Illustration by Andrea Forgacs
Story by Marie Southard Ospina
I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t aware of my body.
I’ve seen photos of myself before the age of 5 and I know the time must have existed. I see how effortlessly I smiled; there’s an ease to the way I carried myself — but I can’t remember it.
I stopped smiling in pictures around 6 years old because I was told my cheeks looked even fatter when I did. I stopped smiling with teeth IRL because I was told those teeth were too crooked. By 10, I stopped wearing shorts in the summer because other children ridiculed my “tree trunk legs.” I rejected invitations to pool parties entirely or swam in baggy T-shirts because my body was so consistently framed as a problem to be solved. The messaging was everywhere: spread by my Colombian relatives, American relatives, mainstream media, peers, teachers, and television characters.
By 12, I was in the early stages of anorexia nervosa. For a few years, no one thought anything of my weight loss, fainting spells, or the fact that I lost my period only a year after starting it. Mostly, I think they were just happy I was smaller: “prettier,” “healthier,” “better.” Even after starting my ED recovery, it would be nearly a decade before my relationship with my body would be anything but debilitating.
I have the fat-liberation community to thank for the shift.
The more I learned about diet-culture, institutional fatphobia, the medical industrial complex, health at every size, the more I unpacked my disdain for my body. The more images I saw of radical fatties in fatkinis, crop tops, or wholly naked, the more I tired of treating my own body as something deserving of being hidden.
To say that fat-positivity changed my life is such an understatement. It impacted EVERYTHING.
My relationship to my body, my sense of community, my romantic and sexual lives, my career, my ability to form boundaries between myself and relatives or friends who unknowingly perpetuate fatphobia. I dread to think of where I’d be today if not for this community.
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