That is, of course, a pretty normal part of getting older. You start to realize that yeah, this actually is it, and although you can still try enough new things to keep anyone busy for two lifetimes, you’re pretty much stuck with a basic context. There are skills, experiences, and material things you will almost certainly never have, period. It’s a challenge for all of us to understand that accepting this fact of life does not necessarily mean cutting off options or giving up dreams, but simply — as in the proverbial story about the creation of the David — chipping away all that is not you. But for a fat person, it can be even harder, because so many fucking sources encourage us to believe that inside every one of us is “a thin person waiting to get out” — and that thin person is SO MUCH COOLER.
The reality is, I will never be the kind of person who thinks roughing it in Tibet sounds like a hoot; give me a decent hotel in London any day. I will probably never learn to waterski well, or snow ski at all, or do a back handspring. I can be outgoing and charismatic in small doses, but I will always then need time to recharge my batteries with the dogs and a good book; I’ll never be someone with a chock-full social calendar, because I would find that unbearably exhausting. (And no matter how well I’ve learned to fake it — and thus how much this surprises some people who know me — new social situations will most likely always intimidate the crap out of me.) I might learn to speak one foreign language fluently over the course of my life, but probably not five. I will never publish a novel until I finish writing one. I will always have to be aware of my natural tendency toward depression and might always have to medicate it. Smart money says I am never going to chuck city life to buy an alpaca farm or start a new career as a river guide. And my chances of marrying George Clooney are very, very slim.
None of that is because I’m fat. It’s because I’m me.
The Fantasy of Being Thin by Kate Harding
it’s been years since i first read this, and that first time i was shocked at how well it described my own deeply felt convictions about my body. if only i were thin…! has been one of the most frequently recurring thoughts of my entire life, and has ruled so many of my choices. usually the ones i regret the most.
and you know what? reading this article doesn’t make that disappear. the message that if you only looked different, you could be different, is only one and yet one of the most tenacious messages shoved down your throat your entire life as a fat person. (and it’s one that doesn’t apply exclusively to fat people. why is it that we’re all so convinced that we can be the people we want to be if only our appearances were different?)
i’m still working through this every day. i know that if i were thin probably wouldn’t spend six months in tibet, have my own reality show, turn into the world’s most pursued super model, or even be handed my dream job just because my body were different. but it’s more difficult to let go of the less glamorous dreams: the farther along in my body positivity journey i go, the deeper i discover the same hidden hopes born from the fantasy of being thin.
if i were thin, someone would fall in love with me. if i were thin, i would be more desirable. if i were thin, i would not be a survivor. if i were thin, if i were thin, if i were thin, i would be a more perfect, more lovable, more important human being.
i don’t know what life would be like if i were thin. i have never been thin as an adult. i only know what i am capable of as a fat person. and i’m still trying to teach myself the hard-earned, years-in-the-making lesson that as a fat person, i am still a human, i am still important, i am still loved.
you’d think it would be obvious. but it’s not.