Letting go

So, yesterday, N asked me a very poignant question about fatness, which was: When will I let go of the notion that I have to be nice to everybody (and not stand up for myself) because I am fat?

Because I tend to let people walk all over me because if I am just nice enough, maybe they won’t notice how fat I really am. They will forgive me for it.

I have been chewing on that for the last 18 hours now.

I think I compartmentalize my life in certain ways. There are places where fatness reigns and where it does not. Where it is to my advantage, and where it is to my hindrance. And where it is to my advantage, I stand up for myself, and where it is to my hindrance, I do not.

Take work, for example. I can think of no other venue where I Speak My Mind and Don’t Shut The Fuck Up the best than at work. That’s actually where N and I met. I am quick to state my opinions, fight for what’s mine, advocate for my own rights and others’, be the sounding board for colleagues’ ideas, and am usually quickly promoted. Quite literally, I throw my weight around, on the job. I take up some motherfuckin’ space, yo. Work gets me riled up, work soothes me; when I am satisfied at work, I am doing well in life; when I am dissatisfied at work, I am not doing well at life. I am creature bound by her work. I have always seen my weight as a boon to any career I have been in, because I feel as though I will be taken far more seriously, and I feel as though I don’t have to play the games that other women play at work, because I am not even in their league. I suppose I carry myself like a “man” at work, and am rather shocked when people are still perceiving me as a woman. And perhaps that isn’t gender politically correct of me, but it is truthful for me.

In any sort of educational setting I feel the same way. I am not shy or inhibited and have a lot to say, and I feel as though I am taken seriously and not simply seen as just a pretty face or body. It’s been a relief to be fat and not have to worry, a majority of the time, about things like: Will my work — on an educational or career-level — be taken seriously because I have tits and an ass? Which is probably why I despise being hit on so much, because it reminds me that yes, I do have tits and an ass, and apparently, men feel as though they have the right to make public commentary about them, and I’d much rather prefer to be visually invisible, and be noticed only for what I have to say or do.

I can stand up for myself righteously with cashiers, wait staff, customer service people, people on the phone, people who have treated me badly whose services I have purchased. I am able to fight for my rights vigorously with people I don’t know.

It is only when I get into a home space, or a space in which significant relationships are formed where I am less able to stand up for myself. I am not good at creating conflict with people whom I am expected to live. I am not good at speaking up for myself when someone I love may simply sum up everything that I have done with this single justification for why they are angry with me: Well, you are fat, so of course I am angry with you.

This has become a Very Big Issue recently because of the living situation I have been in at the present moment. It seems set to resolve in a short period of time, and when I found out that in a month or so, I would have a space to call my own, it was as if all of the air in an overblown balloon had been released. It’s not easy to let go of something you’ve been raised with when you have no safe place to rest your head at the end of the night. It’s not easy to fight battles when you are expected to sleep in the very battleground you’ve waged a war upon.

Letting go of a concept, a mannerism, an entire way of being sometimes requires letting go of people and relationships in your life, as well — at least for a time being. And that’s kind of where I am at now.

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3 Comments

  1. Phledge said,

    January 31, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    OMG. I could have written this, except in reverse and not nearly as eloquently. I’m completely comfortable in my home space and my family absolutely knows that I will not budge on the fat acceptance issue. OTOH, I am a frightened little hamster (well, fat hamster, actually) at school–y’know, medical school, where everyone is being taught that I’m the personification of death, or death wish, or whatever–and as much as I love what I do I’m afraid that my colleagues and faculty hold a private judgment against me for my fat. So I don’t push it. I don’t challenge, or question, or argue. I just know that I’m less in their eyes.

    Awesome post.

  2. herintro said,

    January 31, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Beautifully written. Before the FA movement have so many ever talked so openly about their experinces as a fat person in our society? I am moved and informed. Wonderful.
    Kat@Big Fat Kiss

  3. notblueatall said,

    January 31, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Yes! I am normally very outspoken/opinionated. Last night though when I was ordering take-out (Love World Wraps btw) I asked if they had dessert…the gal said no and I replied, “Probably better for me anyway!” With a big cheesy smile on my face. I went to the restroom right after this exchange and felt so ashamed of myself! Why oh why did I say something like that? It was as though I was suddenly body snatched!


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