Challenging Internalised Fatphobia

 

CW: Fatphobia, bullying 

 

 

 

It was a comment in passing. It really shouldn’t have made me stop in my tracks. Typing this now, I struggle to remember the panic I felt in the moment and why it hit so hard. But that is the nature of it, I suppose. It triggers in the moment and I can’t control my reaction.

“…Girls are beautiful. But different sizes are fun for different reasons. I really want to get with someone small. Petite.”

There’s nothing there that should make my blood run cold. There’s nothing there that should bring me to tears. There’s nothing there that is mean, or hurtful.

But I hurt.

And Palantilin knew, immediately.

I couldn’t voice why I’d reacted how I had though. I responded I needed space to process the reaction I had. That he’d not done anything wrong but it was my emotions and my memories that were hurting me.

So why did I respond so instantly negatively to something so banal?

Because I have been told over and over since being small that being fat is the worst thing you can be. I’ve had the message since I was small that being fat makes you ugly, unwanted and that people only ‘settle’ for the fat person because they can’t do better.

Now, I believe none of that. It’s a pile of ridiculous bullshit. You’ve seen my journey, here on my blog, you know that I’m way more confident in my beautiful fat body now than I have ever been before.

All that confidence, all that positivity, all that self love crumbled because someone I loved said something that old fatphobic me read as ‘I want someone skinnier than you.’

Internalised fatphobia is a bitch.

So, let me tell you a tale from Secondary school. I had a crush on a boy. I mean, I basically had it for the length and breadth of my time there. He was the boy everyone fancied and I was ridiculously besotted with the guy.

I can’t remember precisely, but I think it was year 9 when this happened. I was in lesson and one of the popular girls told me that the boy was looking at me. She went so far as to describe it as him looking at me like it was that song from Dirty Dancing. Hungry Eyes.

I can’t remember now if this happened in a day or over a while, but a group of the girls kept telling me how much he clearly fancied me and I should ask him out. In fact, they’d do it for me. I was chuffed. Especially when he asked me to meet him outside the swimming pool after school. To tell me something.

The cute guy I’d fancied forever was asking to meet me.

I waited outside the swimming pool for a long time. A long, long time. Eventually, the original cool girl walked past and said

“You didn’t believe that was actually real did you?He’d never fancy a fatty like you.” and laughed with the gaggle she was with. And I went home. Crying all the way.

The next day I was laughed at outside the form room. to be fair, the cute guy looked incredibly uncomfortable at the time and later that day he apologised to me. He told me it was just a joke but it got out of hand.

It was forgotten, life went on.

But it wasn’t forgotten.
Not really.
Because part of me is always waiting for the
“Ha ha, it was all a joke!”
Because I’m fat and part of me is still convinced that all the fatphobic bullshit I’ve been fed since being a kid is true.

It’s a fight to silence that. And sometimes I can’t silence it. Sometimes it breaks free.

That’s what had happened. That one comment, pierced my carefully constructed bubble of fat posiitvity and set off the fear and the loathing of the vulnerable inner me. The part of me that still believes that eventually, everyone will laugh and just tell me it’s all a joke.

Palantilin and I chatted it out. Once the initial shock passed we both spent a huge amount of time making sure the other wasn’t unduly upset. He was incredibly understanding, so much so that when I asked if I could write about the experience he said yes.

So here I am.

I’m sharing this for me. To remind myself that it’s okay to not be okay. That it’s fine that I forgot my fat positivity for a moment. That I am carrying toxicity that I don’t always acknowledge and bubbles up and surprises me at times but I’m doing the best I can to deal with that.

I’m sharing this for Palantilin. To let him know I appreciate him, his kindness and his friendship. His care and his understanding. His response helped me process my emotions quickly because I could communicate it all to him in full honesty.

I’m sharing this for all my fellow fatties who hold this kind of internalised fatphobia themselves. For those who believe the slurs they’ve been told over the years. I’m sharing this to say I understand. It hurts. It’s not trivial, it’s not just words, it’s not something you should just get over. It’s not that simple.

But it doesn’t define you. You are beautiful, you are desirable, you are perfectly you, just the way you are.

 

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