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11/26/12

The Challenges of Being a Visible Bright-Haired Tattooed Fat Woman

I work with a mainly conservative dressed group. I see the scornful looks and I get questions and comments about my clothing, hair and tattoos that other people may not. Half the time, I think they are genuinely interested and the other half of the time I feel like I am being judged and they comment only because I have caught them eyeing me and they have to say something polite. And that is fucking annoying. So those times, I might just be having a bad day and I don't appreciate being treated like an oddity. I like when someone is genuinely feeling my vibe and says something nice while we are interacting. I would rather not be randomly approached or accosted by strangers who want to scream how pink my hair is, even though it is purple, or grab me and look deep into my eyes to tell me they have a tattoo and like mine without really saying which one. Try introducing yourself first you scary stranger!

A client that was not happy for reasons out of my control, commented about how I knew about shooting guns and that I was a tough chick with tattoos, as he hurled insults at me. He was very threatening and it immediately made me feel uncomfortable. My appearance can make me vulnerable to personal attacks. One can easily make assumptions or insult me based on what they see. Visually, I have a lot to choose from - fat, bright haired, tattooed, pierced, outlandish or whatever you want to call it. By the way, that guy was not cool and I really felt unsafe at that moment and went to get a manager to finish the transaction with him. On the other hand, children react like they are seeing something of wonder. They are not afraid. They usually stare with curiosity until they run into the back of their mother's legs because they haven't been keeping their eyes on the road. I haven't scared the shit out of a kid yet.

But, I sort of do stand out! I am 5'9" and at least 300 pounds. I take up space and I don't blend in with the background. I tend be the tallest and biggest person in the room and If I am wearing a hot pink dress with my heaving cleavage as an accessory, I get noticed. Assholes that hate fat people because they are fat, and do not approve of my existence, will try to pretend that fat people never did and never will exist. I have to say that I get a little satisfaction from being impossible to miss. I am fucking real. My body works 40 hours per week, dances, eats, fucks, creates and you will just have to accept my jiggling and rainbow of hues when you see me walking in public.

So why do I dress differently? Just like other aspects of my life, I become the woman I want to be. If I want to look like I walked off the set of Grease, Hairspray or Laverne & Shirley, then dammit, I am going to. If I swoon over candy colored hair and lips, then I am going to gravitate towards that aesthetic when making my own fashion choices. Yes, I could dress differently but I have balls and I am going for it. When it comes down to it, I am joyously comfortable and happy being who I am. It is more risky for me to walk this planet for the benefit of other people than it is to tease my hair a mile high and pull on a skin tight dress. If I allowed myself to follow other people's directions and become a subdued version of myself, then ultimately I will be disappointed. I would never live up to their standards and I would have none of my fucking own.

Because I have made the decision to give myself this freedom. A freedom to decorate and glorify my body the way I choose, I am always evolving. I rarely feel stuck with my closet or my size or my haircut. I get to be creative and with each week always comes a little bit of change. Whether it is because of an item of clothing or accessory that I thrifted or a newly dyed coif of purple goodness, a new possibility and style is revealed.

Making your own fashion choices is empowering. Self-care plays a huge role in your confidence and view of your body. You don't take care of something that you hate and you won't likely hate something that you have taken care of. It might be a radical idea for some, since we are so programmed by media to cover up, follow trends and present yourself as others would like to see you. That's bullshit! B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T. Fuck flattering, appeasing, blending in and trying to be somebody you aren't. Let's stand out! Fat people don't want to hide in the corner so everybody else can pretend we don't exist. Well, we exist, but as a problem. What about existing the way we are, being visible as a permanent fixture and not a work in progress or a "before" picture. My fat is not a cocoon and I'm not going to fucking emerge as a skinny butterfly anytime soon! Start accepting me as a special butterfly now, dammit.

If I was faced with a life of not being noticed and unhappy compared to my life now, I would not change. I could do without the awkward encounters but being exactly who I am makes it all worth it. Yes, I realize I have it good and there are women that live in fear of being rape or murdered because they don't dress or behave a certain way. I definitely come from a place of privilege because I have the freedom to express my individual style, as well as the access and resources. I don't take that for granted. Also, I have never even shot a gun in my life. So there.
- Rachele
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