Kameron Hurley On Public Speaking While Fat

I read “On Public Speaking While Fat,” an essay by Kameron Hurley, just when I needed to read it. There are so many external pressures to have the right body, the perfect body. The thin, but not too thin, body with curves in all the right places. The Victoria Secret body. But even that body isn’t right. Even those so-called perfect bodies get criticized. Evaluated. Torn apart. And they don’t last.

I was keeping track of my weight on the scale and noticing a trend in an upward direction. I didn’t like it. I told myself it was because I didn’t want to buy new clothes. I told myself it was because I was working out, so it wasn’t logical for me to gain weight.

I lied.

It was because I felt horrible that I was never going to be that perfect weight. I got close, once, getting my weight down to almost the range of “normal” for my height. And then the scale raced up again and I didn’t know what happened. But worse, I cared. I cared so damn much about being smaller.

But why did I want to be smaller? To wear cute clothes? I can find cute clothes without being smaller. What was it that drove this desire to find out what I might look like weighing less? I tried to reconcile myself to loving my body as it was, however it might end up, but it was hard.
When people come to me about fears of public speaking while fat, about heckling, about online harassment, I feel it necessary to remind people that I got the same amount of harassment for being “fat” at 220 as I do at being “fat” at 290. As a woman, you are always going to be fat. People are always going to trot that one out to try and insult you, like taking up more space in the world, as a woman, is the absolute worst thing you can do.
I got teased for being fat in grade school and in high school. By college, I'd well internalized the idea that my size wasn't right, and teasing went out of style in favor of snide remarks from roommates. My actual size at any of those times in my life doesn't matter. My size has never mattered. Not when my grandma chided me for taking a second helping by saying, "Don't you want to look good for the boys?" Not when I stopped eating bread and crackers and noodles and got oh-so-close to that elusive "ideal" weight. Not now.
As with any other feminist issue, this one is meant to get you to stay home and shut up. When you view it that way, when you see it for what it is, it becomes, I think, a bit easier to step up and step out, because you realize that in some small way, you going out into the world when it wants to shut you up is, itself, an act of resistance.
What matters is not what size I am, because no matter what that size is, it won't be right. There will always be people who will try to use shame against others in order to shut them up. It's just another tactic, another arrow in the quiver. It's a way to "win" an argument by making the other party quit. It's shitty. But people do it.

And you can resist, fight those who would do that, by doing what you want to do without being concerned about what "they'll" say. Because they're going to say it anyway, so you might as well.


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