There’s a saying that goes ‘once a fat kid, always a fat kid’ and it would make me cringe. Why should being a fat kid, a fat adult, define me? But recently when it came up in conversation again, I realised that it’s true. When you are fat, for whatever length of time you get an insight into how this world treats fat people.
You remember when no one found you worth a second look as a date, or worse, only saw you behind closed doors. You know what it is to worry that the sea saw won’t ever go up for you. You believe, for a while, that you can hide your fatness from the world, but they always remind you they see with a harsh word or comment aimed to hurt you.
You don’t forget that.
You just can’t look at people the same. You become jaded and wary of the intentions of individuals. I’ve heard this conversation time and time again in the plus size blogging world. We saw it first hand when a guy deliberately matched with a fat woman on Tinder to tell her to stay in her lane; she wasn’t good enough, she was too fat, to even consider a guy like him.
When you have experienced life as a fat person (and the bigger you are, the harder this hammer falls), you see how the world is not set up for you. In fact, in so many ways it’s out to get you. Will this chair support my weight, are the arms of that chair wide enough to fit my butt? Will getting to my table at a restaurant involve squishing through a crowd of seated diners, my butt and belly brushing past them. Public transport becomes a place to receive abuse for just showing up.
It’s the employer that calls you lazy when you work hard based purely on your appearance. It’s the Doctor who only wants to talk about your weight when you have a cold. It’s the way you can stand in a crowd of people and feel both invisible and exposed. It’s the way you brace yourself for the insult hurled from cars, from strangers, from retail staff even if it doesn’t come for months at a time.
Fat people know, sooner or later, it will come.
So, yes. Once a fat kid, always a fat kid. You can’t just forget that people value you more when you’re smaller. You can’t just forget that this prejudice exists. It sticks with you because you experienced it first hand and even though you know people can be kind and good, you also know that people are afraid. Worried that fat people existing, just the way you are, might mean less for them. Less space, less attention, less care.
Chantelle wrote about this conditioning of fat kids on her blog. She wrote about how the voices of the world, became the voice in her head that she needed to be smaller. Heck, her very blog name says I’m getting there; smaller is my aim, watch this space. I wasn’t surprised to hear that this was the story she had in her head.
Within that post Chantelle shared how years of living in her body, the achievements and challenges she’s faced, she found a way to change that voice. Now it tells her to be herself. Be you, it says. And for me, the power and generous love of Chantelle should only get bigger, fatter, larger! No shrinking allowed.
And that goes for you too!
Whether you were a fat kid or not, if you are living now in a fat body, I encourage you to find a way to change that voice. You don’t have to forget that this world was cruel to you, that it pushed you down and to the side. But when you remember, remember that you overcame! When they said you were ugly, remember your beauty. Lazy? Remember your drive and ambition.
There’s nothing that impacts your more than the way you see yourself and talk to yourself. No matter what, you are in charge of what gets to occupy space in your head, and what doesn’t. And friend, don’t you dare wait another minute to start. You and me, we are going to change the world.