When you’re knee-deep in the world of body positivity online, you can sometimes forget that people want to get thin. I get it, I really do: sometimes people are a bit kinder to you when you don’t wobble so much, and life in general is easier without the anxiety of seat belts and fixed tables. Of course, I’m totally downplaying how awful you are treated and spoken about when you’re a fat person, which is why it is so important to surround yourself with people like you. Obviously I have friends in a variety of sizes, but there is something special about the relationship you have with somebody when you can talk about boob sweat, you know? I love my thin friends dearly, but I don’t feel comfortable talking to them about particular topics because they don’t understand how it feels. Which is why I have made it such a priority to curate my circle and keep only those who are bold and brash and bloody brilliant close to me – because they’ll be my courage when I’m feeling meek. So what happens when you find that body positive ally, and then they go ahead and get thin? And what’s worse, their social media becomes ABOUT how thin they got? Well, if you’re me, you delete them.
Rude, right? Well, not quite. While I’ve had many a pass-ag status written about me for my choice to delete people after dramatic weight loss, I’ve never actually taken the time to discuss my reasons or argue my case. Which, by the way, I shouldn’t need to do: if you want to delete somebody from your life, you absolutely should do it. I don’t owe anybody an explanation – and honestly, Brenda from Basingstoke doesn’t owe anybody an explanation for wanting to get thin either. I am one hundred percent body positive and believe everybody has a right to look how they like and feel how they look. I am also one hundred percent mental health positive, and believe everybody has a right to decide what behaviour they wish to endure. So here we go.
Our ‘thing in common’ is not in common anymore
I mean, we were friends because we were fat. If we found each other funny or thought each other’s gif game was strong along the way then cool, but fatness is what brought us together and it was the common fight that we were fighting. If we got to know each other in a chess club and then your social media became a space to talk about how you can’t believe you ever liked chess, you would expect me to unfollow. This is the same thing.
I question the things you said to me
On the subject of how we were fighting the same fight – was everything you ever said to me a lie? When you told me I was smokin’ hot in my dress where I had my fat legs out, were you actually repulsed by my body? Was my friendship just you making the best of your situation at the time, until you were able to get thin and move on to bigger (ha) and better things? Were you laughing at me behind my back, or cringing when I was being vocal about fat politics? And on the subject of fat politics, I don’t want to feel like I have to censor myself because I don’t want you to think I’m speaking about you personally.
It used to be a ‘them’ problem – and now you’re one of ‘them’
Fat positive communities are wonderful because everybody is supportive and lovely, and they will always defend you. Concern trolls are worth nothing to a fat positive babe, so when somebody screams “but what about your health!” “drain on the nhs!” or “out of breath!”, we all just kind of get together and laugh at them. We barely even engage anymore. But here you are, Miriam from Motherwell, talking about how unHeAlthY you used to be and how you can’t believe you ever let yourself get to that point. And listing off your health statistics like anybody asked you, holding up a photo of how you used to look when you spoke about normal things that had nothing to do with your lungs, and used to laugh at people like you.
It hurts me to see you suddenly being seen as an inspiration
Lapping up praise for being an inspiration just because your jeans are a smaller size is a really strange thing for a human to do. What is particularly rubbish is that there was a time that you were an inspiration to me for being such a wonderful person, but you never gushed about me and how much you appreciated my support – because I wasn’t thin. Everybody knows that the crowd of people who are fat-shaming is always going to be bigger than the crowd of body positive people, so it totally makes sense that you would make yourself the champion of the biggest crowd. Ask yourself this question, though: what is it about you NOW that makes you inspiring? What was it about you THEN that stopped you from being a person worth admiring? Now tell me what you notice about me.
Weight loss is its own special kind of virtue signalling, which is the exact reason that we made this magazine. We wanted a space free from any sort of value or morality being assigned to types of food, activities or appearances. So I honestly have no desire to begin a cursory glance through Facebook in the morning with the words ‘clean’ or ‘eating’ anywhere near me. I don’t need to hear about your salad. I honestly don’t care about you being ‘naughty’ or having ‘cheat days’. Boring, boring, boring. So please, don’t take it personally that its YOU who gets unfollowed – I’m unfollowing the boring content I have no interest in looking at, not the person who keeps posting it. It’s just a coincidence that it happens to be you.
You no longer share my struggle – and its insulting of you to say that you do
We had a level of honesty and intimacy that we can’t really have anymore. I used to talk to you about not being able to find boots to fit my fat calves, and honestly if you tell me you remember what that was like I’m only going to be annoyed by you. We shared struggles and they became more bearable because we were in the same team and we were going through them together. You don’t get to choose to duck out of the struggle, but claim to still feel the pangs. Which brings me on to my next point…
It makes me sick when you say you’re ‘still body positive’
Literally every single formerly-fat that I know says they are still body positive. They take side-on photos of themselves in the mirror, they stand with their hands on their hips and one leg forward so they look as slim as possible, and they say “I’m still body positive, but…”. They talk about how they’re starting to gain a bit of the chub back and its depressing them because they’re “still body positive, but…”. Pro tip: if you think you are impressive because you got smaller, or think you would be disappointed if you got bigger, you are absolutely not body positive. Body positivity is not the belief that other people can be fat without you judging them. Fatphobia is much more deep-rooted than that, and the behaviours you are displaying are fatphobic and disturbing to a fat person who has an interest in being your friend. Your stance is that you do not like your body if it begins to resemble my body, but that you have decided that you will accept that I can have the body. That is a very warped idea of what body positivity should be.
Before and after pictures are hurtful and gross
I mean – there’s no way you don’t get this one. Before and after pictures are literally somebody saying ‘look at what I was then, and compare it to how I am now’. Every so often you get the odd moment of self-awareness and say ‘I was great in both pictures!’ but actually, if you genuinely believed that, you wouldn’t feel the need to post the photos. You would just exist.
You asked not to be triggered – but you don’t mind triggering others
This is a sticking point for me. I have had so many friends who have had issues around eating, who have left group chats if diets or numbers were mentioned because it was so triggering for them, and actually removed people from their lives when they began to get thin – who then got thin themselves. In some cases this was done through their eating issues relapsing, while commenters have praised them as the picture of health. The problem here is that I saw you then, and I respected you. But now I have asked for respect in return, you have decided not to give it. Because your feelings are more important than mine. And honestly that is all I need to know from a friend.
Me being triggered matters more to me than you being offended
And so, person who doesn’t even bother to speak to me anymore, we reach the conclusion: if your presence upsets me, I owe it to myself to escape. If I’m not in your life anymore, why does it matter that your follower count goes down? Pretend you can see your follower numbers appearing on a giant scale and take joy in my departure, if that makes it mean something to you.
I haven’t written this article for thin people, really. This was written for the fat people who have been left behind. For those who feel abandoned and confused because their ally has changed and is saying hurtful things and they don’t know how to feel. If you feel guilty, or uncomfortable because you can’t work out how you are really feeling about this change, maybe this article will help you. I’m not saying that you should delete all thin people from your lives forever. That would be ridiculous! I am referring to a very specific and toxic pattern of behaviours, to which you have the right to say no. Be your own ally!