Getting courage from the visibility of others

So I’ve gotten a little behind on posting.  I’m back at school getting back in the swing of things.  It also does not help that I am in the midst of my sorority’s two weeks of pledging (I am in a local sorority at my school and we have our 2 weeks of new member education in the beginning of every spring semester).  It’s a hectic time and I’m feeling a bit overextended.

Thinking about my sorority in relation to my fat positive journey…I’ve really started to think about the effect the visibility of fat women in certain situations has had on my life.  When I came to college originally I was against the idea of joining a sorority (which was not a big deal because Greek life isn’t a major part of my school).  It was not even something I considered.  Then I met some really cool girls in the marching band here and they convinced me to go to a rush event for their sorority.  I really liked these girls and I ended up having a lot of fun at the rush.  To be honest, though, I don’t think I would have really thought about joining if it had not been for the fact that there were a few plus size members in the group at the time.  Not that this was an issue at the forefront of my mind at the time, but I know that the diversity of body sizes and shapes within the group I was joining helped me feel more comfortable with the decision to accept my bid to join…especially considering the fact that when you are joining a group that requires a pledge process, you are putting yourself at the mercy of those in the group and I felt safer knowing that some of the members were my size and therefore would not be likely to humiliate me based on my fatness.

Going back a little further, I can see this similar thought process playing out when I started high school as well.  In high school I was really into colorguard (the group in the marching band that spins flags and other fun things).  I remember, though, one of the things that helped me decide to join guard my freshman year was the fact that there was a fat girl in the guard, so I knew I would not be the only one.  I was scared to appear in a performance capacity as the only fat girl on the team.  I also had never been on a team that required uniforms, so knowing that there was another girl my size helped me feel more confident that getting a uniform my size would not be an issue…or at least not an issue that made me feel singled out.

Both my decision to join a sorority and my decision to join the guard in high school are decisions that I look back on as some of the best decisions of my life.  Being in the guard in high school really brought me out of my shell and helped me to find my niche.  It also helped me to make some of the best friends ever, gave me a lot of confidence in myself, and helped me to gain lots of leadership skills as I ended up being captain of my high school guard for 3 years.  Likewise, joining my sorority in college has given me a really valuable network of support, more confidence and maturity, and more opportunities to gain leadership skills as I am now the group’s president.  These were some of the best decisions of my life and I’m pretty sure that if there were not already big girls in these groups, then I would not have joined and I would not be who I am today.

This also leads me to think about all that I missed out on as a child because I did not want to be the only fat girl in an activity.  When I was young my mom tried to convince me to sign up for dance, but I was convinced that because of my size I was not graceful and that they would make me wear a ill-fitted leotard.  When I was in middle school and high school I always wanted to try out for the school play, but had never seen other fat girls on stage and I was too embarrassed to be the only one.  These are experiences I really think I missed out on.

Perhaps this just shows how insecure I was when I was younger, but I think that it also shows the extent to which the visibility of fat women and girls can affect the lives of others.  I’m in a fairly different place today than I have been in the past and it does not take as much courage for me to participate in activities and be outgoing, but it really helps to see other fat girls doing it too–putting themselves out there and not letting insecurities about their body hold them back.  It helps give me courage to do the same.

One response to this post.

  1. eeek, and huzzah! i know from my days at MU ( and i know they are a hotbed of greekdom, one of the biggest greek schools in the midwest) that the pledge process can be difficult….maybe if i had seen other plus sizers there i would have felt comfortable rushing…..but at mu, there were rumors of getting kicked out for being 125lbs….how was my fat, 200lb, eating disordered ever gonna think about getting in….so i never tired. its razy how the fear of idicule, the fear of not fitting in cna paralyse a person.


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