I remember the first time I realized that I was fat. I was in fifth grade, and it was time to pass out the class pictures. The teacher handed me my photos, which featured a chubby Amy in a sweet-ass bowl cut and a necklace that said “DIVA.” The kid sitting in the desk next to me said, “Hey, your arms are pretty fat.” Of course, I was mortified.
I pulled my sleeves down to cover my fat arms, and little did I know, began a cycle of lifelong dieting. Food restriction and fad diets have been a fixture in my life since I was 15, when I went to my first diet doctor. I dropped 50 pounds in college by existing on diet pills and cigarettes, but the weight came back with a vengeance.
I was ruining my health, hair, and skin by dieting and using stimulants, but I wasn’t losing any weight. I think there was a point where I just gave up – I was never going to be skinny. No matter how many calories I eat, my body was always going to be fat. Period. Shortly after this revelation, I was very lucky to find the online fat positive community, particularly on Tumblr.
Bloggers like Amanda Levitt (of Fat Body Politics) and Melissa McEwan (at Shakesville) were instrumental in my body revelation. Reading their words on fat positivity, fat hate, and diet culture opened my eyes. Even as a feminist, I’d allowed diet culture and ridiculous beauty standards to seep into my brain and affect my body.
In my own small acts of rebellion, I started wearing sleeveless shirts and skinny jeans. Bright makeup, which was forbidden in the past, was a signature of “New Amy.” I started taking a lot of annoying selfies on Instagram, tagging my photos with #effyourbeautystandards and #fatvanity. I was making progress. Even though I’m the fattest I’ve ever been, I’m also more secure in my body and finally, for a fucking change, feel beautiful.
No matter how revolutionary or beautiful I feel, though, I still find random scars that diet culture has left on my body.