It started when I was 3.
I was in a ballet class. A cute little pink-adorned tot with a bit more weight on me than the rest of the junior ballerinas. In the middle of a recital I hopped off stage and went to sit with my mother because I was sure the audience was laughing at me. I never went back to ballet.
I was in my backyard. Pigtails and a tube top in the hot summer sun and a neighbor peering over our fence and laughing at me. My first fat-shame as she told me I couldn’t wear a tube top because I had a belly. It would take more than 20 years until I tried wearing one again.
I was in the playground. An older kid teasing my friends and I for being shy and then remarking about my weight like it was an insult to him. “Why are you so fat?”
I was in school. I was in soccer. I was at Brownies.
I was at work. I was at a party. I was on a date.
At this point I can’t tell which came first. The fat-shaming or my shame of being fat. However it happened, my fear of ridicule and judgement over my size has ruled every decision I have made since I was young.
I have signed up for countless classes that I attended only once because I was noticeably the biggest person there. I have dreaded boarding planes and mid-flight washroom breaks because my sideways shimmy down the aisle never makes me tiny enough and I end up bumping and waking at least one person. I have avoided exhibition rides with crushing, metal seatbelts. I have injured myself trying to get into a tiny washroom stall and returned back to the restaurant table with a scraped hip or ripped shirt, wishing I could cut myself in half like the meal in front of me.
I’ve tried to make myself fit into seats, stalls, classrooms and social situations for so long that one day I just got tired of it all. I realized that I had been doing things a bit backwards. Why not find activities and classes that suited me rather than ones where I would have to manipulate myself to fit?
Finding suitable fitness classes took time but I found that they did exist. After two decades of trying to lose weight and rollercoastering my way through clothing store sections, I have decided to move my wellness journey from a weight-loss focus to a focus on the mental and emotional acceptance of my physical body as it is. The biggest problem for me has been finding plus-friendly events and activities that aren’t fitness-based.
Enter #FreetheFatYEG – a grassroots movement dedicated to making fat bodies visible in spaces that have traditionally been unsafe, unwelcoming or overwhelming.
Why ‘Free the Fat?’ Well, part of my journey has been the acceptance of the word ‘fat’ to describe my body. After years of calling myself anything but fat, it has been exceptionally freeing to no longer hide from this adjective. I am no longer ashamed of who I am, of my fat stomach or my large calves. I am freeing myself from the confines of a fat-phobic society and literally freeing my fat parts by wearing clothing I was too ashamed to wear before – like my favorite bikini top.
It started when I was 3, but it will end when I am 29.
Founding partners Connie Levitsky (body positive activist and FLURT vlogger), Kas MacFayden (Associate Delegate for the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association MacEwan and athlete with the St. Albert Heavenly Rollers) and I are excited to begin programming events and activities for Edmonton and area’s fat community. In order to do so, we need to know more about our community.
If you consider yourself a member of the fat community in the Edmonton area, we want to hear from you. Please follow the link to our #FreetheFatYEG General Interest Survey to tell us about the kind of programming you would like to see. We are open to individuals of all gender expressions, sexualities, religions and ethnicities, so please share the survey link with friends.