Safe and unsafe places for fat people

Hiya lovelies!

I've been doing a lot of thinking about being fat recently and I've been re-examining the beliefs I've had since I was a small child. I'm about to start CBT for depression and anxiety disorder shortly so I've been examining what I think, and why. Call it homework.

The beliefs I have about safe and unsafe places for fat people partly come from my mum's coaching and partly from my own experiences of life in a fat body. My mum used to be fat, and she had a hard life (she's since lost a lot of weight.) She had her own viewpoint on safe and unsafe places, which were probably made up in part by her own experiences and in part from the coaching from her mother, who was also fat. The things we do to our kids, eh?

I remember as a child being told things by my mum like 'That shop isn't for us', 'People like us can't go in there' and more importantly 'We can't wear things like that.' My mum didn't mean any harm, but she had marked me out as different and given me an introduction to the belief system I wouldn't even question for almost thirty years. That's effed up. The things we say to children are so, so important.

I grew up with messages both spoken and implied and it conditioned me into a state of submission. When you're a child or teenager and no one on tv or in films looks like you (and if they do look like you they are usually portrayed in a bad light) it gives you a sense of 'wrongness' which can take a lifetime to shirk. Add tormenting kids at school and ignorant family members and the conditioning to be in a state of apology for my body was set in stone. The way adults speak to fat children can be awful and incredibly damaging. I had a horrible childhood in some ways because certain members of my family were careless with their words and I'd been brought up to respect my elders no matter what. Now, when I hear someone fat-shaming a child I wish I could rewind my life and show it to them in x30 speed so they can see the potential damage they can cause through constant repetition of cruel words.

Places I feel safe (and by 'safe' I mean feel totally at home in.)

In the rock/metal community. The whole community has an outcast feel to it, so people tend to take you as you are. So rock pubs, clubs, gigs and festivals are places where I feel at home.

In the biker community. Bikers tend to be hedonists - loving booze, grub, good music and good times - as anyone who's been to the Bulldog Bash can attest. It's a 4 day biker meet held every August which is policed by Hells Angels and is as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. I've been 8 or 9 times even though I can't ride a bicycle let alone a motorbike! It's a very cool community who again accept you on your own merits, not on what you look like.

With friends and family, the latter who know by now to keep their gobs firmly shut unless they want me to rip them a new one. As a child I was told to respect my elders, but as an adult I only give respect where it's due. I have a wide circle of friends of all ages and backgrounds. I don't expect anyone to treat me differently because I'm fat, and if someone does, then they're not my friend. I don't associate with shallow idiots.

In shops who sell clothes to fit me.

Places I don't feel safe

Pretty much everywhere else but especially nightclubs (meat markets), pubs full of lads (dickheads) and on public transport (where people get territorial over the amount of space they feel is theirs, and resent sharing it with a fat body.)

What are your safe and unsafe places?

I might add I've been working for the last 15 years to undo some of the thought processes I'd learned in my early life. The thoughts about not being able to shop in some stores or wear certain things are gone. If I want to shop somewhere I will (but if they don't sell clothes to fit me I refuse on principle to buy anything else from them) and if I want to wear something I damn well will.

By the time I was a teenager I was so uptight about myself, about all the things I was told (explicitly or by implication) I couldn't do that I had so many hangups. I cared far too much what other people thought of me - or what I thought they thought of me. It was only when my nan died almost 15 years ago that I realised life is for living, not for accepting the little boxes other people try to put us in, and certainly not for worrying about what people might think of us. You have to live for yourself, not other people.

I slowly began my metamorphosis. I soon realised that in a lot of social situations, people are too busy having their own fun to stop and stare at the fat girl dancing like it's the last day of her life, and if they do....well, stuff 'em!

My self-acceptance journey is still ongoing. As time goes by I increasingly question the way I think about myself and about the shackles of societal discrimination I still bear despite my best efforts. Every day I strive to give less of a shit and to live my life for me. I don't want to be on my deathbed full of regrets that I hadn't been able to be myself because I was too busy worrying about what society dictates is seemly behaviour for a fat person. I want to be laughing my arse off thinking 'What a ride!' I will get there.

Over to you - what do you think on this subject?

Thanks for reading.

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