You can’t bully me out of my skinny jeans

If you follow me on twitter or tumblr you might know that one of my photos was submitted to a hateful and fatphobic (transphobic, ageist, etc etc) facebook group: “There’s a weight limit on leggings & skinny jeans.” I have posted photos of myself on the internet for years, and have copped a huge variety of flack (but WAY more compliments!) So I wasn’t really upset that someone had taken a photo I had posted to an outfit website, and submitted it to this nasty group, after all it was just a matter of time – and who knows, more of my photos could be posted in any number of bigotry-filled hideyholes online. I have heard so many jabs at my fatness that insults just sound like caricatures of other insults these days, but for many other people it is really upsetting and distressing.

Firstly, you know how I feel about body shame that is dressed up as fashion advice. It’s bogus. No one should be harassed, mocked or attacked for wearing clothes (or NOT wearing clothes). There is absolutely no weight limit on leggings or skinny jeans. There is, however, an abundance of people who are falling into a trap of being way too invested in what other people do, and wear. Why do they care so much? Probably because it gives them a sense of being better than other people, but that is a terrible foundation to build one’s self esteem upon. It’s a foundation that benefits business, not people, and it suits the beauty, fashion and weight loss industries to have every day people like you and I reinforcing arbitrary beauty standards that help shift units so people can feel better about themselves by putting other people down, therefore reinforcing arbitrary beauty standards (stop me before I get sucked into this infinite loop here guys).

I reject those arbitrary standards. I reject the imaginary line between skinny and fat, the line that’s a size 6 for some people and a size 14 for others. And if you’re friends with a fat person, they lose 4 imaginary dress sizes on the basis of that friendship (“Oh honey, you’re not fat! Don’t be so mean to yourself!”). I reject the beauty ideal. I reject the idea of the “flattering outfit”. I reject the gender binary. I reject being ladylike. These standards are not nobel things to uphold – they trap us, and constrict us. They push us into target markets so we can be sold things more easily. And while I can say with 150% gusto that I reject these things, I can’t help but toe the line sometimes without even realising. Societal conditioning is that strong, it’s that pervasive.

So when someone makes fun of me for: being fat, wearing “unflattering” clothes, looking like a man, being a bitch, having acne, not being polite or gracious, wearing too little perfume, wearing too much perfume, having gunk in my eye, wearing a t-shirt that shows my belly when I raise my arm, perspiring a lot or laughing too loudly… It’s totally personal, but then again, it totally isn’t. We all have a variety of unique and personal characteristics, and they might read a little differently depending on where you live, what you look like, how much you earn, the colour of your skin or what gender you are, but at the end of the day those criticisms are about hemming you in and disempowering you. I can’t even get angry at people who insult me anymore because I know most of us are conditioned to think this way.

I know for a FACT, despite the protestations in this particular facebook group, that seeing a fat person in leggings or skinny jeans will not cause injury. I’ve read quite a few comments from members who seem personally insulted when they see someone wearing something they don’t agree with. This is hyperbole. This is like when Mr. Burns (from the Simpsons) puts his arms in the air and flails them about. I like to imagine these people doing the Mr. Burns flail. It’s that comical to me. So, when I discovered the person who submitted my photograph to this group (please note, it’s NOT the group owner) I wrote her a message and I didn’t rip her a new arsehole. I just couldn’t, you know? Here’s what I wrote:

Congratulations for contributing to girl on girl hate by contributing to a fatphobic and anti-woman facebook group. I don’t have anything against you personally for submitting my photo, but I encourage you to look at yours and other women’s bodies more positively. For your own benefit.

I’m still going to wear skinny jeans and tights, because there isn’t actually a weight limit and I am fairly impervious to body shame these days. I don’t know if you’ve heard of body acceptance, or fat acceptance, but I’m an active participant within the movement and I invite you to come check out some blogs and open your mind to an existence where you are free to love your body, instead of feeling ashamed of it.

I don’t want to attack you, because body negativity is encouraged in our society and it’s pretty much the norm to make fun of people to make ourselves feel better. Funny thing is, it doesn’t work like that. I could call you any name under the sun, and you’d only come back at me with more names, and none of us would get anywhere. For sisterhood, for solidarity, I wanted to reach out to you.

Cheerio!
Natalie

I am so privileged to have so many supporters, and I received a metric buttload of messages yesterday from so many wonderful people who reported the group, and the use of my photograph. I can’t help but feel sad for other people who have had their photo posted without permission, who don’t have so many people reporting the misuse of their images. I tried to go through and report as many as I could, and I encourage you to do the same. I’m not linking to the group, however, just because I don’t want to give it too much publicity.

Today I discovered that my photograph had been taken down by facebook but there are hundreds of other photos still up. I’m grateful that facebook actually took notice of the literal army of people who reported my photograph on my behalf, but it’s still sad that the group is still active. I don’t know the best way to combat this kind of harmful attitude, but I think discussion plays a big role. That’s why I wrote a note to the person who submitted my photograph, and that’s why I’m writing this blog entry. I want to contribute to productive discussion, even though a part of me wants to call them giant dirt-sucking arseholes.

