Friday, June 24, 2016

Is Fat The New Skinny?

The answer is, of course, no. The title of my post today is a rhetorical question. Now, I have several points I want to make, but it's going to take me some time to get there, so I hope you'll bear with me.

I was on Youtube today looking at fashion haul videos (which I won't define because I can't believe there's a person on the planet who doesn't know what a haul video is) because I want to see what the trends are and also because I like seeing what other people buy. Anyway, one of my favorite clothing stores is Torrid, a fashion-forward plus size store that caters to bigger women who want to wear pretty clothes. I'm definitely one of those, although Torrid does feature some clothing that's simply too youthful for me to be wearing. So it stands to reason that the ladies doing Torrid hauls on Youtube are also bigger girls. Some of them are very, very big girls that make me look average sized. One of them is a young lady who works for an adult website. She made a video addressing the "concern trolls" who seem to be all over the comments sections of her videos. Concern trolling, for those who don't know, is a kind of subtle fat shaming where the person feigns concern for a fat person's health. I've seen and experienced concern trolls on Fetlife, too and it almost always angers me. "I'm just telling you that you're fat and fat is unhealthy." Well, OK I already knew that so what was the point of telling me? The answer you usually get to this question is along the lines of "I'm just very concerned and worried about your health." Why? I'm a total stranger to you. If this person was a friend or family member, I wouldn't consider them a troll. But a total stranger lecturing me on my BMI or a random person dropping a similar comment on a Fetlife photo of me? Yes, that's considered trolling, especially since we all know how much trolls like a reaction. 

She also addressed the folks who believe she won't be able to "get a man" or be happy until she loses some weight. She used an example of someone who said "Well, I may not have my dream job or have a perfect life, but at least I'm not as fat as she is." This seems to be saying that, as long as you're skinny, you won't be considered a loser at life, even if your life is a complete mess. But if you're fat, you can have a fun job doing what you love, surround yourself with loving and supportive people and be fulfilled in every way, but if you're fat, you MUST be unhappy because you can't wear a macro bikini like a Victoria's Secret model. If your happiness depends solely on what the scale says, then yes, I would say you will be unhappy unless you lose weight. These are the people the so-called diet industry targets. If you're one of those people that labors under the delusion that only skinny people are happy and all of us "fatties" are miserable, then I would like to ask you to perform this quick experiment. The next time you go to the grocery store to buy your organic tofu and zero carb water, pay attention to the magazines as you're waiting in the check out line. Look at all those beautiful people and then read about all the misery in their lives. Case in point: Jennifer Aniston. She's considered one of the most beautiful women on the planet and yet her romantic woes are well documented. She can't seem to keep her men from cheating on her. If looks were all it took to "get a man", then women like Jennifer Aniston should have it made, right? But no. It seems like every time one of the tabloids announces that Jennifer has found happiness at last, within a few months, there's a tearful photo of Jennifer minus her ring with the caption "It's over!" But there are many women that society would deem fat who have long, happy marriages and fulfilling lives without being able to pass for a model. Statistics tell us that the average American woman still (years after the aerobics craze and liposuction craze and now the cleansing craze) wears a size 14. So could it be that there's more going on here than mere aesthetics? Without throwing out blanket statements, I feel pretty safe in saying that most of the skinny women in Hollywood are neurotics who probably view every other actress as a potential rival for a part in a movie or for a man. I'm not saying there aren't happy, well-adjusted women living in Hollywood, but well, they seem to be few and far between. Living in the Tinseltown goldfish bowl just doesn't seem conducive to it. The tabloid articles always make it seem like we're supposed to feel sorry every time some model or actress gets dumped by her bad boy boyfriend. Poor Jennifer. Dumped again. And yet, the fat girls that society detests are told to "cover up" or keep out of sight so that they won't be subjected to our fat. Or could it be that they don't want to be subjected to our happiness? Think about it. Because we don't fit society's definition of beauty and because no good-looking man worth his salt would be seen with us, there's really no pressure on us to conform. We're freer to be who we really are. And yes, I know that fat women are often reduced to dating fat men, but let me tell you some of those fat men are an awful lot of fun to be around. 

I know there are probably going to be PC folks reading this who will think to themselves that I shouldn't be using descriptors like "fat" or "skinny". That's just completely wrong. Well, I AM fat and I don't have a problem saying it. I do dislike the word "skinny" but I think if someones bones are sticking out, then they're skinny. I was a very skinny kid. I was skin and bones and not much else. So I've been on both sides of the weight fence. When I was a young woman wearing a size 12 I thought I was fat. I look at photos of myself back then and I wish I looked like that again. Then I remember that I was an unhappy alcoholic who abused pain meds and I rethink that. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that thin doesn't equal happy. I know many thin women who struggle with depression, body image, self-hate and other serious issues. The fact that there are people out there who wish we would just remain invisible and stay home so they don't have to be disturbed by our fat just makes me feel sad for them. I blogged some years ago about my thin and beautiful friend, Amy whom I went to high school with. I mentioned that she often spent Saturday nights at home alone because she had ridiculously high standards when it came to the boys she would date, while I and the rest of our circle of friends went out and had fun. Now, you have to understand that Amy would rather have sat alone at home than date the boys that I and my other friends dated. She considered them rejects. A couple of years after we graduated, I ran into her by chance getting on a bus (I blogged about this too). She had a child with the man she was living with. I could tell she was ashamed for me to see her with her used stroller and the shiner she sported. She was living with an abusive man in a trailer without a phone. I discovered this when I asked if I could  call her sometime. Now, at this time, I was going to junior college and dating a young man who was studying to be an architect. I couldn't help thinking how the tables had turned. I always felt like a shaggy dog next to her. I hated being photographed with her because her radiant smile and lovely face ensured that no one else in the photo would be noticed. I considered myself plain and still do. I'm just not a beauty. And I'm finally OK with that.

Despite not being a beauty, I have always been girly. I love clothes, make up, shoes and all the things that come with being female. I have blogged about that, too. But it's that love of all things girly that makes me watch other peoples' haul videos. It's not just a good place to look at pretty clothes though. I think it's a pretty good place to get some perspective.

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