The other day I posted a blog post, and before it went live to everyone, I had my Bestie check it out. She said “I love the post, but I hate the picture you put with it. You need to change it.”
This was the picture:
I asked her why she hated the picture? I thought it was cute and conveyed a “fuck it” message, which is what I was going for (it was illustrating the blog post “Body Positivity isn’t for Everyone“). Her response was (paraphrased from our convo–not exact words, I’m sure) “It is unattractive. It turns me off. They’ve taken this pretty girl and purposefully put her in loud, ugly clothes and put her hair in an unflattering style all with the purpose of making her ugly. It will turn people off before they even read the post.”
My response was: “That’s fucking bullshit.”
And it is. And it isn’t. To be 100% fair to my bestie…from a marketing standpoint she was right. She had it on the nose, and because I knew she was right, I changed it. So, no one get mad at her…she was looking at it from a marketing standpoint, not a personal one.
What is complete and utter bullshit is the fact that she was right. She shouldn’t have been. It should not be a certain fact that fat or plus size is sometimes okay, but ONLY “pretty” and “attractive” plus size. There is no doubt that the young woman in the picture above is beautiful. However because she isn’t “attractive” in this particular image, it’s not okay. It will turn people off.
The thing is, this is a rule, in general for women–you must be attractive to exist. Except for smaller women, the constructs and requirements of “attractive” are often different than those for larger women. If it were a thin girl in the picture above, the first reaction to it would be “she’s being silly” “she’s so cute”. But because she is larger, the automatic reaction is “how unattractive she’s being.”
The message is loud and clear. You are tolerated to exist as a “fat” person like this:
Oh, and this is OK, but only if you look sufficiently miserable and unhappy with your size, all the time.
But in no way at all is it acceptable for you to be funny, silly, or just live life in a way that is “unattractive” like this:
For the record, I want to say that the two women in the photos above are beautiful and look like they are silly and fun, and I’d love to have a girls night out with them. It would probably be a blast!
Of course these are all just stock photos and are extreme and silly examples. Yet, they speak an irrefutable truth. The world is becoming more accepting of fat people. But only if you are small fat, attractive fat. Fat and well put together.
For every flaw a thinner woman is judged for, a fat woman is judged doubly. Wearing yoga pants, not fixing one’s hair, not having perfectly white and straight teeth, have a stain on your shirt, no makeup. For a thin woman these are often shrugged off as a busy mom, but in a fat woman the first term to mind is usually “slob.”
Fuck. That. Noise.
As a fat woman I do not owe it to anyone to fix my hair or put on my clothes to run up to the supermarket. I don’t owe you prettiness or attractiveness. And I most certainly don’t owe you an explanation as to why I don’t look my best today.
We have families to care for, homes to clean, jobs to do, and lives to fucking live. We do not owe the world the time it takes to make ourselves “presentable” so that they–whoever “they” are–feel more comfortable in our presence.
We have just as much right to be funny and silly and wear crazy outfits or appear in public in ridiculous costumes as smaller women. We have the right, and even the duty (to the young women coming after us) to cosplay outside our ‘body type’ or wear shorts and tank-tops in the summer without caring if we look ‘sexy’ or just comfortable.
My declaration of independence and body autonomy: I will wear my stained tank tops and crazy wild hair and no makeup proudly. I’ll be silly and wear my devil horned headband to the store, probably because I forgot to take it off, but I don’t care. I don’t have time to pretty up my fat, just to make other people more comfortable with it.
Women, you are beautiful, even when you are unattractive. The two are worlds apart, and you owe no one prettiness, or explanations.
If this post resonated with you, you may enjoy my upcoming book, "Eat the Damned Cupcake." It is a compilation of essays and stories which share lessons I've learned but wish I'd learned earlier in life, and just basically gives my unvarnished and unfiltered opinion on a few things.