Is skinny validation worth it?
I’ve been fat all my life. However, being fat doesn’t mean I didn’t have my own fatphobia to unpack; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. In my younger years, I was a small fat — plus size but still able to shop in straight size stores or buy the smallest plus size clothes in a plus-size store. At the time, my body positivity or what I considered to be positive was just a mere extension of internalized fatphobia that was heavily encouraged accept straight-sized friends. They would casually talk about fat bodies then look at me like, ”oh, not you, you carry your weight well.” At the time, I needed this skinny affirmation to accept my fat body.
Skinny validation to me meant that my body wasn’t too unacceptable to straight-sized people. It also meant that I could still navigate in close proximity to straight-sized people without feeling like I didn’t belong. I would party with skinny girls; models too, because if they hung out with me and were considered beautiful, then I felt I would be viewed as beautiful, too!
Skinny people with fat friends can be careless when talking about body image. Straight-sized people still partake in casual fatphobia in the presence of their fat friends, too. They will share fat memes as jokes, use fat as a slur or in the same context as ugly before having an oops moment. ”You know I don’t mean you, I’m talking about the ones with no shape”, or the infamous, ”You’re pretty for a big girl”, friends who always tell you’re the exception to their fatphobia and jokes.
I’m here to tell you, you aren’t the exception.
Yeah, it sucks because nobody wants to be a token friend. But think of all the things your skinny friends do without considering how you can/could/would navigate in the same situation. My favorite is going to Miami to do hot girl and hoodrat shit. Except, my anxiety gets the best of me when my skinny friends want to go shopping for bathing suits and go to the mall. Not once will the skinny friends ask where do you shop but instead assume you all can find clothes in the same location. While the intention might not be to harm, the casual fatphobia leaves a lasting impression that makes you second guess your body and possibly cancel your trip.
Skinny friends talking about gaining weight around fat people is triggering
This is always rough. I remember I was at work and it was time for lunch. I was on my way to the kitchen and as I approached the fridge to grab my food, a group of thin co-workers were talking about exercising. One said she had gained 10lbs over the winter and hated how her now 127 lb body looked. Of course, they saw me and they smiled nervously and tried to contain their disgust in whispers. But I’ve had more personal friends who would rant about gaining weight while in the presence of actual fat people and say the most insensitive things. This isn’t to say skinny people don’t or can not have body issues but degrading fat people or using fat as a slur or even worse, viewing bigger bodies as a disease hurts so much more coming from people you like and in some cases love.
Fat people suffer from eating disorders, too
I know it’s hard to believe but fat people can have eating disorders too. I gained over 125lbs while pregnant and I was obsessed with getting the weight off as soon as possible. I stopped eating and I was dropping a pound a week. I wasn’t healthy. I was trying to starve the weight off while breastfeeding. I was completely off-balanced and lightheaded often. Then the worse happened; my fibroids started acting up. I couldn’t get out of bed, my hips and body were hurting and I was always tired. All the weight I loss I picked back up in a matter of weeks. It triggered my depression again and I suffered in silence. While I celebrated losing 60lbs in four months, my body wasn’t happy and started to turn on me. While 60lbs is a lot of weight to lose when you are fat that weight isn’t noticeable to anyone but yourself. I was obsessed with the idea I had to snap back. It had taken me years to finally accept my fat body and postpartum put me back at the beginning of body acceptance.
Can we be friends without regular-sized folks shaming fat people?
So what can skinny folks do? I don’t expect skinny people to understand how it is to be fat. Hell, even former fatties can be fatphobic and they know what it’s like to be fat. I need straight-sized people to stop acting like they are doctors, nutritionists and dietitians when it comes to fat people. Stop reminding us you don’t want to be fat. Stop reminding us you think our bodies are unattractive. Stop reminding us you don’t see us as people. Instead, try to embrace us like your other friends who aren’t fat. If you care about your fat friends’ health please consider their mental health every time you remind them that you think fatness is repulsive. Not every issue is a result of my body mass index.
Photo Source: Artist Unknown (feel free to let us know who to give credit to)