what body shaming looks likeI’m officially fat.

Actually, I’m a lot of things. I’m a sister, daughter, mother. I own a company. I have one and a half Masters degrees. I do voluntary work in my local community. I try to be a good person and role model to my daughter.

I’m also fat.

My jeans are a UK size 16. My shirts a couple of sizes bigger, thanks to breasts that apparently didn’t realise when it was time to stop growing.

I’m okay with it. Some people are smaller than me, some are bigger. Most of them are taller.

It is what it is.

I’ve never allowed being a certain size to dictate my life. I never wanted to miss out on an opportunity to do something because of my size.

I’m happy to fling myself down zip lines, go cliff jumping, motor car racing, diving or whatever else. Life’s too short to sit on the sidelines and wait until I’m a size 12 to live it.

It’s easy to be brave when you’ve watched someone die in front of you at the age of 27.

When my brother passed away I realised that nothing in life will ever hurt as much as losing someone you love. If you can survive that? You can survive anything. I also realised, in the most brutal way possible, that life’s short.

My body works. It’s a living, breathing thing with four working limbs and five senses. That’s a blessing I don’t take lightly. Would it be nice to be taller, or thinner, or more tanned? Sure. But I’m happy with what I have.

It’s more than some people ever get.

So Why do Other People Care About my Body?

That said, it doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to the reaction other people have to my body.

I was thinking about this today after reading Jen’s post over on Mum in the Madhouse about body positivity. Jen points out that when slimmer women adopt the body positivity movement and its mantras, their privilege and visibility can end up crowding out the stories of the women it was created to empower.

I completely agree.

Most women have body confidence issues. We’ve grown up in a society with very persuasive images of what the “ideal” body looks like. But fat women have another layer to deal with – the body shaming and and daily micro-aggressions that you are exposed to, simply because many people think it’s okay to be rude to fat people.

It’s not, of course. The shape of my body is none of your business. Unless I’m actually sitting on you, then I’m fairly confident my weight has zero impact on your day. 

Today I thought I’d share just a few of the things that have been said to me over the years to hopefully give you an insight into what it’s like living in our society when you’re wearing an XL sweater.

why we need body positivity

10 Things People Said Because I’m Fat

  • At Tesco, I asked someone if she realised she was parked in a disabled bay. She replied, “What do you care? You’re so fat you should park at the far side anyway, you need the exercise.” 
  • I jumped into the swimming pool on holiday with Flea, to hear a man sitting at the side of the pool warn his family, “Watch out, tidal wave approaching!” 
  • At a theme park, Flea and I accidentally blocked someone’s view of fireworks. A woman holding her 3-year-old daughter turned and called me a “stupid, fat bitch”.  
  • A brand told me they’d love to sponsor an award for fashion bloggers but could I possibly ensure none of the finalists were over a size 14 because they would be uncomfortable with that.  “No offence,” they told me.
  • I made a video about tyre safety for a car magazine. At least 50% of the YouTube comments focused on the miracle of any car remaining intact after being occupied by my gargantuan body.
  • We visited a high wire tree ropes attraction in the Lakes, where customers had to sign a disclaimer confirming they were in good health and met the height/weight restrictions. I was the only customer who was asked to step on the scales (in front of everyone else) to prove my weight. Because I love the thrill that comes with throwing myself off a tall platform on a wire that isn’t able to safely hold my weight. Obviously.
  • A female colleague once patted me on the shoulder and told me how lucky people like me are because we never have to worry we only got hired because of the way we look.
  • I walked into a Levis store in San Francisco to be told by a sales assistant within five seconds: “We don’t make things in your size.” 
  • I was approached in a pub by a man who told me he wouldn’t need to rape me, because fat people are so grateful we never say no, but he’d need to close his eyes. I know, right? What a catch.
  • We cut someone up in traffic accidentally. Driver stopped at the next lights to roll down his window and call me a fat c*nt.

Why We Need Body Positivity

We need body positivity to counter how badly some people are affected by this sort of body shaming nonsense. I’m lucky that I literally could not care less about the woman who tosses a “fat bitch” over her shoulder while she’s walking away.

Although I absolutely WILL catch her up and ask her to consider the role model she’s being for her child, and whether she’s sure that was really what she wanted to say. (Just FYI, this will elicit an apology 9 times out of 10, and I hope means that woman is less likely to make the same insult next time she’s irritated by someone who happens to be overweight).

I’m very aware that within the “plus size” community, I’m considered “small fat”.

I can buy my clothes from regular stores, and fit into airline seats or rollercoasters without worry. I don’t have any major health issues or disabilities. But even at a regular, plus-size, I’m still surprised by how many people to treat me as though I’m some horrific threat to their own wellbeing.

There’s no big point to this blog post. Hell, is there ever?

I suppose I just wanted to say to other bigger women – I’ve been there, got the t-shirt, and it’s okay to mind.

And to smaller women – this is what life’s like when you’re a 16+. So when you’re shouting about body positivity, please acknowledge that for some women that’s a difficult rallying cry for them to join in with. They’re so used to being put down, it’s harder for them to speak up.