Fat, Fit, and the Space In Between
By KittyStryker on February 28, 2014
I’m usually fairly secure in my fat body. Most days I love my round tummy, and my stretch-marked breasts, and my thick thighs, and even my jiggly upper arms. I perform in pornography, have modeled nude since I was 19, and I don’t feel awkward when taking my towel off at a hot tub establishment. I have a closet full of costumes and clothes that I’ve cultivated over multiple years that make me feel fierce and femme.
But it’s not easy. And, frankly, it doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s a constant effort to care about my body, which is pretty sad. I, like many others, been taught to hate myself.
The times that I become insecure, uncomfortable, ashamed of my body are often when I slam against the fatphobic culture in which I live. It happens when I shop for clothes and I have to choose between stylish and comfortable fit. It happens when I go to the doctor and she tells me that any pain I have is simply due to being fat, rather than looking into it. It happens when I go to a sexy party and realize that other women who look like me also aren’t having sex, or being flirted with. It happened when I turned an offer for sex work down and was insulted or threatened, using my weight as a weapon. It of course happens when people seek to ignore the things I say by saying my fatness overrides my intelligence.
When I was a teenager I struggled with my expanding, softening body. My breasts were accompanied by a belly, which made me incredibly self-conscious. I was on medication that made me gain water weight, and went from the high end of normal into overweight, and then obese, over about 2 years. I had to eat in order to take the medication, but the medication made me fat, so I didn’t want to take it.
My first experiences with severe control over my food intake started then, along with an ongoing fight with bulimia. I struggled with eating disorders off and on for multiple years, well into my mid twenties, figuring that if only I was skinnier, people would love me more, I would have more success at work, I’d enjoy clothes shopping. I would limit my caloric intake to a third of what was the recommended amount in an attempt to shock my body into submission. Everything I wanted in my life was put off until I lost weight, because then, I thought, I would be valued in society, by lovers, and by clothing companies.
Unfortunately, I’ve grown up to think that some of those things very well might be true. Fucked up, but true.
Dieting wasn’t particularly effective, especially as I was poor and couldn’t afford the fruit, veg, unprocessed meat and whole grains recommended. I could starve myself easily enough but figuring out how to have balanced meals every day for a week on about $20 at the most was pretty impossible (and still is, by the way). I lived in Massachusetts and depended on public transport so didn’t tend to go out or socialize much, just to and from work and long evenings in front of my laptop, flirting with a guy in the UK (because honestly dating men here has always been rough). That guy made me feel better about my body by desiring me, something I wasn’t sure would happen… but I still wondered if he would want me more and invest more in us if I was slimmer.
I already walked 6 1/2 miles a day every day I went to work and it wasn’t making a difference so I started exercise regimens that, on the low nutrition I was getting, made me feel tired all the time. I thought that working out until I was exhausted was the goal, so I overworked my body into the ground. Now I wonder how badly I damaged myself during that time in my need to be accepted. And the irony is that when my BMI was technically “normal”, I was so weak I had to go to the ER. And yet the doctors told me how my body was healthy, because, well, my weight was finally “right”, even if I shook when I walked and struggled to keep food down.
I also wonder how much bullshit I took from boyfriends and girlfriends because I thought I should feel lucky to have a lover at all. I did threesomes I didn’t want to do because I wanted to keep my lover. I put up with a partner who didn’t use protection with me or his other girlfriend, because I didn’t think I’d find someone else who would care for me. After a life of being told that only slender, pretty women were lovable, I really truly believed it. I tried to be submissive, tried to be pleasing to people who were cruel to me, because I thought it was better to have a slice of attention once in a while than be alone.