I Want to Horrify the Fatphobics

It’s almost Memorial Day in New England, USA, the time when us sun-starved mavens of snow crawl out of our log cabins and head to the beaches. There are lots of beaches in New England: great big lakes, rivers, and of course the Atlantic Ocean on which all but two of the six NE states have beaches.

For lots of fat people, or anyone who doesn’t have a so-called bikini body, this can be a stressful time. What kind of swimsuit should I buy? Why in the hell don’t they make swimsuits with longer skirts, is it some kind of rule of swimming that you have a vagina you’re required to show hella thigh? Should I just not bother (again) this year, since I really don’t want to be parading my lumpy, pale self in some skirted, ill-fitting black, navy-blue, or brown swimsuit in front of the hard-bodies and cruel teenagers?

This is doubly ridic for me because I live all of two minutes from Cape Cod. In fact, I live under two miles from the ocean (I only know this because it jacks up the insurance on my house). I love the beach, sitting on it, reading, soaking up sun, then fighting with the subzero surf to get out again, teeth chattering, for more sun-and-book time. My favorite vaca spot when I was ‘thin’ was Hampton Beach.

But since I’ve gained – so for about four years – the number of times I’ve gone to the beach?

Once. Once. I live under two miles from the ocean. The beach-towns of Cape Cod are just a hop-skip down the highway. So what’s the dealio? I’m a big bad fat-fatty acceptance acceptor, aren’t I? I constantly root on other fatties who go to the beach, or pose for pics in swimsuits. I think they look awesome, I think they are awesome. So what the big frickin-frick?

But this season, something changed. I don’t know what, I’m really not sure. But I think I might be going through Stage 1 of fat-beach-goer-acceptance, at long last. Why? Because I found myself wanting to go to the beach — in order to horrify the fatphobics. Yep, to deliver a big pudgy Fuck You to every pair of roving, judgmental eyes.

I know very well this isn’t where I want to be with this, ultimately. Ultimately going to the beach can’t be about the other people at the beach. When I was ‘thin’ I didn’t care about them so much, but I knew I was hot shit, so it was kind of about them as much as it was about my own enjoyment (in that the two impulses often interacted, their perception of my hotness reinforcing my enjoyment or at least putting my mind at ease. Thin privilege, folks!). It shouldn’t be about the other people now, either, but the writer in me sees a golden opportunity to really tap into that hate often elicited by the Public Fat. I think it would be better if I had a friend to go with, but I don’t know any other self-accepting fatties in the area, so I’d have to go it alone. It might be better that way, I think people might be more willing to catcall the lone fatty than fatties in groups.

Right, so this all sounds horrifying and masochistic. But I’ve noticed something else happening over the years I’ve been in fat acceptance: the old insults just don’t really hurt anymore. Some old chestnuts (like cal-in-cal-out) have even reached ‘curiosity’ status — in that, when people utter them, it’s like a fascinating live demonstration of the efficacy of socialization. I think that’s what I’d be going for, here.

Still, it’s kind of scary. Both the going and likely being catcalled, and this power, this anger pushing me to do it.

So, right. This summer, at some point, I’m going to the beach. I’m going to go by myself; and I will record the response to my Public Fatness.

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12 comments on “I Want to Horrify the Fatphobics

  1. Ashley says:

    I actually like seeing fat people not afraid to go to the beach. It always makes me sad to think that some people are missing out on such a job of life because they are afraid of what they might endure.

    • bigliberty says:

      Ashley, when I was thin I felt the same way. I just liked seeing people enjoying themselves. I had a boyfriend at the time who always grossed when he saw very fat women, though. Ugh, SO glad I dumped him.

  2. Ashley says:

    Whoops I mean “joy of life” in my last comment. Yeah I can’t stand it when people make comments about fat people in a swimsuit. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to look.

  3. vesta44 says:

    I don’t do beaches, we only have lakes here and they have weeds and are yucky to swim in. But I do swimming pools at the motels we stay in when we go visit my son, and I don’t care if I horrify the other guests with my fatness in a swimsuit. I wondered if I would get nasty comments, but I’ve never heard any.

