My dad has always made it clear that he has no use for fat people. I can remember incidents as far back as when I was a preteen- him looking at a fat person in disgust, or actually making comments to me about fat people. At first I was confused; why should we care about how other people look? But I quickly internalized his disgust and began judging the larger bodies I’d see. I’d wonder how that fat woman had the nerve to wear a crop top, or how that fat couple could stand having sex with each other. I don’t know when my epiphany came, but one day in my late teens it occurred to me- I was being a huge asshole. I’d see a fat woman in a mini skirt and think “Good for her!” I was 115 pounds and in great shape, but I didn’t have that kind of confidence. I’d see a couple, one fat and one thin, and think “See, being fat doesn’t exclude a person from being loved.” I didn’t yet have the nerve to tell my dad that he was being an ass with his judgement of fat people, but I was learning fat acceptance.
Cut to now. I’m fat. I’m the fattest I’ve ever been. I haven’t weighed myself for months but at last count I was 200lbs. When I first started gaining weight I was devastated. I had come to see beauty in the fat bodies I encountered daily but getting fat myself was a different matter. I would stare at my naked body and be disgusted. Eating made me feel guilty. Shortly before Christmas 2013 I had another epiphany- I hated my body because of how my father talks about fat people. (Daddy issues much? But that’s another for another day.) I’d still never called my dad out for the way he talks about fat people, but this was incredibly personal. I couldn’t let my dad’s comments about my weight gain affect me to the point where I couldn’t look at my own body. While Christmas shopping I told him what I had realized. “So, Papi, I figured out that I don’t hate my body, I hate that you hate my body.” Kinda heavy talk for the Macy’s jewelry counter, but I wanted to speak up before I could punk out. My dad looked sad, and told me he didn’t hate my body. “You’re not obese, you’re just heavy.” Ah, so as long as I don’t get any fatter it’s all good? Wonderful, I feel much better. I thought this but didn’t say it out loud; I had taken my stand for the day and figured baby-steps were much better than nothing, and I could continue this conversation another day. My dad went on to explain that it wasn’t my weight that bothered him, it was that I used to dress nicely every day and now my routine was a tshirt and baggy hoodie. Personally, I think he is tremendously bothered by my fatness (how could he not be when he talks massive shit on fat people?), but I think he is also bothered that I was not longer taking pride in my appearance. Of course, once it occurred to me that my dad’s feelings towards my fat body didn’t need to affect my feelings towards my fat body, I did start taking pride in my appearance. I had to start loving my body to want it to look nice.
So why is this post called “Did you really just ask me that!?” Well, my dad no longer makes direct comments about my weight, or asks if I’ve been to the gym, or side-eyes my beer, but decades-old habits die a slow death. His new way to comment on my weight is to stare at my chest and ask, “What size bra do you wear?” Think about the wrongness of that! Not only is my dad staring at my tits (EW) but he’s asking me an incredibly personal question with the real goal of pointing out that my breasts are large because I’m fat. Double whammy: daddy issues and fat shaming. I feel like I’ve taken three steps back from the progress I made at Christmas when I told him that the way he talks about fat people has negative consequences for me. I still haven’t figured out how to deal with this latest outrage, but I’m working on it.
How do you deal with fat shaming relatives?
Originally posted 11 April 2014