I am not okay, and neither are other plus-size women. It is both sad and ridiculous that while most are sheltering in place and experiencing anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still individuals who are eager to spread negativity and ignorance. By now, none of us are strangers to ignorance or negativity. If nowhere else, we can count on both being on full display during daily Presidential briefings. However, the issue at hand has nothing to do with the current state of our country, but rather the ignorance and hate that many are displaying in regards to our bodies.
While body-shaming is nothing new to most plus-size people, it has been at an all-time high lately. We closed out 2019 with Comedian Loni Love’s obvious self-hate as she spoke negatively about the plus-size community while promoting her collection of clothing curated with plus-size brand Ashley Stewart. Fitness guru Jillian Michael’s questioned the hype around Lizzo’s body as opposed to her music saying, “it isn’t gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes.” Speaking of Lizzo, how many times have we witnessed Lizzo being hated and ridiculed solely because she loves herself unapologetically as a fat woman? Just this month, people decided to come for singer Adele when she popped out for her birthday showcasing a slimmer frame. And now, in walks auntie Sharon Osbourne with the most backhanded and ignorant offering of support ever.
During a discussion about Adele’s viral photo with her co-host on The Talk, Karen (I mean Sharon), stated that she doesn’t think “really big women” are actually happy in their body. The exact quote, according to CNN, was, “When really big women say they’re really happy in their body, I don’t believe them.” While that would have been the perfect time to simply shut her surgically enhanced lips, the 67-year-old went on to say, “It was her time to lose weight, that’s all, in her journey, in her life.” I respect Adele’s choice to do what she decided to do for herself; she’s entitled to that. In 2018, after a series of medical issues, I made a choice to have weight loss surgery and have shed over 150lbs. I was entitled to that. However, Sharon nor anyone else has the right to say when it’s time to take whatever journey we choose to take with our bodies.
I find it both odd and disappointing that Sharon and the masses of body shamers speak so matter-of-factly about the thoughts and feelings of fat people. How is it that you know so much about how every fat person feels in their “really big” bodies? Where is the data? Who are these people because I know a lot of plus-size people and although some are unhappy with their weight, not all of them are. I am one of those people.
Listen, Sharon, I am a plus-size woman, at my largest I weighed 376lbs and measured only 5’3 in height. I have experienced just as much hate for being “really big” as I have for being Black and a woman. Because I have been plus-size most of my life, I can tell you precisely what the ignorance and negativity of body shaming and fatphobia does to fat people.
Body shaming and fatphobia, create spaces where kids, like myself, are targeted. I was bullied, shamed, and excluded by my peers and adults solely because of my size. Men victimized me because my body was mature, and I silently endured that trauma because no one listens to fat girls, and it would have been even more hurtful to confirm that no one cared. I wasn’t asked to the prom, but I had several invitations for after prom hook-ups because society has taught boys that fat girls are toys that you play with when no one is watching. It is disgusting, it is ignorant, and it is sad; most of all, it produces self-hate that many times lead to suicide, addiction, and promiscuity.
Thank God, I had the influence of strong Black women who looked like me to help me understand and appreciate myself despite my less than favorable experiences as a fat girl. Truth is, without the influence of my mother and other women, I could have easily transitioned into womanhood broken, bitter, and filled with self-hate. Now don’t get me wrong, even with all the positive direction, I struggled. I kissed my share of frogs, I dumbed myself down and questioned my beauty and brilliance due to who society said I was and wasn’t. I survived because I refused to buy into society BS that I deserved less because I was a size 28 instead of a size 2.
I have always been a fan of you, Sharon, I live for a woman who is bold and unapologetic. Your ability to remain loud and proud despite your family’s apparent turmoil shows strength. However, your slip is showing, sometimes being loud, funny, and opinionated is a mask that people wear to hide who they really are. I know that you have gone under the knife on several occasions to change things that you didn’t like about yourself, is it that you were or are not “actually happy?” If so, speak that truth, don’t become one of those individuals who project their self-hate on to others.
Despite every attempt to convince us that taking up space wasn’t the thing to do, plus women have evolved, and we have dismissed society’s standards. No, not everyone is there, but there are women like myself, Jessamyn Stanley, Kellie Brown, Gabi Gregg, and Ericka Hart who are working hard to assure plus-size women are inspired to be “really big” and “actually happy.” And no, this is not us promoting obesity, it is promoting self-love.
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s only fair that I address this last statement you made about Adele: “She must have felt, you know what, I’m going to try and lose some weight, for whatever reason — health, I am sure.” Let’s be clear, although weight can contribute to poor health, it doesn’t guarantee it. I also want to point out that caskets are made for small people too because skinny people have health issues and die just like fat people do. Health is more than physical, it’s mental also. Many people are struggling emotionally due to body shaming and fatphobia. In honor of that truth, how about you use your influence to uplift, and if that isn’t an option, being quite always is.