A fat body deserves good things, all the things the world told you it never did. Yes, even promotion and glory.
I love fat bodies and fat people. I love their softness and warmth, their hills and valleys. The diversity of the human body is a wonder to behold, I truly believe that. What a shame, though, that so many people want the billions of us to be only proxies of a narrow selection of prototypes.
Only svelte and muscular and acceptably curvy frames are considered normal in our little dystopia, only these bodies are allowed to be promoted and glorified. To the dismay of those with socially-acceptable body types—the self-appointed arbiters of beauty, health, and personhood—obesity abounds.
I hate that word. “Obesity.” Or, rather, I hate the way non-fat people and their bullshit BMI system use it against me, the way it’s been institutionally marked as a brand on my skin I never asked for. To deny me care, tenderness, decency, and fair consideration, to say I am inherently without morality, health, desirability, or worth. I hate the way it’s assigned to me and my body, as much as I hate how a single, inflexible gender is assigned to me based on how my body has formed. Sadly, this is not a world where I, where we, can simply be.
Imagine if “fat” weren’t considered such a bad word, with such ugly, unfair connotations. Imagine if fat people were free to openly embrace our own bodies with the same autonomy as people with other body types. Imagine if they—those who fear the normalizing of bodies like ours and use “fat” as a weapon and a lament—did not so desperately and continually and pathetically seek to control not only our physicality but also our emotionality and attitudes towards our very selves.
Instead, the non-fat openly defend their right to abuse us, with the lie that it is for our benefit. They tell themselves a whole host of lies. They feed their own delusions with pseudoscience and baseless beliefs, upholding this grotesque specter of colonial violence as they plug their ears like petulant children so they don’t have to heed how wrong they are or how ridiculous they sound.
To the dismay of the willfully ignorant, fat bodies are normal. Existing in one, having one, loving one is normal, though you’d almost never know it if you didn’t seek out this lesson on your own. I love my body. That would have been a lie a few years ago, but it’s true today. Tomorrow, though, remains to be seen. I don’t love myself or my body every day, I doubt anyone does. Even on the days when I do, I don’t always love it in every moment of that day. But when I do, I am contented, my feet planted firmly in the truth that I deserve all of the love that I can conjure up to give it whenever it is possible.
When I love it, I love the way it bulges here, and flattens out there, and sags elsewhere. The bits that are soft and mushy, and the parts that are firmer with growing muscle. I love how it can flex and groove, how it undulates and the fattest parts jiggle and clap. It can lift heavy things, it can stretch and bend, it can jump and run and sweat, it can orgasm and tremble and cry. But it would be just as lovable if it could do none of these things, and there are certainly moments when it cannot. What a body can and cannot do is not and never will be a measure of its worth, but we always have the right, the duty, to celebrate whatever it can accomplish.
In the moments when I love it, I make sure to nourish my rightful anger at the systems which oppress me because of it. I hate the body terrorists who degrade and dehumanize fat people, and often take pride and find joy in the damage they leave in their wake—those who warn me against glorifying my soft body and caution me to never regard it as a normal form for a fleshy human to take.
Fuck you, I think. Fuck you for telling me I’m not allowed to worship at my own temple. Fuck you and your audacity—to dare say I’m not allowed to praise the god in me because it goes against your futile religion.
Fuck you, I rage. Fuck you for expecting me to deny my own divinity, my own magic, and wonderment because you are not wise enough to perceive its charms or blessed enough to receive its gifts.
Fools, I scoff. This body is its own heaven. To not sing its gospel would be the gravest of sins.
But my love for my body is not enough. My love for fat bodies and fat people is not enough, and neither is my anger at those who would rather I didn’t love us. There’s more for me to do, for us to do. A fat body deserves good things, all the things the world told you it never did. Yes, even promotion and glory. Magnify it. Exalt it. Uplift it. Extol it a tribute. Dedicate it a song. Compose it a sonnet. Honor it. Adore it. Thank it.
Thank it for keeping you, for how it’s given you breath and held your organs close and carried your blood through its veins. For how it’s digested your food and received your refreshments. Give it thanks for how it’s helped you lift up small children and embrace the people you love. For how it’s allowed you to experience pleasures and ecstasies, and how it’s permitted some pain so that you might feel your joy all the more deeply.
Even if you don’t love it, now or ever, affirm it and the spirit of the one who lives in it. Remember that loving this body of yours is not a prerequisite for attending to its needs. Care for it. Water it. Nourish it. Satisfy it. Reward it. Give it sunshine. Let it grow. Feed it when you are hungry and partake without guilt. Eating is not shameful. Do not add to the starvation. Do not add to the starvation. Fill your belly. You are allowed to satiate every bit of your hunger, no matter how much space your body occupies. You deserve sustenance, as all living things do, and you deserve to live.
And when you are done, please remember to rest. Recline, stretch out, sleep, dream. Give in to gravity on something soft and inviting. Be still and meditative, for as long as it’s necessary for your revival. Your body deserves idleness and leisure. It deserves recuperation, recovery, and healing. Fellowship with others who live in bodies like yours, and bodies softer and wider than yours. Hold each other up and remind each other that you are entitled to rest and deserving of communal affection. Communities are lifelines, and fat people deserve to foster them amongst ourselves—to cultivate spaces where we can be naked and transparent, where we can bleed and cry without prying eyes and disparaging voices.
And when you have rested, remember that your body deserves a crusader, too. It’s deserving of advocates, not apologists. Fight for it. Champion it. Defend it. Ride into battle for it. Scream at the top of your lungs or speak softly with your convictions, but damn well speak however you are able. Speak up and let the decriers hear you. Show up and let them see you. Let them know they cannot force you to make your body into a cage for their own self-loathing and fear of abundance. Let them know they will never, ever win against a body as bountiful and inevitable as yours.
Featured Image by Vanessa Rochelle Lewis