Monday, May 06, 2013

Good fat and bad fat. I am not putting this on my other blog because a) it is a personal issue that I don't want to discuss in a professional context; b) I feel confident that only about 10 people ever read this blog so it is probably the most private way to express my feelings about a topic that makes me feel very depressed.

Okay, so I stumbled across this irritating article about this plus-size blogger who encouraged women to "let go of their fears" about wearing bikinis and who posted photos of herself wearing bikinis and has now designed some bikinis for fat chicks.

Get fucked, dickhead. Often in well-meaning public debates about 'body image', there's this moronic assumption that as soon as you start to wear clothes above a size 16 – especially if you wear a size above 16 and wear body-hugging clothes – you can be held up as an awesome fat chick, a 'role model' for other 'plus size women' to instil 'body confidence'. But this completely disregards that fatness has its own aesthetic hierarchy that basically replicates straight-size beauty ideals.

You'll notice that the kind of fat chicks who get praised for being awesome and sexy by the likes of Mamamia are what I call 'good fat'. They have only one, pointy chin and a defined jawline. They have a defined waist. They have large plump boobs. Their torso is smooth and round. They look like larger versions of the familiar 'sexy woman' silhouette.

Then there's 'bad fat'. 'Bad fat' chicks have many chins and jowls and little visible facial bone structure. They have small breasts for their size, or large pendulous ones that lie flat against their chest. They are larger around the middle than in the bust and hips. They have rolls and folds of fat that give their torso a lumpy appearance.

People keep quiet about 'bad fat'. It has completely escaped the aesthetic realm of normativity and is only visible in the radical, politicised space of the fat activist movement. You will seldom see a 'bad fat' chick as a plus-size fashion model, or in the non-fat-activist media being praised for 'loving her body' or being a 'positive role model'. Instead she will be an object of repulsion, and will personify the 'obesity crisis'.

I am 'bad fat' and it fucking sucks. My fat isn't distributed in a pleasant, even layer, like a doona. I'm more like a lumpy old pillow. I feel doubly alienated looking at body-acceptance editorials or Facebook posts in which people gush over how 'hot' some plump, curvy chick looks in a stretch minidress. I just don't identify with that sort of woman, or even with the concept of 'hotness', at all. I envy her for being able to fit into socially sanctioned beauty ideals, and I feel that I've failed twice over: once to be conventionally 'hot', and then again to be 'fat hot'.

Years ago I stopped thinking of myself as desirable or attractive. Whenever I catch myself starting to fancy some dude I immediately crush the feelings because he would never return them, and I can't deal with the trauma of having some guy see me naked and have to pretend he wasn't revolted and then politely not ever contact me again.

Swimsuits are not a motherfucking tool of 'sexiness'. When I go swimming I think of myself as an invisible creature who's just there to do my laps and go home. I'm focused only on the activity itself – on what my body can do rather than how it looks.

I really hate swimming at the beach or in social contexts, because the focus is on checking out other people's bodies, and I have to confront 'hotness' and my own remoteness from it. The worst thing is the walk from the ocean back to my towel because my bathers are clinging to my body and I'm sure everyone is repulsed by the sight.

Honestly if I said all this shit out loud I would have sprained my index fingers by now from the amount of scare quotes I've been using. Anyway, I've just written a book that tries to be all consoling and reasonable and "you're not alone" and to critique the social messages that make us feel bad about ourselves, but the short version is that clothes are fucked and I fucking hate having to appear in public in any garment that at all suggests the shape of my body underneath.

I don't want to go all fangirl, but I love this post. I am also bad fat and I get it.
So, bad, in fact, that a woman walking past me recently felt the needs to say to me, "You are so fat." Because she wasn't and she could.
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