Shedding the “Good Fatty” Skin
I am fat. I am curvy, I am plus size, but ultimately I am also fat. I have cellulite and stretch marks basically everywhere cellulite and stretch marks can be. I have the body of a fat woman, including flabby arms, mermaid thighs, breasts that double as pillows, and a tummy that would never be called flat.
Let me be incredibly clear: I also love my body.
My self-love is not shallow or corporate but a deep, divine love beyond what anyone staring at me on the street could imagine. I have heard too many fat women who would gladly list their accomplishments, successes, and personality as attributes they love without a single mention of their body. And this is entirely understandable; we occupy a space in a marginalizing society that dictates we be the Good Fatty, and it can take years of work to reject this notion. The Good Fatty ultimately hates herself. Yes, she’s fat, but she also spends hours a day on the cardio machine and buys every diet book on the shelf to show the world that she too thinks her body is a problem to be fixed, she would never dare to wear a crop top or anything that showed “too much” skin, and would adamantly refuse to accept praise on her physical appearance.
This is not to shame the Good Fatty whatsoever; she has grown up unrepresented, ridiculed, and harassed by a cruel and oppressive social structure that favors thinness (which of course compounds with other harmful systems of power such as racism, sexism, queerphobia, classism, and ableism, among others). She is a product of a world that continually denies her humanity based on an appearance that is considered less than. We cannot and should not blame her for this, but instead support her in her journey and work to decrease her burden through fighting for fat representation beyond surface-level tolerance.
It is a long, arduous process to shed the Good Fatty skin but it is wholly possible and it seems as though more and more fat women are creating and carving their own niche in which to exist as beautiful. We should not have to create our own space, but it is a reality and the work of fat women to undermine patriarchal beauty standards must be lauded. I have shed my Good Fatty skin and I am loving it. Do I eat my greens and exercise? Yes, but not because my body needs to be “fixed”, but because it needs to be loved. I also eat ice cream and pasta without feeling like a human garbage disposal. I wear crop tops and go braless despite by 42DD’s, I wear bikinis at the beach and strut like a peacock, I stare at myself in the mirror for long, unabashed periods of time, and I give my body the love and attention it deserves. I am healthy, I am happy, and I am fat. I am not asking for your approval, your love, or your desire, but am demanding that I and all fellow fatties have the space to exist as women who defy social convention.
Illustration by Niti Mueth