Dear Troll [On Being Fat]
It’s fairly astounding that I have been active on the internet over half my life and yet yesterday was the first time we met. We were bound to cross paths at some point and so … here we are.
You made your presence known with one word:
I’ll admit, it did make me raise an eyebrow. And I did think about it longer than I would have liked. And here I am, spending time writing about it too. If your objective was to waste my time, you succeeded.
But, dear troll, I doubt that was your objective.
You see, all my life I’ve been a bit fat and all my life that’s been a word used to insult and shame me. It’s been hurled at me by strangers, and callously dropped at my feet by someone who knew me better than anyone, someone who knew exactly which word would break me. All my life, ‘fat’ has been a word used to put me in my place and shut me up. I’ve had to answer questions like, “Are you sure you want to eat that?” and “Wouldn’t you rather wear something more flattering?” I sweated through so many sweltering summers wearing long sleeves or tights because I knew my fat arms and legs shouldn’t be on full display. I even tried starving myself for a while. It sort of worked, actually. I was told I looked better, neater, more proportionate. Sadly, my new size 10 body didn’t seemed to translate in the mirror; I still saw a fat reflection. I didn’t like being hungry and anxious all the time so that soon stopped, anyway.
But here’s the thing, troll. It occurred to me at some point that I had a choice. I could either sink under the weight of all that shame, or I could thrash my way to the surface and splash and yell with everything I had until I either managed to swim to safety or draw someone closer who could lift me up out the water. I chose the latter. I won’t lie; some days I’m still thrashing around. But most days, I’m safe. I chose to learn to love myself. I taught my body to dance. I take her on walks. Sometimes I sit naked alone, and other times I dance naked with many other bodies in a sea of glitter. This loving yourself thing is great fun, truth be told.
Troll, you’re right – I am fat. I am fat in the same way my hair is curly, my eyes are hazel, and my body is short. I know what you were trying to say though. Let me help you with the words you couldn’t find:
You are lazy
You take up too much space
You are unhealthy
You are unattractive
You are greedy
You are selfish
You don’t know me but I can safely say that I am none of those things. Well, sometimes I’m lazy, and I’m definitely more than a bit selfish, but I’m ok with that.
But what about you, troll? That’s a lot of hatred to be throwing around. Are you ok? I don’t know a single soul I would consider well-balanced and happy, who would carry that much hatred around with them. What was it about a video of me dancing that aggravated you enough to try to insult me? Something about me taking up space, unapologetic about my body, angered you. Maybe you need to look inwards and figure that shit out.
What really annoys me though is that people like you see a beautiful spark in someone and your reaction is to try to stamp it out. I’ve dealt with far worse than you and I’m burning brighter than ever so I’m not worried about me, but there are other sparks out there who aren’t so strong. You ought to be aware that your words have the power to crush someone. Take a second to think about that. If anyone is unhealthy, selfish, greedy, or unattractive, it’s the person who is presumptuous enough to think they are in a position to do that to someone else.
Anyway, I highly doubt you’ll ever see this, troll. I could take the high road here and say that I hope you find something to fix that empty sadness sitting heavily inside you but … eh … we’re all adults here. I think you’ll find your hobby isn’t going to do you much good in the long run.
The most important thing to say in all of this is directed to those who, like me, are no strangers to insults. Friends, it’s hard. But know that if someone uses words to hurt you it’s because you have roused something in them. There is something about you that they don’t understand, that makes them feel threatened, and the only way they can react is by trying to bring you down. You should know that you’re a fucking beautiful fire and no one but you gets to choose how you feel. Own your body and your space and keep shining bright.