FOM writer Katie wrote a piece entitled “So You’re a Feminist… Now What?” In it, she discusses finding feminism and noticing things you didn’t notice before. What do you do when you realize that your friends and family make racist comments or rape jokes?
I want to bounce off of her piece. I want to talk about being a feminist and getting past the things that you yourself think. “So You’re a Feminist…Now What?: The Me Edition.”
I encountered feminism a few years ago. Before that, I had a lot of the qualities that I would now resent in other people. I am a woman of colour and I went to secondary school with a group of classmates who were almost entirely people of colour. I made jokes about them, and they made jokes about me. I thought that was okay. My classmates and I scoffed at our psychology teacher, Mr. Brady, who was shocked at some of the comments we made. I thought “nigga” with an “a” and the n-word were different; I thought anyone could use the first and that the second was restricted. I thought so many wrong things.
I learned. I’m still learning. I know that rape jokes are not okay, I know what cultural appropriation is, I recognise casually racist comments and jokes, I know that women are held to an impossible beauty ideal and that they shouldn’t be judged for their bodies. I know that women can wear whatever they want — or that they should be able to wear anything they want, at least — without anyone giving them shit for it.
I know these things. I consider myself a feminist. Sometimes, however, I find it hard to apply these things to myself.
I know so many beautiful, wonderful women who are proud of themselves and of their bodies. I know fat women who are gorgeous, who dress amazingly, who dress how they want to, and who don’t let anyone give them crap about it.
I wish I could do that. I know that I should be okay with the way I am. I’m a little fat, so what? I should wear what I want and do what I want, and fuck you if you disagree.
I can’t. I hide behind too-big clothes and I wear full sleeves and jeans even in the summer, when temperatures are 30 C and above. I remember taking a tennis class in the summer — I must have been about fourteen at the time — and all the girls were wearing sports bras and shorts because it was hot — and I was wearing some long-sleeved shirt and jeans. I was hot. I was so uncomfortable in those jeans. I would never have worn anything else.
When I was in university, I used to spend every minute between classes noticing other girls’ bodies. They were so beautiful (read: thin). I used to plead to someone: “Let me look like that. Give me those legs. Let me be able to wear that outfit. Fix me.”
There are some things so internalised that I can’t shake them, even in the face of feminism. I can admire and love big, beautiful women, but I can’t love myself. Fat is a mentality I can’t get rid of.
I see fat women wearing blouses and skirts and I think, “God, she’s so wonderful. Look at her, I wish I could wear that.” And well, why shouldn’t I? I get angry — at myself and at everyone else — because why the hell shouldn’t I? Why don’t I just go out and buy a blouse and a skirt and wear them?
When it’s me, I can’t allow myself to do that. I’ll be too disgusting, I’m too worried about what other people think of me, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.
On the flip side, there are some moments when I can’t shake the feeling of “fat is gross” when looking at other people either. I see fat women in bikinis and while one part of me goes, “How fucking brilliant is she, I wish I were confident enough for that”, a more terrible, crueler part of me says, “Ew, why would you wear that? No one wants to see that.”
I see gifs from British TV show My Mad Fat Diary all the time. I remember seeing the gifs when Rae puts her hand down her jeans, exploring herself for the first time. I remember my initial reaction being, “Gross.” I hate myself for thinking that. I masturbate. Fat women masturbate, for god’s sake, we want sexual pleasure, too. But the back of my mind, the part of my mind that has been told my entire life that I am too fat, that fat people are unhealthy and should lose weight, that fat is gross — that part of my mind still thinks things like that.
I am a feminist. At least, I think I am. Am I really a feminist when there are things I can’t get past? Am I still a feminist if some part of me can’t let go of the “fat is gross” mantra? What do I do? I can only hope the years ahead of me will offer me an answer, or that they’ll help me change this part of me.
This piece was anonymously submitted to Full-On Monets. if you would like to submit a piece, please do so here.
Anonymous is a university graduate who is now trying to take on the world.
Image courtesy of UMKC Women’s Center.