My Story

I have always been a fat girl.  Fat has had a constant and unyielding presence in my life.  Within the past few years, I have begun to recognize fat as an integral part of my identity, shaping many of my experiences, feelings, actions, perspectives, relationships, etc.  This recognition, however, developed as a part of my feminist consciousness, after I realized that my experience of fat was an intense contributor to my identity as a feminist.  It is not surprising, then, that my discovery of fat-positive feminism would feel like a breath of fresh air as it creates a space for the conversations that my fat self and my feminist consciousness have been longing to engage in as well as validates my experiences and, even more importantly, my personhood.

I have a deep appreciation for the worldview that my body has helped me to develop.  I am convinced that if I had not grown up fat, I would be a completely different person than I am today.  My size has made me an “other” even within the “other” that patriarchal society uses to identify women.  While in many ways, I believe that I allowed this “othering” to occur, letting my size serve as a roadblock for many endeavors, I also strongly believe that fat people and, more specifically, fat women, are definitely “othered” by society at large.  Because of my experience as this “other,” my transition into feminism felt natural.  My body made me feel unfeminine, causing me to examine the construction of femininity more critically.  I was never sucked into the materialistic world of fashion that targets women as stylish clothes were never in my size.  Never feeling like an object of desire, I was very inclined to think critically about heterosexual relationships and the male gaze.  Because of all of this, it was very easy for my experiences to bring me to a feminist consciousness.

I have spent years apologizing for my weight, overcompensating for my size by working to take up less space and be compliant, exerting most of my energy in finding self-worth in academics and personal relationships, and, of course, engaging in countless weight-loss efforts.  By the time I reached college, I was exhausted by all of these efforts.  I was sick of trying to find the “thin” girl within me and feeling like I should punish myself for letting my fat self hold her captive all these years.  I wanted to resist all of the pressures I felt from society, and feminism helped me to do that.  I understood that women are held up to impossible standards of beauty and are socialized to apologize for themselves and be compliant.  However, it never occurred to me that fat could be ‘ok’, for when it came down to it, it was a health issue, right?

I really started explore this fat consciousness when one of my favorite professors had those of us in his class write an autoethnography.  He wanted us to explore what it felt like to tell our life stories speaking as a member of a group and standing up for ourselves in an honest way.  I wrote my autoethnography from the position of a fat girl.  My professor really challenged me to explore this side of myself and was extremely supportive and encouraging in this journey.

Somehow I also managed to stumble across the NAAfA (National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance).  At first, I, like many critics, thought that this was a copout.  After more reading, however, I saw that many of them were like me in their feelings and experiences.  Looking at fat as a societal issue, rather than a strictly medical issue revealed the plethora of injustice and mistreatment fat people face and the fat-hatred behind it all.  I learned that fat acceptance was about validating fat people as people who have value and worth in their own right as well as thinking critically about the messages sent to about fat.  With my discovery of fat acceptance and HAES (Health at Every Size), I finally gave myself permission to be fat.

In an effort to learn more about this revolutionary attitude toward fat (as well as an effort to be happier with myself), I began to use the internet to explore fat acceptance.  I began to notice that many of the Google searches I was performing led me to women’s blogs.  Many (thought not all) of these blogs are written by fat women with a focus on fat acceptance.  To me, a woman’s advocacy of fat-acceptance is, inherently, feminist as it is resisting patriarchal norms of what a woman’s body should be.  After more internet investigations, however, I discovered that fat-positive feminism is a movement in its own right, rising out of the second wave feminist movement, and also with strong foundations in lesbian feminism.

This brings me to where I am now.  I have decided to explore fat positive feminism for my Senior Independent Study.  I want to look at fat activism and its place within feminism as well as how women who advocate fat acceptance experience feminism and the body.  I’m excited to work on this project because it is something I have become passionate about, and it is very personal to me.


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