Let me promise you, and me, one thing. I will NEVER stop being visible, online and offline because not only do I have a right to visibility, but when I make myself and my fatness visible I make this personal. I get the impression that members of this group don’t think the people in the photos they submit are real, but they are. And they write messages and blog posts, and have the support of the Fat-o-sphere as well as other allies, friends and family.

323 comments

  1. I am awed and impressed by your ability to respond to mockery and bullying with grace and class. You rock. Good for you for wearing what you like (and those shoes are really cute!!)

  2. Hi, Natalie.
    I just read your blog via Big Fat Deal and want to congratulate you on your super-classy approach to the haters.

  3. im pretty sure the popele who lasted in auschwitz WERE the fatties…the skinnes died in route…or through the conditions at the camp. The only ones who WERE left were the ones with “thrifty” genes (aka fatties in this day and age of plenty)

  4. The fatties were sent to the gas chambers first. The able-bodied and healthy were kept alive so the Nazis could use them as workers in the camps. I'm not saying most of them didn't die eventually from starvation, I'm just telling you your statement was wrong.

  5. All the fatties are so pleased that you're standing up to the skinnies. You sure showed them with your reduced life expectancy and increased likelihood for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoarthritis.

  6. All of this argument about whether people are fat or skinny throughout history completely misses the point. The point is: who cares whether other people are fat or skinny? It doesn't actually affect you if you aren't satisfied with what other people look like. If you're so worried about what other people look like, then perhaps you need a hobby to occupy all of this free time.

  7. So go find someone who actually lives in the stone age. *Bing*! *Lightbulb*! We're not in the stone age any more! Our eating patterns, our walking/ sitting/sleeping/EVERYTHING patterns are different.

    You know, you wouldn't actually have to explain this to most people. I blame that evPsych stuff.

  8. So we are taking Auschwitz and the condition of the inmates there as an ideal, now? The world has really gone mad.
    You're one of the sane ones, Natalie.

  9. You look great! :)

    “The way women can treat each other, it's VERY clear that it's OK to hate you if you're not skinny. It's hell, especially for young girls.”

    Not always true.. I'm really thin, was born this way and no matter what i eat it's extremely hard to gain weight. I used to get picked on and called anorexic by a bunch of people, even one of my teachers. I think what's wrong with society is that you can't be too thin or fat or you get hated on.. =(

  10. Sashy honestly what is your problem? I get it. I think we all do that your entitled to your own opinions but what others choose to wear has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. So what if fat girls think highly of themselves. Someone has to. Are we supposed to hate ourselves on the basis that pathetic people like you actually exist? Since when was it ok to make others feel not good enough. We live in a country to do as we please. If you don't like it, you can leave thanks :)

  11. Natalie, I'm sorry intolerant and immature and unthinking people treated you badly. It's like the Peter Pan syndrome, but for cruelty. I'm glad you have a positive attitude, and am heartened you didn't stoop to the level of the person who abused your pic. Well good luck.

  12. Wow! I love your response. You make really great points here and you made them in an educated and graceful manner. I love how you ended your response to that girl on fb, “For sisterhood, for solidairty, I wanted to reach out to you.” That is so beautiful. Because, really, we SHOULD be reaching out to our sisters everywhere in solidarity and support. We SHOULD be erasing those imaginary lines that divide us.

    I think it's awesome that you are talking about these issues. Especially during times when the media is bombarding us with beauty ideals. And even if people are skinny, it's never enough. People are never good enough for society demands of us. So, whoever you are, whatever your weight is, these issues affect us all. So, Natalie, thanks for your work! xx…

  13. hey! you can't park your van there!.. oh that's not a van its a fat kid! a fatty fat fat kid.

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  17. Just reading this for the first time and I agree whole heartedly with you! Wear what ever you want and ignore the haters! I think you are adorable!

  18. It drives me absolutely batshit when people equate fat with unhealthy and skinny with healthy. I'm skinny because I'm predisposed towards being skinny. No matter what I do and what I eat, I don't gain weight. I admit, I'm not as healthy as I should be; I don't exercise much and I don't eat that well, yet I BARELY WEIGH 100 LBS because that's just how my body works. Most of those health problems that too many people associate with obesity? Yeah, I'm at a MUCH higher risk for those than my 280-pounds friend who works out, eats healthy, and is just naturally a big person.

    Fat isn't in and of itself unhealthy. It is, in some situations, a SYMPTOM of unhealthy habits or conditions, but just as often it's not. And even if they are fucking over their own health, how does that give anyone else the right to be assholes to them?

    It's baseless, cruel, childish judgment, and nothing more. The sooner the haters stop justifying it, the sooner we can make them realize how amazingly fucked up their words and actions are.

  19. How sad to think people are proud of being obese. Nothing tastes as good as self discipline and health. There are no shortcuts to feeling better about yourself. Rant and rave all you want about how great you feel being fat but we all know the truth. Stop worrying about all the fashion mags and focus on getting healthy. You know you want to.

