#MyBodyStory is a series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body. Because every body has a story, and every story deserves to be heard.
Do you have a #MyBodyStory to share? Send it to Story@DoTheHotpants.com
And now, here is Provvidenza’s Body Story:
The opinions expressed in #MyBodyStory are the writer’s own.The thing is, I’ve never hated my body.
But, when I think of the story of my body, I often think about how large swaths of it were not written by me. I think about how I used neutrality as a mode of survival and protection. How my two options were to either take note of every fatphobic thing I see and hear, or feel a deluge of shame for simply living in my fat body. Instead, I chose the middle, where everything was neither here nor there. Everything was water off a duck’s back, and everything was as good as I thought I could make it.
This liminal space breeds apathy as a mode of protection. If I were to decide otherwise, it would mean that I would have to go face to face with my oppression, and either way I was going to be hurt.
The day you decide that your body shouldn’t be hurt, shamed, and systematically attacked for any reason is a transcendent day,. It’s also one of the most devastating days of your life. Like a waterfall, every fatphobic comment a friend, parent or partner has ever said to you rushes back. You realize every time your body has been impacted by stereotypes, and you acknowledge that the world tries to minimize you at every turn. You get mad. You feel like no one has ever treated you sweetly or kindly, and that everyone uses you as an emotional springboard but seldom returns the love. You realize that you are more than what the world has turned you into.
Because it was them, they are the ones who decided you and people like you are lazy, undesirable, useless, disgusting, you name it. But the thing is, you never made that decision, it was given to you by a world that benefits off casting you aside, and now you aren’t going to accept that anymore.
If I’m being honest, I don’t even know how I got here. There was no conscious moment where it all changed, I think my body just couldn’t hold it in anymore. My body wanted and needed expansion, and quite frankly it wasn’t going to take shit anymore.
This process was grueling, but enlightening. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself the whole emotional spectrum. I let myself be hurt when someone said, “I feel so fat.’’ I got mad when my aunt wouldn’t stop talking about her diet, and I felt happy because I unpacked it with her and looked cute doing it.
I gave myself fullness, depth, love, understanding. I named my feelings. I named the things that always felt odd to me, like how doctors always seemed to point to my weight and forgot to treat the thing I actually came in for, just to later find out that there is research corroborating my experience. I let myself feel different ways about my body, oscillating between extreme love and total chaos.
I discovered body positivity. I immersed myself in fatshion, I read everything I could and it felt like times were changing, but as I began to discover other elements of my identity, my queerness, my non-binary gender identity (or as I like to say, genderful) and when I began to feel and see the commodification of body positivity, I found myself frustrated again. I thought I had found a space to exist, and now it felt like the space was being invaded with generic “body love” messaging and that fat bodies were being erased as people and companies were capitalizing off body positivity (hello, capitalism!). Instead of gliding through the middle as I had done when I was younger, I took a deep dive into fat politics and fat liberation. I moved away from the language of body positivity, and intentionally starting using words and phrases like fat shaming, fat hatred and also calling myself a proud, queer, genderful fattie.
Now, I know this can feel alienating to a lot of folks, and they may be asking themselves what’s the difference. The difference is that fat bodies are the most marginalized and we experience the most systemic pressures. We experience the most hurt and we experience the most hatred, not to mention that our oppression deepens when you add the layers of race, gender, class and ability. If you consider yourself an intersectional feminist and you are committing yourself to liberation for all bodies, please center fat people in your work. Fill your social media feed with radical fatties (like me!), read the writing of folks like Virgie Tovar, Yr Fat Friend and Lindy West, and constantly unpack your connection to fatphobia.
Do it for your fat friends who go shopping with you just to enter a bunch of stores that don’t carry their size. Do it for your fat friend who had a tough time at the doctor’s office. Do it for your fat friend who quite literally didn’t get hired for a job because someone equated their fatness with laziness. Step up when your friend gets trolled online (shout out to my friends!). Offer to go to that doctor’s appointment with them (shout out to my partner!), and most importantly, let them have feelings about their body without you projecting on them or trying to save them. Believe them, uplift them, and center them.
To be unapologetic about your body and the feelings around it is a radical act for anyone, but for fat folks, it is transcendent. The world will change for both me and you if we work hard at it, I promise.
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