I hate the word “fat.” It hurts me to say it out loud. It pains me to even think the word in my head. It’s as though I’m Harry Potter and “fat” is Voldemort’s even more feared nickname. That’s how much I despise the word. And then today on my walk home through the jungle of strollers on the Upper West Side, I asked myself a very difficult question: “Why?”
Why do I hate the word “fat?” I thought purposefully about all the different answers… It’s degrading. It sounds ugly. It’s a word I wasn’t allowed to say growing up. It’s mean. And so on…
But then I decided to tell myself the truth. I detest this word because it describes me. I can use all the euphemisms in the world — curvy, chunky, full-figured, big-boned (my grandmother’s favorite), a-not-a-small-girl (my go to) — but at the end of the day, those phrases are just nicer ways to say “fat.”
And I’m sick of it. I’m sick of being a slave to this word. Because it’s not a weapon to lessen my worth or completely ruin my self-esteem — it is just a word. That’s all it is. That’s all it’ll ever be.
I’ve decided that I’m going to take its power away. Because I am fat. And maybe that’ll change one day, but for the time being, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles…pun intended.
And I’m surviving…very much in the same way that every other semi-lost-semi-normal 20-something is surviving – I just wear bigger pants. And with this newfound look on life, I think that we fat girls need to stick together. So I’ve decided to create a quasi-survival guide with a singular tip per entry for all my lovely ladies out there in the shitty, shitty world we live in. All of these “survival tips” are drawn from my 100% true, everyday experiences.
When I was a kid, my grandmother (think Emily Gilmore, but Jewish) would take me shopping. Her taste is unparalleled, even to this day, always keeping it classy with Chanel flats and a Prada fanny-pack. She fancies anything pea-green or chocolate brown and she has an affinity for high-end scarves. No one wears a scarf like my grandmother.
But she used to do this thing that was so hurtful when I was a kid. We’d be in the middle of a dressing room, and I’d be trying on a dress or a skirt, predominantly in a stretch-based fabric. She’d look at me, breathe in and speak some of the truest words I’ve ever heard: “it could be better.”
And she was right. It could be better. But she really meant, “It should be bigger.” Then she would march up to me, put her hands under the bottom of the fabric and stretch it out with all her might, as much as humanly possible until it was big enough for her liking. She’d pull away, smile softly at her handiwork, and say “Now, there. Isn’t that better?” I would look in the mirror, and I would see that it was better. But I would also relive that embarrassing moment over and over in my head every time I wore this particular item of clothing.
Couldn’t she have just gotten me the size up? Couldn’t she just have said it wasn’t the right cut? There is a plethora of other ways that she could have handled the situation, but she made a deliberate move to make sure that she stretched the fabric to exact size she thought it needed to be. And as a 10-year-old in the claustrophobic dressing room of Bloomingdale’s on Michigan Avenue, I wanted to rip the stretchy fabric from my disproportionate body and burn it to the ground as my grandmother mourned the loss of yet another pea-green sheath dress.
But now, as a 20-something, I see that my grandmother was teaching me an extremely valuable lesson about tailoring.
Tailoring is key. It is a pertinent step in the shopping process. Especially as a fat girl, nothing fits the way it should right off the bat. It’s always big in some places and small in other places. Well it’s usually small in all the places… We must buy clothing that fits the largest part of our body (in my case, it’s my stomach) and then tailor the outfit perfectly to fit the rest of our figure. It will make us look thinner, more put together, and most importantly, confident.
So here is first tip in The Fat Girl’s Survival Guide…. Befriend a tailor. Make them fall in love with you because you will be their best customer. Think of them like a boyfriend—let them get to know the curves of your body and understand what makes you feel beautiful. And then once they fully comprehend the weight (pun intended, again) of this situation, tip them.
Tip them really well. Like, at least 20%.