  20. While I agree that people can be very cruel towards obese people, lets get the facts straight here. Obesity is unhealthy and that is a scientific fact. Unless you have Prader-Willi, Cushing's or Polycystic ovary syndrome you are consuming more calories then your body can burn off and that makes you fat. Obesity leads to many health complications. Educate yourself.

  21. woa. can I just say I LOVE YOU?! hehehe, perhaps not literally, but I really do think we need more people like you in this world, and that I already look up to you. I've struggled with weight issues my whole life, even though I know I'm normal sized (somewhere deep in my head, I know it..). I always hated the whole 'body flattering' thing about clothes, just like you. Why not just wear what you think is comfy/pretty/cool…? I think a big smile on your face is body flattering.

    I just can't understand why some people think they be so… 'weightist'. All women are beautiful. Especially when we show off the curves we have ;-D

    //Annie

  22. Body or fat acceptance means loving yourself AS YOU ARE. Being obese is not necessarily because you don't exercise and eat right. I am a big girl and am riding my bike in a 50 mile bike ride tomorrow. And guess what? I'm wearing lycra bike shorts while I do it! Beauty and fitness come in all shapes and sizes, dude.

  23. Just so you know . . . You look fabulous in those skinny jeans! And just so you know . . . “fat” people aren't the only ones who get flack for how they dress. I'm not fat, but I'm “old” at fifty-three. Funny, I don't feel old. It's also insulting to be treated as though I'm no different than an eighty-year-old when I'm nearly thirty years from that! Sorry – but I'm not going to wear baggy t-shirts and pants with embroidered birds, hearts and flowers. I like my skinny jeans and I look good in them because I'm tall and long-legged. I also like a lot of other fashions that I'm not “supposed” to be wearing. Not that I'm trying to look twenty-three. I just dress for what I think looks best for my figure type.

  24. While I just commented on your fat acceptance post and differed with your perspective there, I think that regarding clothing you are entirely right. People should be able to wear what they want without shame and without fear of insults from mean or small-minded people. cheers.

  25. Girl, you look great! Feeling good and comfortable with yourself in what you're wearing always looks better than dressing self-consciously because you're worried about your body and whether your clothes flatter you body type. I work in bridal retail and let me tell you, when a woman puts on a dress that makes her feel like herself and not like a caricature of a bride, then she's confident, she smiles and walks tall because she feels fantastic and THAT looks better than if she wears something that some people say would be better for her shape, her coloring, her age, her virginity status, her sexual preference, her choice not to shave her underarms, etc. No one should have to worry so much about being judged when they get married, let alone every single day when they wake up and get dressed to go about their business.

  26. Maybe people will think you are a bitch because you say really horrible, mean and unintelligent things that infer being a bitch. Not girl on girl hate, just the way you come across.

  27. Can you please specify these “horrible, mean and unintelligent things” for me? I'm open to discussing offense, but when you insult me without detail I've got nothing to go on.

  28. I remember when I was in London for my 30th birthday and I was stopped by a tall, thin, uber-fashionable chick (she turned out to be a fashion stylist) who said, “I just wanted to tell you how fabulous you look. I saw you on the bus and was so impressed with how you were owning your look”. I was a size 18-20 and wearing a strapless top with jeans and a slinky, shimmering cardi.
    It wasn't especially tight or revealing but it wasn't really something someone my size *should* be wearing.
    It was nice to get a compliment that wasn't size related, like…”That's a really flattering top”. Which translated means, “You don't like quite as fat in that”. Gee, thanks.

  29. Well, with this logic, I don't have to worry about so many of life's problems. I mean, people are just GOING to hate gay people, so I might as well hate them too. And human trafficking, well, that's just gonna happen and there's nothing I can do about. People are just going to jump off the Brooklyn bridge so, we all might as well do it too.

    Me, I prefer to be a trend-setter. And the trend I like to set is NOT judging people on superficial things like the color of their skin or their size. I mean, it's kind of revolutionary. Me and my many muffin tops (which by the way, I have while NAKED) do manage to be polite, professional, well put-together and FAT, all at the same time. Amazing!

    And what's even more incredible is that I've discovered that I don't have to work for people who have a problem with that. I don't have to partner with or marry people who have a problem with that and I certainly don't have to be friends with people who have a problem with that. Yet, I still have a great job, an amazing spouse and a ton of wonderful non-judgmental friends.

    So if I can totally avoid a world of superficial judgment, I have a problem understanding why anyone would want to seek it out or perpetuate it.

  30. I'd like to have some of these “things” pointed out too. I think she says insightful, empowering, smart things. But I'm open to discovering it's all a sham if you've got some evidence.

  31. I am loving your words right now. You are so eloquent, fiery and fun to read! “I reject being ladylike. These standards are not nobel things to uphold – they trap us, and constrict us. They push us into target markets so we can be sold things more easily. ” I will have to remember that line… so frickin true!

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