So I was in the locker room at the YMCA today. Now for whatever reason (like, I don’t know, cis, white privilege?) even as a fat babe, locker rooms rarely bother me. I have an exibitionist streak and am fine dropping trow on a dime. So I don’t mind whipping off my bra in front of a gaggle of teenagers or my thighs jiggling in the midst of a team of moms wrestling their kids into bathing suits. My fat bod takes up naked space on the daily, no big deal. But today. Babes, today was not an easy day for my fat babe bod or my fat babe heart.
I walked into the locker room sweaty after a run and made my way to my locker where there were two people chatting. Strangers, but they had bonded in that change room. A young person, teenager maybe and another person in their 30’s, somewhere near my own age.
Connecting on a deeply personal level over how much they hated their bodies.
Teenager: My mom wanted to buy me this winter coat in an extra-large, but i made her buy it for me in a size large – It will fit me next year.
Thirty something – Of course it will, you keep coming to the gym and you will see changes. I used to be 250lbs and in one year I had lost one hundred pounds. I’ve hit a plateau here though and I just need to lose 10 more pounds and I will be good.
Teenager – What size are you?
Thirty something – small.
Teenager: I just want to be a large…or a medium.
Babes, I withered. I felt my heart crack and i withered. My mind raced for a way to interject, to figure out the words i needed, to let that teenager know that she was fucking perfect all ready, to let that thirty something know that those last 10lbs are not going to change the friendly way she talks to everyone. How do I tell them the world may not have heart for fat babes, but I do.
But i had nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. I could not think of a way to interrupt the conversation, to get in the way of that rhetoric, the idea that hating ourselves is a casual conversation to have with strangers. That we always just need to lose ten more pounds. Instead I took off my sweaty clothes piece by piece and got dressed holding on to their agony and desire and feelings of not being enough. I left. I walked out, my eyes a little damp.
And isn’t that the goddamn reality of this fatphobic, capitalist, western narrative about bodies? That we just need a little more to be good. Lose a little more weight, work out a little more, have a little more will power. That little more is what is killing us, babes. A little more is asking too damn much. My fat body is not a commodity for capitalism. Not today, babes.
I know too damn well that a little more just leaves us with a whole lot less, but, sweet mother, it is damn near impossible to wedge our fat bodies into that conversation at all. At least this afternoon it was. And all through dinner. And while I was putting my own little girl to sleep after reading her a barbie princess book she had stolen from daycare. And then babes it wasn’t. It wasn’t impossible because fuck that. If I need an unmovable mass of a babe to serve as a wedge and take up some fucking room in a conversation, well hell, might as well be me.
I cried today because listening to those two babes in the locker room reminded me that most people live that way-spending so much energy and time on what could be/real talk: what never will be, that they miss out on putting their energy elsewhere: love affairs, discovery, friends, changing the world.
I had forgotten for a second that this is real life standard practice for many a fat babe. And I hate that and I felt helpless, sad and heartsick for any babe who is stuck in the wrong conversation. And I don’t like that feeling so the crying came for me. But then so did my anger and my rage and my heart and that is why I poured out this post. Because my rage fueled by heart has helped me survive.
And maybe that is the conversation we should be having in the lunch room.
So Babes, lets armor up cause if we are gonna go out there and kick it fat babe style we need some goddamn reinforcements. Now I’m not usually one for affirmational statements but when times get tough fat babes need some spirit to fall back on. First step is some emotional armor to get us all started. Something to take us away from that ‘little more’ mantra that is embedded over and over in our minds, our skin, our fat. Words that help us stick in people’s craw, that allow us to live huge in a world that vilifies big.
- The world we live in is a bag of dicks, but we don’t have to suck. You feel me? We can be better than we have been taught. We can love with an open heart and we can choose to turn that love inward before we let it pour out.
- Take care of each other. We live in a world that thinks there is such a thing as being ‘too nice’. THAT IS NOT A THING. Love the fat babes around you.Tell them that their strength makes you stronger. That together we are both better and fatter.
- Just cause you are the bomb doesn’t mean you always have to feel that way. Give yourself permission to be pissed off, upset, angry. We live in a world where shit talking our bodies is the accepted way to bond in the lunch room. If that isn’t a reason to flip a table, I don’t know what is (and if your version of flipping a table is putting on sweats and calling in sick then so be it).
- Love what you put in your body. Whether it is a big mac, kale, or a danish in the gym parking lot (mmmmm parking lot danish), it is ok. You do not owe anyone an explanation for how you nourish your self. If you want to carb load before watching TV that is fan fucking tastic – you don’t need to apologize to a goddamn soul.
- Your body has helped you survive the harshness of the world you live in. Your strong fat bod has held you when you were hurt, scared, unsafe, anxious, sad. Honour your body for keeping you alive, for giving you exactly what you needed in that moment.
- You are deserving of love and joy and deep connection. Your body deserves to be touched in a way that makes you feel alive and desired – by others and by you. Your fat body deserves some love, yall.
- Some days we just don’t feel it. That is not because we are fat, it is because we are alive. Some days our outfits don’t work, or things don’t look right. Those days are hard. It’s ok to curl into yourselves. Do what you need to do to get through it.
- Just cause the world we live in does not always hold us kindly doesn’t mean we can’t hold ourselves in kindness. Can you hold space to care for yourself? Be gentle with that body of yours. Tell yourself that’s what fat babes deserve. Cause it is.
- You are not too much. That is some fucked up shit that people say to fat babes and it plays on some deep level insecurities around being big in a world that constantly wants us smaller. Asking for what we want is not too much. Setting boundaries about what kind of body talk you will tolerate is not too much. Fuck ‘too much’.
- You don’t have to be any way besides the way you are. You are enough.
So, let’s crack this conversation open and blow it to pieces like the sexy hot babes we are. Everyone else can thank us later.