Wake up: you don’t get to decide what I can and can’t wear.
I am so, so tired of people telling me what’s right for my body.
For once, I’m not talking about politics here. I mean literally being told what’s right for my body: how if my body is apple shaped I should wear one style, or if I’m a triangle I should wear another. Short legs mean I shouldn’t wear dresses past my knees, and my stomach is round, so I should avoid anything attention-grabbing. I definitely shouldn’t wear swimsuits or sleeveless tops. Like ever.
I can’t win no matter what season it is. In the summer, I want to dress like everyone else, and everyone else is wearing shorts and sleeveless tops. I remember daring to wear a sleeveless dress a few inches above my knees, thinking it would make walking around under the blinding gaze of the Los Angeles sun a little less painful. While I was substantially cooler, I also had to deal with the inevitable jerk pulling over to honk and laugh at me. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I could have had people shout, “free Willy!” at me, making mooing or oinking sounds, or “helpfully” suggest I wear leggings to keep covered up. Why? No one else was wearing leggings.
No one else was fat, either.
Fun fact: I was twenty five years old before I wore a sleeveless top in public. Rain or shine, weddings, proms, beach days, I always made sure my arms were covered. Even after I started my journey towards accepting my body, my arms were my last hurrah. The last thing on my body made me feel completely hideous. I was a wreck the day I decided to go out dressed in a sleeveless top to a dinner with my friend. I didn’t tell her it was a big deal to me, I just let the day go the way it was going to go. As a thin person, she’d never thought twice of going out in a sleeveless top.
I’m fat and I’m going to flaunt it. So deal with it.
What many people don’t know is that being fat adds an extra layer of thought to every clothing choice. We have the usual worries: if I’ll look the way I want to and where my comfort level will be. And it’s certainly true that women especially have to worry about what degree of harassment they’re going to receive based on, strangely enough, the fabric they choose to drape their bodies in. But fat women have to worry about all this plus whether someone’s going to decide to hate on us because we’re fat, too.
We feel this constant pressure to make ourselves as invisible as possible. But do me a favor: the next time you’re in a clothing store, check out the plus size section. I don’t care what store you’re in, what you’ll find is a sea of neutral colored standard cut outfits. A black skater dress, a navy knee length skirt, a brown and cream striped boat neck top. We don’t have vibrant colors or stylish cuts because we’re should to blend in. We can look okay I guess, but we definitely aren’t prepared to look good. I mean, if we looked good we might get the idea our bodies are okay exactly how they are and we certainly can’t have that.
Listen, here’s the bottom line: if it’s hot out and I want to wear shorts, I get to wear shorts. If I want to wear a crop top to a concert, I’m wearing a crop top. If I want to wear a bikini to the beach then by god that’s between me and my future sunburn. Wearing something that everyone else can shouldn’t require bravery. If you hate how my thighs look, time to suck it up buttercup.
So the next time you get the urge to stifle a giggle or cast a judgmental stare at a fat person hanging out in clothes they clearly feel awesome in, take a second and ask yourself if you want to be the kind of jerk who makes someone feel awful just because they have a body that makes you feel uncomfortable. And instead of saying something ugly, evaluate the ugliness inside of you that makes you think it in the first place.
Image via Every Girl is Beautiful on WeHeartIt