Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Hello World, I'm Fat

I shuffle into a room full of people, there’s stagnant coffee and stale biscuits on a table in the corner, the room smells faintly of Old Spice and desperation. An ominous circle of chairs dominates the room, the reason we’re all here. I take a seat hoping to avoid notice, just hoping to listen and connect with other people’s experiences. This doesn’t happen. A cheerful, chubby woman spots me.

“Hello dear, you must be new, why don’t you introduce yourself.”

I stand, palms sweating, lights dancing in front of my eyes, here goes nothing…

“Hi, my name’s Joeley, and, um… I’m fat.”

Only joking. Of course it didn’t happen like that. My life isn’t a Chuck Palahniuk novel. But this summer I did realise that I am fat.
I suppose I’ve always been fat, but I’ve only recently started to accept it. Up until recently I’ve always felt that being fat was a disease, something I could beat with the help of the right diet. Horrible people are fat, mean people are fat, villains are fat. I mean, the worst thing a person can be on earth is fat, it’s the pre-cursor to all our insults.

Fat bitch.

Fat whore.

Fat bastard.

Fat prick.

So on, so forth. It really hit home when I gave up smoking earlier this summer. Something which will increase not only the longevity of my life by years, but also the quality of it. Yet, despite me doing this amazing thing (which is pretty difficult to do by the way) people were fixated on the fact I’d gain weight. And then when I pointed out that I don’t care about gaining weight, people proceeded to give me advice on how not to gain weight. If eating 4 tubs of Ben & Jerry’s a day is going to keep me from smoking, then pass me the spoon, because I’d rather be fat.

And so it was that my eyes were opened. Obviously I’ve noticed fat phobia before, but never to the same extent as I do now. And do you know what, I don’t like it. I’m so tired of pretending that I’m going to lose the weight. I’m so tired of having to defend my body, “Oh no, I’m not actually fat. I’m just in between diets”. I’m so tired of being bullied into thinking this isn’t my natural shape. 

I’m a well spoken, polite, charming, humorous, humble young lady, so why is the way my body looks offensive? Because I carry around some chub? I mean sure my thighs rub together to create fire but that only causes me pain, not the general public, and besides that’s the reason they invented baby powder, am I right? Is it all a conspiracy theory? Is it because the Illuminati don’t want me to discover that woman can actually fly? That’s why there’s adverts everywhere encouraging me to ‘tone up’, because they’re worried my bingo wings will become so large I will rediscover the lost art of human flight. Far fetched I know, but it’s the only thing I can think of. Because what other reason is there to be afraid of fat? I mean sure you can spout of the usual health bullshit, but as I’ve already said, that’s bullshit. As a dance teacher, who rarely drinks, doesn’t smoke (anymore), eats a (kind of) balanced diet and was actually told by a doctor if I was every going to buy health insurance to do it now because, and I quote, I am ‘the healthiest I will ever be’, so yeah, I'm pretty healthy.

And so a new chapter of my life begins. And already it’s pretty damn awesome. I mean, I got to be a mermaid for a day, how freaking awesome is that? The me who never accepted her body would never have been able to do that. So much so that once I said yes, I had to borrow a bikini from Megan because the old me didn’t even own one. But the fat me said yes, and I freaking loved it. Not once during the whole day did I think about my belly rolls or back fat, because I was a freaking mermaid! 
I suppose outwardly there’s not that much of a change, although I’d like to think I hold my head a little higher, I sashay my love handles a little more obviously, but inwardly it’s incredible. Until you stop and think about how much effort you are wasting trying to force your body to conform you don’t realise how much time it takes up of your day. 

Ladies, you are more than your body. Think of that effort you are spending each day. What else could that effort go towards? You could change the world, but the weight of society’s opinions are holding you back. Because guess what, it sure as hell isn’t your weight that’s holding you back. It’s hard, I know it is, and it takes time. I started following body positive accounts when Megan made hers, so almost 2 years ago now, but stick with it because for each post you see and take in it’s like a layer of film being peeled back. This world is ours for the taking, but it’s not going to wait for you to lose that last 10lbs.

So that’s it. I’m coming out of the fat closet. Besides, it was always much too small for me, I was just pretending I fitted into it. Well, guess what world. I’m FAT. And if you don’t like it I will just eat you.

This post was written by Joeley Bishop, one of my closest friends. Joeley is truly one of a kind, she's never been afraid to be herself, whether that means breaking into song in a crowded public place, schooling fuckboys on their fuckboy behaviour, cutting off all of her hair, endlessly talking about Harry Potter, or basically showing the world (and me) that you can do whatever you want to do. She's been my body positive inspiration since we were 12 years old and she told me that her thighs were like tree trunks while we were walking down the street, when I said they weren't she assured me that they were, and that she loved them anyway. When we were 13 and had to design websites in ICT class at school she invented She's been my self love queen all this time, and I'm so proud that she's finally taking her throne. 
If you'd like to show her some love you can find her at @joeleybishop or her new feminist body posi page @thevagaggle