I started this blog as a personal challenge to myself – I wanted to try things simply because they weren’t “me”, and talk about things I had previously felt I should keep quiet about. I guessed that committing to sharing these things with a bunch of strangers on the internet was the best motivation for me, and so far, it’s going great. I’ve tried a lot of new things, gotten involved in communities I never knew existed, and I’ve shared a LOT with you guys. There are long posts about how othered I used to feel by women who understood makeup and fashion, and how I still do to a certain extent. I’ve talked about my internal struggles when I realised I actually LIKED makeup and fashion, and how that changed my perception of my own identity. I’ve shared pictures of my self harm scars, for goodness sake.
But the thing that scared me most, that was most challenging to
share, were pictures in which you can see the full extent of my fat.
While fat shaming is one of the few areas where it still seems to be
totally socially accepted to pass judgement on strangers, it wasn’t the
“You should try this diet” comments I was afraid of. I can deal with
that sort of thing, usually with a dismissive, “Mm, thanks for that” and
then completely disregarding said advice. What I was most scared of was
driving readers away, simply by coming out as fat. I’ve called myself
fat in previously, but that term gets thrown around so much by women
that I was pretty sure those of you who didn’t know me in person had
assumed I was just being self deprecating. But I’m not. I am fat. I honestly don't actually consider it an inherently good or bad thing anymore, it's just how I am, just as I am also queer. Unfortunately, like my queerness, my fatness is often more of a problem for other people than it is for me. I was scared that once I visually confirmed my
size, I would lose any “normal” sized readers, and my opinions would be
relegated to the “fat corner” of the blogosphere where only fat girls
would read them. My blog is already pretty off putting for the general
population, and while I’m happy that I have created a space where I can
put sociological analysis next to pictures of my new favourite nail
polish, I was also painfully aware I need to hang on to the few
readers I have managed to bring in. The idea of losing an unknown number
of them because of something so arbitrary was a deeply upsetting
I think it’s great that so many fat girls have started blogging about
fashion and all things femme, and without the sense of solidarity their
blogging has created, I probably never would have started my own. There
are a lot of bloggers out there that I owe a huge debt to for the way
they have blazed a trail. But. I hate the way their opinions are
labelled and othered. You can’t just be a fashion blogger who is also
plus sized – you have to be a Plus Size Blogger. The fashion community
at large will tolerate your existence and even pay it celebratory lip
service, but only so long as you fit in the box they have set aside for
us. You can only be within a certain range of fat (no FAT fats allowed) and you have to talk about fat girl things – labels that have a range
of sizes, how to “make the most” of your size (ie how to look thin), and
once you're put in that box from what I've seen it seems that most of your readers will almost certainly all be fat girls too.
One of my favourite fatshion blogs is All Things Kate, mostly because
she’s a big girl who writes like a thin girl. The only time I’ve seen
her address her weight is in response to some jackass who asked if she
was too fat to be a fashion blogger – she answered simply, “No. I’m
not.” and moved on. While she is much more fashion focused in general than I am, I'm jealous of her nonchalance, and the way she makes her size a complete non issue. That’s the kind of blogger I want to be, and the
kind of freedom I want to have.
One of the reasons I have focused so much on nail polish, and nail
art, and the whole nail “thing” is because it was one of the very few
places I came across where my size was totally uninteresting to readers.
Nail bloggers don’t give a shit if you’re fat, or old, or young, or have an alien incubating in your chest. All
they care about is what’s on your nails, and that kind of laser focused interest is a wonderful base to have.
But I don’t want to just write about nails, and cosmetics, and femme things that don't interact with my size at all – I want to talk about fatshion as well. But I don’t want the assumptions, boxing, and othering
that comes with that. I don’t want to write about “making the most” of
my “curves”. I deeply resent the idea that things I've written like my piece on makeup in the workplace was only relevant to other fat girls, purely because I myself
am fat. I think my opinion on Gautier’s new collection is no less
relevant than that of a smaller blogger, just because haute couture
isn’t made in my size. I hate the pressure I feel to tailor my content
to my audience, to only write about “fat issues” because I am a fat
blogger. I hate the idea that the things I have to say wouldn’t be
heard, because they couldn’t penetrate the box the “fat” label would put
my writing into.
This isn’t a fear based on speculation – I’ve seen it in practice
more than once. Most recently, an excellent local writer who I have been
following for a while wrote a fascinating, passionate post about her
weight and how it made her feel. It was good, really great even – but I
already knew she was an excellent writer, and she had written other
things just as good. But now she was a fat girl writing about being fat,
suddenly everyone was listening. The piece got republished all over the
place, and lauded so much she landed a TV interview out of it. This
writer absolutely deserved all this acclaim – as I said, she’s an
excellent writer, and the piece was great. But I had to wonder how many
of her new audience would stick with her when she chose to write about
something else. I didn’t want that kind of audience for myself – I
wanted readers who wanted to hear all of what I have to say, be it about
my weight or not. I hated the idea of people tuning into my blog just
to hear what the fat girl had to say about fat.
But more than all these things, greater than my fear of being boxed up, was the how much I hated the idea of “hiding” my size
from my readers. It’s not always relevant to what I want to write – but
sometimes it is, and I wanted to be able to write about it without
fretting people would be turned off by suddenly realising they were
reading a “fat blog”. So I took a chance, and went ahead and posted my Casual Friday outfit. I didn’t write anything substantial to go with it - you might have wondered at the time why I was so succinct when usually I can't STOP writing more words. I wanted my
fat debut to be as normalising as possible. I didn’t want to stand up
and scream, “Hey guys, I’m fat!”, I wanted to say “Here is what I wore
to work today.” Since my audience apparently didn't run screaming, I took it one step further and put up a whole series of full length pictures of me this week, in the name of my love of op shopping.
And the results? Well, so far so good. I haven’t had anyone give me
diet advice, and I don’t seem to have lost many readers from these posts.
But the fact that I was so scared, and so uncertain about being labelled
has stuck with me. It shouldn’t be something I worry about so much – on
the internet of all places, I should be able to be defined by things
other than my size.
But we’re not there yet.
This piece originally appeared on GLORIFY, a fat acceptance web hub, and I've tweaked it for relevance here.