I was nineteen when I first got a job at Lane Bryant in North Richland Hills, Texas. It was the most glamorous place I’d ever been in in my life. The clothes were stunning, and the bras? Oh. My. Gosh. I had no idea bras and panties like that existed. With the huge discount they give the employees, I was soon decked out in all LB, all the time. It. Was. Awesome. Something else I got from that job, though, was the understanding that not all fat women see themselves the same way. While I’ve been big my entire life and had a lifetime of experiences to prepare me for how the world reacts to fat chicks, a lot of my customers only gained weight in adulthood and for many, their self esteem took a huge tumble as the numbers on the scale rose. It made me realize one huge (no pun intended) and important thing about myself: I’m only fat on the outside…
I’m Only Fat On The Outside
I’ve got friends who don’t understand the fat acceptance movement. Body positive confuses them. “Why do we have to encourage people to be fat?” they ask, seeming to not realize that I’m one of the ‘people’ they’re talking about.
I don’t see body positivity in that way. I don’t think it’s encouraging people to be fat. Or thin. Or anything other than who they are.
Working at Lane Bryant, one of the things that became very evident is that the women who became fat in adulthood had no idea how to cope with their fatness. Many of them would come in and want clothing that was at least two sizes bigger than themselves so that they could ‘hide’ their figures. These women would look down or away when they talked to me. Embarrassed that they had to walk around in this skin that they’d yet to grow accustomed to. They felt as if they didn’t deserve nice things, and while I saw nothing but beautiful, colorful clothing, these women saw horrifying yards of fabric that would make them stand out when all they wanted was to be invisible.
It broke my heart.
Inside I’m a dancer. Maybe a ballerina. I’m not sure. And a runner. I find myself running in my dreams a lot. I don’t know. I just know that I’ve never felt like a fat chick. Or, maybe, I’ve never felt like my fat defined me. It’s the skin I wear, same as anyone else’s skin, but bigger. I never felt like I needed to hide my figure, because it was mine. My eyes never avert when I look at people because I don’t feel uncomfortable in my skin.
I’m very lucky, it seems. I’m only fat on the outside because I’ve never felt defined by my figure. Body positivity and the fat acceptance movement seems to be people taking steps to get other fat humans to feel the same as me. What would happen if we lived in a world where people could just love themselves?
I know there are always things that people are going to want to change. I’d love to change my hair. To what, I have no idea, but something other than this brown, moppy mess that I’ve got hanging off my head. I’d change my short, stubby fingers, too. But only because I always wanted to play piano, and I never seemed able to reach.
There are people who would exchange their entire bodies, if they could. Replace it for something more suited to how they feel on the inside because they never found a way to love what they wore on the outside. I can’t imagine that. Sure, I’d love to be healthier, more active, I’d love to run and leap, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m able to see my inner self shining through my skin.
I hope someday everyone can have that feeling.