I’m fat, y’all.
There’s no getting around it. No matter how generous you get with those height/weight charts, I’m pretty much supposed to be 7 feet, 10 inches tall to weigh what I weigh and be considered “healthy.”
I suppose I’ve always done that thing that funny, outgoing fat girls have done, which is to beat people to the punch when talking about her weight—mention it first before other people can. There, now it’s out there. I’ve talked about the elephant in the room and it is I! But the difference is—and this is key—is that while I might acknowledge myself as “a big girl” I will never do so in a disparaging way. I may show off my big butt, but I refuse to be the big butt of mine or anyone else’s big butt jokes. That’s where I draw the line.
The thing is, developing this wisecracking, quick-tongued, slippery-witted persona to deflect weight detractors ended up, in so many ways, shaping my personality. I had to be funnier and smarter than whatever knuckle-dragger was gonna take a shot about my ass so I developed a quick wit and an acerbic tongue, which led to hanging out with other quick-witted and acerbic people. So basically: gay men, black women, and drag queens; which, in turn, led to developing an even more outrageous personality (not to mention, just knowing more interesting people in general). In many ways, I look back at my life and can say I am who I am because of my weight. And since I like who I am, I’m starting to see my weight not as a burden but as a gift.
But gift or no, I’m not a robot. I am not immune to the slings and arrows of societal pressures. I still have my moments, just like everyone else. I still obsess, at times, about my “problem areas,” as that spa trainer said to Kelly on that one episode of 90210.
I fucking love to wear tank tops. I’ve got a killer rack and a nicely freckled décolletage, and nothing shows the girls off like a tank top. Unfortunately, every time I see my upper arm/underarm/armpit areas, I think I should be standing in front of a trailer park in a muumuu yelling at one of my eight children to run up to to the store a get Mama a pack of Virginia Slims, or that I should be standing in line for a passel of deep-fried bacon-and-tequila shooters at the Texas State Fair while hoisting up my tube top. Here comes that little critical voice that, no matter how much confidence I have, 45 years of imposed societal standards of female beauty come whirling around to smack my self image upside its head.
I call the flaps of skin under my arms, these water wings, these vestigial pieces of female foreskin, my “hi Bettys.” For these are the warm, fleshy flaps that jiggle unpleasantly with me when I hoist an arm to waive at my dear friend and call out to her “hi Betty!” from across the room to catch her attention. And fuck me if even me and my confident ass doesn’t stand there in front of the mirror in my tank top tryna figure out a way to minimize my hi Bettys each and every gotdamn day. I stand there, squishing and squeezing them under my arms, wishing there were a way to contain them within some sort of miracle armpit invisibility cloak so that the world weren’t privy to my love of late-night Hagen Dazs binges.
But then I read some super-duper, Grade-A, hella-huge bullshit that made me decide to throw my wobbly arms up in the air and say “two tears in a bucket, mother fuck it!”
There is a new fucking craze sweeping the land called the “dadbod,” and now apparently the new ideal male of sexy is that men get to just walk around looking like old schlumpy homeless fartbags and that’s considered the new adorable. No word of a lie: dudes get to roll up out of bed like they just spent three days not showering and playing Call of Duty in the same pair of boxers with a big-ass gut and some nasty unshaven pubes on their faces, and ladies are getting all moist and making tumblr pages of this shit.
Ladies, I ask of you: how much more of this are we gonna put up with? First we let this egregious double standard slide past us:
Not only has our grooming gotten more elaborate to men’s tastes while they’ve been allowed to grow pubes wild and free on their faces, but notice how much skinnier the female ideal has gotten in 30 years.
And now this:
C’mon gals, we can lust better than this!
So I just decided, fuck it. If Leonardo DiCaprio gets to float around on a barge looking like something that biologists and oceanographers are getting alarmed about washing up on our beaches, and ladies are getting all swoony and shit over him, I’m gonna stop getting so worried about my damn arms. In fact, imma positively revel in my hi Bettys, dammit! Imma get Rosie the Riveter shirts reprinted, except Rosie will be proudly sporting hi Bettys. YES WE CAN…WEAR STRAPLESS DRESSES AND TANK TOPS!! TANKINIS FOR ALL!!
Or I have a better idea. Why don’t we all just stop giving a fuck about what everyone else looks like and then, inevitably, ourselves? Imagine how liberating that would be. Imagine the time and the emotional head space we’d free up.
When you get done reading this, go to your bathroom mirror, look at yourself up and down, and say in your loudest voice, “DAMN, I’VE GOT IT GOIN’ ON MOTHERFUCKER!” And for the love of god, believe it when you say it. Believe that you’ve got it goin’ on from the bottom of your hammer toes to the top of your thinning hair because who gives a flying fuck? We are all gross, disgusting, and deeply flawed. But better yet: we are all amazing and gorgeous. So own it.
Let your hi Bettys fly high, bitches!