A few years ago, two 'Friends' let me down: One night I invited Guy-Friend-With-the-Possibility-For-More over to watch NBC Must-See TV. I was desperately trying to impress Guy. Why I thought watching TV would be impressive, I don't know. He was smart, funny, sweet and gorgeous, and he already liked me, so I thought my task wouldn't be too difficult.
Trying to be alluring but not desperate, I wore jeans and ordered a pizza. We were joking with each other, laughing, being silly, eating Falbo's. Things were great until I saw Courteney Cox in a fat suit, dancing and eating a donut. Then I saw her in a fat suit, jumping and eating ice cream. Then I saw her in a fat suit, this time just sitting and eating a hoagie, mayo globbed all over her face. I looked at Guy. He was laughing. My face turned red and hot; I felt like I was swallowing a grapefruit. I was ashamed to be in my skin, sitting next to this beautiful man, eating pizza. I lost my appetite and said goodbye to Guy.
A few months ago, I looked on the Internet for fat-positive Web sites, and all I got were porn sites. One in particular stood out: It was listed as an 'alternatives' Web site, for people with 'weird' desires: a bevy of possible activities followed, some interesting, and some that I'm sure were illegal in most states. And then there was the fat listing. As if fat people were so odd that only weird people could consider them sexy. Well, I've got news for them'some estimates of the number of fat people in the United States are now topping 50 percent. Fat people are everywhere; that is, except on television. The media presents images of fat people, especially fat women, as ugly, disgusting, ridiculous human beings who are bad flirts and not the least bit sexy.
Case in point: Remember the looks of wonder and thinly veiled disgust on Letterman and Leno's faces when they mentioned that not only did President Clinton have an affair, but he had it with (gasp!) fat chick Monica Lewinsky? And don't think that just because you look around campus and all you see are gorgeous 19-year-olds with perfect bodies, that's what's out there. This isn't real. It's a great big world, folks, with great big people.
A few weeks ago, I had a discussion with my students (I'm a TA) about Abercrombie and Fitch, and how I couldn't buy clothes there because their sizes cut off too soon. Some students were shocked; some weren't. At the time of the discussion, my anger had worn off. But at the store, I was incensed'I mean, if I want to pay $87 to look like Ellie May Clampett, I feel I should have just as much right as anyone else to do so. I now not only won't patronize Abercrombie, but I won't buy anything from any of its subsidiaries, either.
Now before any of you dismiss this as body-image paranoia, let's get one thing straight: I'm honestly fat'robust, buxom, zaftig, chubby, chunky, curvy. Yep, I'm fat, all right. And I, for one, have had enough.
A few days ago, I decided to fight back. I refuse to be told that I am ugly or unsexy, two ridiculous stereotypes perpetuated by media. There are plenty of butt-ugly, sexy-as-a-sock skinny people out there, believe me. I refuse to let others dictate how I should look, whether they be boyfriends, girlfriends or complete and total strangers. I refuse to let anyone mock fat people in my presence. I'm committed to reclaiming the word 'fat' and I urge you to do the same, man or woman. I am a beautiful fat woman. There are a lot of us out there. And we ain't singing yet.