and enjoys, it’s also fine if that takes a while. I’m learning that it’s not about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food, food is just food, it’s something to enjoy, something to nourish body and soul. Learning more about people within the BoPo community has made me proud to be in a bigger body, not ashamed.
Now when I call myself fat it’s no longer derogatory and a slur, it’s just a fact. I have a fat body, I am fat. And that’s okay with me. I’m not ashamed to eat in public now or have photos of me with food. Why should I be? I am fat and I am happy. I am fat and handsome, I am fat and intelligent, I am fat and fucking awesome.