By Feyi Odejimi
As a child, I can remember other kids running away from me at the playground; they were playing “Run from the Monster”, and conveniently forgot to tell me that I was “it”. I also have the vivid memory of someone whispering (not very well) and asking their friend if I was pregnant, in middle school. My first diet was when I was 12, and pretending I was 13 so I could attend the Weight Watchers meetings. Needless to say, I’ve been big my entire life. I have never been able to shop at the stores the other girls rave about, nor have I ever felt comfortable going to the doctor’s office and not having them equating every medical problem to my weight. While those things have bothered me in the past, the thing I can’t understand is that I have never been able to post a photo without the fear of perception.
Now I know what you may be thinking, what fear of perception? What can someone perceive when someone is simply posting a picture about their beach vacation, happy and glowing? The fear that my lack of a turtleneck may lead others to think that I am “promoting obesity”. The “promotion of obesity” being when someone is encouraging others to live a lifestyle that hasn’t been deemed healthy by American society. Some may be unfamiliar with that phrase, but trust me when I say that every plus-size woman has heard it each time they posted a photo with confidence. A confidence that is difficult to find, but shines beautifully once discovered. The same confidence that is ripped from a woman as soon as they read that comment. Once that comment is read, questions begin popping into her head. How is my confidence “promoting obesity”? Why is it “body-positive” until a plus-size woman takes a photo? What does it mean when they say they “admire my confidence”? All of a sudden, that picture that once represented a powerful aura of knowing oneself turns into a photo that needs a double-take.
So that leads me to a question, why do people feel the need to comment their ignorant opinions when plus-size women are simply living their lives? I have learned that when people see plus-sized women, without the weight of the world on their backs, they believe it is a promotion of obesity. Most people, when they choose to use that comment, believe that plus-size women can’t be happy at their size. They believe that plus-sized women should always be striving to become a “skinny legend” or if they aren’t that they should be depressed about the state of their bodies. Needless to say, it confuses people when a plus-sized person isn’t trying a new diet or the next ab workout, because those commenters (haters) view it as a problem that needs to be fixed. People with that mindset believe there is no way a “fat” (not a bad word) person can do anything except desire to alter their body. So in turn, when a woman is loving and embracing her curves and stomach, it leads to confusion. When the confusion dissipates, anger appears. That anger leads them to become “keyboard warriors”, defending the American health system and making way for the accusation of “promoting obesity”.
So why do we do it? Why after countless attacks on our bodies and selves do we post those joyful, carefree pictures on social media? Why do we continue to put ourselves out to the ones who want to attack the body behind the bikini? We do it for the same girls who look like us. The same girl who hasn’t found that confidence to embrace themselves instead of hiding. For me personally, I do it to show that my body isn’t what defines me, and I will continue to enjoy life to the fullest. I won’t allow the perception of my size to hinder anything I want to do with my life, because at the end of the day it’s mine. It is my body, it is my life, and no one with their ignorance can take that away from me. So, I continue to smile and be bold online, to show the girl who’s afraid that it’s okay, and say screw it to everyone else.