By Cassie, AP contributor
I’ve been fat for most of my adult life. There was a brief point in my very early 20’s when I was quite thin, but amusingly I still thought of myself as fat at that time, perhaps more so than when I actually did get properly fat. Body image hunh? It’s a complicated beast.
I thought I’d come to terms with the size of my ass, and the jiggliness of my arms. I don’t get a lot of flak for it publicly, unlike some other less lucky plus size ladies I know. There are of course the inevitable, nosy, questions like “So, are you pregnant?” while gesturing at my belly. But I’ve been asked so many times I just answer completely straight faced, “No, just fat”. My friends circle is made up of people who are either also fat, or who aren’t bothered by my fatness. I work from home these days, so I don’t even have to deal with fatphobic co-workers anymore. I thought I was pretty much okay with this fat thing. I didn’t used to have that much trouble finding clothes that I liked (my boyfriend will laugh heartily at this, because he’s always teasing me for the sheer mass of clothes I own), but I never realised how much being able to find clothes that fit meant to me until I couldn’t.
My weight has always fluctuated, but usually on a monthly basis – ballooning out with hormones, then returning to a status quo. However, I recently started taking a new medication, and this time when my weight ballooned out, it just didn’t go back down again. Suddenly even my “fat pants” were not fat enough, and my self confidence took a decided nose dive.
You would think having been fat for so long, and having put so much thought and energy into working through all my issues with being a shape that society deems unsightly would have inured me against a 10kg weight gain. But it didn’t. Suddenly every bad thing I’d ever thought about my body came flooding back, swamping my mind and leaving me a tearful lump on the couch in the same trackpants for days at a time. It really wasn’t that huge a weight gain – my boyfriend couldn’t tell, but then I’d probably have to double in size before he noticed. I couldn’t really tell looking at myself in the mirror, apart from a vauge feeling that my curves had possibly altered slightly. But my waistbands told a different story – they very firmly told me that I was now Too Big, and the amount that affected me really took me by surprise.
Of course, I’m sure some of you will be thinking that I should just put my back into it and lose the weight – problem solved! Which is all well and good, but what do you do when the temperature is dropping every day, and suddenly all your warm clothes won’t fit anymore? I couldn’t gamble that I could take the weight back off before I froze to death trying to wear summer clothes in winter. I needed at least a couple of new things, and had a little bit of money to spare, so off I went into the great Retail Landscape looking for a sensible winter skirt.
Unfortunately, the great Retail Landscape deemed me just as unworthy of nice things as I felt. I looked high and low, but there was nary a size 20 plain black linen skirt to be found. Plenty of size 18, even more of size 16, but 20 seems to be the magic number where retailers assume you’re really into synthetic fabrics and loud prints. My self-esteem plummeted even further, and trackpants gave way to a ratty Batman onesie as I declared myself too fat for people clothes.
Then, miracle of miracles, I found just what I was looking for on Ebay. I ordered, fairly sure it wouldn’t even fit because I was too fat for any clothes blah blah self loathing blah. But when it arrived, it not only fit – it looked good. It felt good, it looked good, and suddenly I felt good. I felt up to looking for more skirts, and found another skirt that also looked good and felt good, and my self esteem soared again.
Before this experience, I never thought of my clothes as being particularly influential to how I felt about my size. I’d get annoyed that plus sizes weren’t more widely available, but I have enough plus size friends that I didn’t feel singular in my fatness. I thought my self image was robust enough to handle a slight fluctuation – but it wasn’t. All it took was ten measly kilos and BAM I felt like a slug. A gross, slimy, globular slug. What I learned is that I still have a long way to go in terms of separating my sense of self worth from my size. Ten kilos up or ten kilos down, I’m still me – and I need to remember the size of my arse does not dictate my worth.
(And that I really need to get rid of that damn onesie)
The author of Reluctant Femme, Cassie is a queer thirty-something Australian who thinks too much, reads too much, and has way too many pretty things. Her writing revolves around exploring concepts of femme and femininity, feminism, and just how much glitter you really can fit into a polish before it’s unusable. You can catch up with her in shorter bursts on Twitter , and browse her handmade accessories at her Etsy store