When I was twelve-years-old I went to a pool party, I was always ahead of girls my age so I had wide hips, C-cups, and a full belly. The mother of the birthday girl asked me if I could call my mom to bring me a one-piece bathing suit because I was making others uncomfortable. I am nineteen now and I still remember how I felt when I realized I looked different from the other girls in bikinis. Every single day since then society has made sure to never let me forget my status as a plus-sized woman. My freshman year of high school I covered the mirrors in my room with blankets every time I got undressed, so I stood no chance of ever seeing myself naked, I hated my body so much and I hated being different. I have come a long way since then, loving myself and working on loving my body. It took me eight years to finally see myself as beautiful regardless of my dress size. I am funny, loyal, and fat and I have come to love all of those things about myself. I am not saying that my journey has been easy, or that I’m not still struggling (I have good and bad days), but I have learned that the number on the scale does not define me.
Coming to JMU as a freshman I found it hard to remind myself of these things that it took me so long to learn. Throwing myself into frat culture when I got to school introduced a new set of challenges for me to conquer. I was out one night with my friends when I heard a brother at the house I was at turn to his friend and say, “When did we start inviting fat chicks?”. The comment was obviously directed at me and I had to force myself not to retreat back into my old ways of self-hatred and negative self-talk. I also experience harassment on the other side of the spectrum, for some reason when some men see a woman with wide hips and a big butt they can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been smacked on the ass or had the words “I’m into curvy girls” slurred into my ear. When expressing my frustrations about what I had experienced to my friend she attempted to comfort me by assuring me that there are some men who are “into curvy girls”.
Into curvy girls… I’m sure my friend had good intentions, but I am not my weight and my curves are not here to fulfill someone’s sexual fantasies. The fetishization of plus-sized women is degrading. Having a preference and a fetish are two very different things. While some might think referring to me as thicc, or a BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) is flattering, it is not. It is making everything about my body and sex. I am a person worthy of love and emotional support in a relationship. When I receive direct messages on my Instagram like “those thick thighs drive me crazy” it makes me feel like the only way I will ever be loved or considered worthy is when I am fulfilling someone else’s sexual fetish. Tall, short, skinny, fat, blonde, red-headed, black, or white we all have our preferences. Preferences are okay, sexualizing someone because they possess a physical characteristic that YOU like is not. We are people, not things to be collected.