“To the Girl Who Called Me a Fatass on the Bus” by DC Mazzie

Johnna’s note: Body acceptance should be first and foremost for us. We need to learn how to accept and love ourselves and our lives. I would not have been able to say it as well as in the following post:

To the Girl Who Called Me a Fatass on the Bus
June 3, 2011 by dcmazzie  Reprinted with author’s permission

I know we haven’t known each other for very long – we were only on the bus for a handful of minutes – and I suppose it’s possible that my weight gain is sudden, but it’s not. I have been hauling this junk in my trunk for probably longer than you’ve been alive. And you’re not the first person (and likely not the last) to call me fat. So not only are you not as shocking as you probably hoped, you’re not terribly original, either.

Not only am I a fatass and a big fat fattie, I am well educated, I have a good job with reasonable hours that pays me well, and I am loved.
I go on vacations, I have fancy meals out with my friends, I have a nice apartment in a great building with wonderful neighbors, and a cute little dog who amuses the hell out of me. When I get sick, I can afford to see a doctor. My refrigerator and cabinets are always full. I have the tremendous privilege of free time to read, watch trashy tv, blog, navel gaze, meditate, and wonder about the meaning of life. I get manicures and pedicures whenever I want. I had a fantastic massage last week. I am surrounded by people who love me just as I am.

When I look in the mirror, at my face, I sometimes smile. I like who I am. I even like the curve of my hips and the swell of my breasts. I have managed to extract some self love from the battlefield that is my body. Like yours, my body has been under scrutiny and judgement for most of my life. We both face a constant barrage of images and expectations of what our bodies should be like. We will probably never be enough. Skinny enough, curvy enough, tall enough. We will never be just right. And if we are, or close to it, our reward all too often is harassment from strangers in the street, in the store, on the bus, where ever we have the nerve to be attractive to or noticed by someone in public. From early on, we are watching what we eat, binging and purging, counting calories, measuring inches, thinking about our “skinny jeans,” sold diets and fasts, and scrutinized for what we put in our mouths. And despite that, maybe because of that, your words did not shame me. That’s why I held your gaze for so long after you said it.

I’m not telling you this to one up you. I am telling you this because I wish the same for you. I hope that you grow up avoiding or shedding the judgement and shame that is foisted on your body and runs the risk of keeping you from living fully. I hope you find yourself in 25 years in comfort, with little struggle and lots of love. I am writing this to remind myself, too, that I am so much more than the words you slung.

I could have written the title of this post 25 years ago. The rest, I couldn’t have written until today.


Johnna’s note:  Mazzie has plenty to say about body image.   Here’s another of her very moving posts!

“No one ever asks women if we want to compete in this lifelong beauty contest. Being born female automatically makes us contestants.”

That quote is floating around the twitterverse this morning, without attribution.

I guess I never felt “in” the “contest.” When I was 13 and contemplating getting the haircut that was all the rage, I remember saying to my mom, worriedly, “There’s nothing more annoying than a fat chick with a bob.”

In junior high, I was calling myself a fat chick.

I am sure my mom’s response was some sort of horror, but what I wish she said was, “Fuck that. Fuck everyone and what they think. Be you. Be happy.” (Mom was quite delightfully conversant in vulgarities; I also remember around the same time stubbing my toe and mom standing near me saying, “Say FUCK! It will fee so much better!”) She said as much to me in many other ways since, as we both grew. But when I was 13, my parents sat me down and told me what a miserable life I would have being overweight. The message I got was as long as I was fat, no one would love me.

That summer, I did a terrible thing: I told my friend – the one who wanted to help me lose weight – I had stomach cancer. That way, I’d be forced to lose weight. Well, I didn’t. Word got around. And I went into high school as the girl who lied about having cancer.

Later, in my sophomore year of college, I was walking to a bar between two friends of mine. We could hear guys behind us talking about us, about our appearance, and one guy said to the other, “Forget the girl in the middle.” “Yeah, forget the one in the middle,” his friend affirmed. If I ever thought until that point I was “in” the “contest,” I certainly didn’t after. In fact, “forget the one in the middle” became an anthem for me. I craved being invisible.

It’s only in the last few years, as age creeps up on me and giveashits genuinely ebb, that I can do something completely radical: begin to accept myself as I am. Begin.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still internalize all the messages I am bombarded with or that I can go so far as to say I love my body. (Are any of us allowed to say that?) But at least now, as I craft my life going forward, I can carve the way to that place because I am finally, finally on my side.

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