Growing up, I was taught that by getting angry or standing up for myself, I was being a “black” stereotype (Angry black Woman™) and being defensive (which would only prove that my abusers were right, because of course only other people know who you really are and can tell you the truth about yourself, 0_0).
People assumed that stuff didn’t bother me because I didn’t say anything about it. Or they justified my inability or unwillingness to speak out by remaining silent themselves, because inside they believed
- there was no point in refuting fat hatred
- being treated like shit would toughen me up for “the real world”
- being treated like shit would encourage me to lose weight
Sometimes I would just smile through it because I thought it was best to keep an unpleasant situation from getting worse by not letting myself be the source of the unpleasantness. I was already fat, Black, a girl, poor, and confused about liking girls, boys, and excited by the transformative potential of people who were neither both and everything—getting angry would only make me uglier and less tolerable. Defending myself would reveal
- my ugly fat bitterness,
- the fact that I understood that something was wrong with the fat-hating people around me, and I, viewed as the most lowly among them, was ready to judge them for it
- my fantasies of grandeur in which I was perceived in my entirety and treated as a whole, sexual, emotional, physical, intelligent, strong, creative, and lovable being
So I came to the conclusion that the only thing to do was to try not to react at all. I clenched my teeth. I learned to be as still as possible, hoping they would forget I was there. I learned to be constantly ready to be attacked yet never defend myself. Of course I can’t be seen in public enjoying a meal or moving too fast or too much. I must be poised and controlled at all times. I must be willing to accept people’s preferences and understand that I will most likely never be loved or cared for or spoken to with respect because by not losing weight I have agreed to the limitations and restrictions placed on my existence. I must be above reproach and accept reproach yet remain below deserving humanity. I must accept the terms of being loved in ideal but never in reality.
I must accept and navigate the injustices placed upon me, but refute and battle the injustices inflicted on everyone else.
I don’t want this to be a place where I only focus on bad things, horrible experiences, but this is a place where I dismantle them in seeking transformative power.