Lately there’s been a spate of crap on my facebook feed of judgement, specifically the type regarding what people look like, or how they dress, or what they eat. A lot of it is of the high and mighty variety – commentary on Michelle Obama’s behind, or what dress Gabourey Sidibe should or shouldn’t have worn on the red carpet (and how she’s obviously going to die young, because omg, deathfatz), or coupons leading to even more omg, deathfatz because dontcha know, people who use coupons don’t know how to eat good food. Or the latest, straight up shit talking about Harnaam Kaur’s choice to rock a beard instead of conforming to homogenized standards of beauty, complete with assumptions about her religion and medical status.

And it just irritates the shit out of me. First and foremost because it assumes that anyone who has a little padding or some extra hair is inherently stupid. Secondly, because, holy shit, why is it your business in the first place? Why so judgmental, buddy – got nothing going on by you of interest to talk about?

And I could let it roll off, all duck’s back and water, sure, but the fact is, this shit is personal, hello.

Point in fact, I’m a fat and kinda hairy lady, myself. At 4′ 10″, I’ve been around 167 pounds pretty much all of my post-teen years. I was 190 when I was pregnant, and then around 130 twice, for a hot fifteen minutes apiece. This body involves years and years of fat shame from doctors and strangers, as well as occasional, “concern,” from members of my family,* and, if I may speak frankly, sister, I don’t need that crap from my friends.**

I walk around in this body – do you know that? I look after its stray hairs and lumpy bits, and feed it and bathe it, and exercise it. It’s mine, and I’m in it, and I take it to the yoga mat, and I drag it to doctor’s appointments where it gets weighed and tsk tsked over sometimes, just like Michelle Obama and Gabourey Sidibe, and everyone else. I have two options in this world with this body: 1) I can be ashamed of it and hide it away at home, or 2) I can walk out into the sun and have a life.

Let me tell you a story:

So my back hurt.*** For decades, my back hurt. I remember a morning around 1995 after my band played in Detroit, when I couldn’t get in the van. I had to be pushed and pulled in so we could drive home, and it was excruciating, and mortifying, and awful. I chalked it up to last night’s exertion and an accident I’d been in a few months before, and went on, eating Advil when the pain spiked. When I was pregnant in ’98, the pain was regularly bad, and after I had a c-section, it was really bad pretty much all the time for months. And that’s what it looked like on and off for years: weeks, sometimes months, of pain out of the blue after months of no pain.

When I saw doctors about the pain, they told me I was simply overweight, and that if I just lost the weight I wouldn’t have pain. After a few of these, I stopped asking doctors. I started doing yoga (which, incidentally, did help – until suddenly it didn’t help), dieted – all of it. I lost weight, I gained back weight, and through thick and thin, the pain persistently popped up on a regular basis. And I kept thinking it was because I’m fat. And the blackness of my heart – I wouldn’t be in pain, surely, if I wasn’t somehow so wicked that the sins were apparent to the whole world as a spare tire around my middle. Or stress – I was in the social work field for a little while, and who hasn’t met a fat social worker?**** I went back to the doctor a few years ago and she sent me to physical therapy and told me again that I just needed to lose the weight. The physical therapist told me I was, “just too fat,” and should take therapy in their pool. Afterward, I sobbed in the car and then stopped going to physical therapy. I may or may not have eaten a hamburger in the car and hidden the wrapper.

The pain got more insistent over years – now it was weeks between episodes instead of months. Finally, after limping into her office, I told my doctor that I thought there was a greater problem than my weight (seriously, I thought I was secretly dying). She grudgingly did some tests, and lo and behold, this pain is genetic. I’m on great medication now, and rarely have pain issues that screw with my mobility. I could have been on great medication a decade ago, too – only, you know, I was busy being too fat.

Which is to say, all you High and Mightiers, your opinions physically fucking hurt me.

Heads-up: You don’t get to pick what other people do (or don’t do), and we would all appreciate a break in your constant commentary. Unless my body is actually affecting you (is my fat hurting you? No? I didn’t think so, seeing as I wear it.) you get no say. So kindly do us all a favor and think a little deeper before you start spreading the crap around.

/soapbox

***

*And once, a co-worker. My boss, actually. Who, I’m pretty sure, has never been out of shape her whole life.
**Even if you consider yourself a comic, and tell me that you’re not talking about gardern variety fat, but, “scooter fat,” or, “sponge on a stick fat.” Because it’s funny. Get it?
***Sometimes it still does, but that’s another post for another time.
****SPOILER ALERT: because fat people are everywhere.

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