A request from your fat friend: what I need when we talk about bodies.

I need you to listen closely. I need you to believe me when I tell you what happens.

I need you to say the word “fat.” About me. Because I am.

I’m a size 26 —  fat enough that some stores for fat people don’t carry my size. Fat enough that some doctors will refuse to see me. Fat enough that getting on an airplane makes my blood run cold because they might kick me off without a refund for my ticket, or they might charge me double and then I will have to explain to my friends, job, family why I can’t make the trip. Every discussion about bodies — whether in the media or amongst friends — is about how to avoid the horrible fate of looking like me. I need you to hear that this all hurts, and it happens all the time.


I know this stuff is hard to talk about.

But when I talk about fat, I am not talking about feelings or self-esteem or body image issues or inner strength. I am talking about the way individuals and institutions treat me and people who look like me. I need you to acknowledge that you and I have different experiences because I am fat.

I need you to consider your audience. When you say you hate your body for being so fat or that you are afraid of becoming fat or when you say that you shouldn’t have eaten that lunch or dessert or when you announce your New Year’s resolution is to lose 5, 10, 25 pounds — you are saying that you don’t want your body to end up like mine. Your feelings are real and true and valid. And you still should not say them to the fattest person you know.

I know that all of us are affected by body shaming and everyone has real, valid, deep, hard feelings about our bodies.

I still need you to stop perpetuating it, especially when talking about yourself. No amount of caveats or prologues make it hurt me less. I need you to know that I’m taking it personally because it is personal.

I need you to know that I go to great pains to take care of everyone’s feelings when I talk about being fat, and for me, these conversations happen weekly, sometimes daily, and lots of people need lots of attention and care just to be able to hear what I need from them. Sometimes I get tired, frustrated, or angry with the emotional work it takes just to prepare those around me to hear me name who I am and what I need.

I need you to know that when you talk disparagingly about your own body and then you say “but not you, you’re beautiful!” your compliments are impossible to believe. That if you disapprove of yourself, vivisect your own body, and then compliment me, I will remember how you talk about both of us. If you think of your own fat body as repulsive, I will believe you are also repulsed by mine. I know that you intend to talk about yourself. I need you to know that you are also talking about me.

If you think of your own fat body as repulsive, I will believe that you are also repulsed by mine.

I need you to let go of the things I have never been able to hold, just for a moment. Just to feel how fragile they are when you loosen your grip, to feel how easily they can shatter. I need you to care for me enough to feel unsafe. I need you to join me for a moment where I live every day.

I need you to try to learn to love the lush overgrowth of your body. Let it grow wild and untamed as a garden you loved as a child. Love it for the way it sustains you, keeps you warm, goes to such lengths not to let you get hurt. Its only job is to care for you. I need you to try to love it if you intend to love me.

I need you to remember that blaming individuals for the harassment they experience isn't supportive or effective. That we can't attribute poverty to poor work ethic any more than we can attribute harassment of fat people to low self-esteem or weak willpower.

I need you not to forget your values when I tell you about my experience.

I need you to stop reducing my experiences to hurt feelings or to ill-intended individuals. I need you to know that even with good intentions, you can still do harm. I need less sympathy and more solidarity. Less pity; more anger. Fewer condolences; more action. I need you to stop comforting me.

I need an ally.

When you ask me what I need, and I tell you, I need you to try.

More

California has a housing crisis. Rent is so astronomical, one San Francisco company is offering bunk bedsfor $1,200 a month; Google even pledged$1 billion to help tackle the issue in the Bay Area. But the person who might fix it for good? Kanye West.

The music mogul first announced his plan to build low-income housing on Twitter late last year.

"We're starting a Yeezy architecture arm called Yeezy home. We're looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better," West tweeted.

Keep Reading Show less
Cities

At Trump's 'Social Media Summit' on Thursday, he bizarrely claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger had 'died' and he had witnessed said death. Wait, what?!


He didn't mean it literally - thank God. You can't be too sure! After all, he seemed to think that Frederick Douglass was still alive in February. More recently, he described a world in which the 1770s included airports. His laissez-faire approach to chronology is confusing, to say the least.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy

You think you know someone pretty well when you spend years with them, but, as we've seen time and again, that's not always the case. And though many relationships don't get to a point where the producers of "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?" start calling every day just to chat, the reality is that sometimes partners will reveal shocking things even after you thought you'd been all shocked out.

That's the case for one woman whose Reddit thread has recently gone viral. The 25-year-old, who's been with her boyfriend for five years, took to a forum for relationship advice to ask if it was normal that her seemingly cool and loving boyfriend recently revealed women shouldn't have a fundamental right. (And no, it's not abortion — although there are a lot of "otherwise best ever boyfriends" out there who want to deny women the rights to bodily autonomy, too.)

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended


Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

SK-II

"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

SK-II

"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

SK-II
True
SK-II