Here’s an excerpt of Lindy West’s new book. On Twitter, she said her harassers are now using the photos accompanying the article to argue that she wasn’t fat as a child, but had some kind of body dysmorphia, which is unfortunate, since one of the things she’s talking about is how “fat” and “thin” are moving goal posts. So, way to get/miss the point, dumbasses.
My brother posted a picture on Facebook today of us when we were little kids with my mom, for Mother’s Day. I’m wearing a shirt over my tiny round belly that has a picture of two hogs rubbing snouts and it says “Hogs are beautiful.” This was shortly after or shortly before the first time I heard my dad complain to my mom about how fat I was. The first time I knew I should be embarrassed about my body.
My dad, being fat himself, wanted me to not be fat, in part, because he knew what the world does to fat people, especially fat women. But because my dad thinks fat, even his own, is evidence of some moral failing, and because every doctor I ever met until I was 30 believed I was lying about what I ate (thus again a moral failing) or lying about how hard I was trying to lose weight (moral failing again), no one bothered to check to see if there was anything medically wrong with me. I just, somehow, at eight, became a person in a constant state of disobedience because I couldn’t lose weight and, in fact, gained much more.
But also, at the same time, my dad had a lot of compassion for me, I think, in his own fucked up way and he wanted to give me some tools for how to survive. So, one of them was that, if people were going to call me a pig, I would learn that pigs were awesome.
I don’t remember, though, if anyone but him at that point did call me a pig, though they certainly did later. I must have liked the shirt. In the picture the Butcher posted, I think that’s my birthday. You don’t wear shirts you hate on your birthday. I don’t remember feeling it as an insult anyway.
But when I look at that picture now, I, well, I can’t look at it for very long, the idea that that is a fat girl is just so…like, dang, how little it takes, how the tiniest little deviation and the full weight of so much bullshit comes down on you.
And the idea that we should learn to love the insult so that it loses its sting… god damn, what a terrible thing to teach a person. And clearly, what a terrible thing to have been taught yourself.