I was hanging out with some friends, and one of them described a woman, whom we all knew by sight, but not personally, as fat. My friend didn't do this with any particular judgement, but as a way of describing who she was to be sure we all knew who he meant. Another friend gasped and said, outraged, "Be nice!" The first friend protested his innocent intent, and the conversation moved on without further incident.
This was a while back, several years at this point, but I come back to it every now and again, because it's such a common thing that people seem to think. No one knows she's fat, so you mustn't mention it! Actually, of course, what that really means is that being fat is something to be ashamed of, and so it's best not to discuss it in polite company lest the children hear and have nightmares.
I'm sure you'll all be shocked to hear that this doesn't fly for me.
Just as when people whisper when pointing out the only black person in a restaurant full of white folks, people acting like fatness is a secret is just silly. I'm not going to suggest that the social stigma of being fat is at the institutionalized level of, say, racism, but it's there, and it's annoying.
Men who are attracted to fat women are ashamed of it, and whisper about it behind closed doors. They date thin women because it's what they're supposed to do and then they tell their beautiful fat friend how attracted they are to her, blah, blah, blah. Some women make eyes at the studly sporty guys in the bar, but they're happy to go home to their snuggly bear type guy. I have no problem with people being attracted to people of various sizes, from thin to fat, but the shame and secretiveness about it is just old.
People who are fat run into all kinds of problems in social settings, and in many professional settings, they're taken to be a little slower than their sleeker colleagues. But this is hardly news. In fact, I'm so over it that I mostly ignore it. For myself, I've found that the people who I'm most interested in knowing aren't the sort to make judgements, or at least judgements that stick, based on my size, so it turns out that being fat is an excellent filter for my life. I don't waste my time this way.
I'm not ashamed of being fat, and so far, no one's been able to make me feel otherwise. Various people have suggested I might be happier, more loved, more pursued, or other things, if I lost weight, but none of the arguments, obviously, have been compelling enough to make me want to be other than I am. At this point, I think other people's problems with how I look are just that: their problems. It's a good place to be.
So I posted a personal ad recently, and I described myself as "fat and pretty." I'm pretty sure that's true, and I don't really see the point of wasting my time corresponding with people who aren't interested in someone of my type. One of the responses to this ad said, among other things, "'Fat & pretty' -- that bothers me. Don't run yourself down. 'Pretty' will do." I'm sure this guy thought he was giving me a nice compliment or affirmation or something but it went back to the original point of this post, which is this: Everyone knows when someone is fat. I know. You know. The woman walking down the bike path knows. It's not something hidden, like being queer, and it's a real thing. Saying I'm fat isn't "running myself down." Saying I'm fat is saying one of the things that I am. It's not WHO I am, but it's certainly part of that. And if you have a hangup about fat, if you think it's something I should hide and be ashamed of, I don't really see the point in continuing the conversation because you're obviously oblivious to the way that that's insulting.
I resent the implication that I should slouch around and be ashamed of my body, that fat and pretty are contradictory, or that pretending my fatness doesn't exist would make me more attractive. I resent every time someone has suggested that they'd be more attracted to me if I were thinner, and I'm not doing that shit anymore, just so you all know. You own your own attraction, and guess what? Say it together: That's not my problem; it's yours.
Say, did you ever notice I'm fat? Well, I am!