  4. Great blog! Sounds like you are on a good path and I like the idea of the stages of fat-beach-goer-acceptance. I’m not a beach girl myself (I avoid the sun like I avoid the plague) but I will definitely look forward to hearing how it goes 🙂

    • bigliberty says:

      Thanks, Ragen! I’m a big fan of your blog, so it’s great to see you over here.

      I’m okay in the sun with a lot of sunscreen, a scarf, and sunglasses (I wish it was the 50s, I’d rock that kind of beach-outfit). Yeah, now I’m getting excited — can’t wait to go with my book, little cooler with a sandwich and a couple cold drinks, beach mat, and giant beach towel. Yay, why did I wait so long? Crazy!

  5. deeleigh says:

    If I was in Cape Cod, I’d totally go with you. Have a good time at the beach! Maybe bring a copy of Fat!So? and read it.

    • bigliberty says:

      Aww, thanks, that would be a blast! But yeah, Fat!So?, Notes from the Fatosphere, Gina Kolata’s “Rethinking Thin” — all would be good. Wasn’t there also a great book cover from a couple of years ago — I forget who did it — that was titled “Fat Is Contagious” or “Why Sitting Next to a Fat Person Can Make You Fat” or something like that? That would be hilarious.

  6. I have to admit, some of what I do when it comes to how I dress and present myself to the world is to offend the fat-haters. Because there is no reasonable reason anyone should be offended by my appearance, I go out of my way to get at those unreasonable people!

  7. fatkiniriot says:

    Yo! I’m 5’9″ and a size 24, and this summer, I’ve decided it’s all bikinis, all the time. I live in a land-locked area of the armpit of the south, however, we have an amazing spring about 45 minutes from my house, and my roommate and I go there at least once weekly. Last summer, I’d go in a one-piece or tankini, and I was mostly ok with that. I can’t say that I would have had the nerve to wear a bikini even if I’d found the perfect one in my size for a dollar. But here’s what changed for me. Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I’ve had full-body pain for as long as I can remember, but I blamed it on the fat and kept my mouth shut about it because I didn’t want to hear any of that cal in/cal out, lose weight and you’ll feel better bullshit. My doctor told me that what I was experiencing? Definitely not normal. I was diagnosed on my next visit. And I freaked the hell out when I got home. I was terrified of losing my mobility entirely, of being a burden on my husband, and all the things I love to do now that may turn into more trouble than they’re worth. Like going to the springs. It’s a long, sloping, curving hike down to the swimming area. And you can’t be a half-assed swimmer either–the current gets pretty strong in the river sometimes. During this thought process, it occurred to me that not once in my life have I worn a bikini in public. I started thinking about styles that would work for my body type (oil drum with boobs, lol), and the next thing I knew, I was ordering a custom bikini from loveyourpeaches.com. I haven’t worn any of my one-pieces or tankinis since. Nobody’s given me a bit of grief (save my roommate’s bratty cousin who said something to her at Easter–ohh, but we posted a very special photo on facebook for her yesterday, lol) Random strangers talk to me more. I’m far more comfortable in the water. I just absolutely ADORE wearing my bikini and not giving a fuck. Haters to the left!

    I just realized that this is a bunch of tl;dr for GURL. GO TO THE BEACH ALREADY. Offend the delicate eyes of the fatophobes! Chances are that nobody’s going to say an unkind word to you. Find a suit you love, any style, and just get the hell out there and enjoy your summer. Every time you stay inside, the haters win. 😉

    If you want to see pics, check out my blog: http://putridplacebo.blogspot.com/

  8. Yay! I really enjoyed reading this, even though I was made uncomfortably aware of my navy-blue, skirted one-piece. Heh. Still, I have got whistled at in it (by friends, do they count for wolf-whistling, objectifying purposes?) I also live near the beach and this year went to the beach entirely on my own for the first time in my life and had a great time.
    One of the most peculiar cal-in/cal-out ‘discussions’ I have had was with a true cal-in-cal-out believer who had randomly started putting on weight some years earlier, lost energy, lost hair…they were eating the exact same way and doing intensive exercise, and yet were putting on weight. Why? Thyroid dysfunction. SO someone who had even PERSONALLY experienced weight and size changes that had literally nothing to do with cal-in was still able to dogmatically insist that that was all there was to fat. Very freakin’ bizarre.

    WIll bookmark this site, thanks!

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