A few moments ago I was having a scroll through instagram, embracing a little downtime after doing a metric tonne of laundry and ironing a bundle of things too. As I sat down for a little break in the early evening sunshine, my notifications popped up. As I clicked through, I spotted that a comment had been left on the picture above. The picture’s over a month old, which is why I think I even noticed – most of my recent notifications have been on the slew of pretty Italian scenes I’ve been sharing. Man, Italy is gorgeous.
Before I continue with the tale, a little aside on the image above.
I happen to love the picture, not because I look good, or it’s especially clever, or even a great insta-shot. I look a bit mad, to be fair – I’d been up since 4.45am to get on the Eurostar, my hair is clearly having a moment, I’m grinning like a loon and the Arc de Triomphe shot I was aiming for has just been obscured by a van. However, I also look happy…because I was. And because I am.
So back to the comment. The comment left, coincidentally, by someone who had followed and then promptly found a selfie to leave his oh-so-special and important tuppence worth of opinion on. The comment? Fattie Fattie Fattie Oi Oi Oi.
I mean. What critique. What wit. What a way to get straight to the point and present me with some brand new information. Because obviously, being the size and weight I am, this fact had never been brought to my attention. I mean, when you’re larger than the average/ fat/ obese/ plump/ voluptuous (pick your flavour – I’ve been called them all and I am them all) heaven knows this is never pointed out to you! The culture and time we live in never objectifies people, let alone women.
This is where I should note that the username that left the comment rang a bell. It may be a coincidence on the name front, but if not let’s just say that someone I once encountered at a distance would be better off paying attention to his grammar and spelling (it’s ‘fatty’, for the love of plurals, not ‘fattie’!), rather than spending time trolling a woman who he barely knew, several years ago.
Clearly, I blocked the guy straight away. And sat down to write this post while my feelings were fresh – I’m on Easter break and the time to write is delightful.
I’m always amazed when people throw out ‘fat’ as the go-to insult. It’s the most poisonous thing people can think of at times, but to me it’s just so benign and frankly, a little dull. I’ve been larger than the average/ fat/ obese/ plump/ voluptuous (pick your flavour – I’ve been called them all and I am them all) for two-thirds of my life, and I’ve been called fat so often that it now barely even registers. Because I am fat. It’s not something you can hide. It’s not something you can escape. It’s not even something you can disguise. It’s something that can change, and something I’m trying to change, but I also know that to many I’m just fat.
For the longest time that’s how I saw myself too. I’m grateful for growing up and realising that while I am fat, there are also many, many other things I am too. Some are good (straight teeth, mad but infectious laugh, crazy amounts of trivia/song lyrics to share). Some are bad (I can be impatient, I’m far too fond of sleep, and I can carry hurts around for too long). People rarely leave comments about that on my instagram though.
I made peace with my fatness a few years ago, when I had to have surgery. After years of hating my body, those weeks and months of recovery made me more willing to respect my body for what it can do as well as wanting it to be slimmer. That’s also the point where I looked deeper into my relationship with food, with fatness and with being different.
I didn’t grow up fat as a child. I was active and busy and healthy. I was also really, really lonely. When I went away to boarding school aged eleven, the class bullies picked up on the latter part of my character like a beacon and I became a target. Their word of choice? Fat. At that point I was anything but (actually a fairer describer would have been tall. Yep, I was once tall), but miles from home, dressed in hand-me-downs and just hitting puberty, it was the perfect storm. My eating became disordered, and I spent the next five years eating too much, eating too little, bingeing, purging, and generally starting to hate my body. By the end of Year 11 I was overweight, but miles from obese.
Sixth form was a healthier time. My inner tomboy kicked into gear when I return to Scotland for the last two years of school and while I still ate too much at times my body was strong and useful. I thrived on a regular schedule of walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and aquafit with the older ladies on our base. At the time I thought I was fat, but now I look back at my size 14/16 frame and want to go back and hug myself/slap myself silly for thinking that, depending on the day.
University brought with it the freshman fifteen. Living on a very strict budget meant a lot of pasta, bread and chips. I then lost thirty pounds on a steady diet of one meal a day and three hours plus of exercise. I can barely remember that term. My waist was so skinny, but I was also grey of skin and sleep-deprived from too much caffeine and stomach pain. Of course, once I actually started eating again it all came back, with interest, and that was probably the first time I really was obese. Comfort eating after some horrid times, snacking while cramming, and the numbers kept creeping upwards.
In my twenties, I kind of stayed around the same 16/18 place, right between overweight and obese. Until I fell in love, and then I put on the comfortable pounds. You know, the ones you gain from cooking, and snacking, and going out for dinners. Which brings us to now, when I’m a size 22 (well, actually nearly back down to a 20, in the year where I’m working on my whole relationship with food and my body. So actually the nasty comment arrived just when I was in the mood for a weight post).
So that’s my ramble for this evening. The comment didn’t upset me as such – I know I’m fat. More than anything it made me cross (because ultimately what a random thinks of my size is none of their business), made me bored (really, again?) and made me want to write an opinion post. Something I haven’t done in a while.
So Mr Commenter, eff you. And shame on you for not choosing the shot where I’m daring to eat a gelato – would have been even more apt, no?