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My heart sunk in such a familiar way when I first learned about "Fat Chance."

The TLC show explores the weight loss journeys of people looking to fall in love. “Why would someone love me, looking like this?” one contestant asks, staring at her soft body in a full-length mirror.

Wherever we go, someone is constantly asserting the life of loneliness, isolation, and lovelessness to which fat people are doomed. It is heartbreaking and it is false.


I think about the technicolor loves I have had, the partners who have loved and wanted me. I think about the fat people I have fallen for and the fat friends and family who are happily married, hooking up, falling in love, and calling affection into their lives.

Unlovable is ubiquitous and deeply untrue. After all, if fat people were truly impossible to love, two-thirds of the country would be condemned to a life of solitude and longing. But unlovable has gained so much momentum that it has taken on a life of its own, a self-fulfilling prophecy that shapes the thinking of my friends and family, showing up jagged and sharp in their tender mouths.

Even friends who are critical about popular depictions of fat people have a hard time. When we talk about "Fat Chance," their answers are startlingly similar. One after another, upon seeing the contestants: "I mean, look at her, she’s not even that fat."

There it is, unlovable, its toothy serrated blade cutting as deep as ever.

I know that’s not what they intend to say. They mean the world has gone haywire if this woman is considered fat. They mean an impossible standard has been set if a handsome, broad-shouldered man feels like he’s too fat. They are startled seeing bodies that look so much like theirs being discussed as irredeemably, unlovably fat.

It’s a common response to seeing fat-shaming of all kinds.

She’s not that fat. Because if she is, they might be too. They are awakened to a new level of self-consciousness, wondering if maybe they should’ve felt even more ashamed all this time. In that moment, they disappear into themselves, consumed by a new depth of surprise and shame.

She’s not even that fat.

But I am always that fat. When strangers bring up cartoonish numbers — I mean, would being fat be OK if she was 300 pounds? — I am their exaggerated example. I am the person they dread sitting next to on the plane, the one who avoids eye contact with strangers for fear of the slurs that follow, the one who orders salads in public in hope of being spared judgment, comment, or shaming. I have always been that fat. I have always been fair game.

She’s not even that fat. But they’d understand if they were saying it about me. She’s not deserving of such scorn, but there’s someone who is. There’s someone who’s that fat. There’s me.

“I mean, I know you think you know what you’re seeing, but I’m pretty fat,” you said, fixing your lipstick and adjusting your size-10 dress in a department store bathroom mirror. Behind you, my soft body, size 26, is a sharp contrast.

I furrow my brow and again, my heart sinks. You, willowy and lithe. You, cheekbones and clavicle. You, pretty fat. But, dear friend, you are never that fat.

I turn this moment over in my head, examining it carefully. It leaves me with such a dull ache of grief. Later that night, I finally find the words for what I wanted to say to you.

I wanted to tell you that your identity is important.

I believe that you see yourself as pretty fat, and I know that your identity matters to you just as much as mine matters to me. The way you see yourself shapes how you engage with the world around you. It determines when and how you feel seen, when and how you feel erased. You describe it precisely, with words you cradle close to your heart. It is a locket that warms with your body, a keepsake to remind you who you are and where you stand in the world.

Your identity matters deeply. So do perception and experience — how others see you and how they treat you as a result. Your identity shapes how you engage with the world; perception determines how the world reacts to you. This, dear friend, is where our experiences differ. You feel pretty fat. I am seen as that fat.

Image from iStock.

Because I’m seen as that fat, I’m treated with all the dismissal and contempt that people who are that fat deserve. People who are that fat get turned away from job interviews, promotions, even doctor offices. Because I am that fat, a nurse takes my blood pressure four times before telling me that my low blood pressure “can’t be right — not for an obese patient.” You know you feel pretty fat, but cashiers don’t gawk when you walk into a buffet restaurant, and acquaintances don’t joke about ending up on a blind date with someone like you.

You see yourself as fat, and that matters. But the world around you doesn’t know how you see yourself. They only see the body in front of them, and that body isn’t even that fat.

I see your identity. And I need you to see my experience.

Both of these moments, with good friends whom I love and trust, have stayed with me. These friends are thoughtful, incisive, committed to doing better by fat people. And in both cases, their values were betrayed, caught in an undertow of dismissing fat people.

They never meant to, but both of them made it clear that some bodies are acceptable, and others aren’t.

Many of us are comfortable saying that some fat bodies are OK. Those fat bodies are almost always exceptional star athletes or stunning models. The kind of bodies you see alongside their accomplishments and, astonished, utter, "I never would’ve guessed." The kind of bodies that check every other box: staggering beauty, visible markers of health, physical ability, youth. Women must have hourglass figures; men must have broad shoulders and barrel chests. No one can “look obese.” Yes, fat bodies are OK, but only if they are immaculate in every other way and only if we can see their perfection. Fat bodies are best when they don’t look fat at all.

She’s not even that fat and I’m pretty fat are harsh reminders of that line. I never know just where it is, but I know I am always on the outside of it. I have never been an acceptable kind of fat. Those who are acceptable, those who are embraced, are precious few and far between. Most of us fail at being the right kind of fat.

That’s why any acceptance of fat people that expands our standards to a point is unacceptable. I do not want to be accepted into a beauty standard that has betrayed me. I do not want my acceptance to rely on someone else’s rejection.

Everyone — yes, everyone — deserves respect in the world. No one — not one person — deserves to be harassed, discriminated against, disrespected, or hurt just because of the size or shape of their body. It doesn’t matter if you think they could change their body. It doesn’t matter if you’re right. All of us deserve safety and all of us deserve love.

There will be bodies that you find difficult to embrace.

The fattest person in the movie theater, daring to eat popcorn. The person you clock as transgender at the grocery store. The person with a visible disability, who needs you to give up your seat on the bus. There will be me, a person who is that fat. This is where the work gets tough.

In order to make room for all of us, you will have to believe to your bones that they deserve everything you have.Not some of them. Not the most beautiful ones or the most athletic ones. Not up to a certain size or just if they’re nice to you or just the ones you think are cute.

Dignity is not earned. Safety is not a reward. None of us should have to overcome our bodies just to be safe, to be loved, to be treated like anyone else. Safety, acceptance, and love are for all of us. Not just the ones we’re comfortable with. Not just the ones who aren’t that fat.

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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