Trigger warning: This post will discuss weight loss, fatness, depression, suicide, eating disorders, please read at your own risk
I’m presuming most of the readers of this article will have read Tanya Golds riveting new piece “Obese Mannequins are Selling Women a Dangerous Lie”. If not, I don’t recommend it. However, to give the reader a bit of context, Nike recently just started showing their plus size clothing on “plus size” mannequins. They have been selling plus size clothing for many years, but this mannequin received a ton of hate from Telegraph “journalist” Tanya Gold. She goes on to endorse that fat women specifically “cannot run”, that they are “on their way to a hip replacement and/or diabetes”, and that promoting fat athletes (or just..normal fat people who exercise…) is “dangerous”.
While I wish I could express further disappointment in Tanya Gold, and trust me, I am disappointed, I feel it would be unfair to give only her shit, knowing that what she thinks is no different than that of so many others.
I go to the gym 5-7x a week. I strength train, and can leg press 3x my weight comfortably. I run on average 3.1 miles 6x a week, sometimes less, sometimes more. I have fitness goals including running a marathon and beating my PRs every time I step into that gym. And I am fat. Not just “a little chubby”, I am morbidly obese. My body sits comfortably at 200-220lbs. I’ve not been below 200lbs since I was 10 years old, over a decade ago, before puberty. I have struggled with eating disorders (despite not meeting ‘diagnostic criteria’ in the medical world due to my BMI..) since I was 7. At age 5 I was told I was getting too heavy. By age 10 I had gone to weight watchers with my mum numerous times. My weight and thusly my fat body has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I spent a lot of time hating it.
When I was at my worst mental health point, I also gained a ton of weight, rapidly. I pushed 350lbs and I cut myself on a daily basis. I was severely depressed. I suffer from major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and complex PTSD. I wanted to kill myself, every day. No one at that time was worried about the cuts on my wrists, Or the three suicide attempts, Or the pills, They were worried about me being too fucking fat. Doctors saw my wrists, they saw my pale skin and broken blood vessels, and they said “lose some weight, you’ll feel better.” They put me on diet pills that made my heart flutter painfully for years. They suggested surgery to a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL, to suture my stomach half shut. They told my parents to starve me “keep her below 600 calories a day,” they gave me weight loss program after weight loss program, And none of it worked. Here I am, still fat.
So, Tanya Gold, I want to challenge some of your ideas here. You mention that fat “gargantuan” women “cannot run”. This morning I ran 2.5 miles on a sprained ankle, and felt completely comfortable. Yesterday I ran three. I know fat women who run marathons, Who hike mountains, Who lift 5x their weight. I also know fat women who don’t do any of that, who are just as worthy of love, support, kindness, and fucking gym clothes. I will not placate you and only talk about “good fatties” who are trying to lose weight. I don’t work out to lose shit, I work out so I can throw people like you across the fucking room. I work out because a man at my job tried to stab me, and I want to know I can get away from dangerous people and defend myself. I work out because I like feeling endorphins, and I love feeling strong. So, I buy plus size workout clothing. The type of clothing you say shouldn’t be modeled on mannequins who look like me. To that, I’ve just gotta say, fuck you, man. I’ve experienced things that I wouldn’t wish on anyone else. I’ve overcome challenges, health scares, miscarriages, I’ve stayed alive despite wanting to die more times than I can count. So I buy clothes that fit my fat ass. My body isn’t something for you to make fun of. My story isn’t one for you to ignore with your fatphobic nonsense.
But back to my original statement, I can’t be all that mad at you, Tanya. For there are many, many people who think just like you.
Every patient who urges “I can’t talk about my problems to this fat bitch,” Or shouts “Stupid fat cunt,” loudly, across the parking lot, for two hours. Every girl who laughs at me at the gym, knowing full well I’m lifting their weight, just because I look bigger than them. Every man who has told me to kill myself just because I’m fat. Every man who has threatened to rape me because fat women “should take what they can get”. Every “what are you going to do about your weight?” “How’s your diet going?” “You’re not THAT big,” “you’ll feel better if you lost weight”, “your eating disorder isn’t real”, “Don’t eat that”, “a guy that attractive shouldn’t be with her,” every doctor who’s dismissed my symptoms and put my weight as the biggest problem in my life, every therapist who’s told me that losing weight will fix my depression, every rude comment I receive when I walk into a bar.. See? It’s not just a journalist. These are a handful of experiences I’ve had in the last six months alone. I could never write down all of them. The problem isn’t a shitty writer trying to gain clout. The problem is the way people think of fat bodies.
Fat women are scared. Scared to fuck with the lights on, scared to wear bikinis, scared to not laugh at the jokes, scared to eat food in front of people, scared to be active near thin people, and now we have to be afraid of wearing fucking Nike, too. So, I guess I want to ask my fellow large humans (and all other humans) this: Stop being afraid. “Buy the ticket, take the ride” Go on the run, buy the crop top, wear the short skirt, fuck the guy/girl/non binary person, go on the trip, do whatever it is you fucking want to do because people like Tanya Fuckin Gold are going to shit on you anyway.
As I said, I’m still fat. I’ve always been fat, and always will be. That will never change. What has changed since I entered my mid 20’s is my mindset. I no longer think of fat as a bad word. Some days, I really hate my body. Some days I cry when I look in the mirror. Some days, the words and comments do get to me. But more days than ever before, I look at the muscles in my legs and feel powerful. I feel the soreness in my chest from arm day, and feel strong. I see the lose skin and fat on my tummy, hips, and thighs, and see a woman who has conquered so many fears, challenged so many voices, and accomplished so many things. When I run, I feel courageous. When I lift a new PR, I feel powerful. When I stand up for myself and others, I feel intelligent. When I am naked, I feel sexy. When I challenge stereotypes, I feel brave. When I hear the voice in my head, I hear love.
I hope you learn to hear love, too. Even you, Tanya Gold. Even you.
With love, always,