I'm a jack of no trades, and a master of none. I haven't the attention span to complete anything, rather I flit from idea to idea, sparking with energy for five minutes and tiring of it - whatever it is - when it isn't mastered instantly. My only real area of expertise is how to be what I've been since I was ten-years-old: fat.
I'm really good at being fat. I bulge and I wobble and I take up more room than a person should. I understand the social protocols in place for those of a larger disposition, and could provide hours of lectures to my fellow fat people on the face to pull when someone tells them that they're "looking well" - not good, never good, only "well," - which, I believe, directly translates to "well bugger me, you're alive! And I see you still have the use of your legs."
I have observed, with a furrowed brow, the increasing media attention on fat people in recent years. We are bankrupting the NHS despite dying at the age of fifty (this discrepancy is rarely noted), we are costing the government millions in benefits yet wheezing out of the world prior to reaching a pension-collecting age (again, I don't see that variance being argued), and we are more often than not really bloody stupid - if we weren't, why do we not understand that cake isn't a vegetable (not even carrot cake, I'm sorry to report). Tabloids are a treasure trove of stories about moronic fat people, and broadsheets are merely spreadsheets calculating our burden on society.
From time to time, my well-meaning and extremely brave fellow chubsters shove a red-hot-poker into the fat debate by stripping down to their pants and demanding to be seen as beautiful. The semi-nude vigilante du jour is Tess Munster, who recently launched the #effyourbeautystandards campaign in a bid to encourage women to celebrate their bodies. Tess is a hero - she's smart, she's funny, she's gorgeous and she does what the bloody hell she wants. The thing is, her message is wanting.
Readers beware, I'm about to drop a cliché bomb--one so trite that I've had to don my Captain Obvious uniform to type it. Here goes: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are people who find me beautiful (hi mum!), there are people who find me hideous (hi Granddad!), there are people who find me curious and there are people who don't find me at all.
If I was slim, I'd still exist in all of those categories, though the odds could shift in any direction.
That's why social media campaigns along these lines do nothing for me. If I stripped down to my undies and ran into the street shouting "hey fuckers, I'm beautiful! Find me beautiful," the world would not turn around and say "holy shit! All this time we got it wrong." Instead, I'd get really cold and very arrested, and the people who found me beautiful would still find me beautiful and the people who found me hideous would still find me hideous and the people who found me curious would be proved right and the people who hadn't found me would probably have to move into one of the other three categories.
Beauty is the least of my concerns. Being fat is like wearing a label. The label says I'm lazy and I'm stupid. The label says I'm an underachiever with no self control. The label says I'm not as good as you. Fuck the fucking label.
I don't want to be beautiful, I want to be able to walk to the tube station in the morning without my iPod on full blast so as to drown out the heckles of passers by. I want to go to job interviews and not have some besuited bell end take one look at me and know I'm not right for the job. I don't want to be tutted at for eating a sandwich and I don't want to be overtaken on the street by some halfwit because I look unfit only to have them slow me the fuck down and make me late for work because oh my God! Are you a snail? What is this?
I want to be seen as what I am in all of life's circumstances, and what I am is as full of promise and failure and intelligence and love as everyone else.
I'm not asking you to eff your beauty standards, I'm asking you to eff your preconceived notions. Understand that not a day has gone by in the past eighteen years in which I haven't been cussed and tutted at and judged for looking the way I look, yet I still get up and go into the world and try to be the best version of myself. Don't let media depictions shape your ideas of people, work them out for yourselves. You never know, buried not too far beneath the doughnut crumbs and mountainous chins could be the best friend you've been waiting your whole life to meet.