Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The death of "Acceptable Fat"

This weekend I wore a sleeveless shirt in public for maybe the third time as an adult (other than the beach or pool). I even *gasp* wore it with shorts. I even *double gasp* went out without brushing my hair. Despite the white-knuckled defiance and the evidence that no one noticed or cared what I, a total stranger, was wearing, the “Acceptable Fat” persona was still shrinking into a little terrified ball in my guts.

“Acceptable Fat” is that little part of me that believes every passing human being is just waiting for a chance to humiliate me and stomp on any show of non-conformity or self-confidence. It’s that part of myself that spends every public moment watching how I walk, gesture, dance, talk and dress so as to not draw attentionto my different-ness. If I don’t stand out, I’m less likely to be targeted by the same kind of person who goes out of their way to leave nasty messages on a total strangers' blog. But if someone hates me for being fat, they’re going to hate me whether I’m in sweat pants or a tailored skirt, whether I’m eating ice cream or a salad or nothing at all. That phobia has officially claimed enough of my life, so I have made a goal for this summer. If I can’t get rid of Acceptable Fat, I can at least bring it to heel.

So this summer, I vow to bring about the end of Acceptable Fat in my life. I will wear a sleeveless shirt in public. I will mow my lawn in same sleeveless shirt and anyone who doesn’t like it can mow the damn thing for me or STFU. I will go walking in my neighborhood without wondering if anyone’s silently laughing at me behind the windows. I will only care for the opinions of people whose opinions I have reason to respect. I will not fear walking past groups of teenagers. I will go to the beach and only care about how much fun I have. I will go hiking and rest when I need to. When I’m hungry I will eat what my body wants, even if other people can see me. I will wear shorts. I will not assume that person who smiled at me is mocking me. I will smile back. I will wear the low-cut corset to the Ren Faire and flirt shamelessly with the pirates*. I will not allow Acceptable Fat to validate the judgements of others. I will wear high-heeled sandals even if it makes me 6’4”. I will make up that groovy sun dress pattern in flame-print cotton and wear it with said high-heeled sandals. I will only wear clothes that make me feel good. I will run barefoot in the grass and play softball and not waste time brushing my hair and putting on nice clothes just to run to the store. I will focus on the person I am and the people I’m with and not the people passing by. This is my summer.

*Note to JD: I promise not to bring the pirates home.**

**Unless they agree to mow the lawn and/or tile the bathroom floor. Then I promise to feed them and change their litter and keep them from scratching up the furniture.
Meow :-)


Ostara said...

Wow. This is great. It's the summer I've always wanted to have but was convinced I could never have till I was down to that mythical size ten I haven't been since I was in middle school. There've been so many times I've worn tank tops out afraid of snide remarks or people giving me "that" look. You know that catty "ew, fat girl in a tank top" look.

I hope to have this same summer too. Thank you for writing this, it's very inspirational.

Jules said...

I've been thinking about sleeveless shirts myself--I live in Houston and it's already miserably hot. And I say we wear those tank tops, and wear 'em proudly!

Sascha said...

I love this! And even if I make up only a very small portion of the thin people in the world, I would like to make it clear, that I have NEVER in my life looked at a fat girl in a sleeveless shirt and thought anything of it. In fact I tend to see it as a "See! There's no need to fear you'll one day become fat, cause they wear tank tops and feel great,and look just lovely in them, too!" - kind of thing. Every time I see a fat girl wearing great clothes, holding her head up high and being unapologetic, my learned fear of becoming fat lessens a little. So yes, please wear tank tops and those high heels and that confident smile. You'll be doing girls like me a favour, and fuck the people who don't like it.

Tante Terri - The Belly of the Ball said...

You go girl.

I've never been unreasonably freaked by the fat upper arms, but I had to take a personal stand about it a few years back when I was in No No Nanette (N3) - and the director told one of my cast mates that he was changing her costumes because he would never embarrass her by letting her show her upper arms onstage. Excuse me? My next audition for the director, I whipped off my jacket to show my sleeveless top and told him this was for K----.

So if not for yourself, do it for all the K----s in the world!