In sophomore year of college, I had a small group of close friends that all lived in the same dorm (minus one). We ate together, studied together, hung out together, went to the movies together, etc. Each day I was starting and ending my day with at least one of them, if not all. During one of our hang out sessions (in my room as they usually were) we were having a conversation about weight. Specifically, how society views me because of my weight. I asked my friend (we’ll call him Kevin), “Between my roommate (another close friend in the “clique”) and I, who do you think works out more.” I’ll take this time to tell you that my roommate was this short, tiny girl who, at the time, wore a size 1 or 2. Of course he confidently went with my roommate. But, wait a minute, I went to the gym Monday to Friday, every morning at 6. My roommate often ate chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and had visited the gym a handful of times over the course of 3 semesters. This was something he knew of course. We were very close friends. In fact, of the 6/7 of us, my best friend and I hung out with Kevin the most. But, because of the stereotypes he believed about fat people, the automatic was to believe that the fat one worked out less than the skinny one. Despite all the evidence: evidence that was well known to him. That’s what you (yes you) do to people like me. You make assumptions. You make assumptions with or without any evidence of the contrary. You, my friend, will believe that I’m lazy despite the fact that you constantly see me at work. You will think I’m lazy even though you know I go to the gym often. But, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fact that even if you don’t go to the gym, that is not direct evidence of you being lazy. Let’s also note that our smaller peers aren’t deemed lazy or unhealthy if they don’t know what an elliptical is.
As a fat girl, people who don’t know me make assumptions about my lifestyle and who I am as a person. But, if I’m being honest, that’s no different for anyone else. We make assumptions about others on a daily basis. When I first met my best friend, I assumed she was a stuck up bitch because she was light skin (colorism is real y’all). We all make snap judgements about other people. It’s a part of life. The difference is that, if given the opportunity, those individuals can change the way you think about them. My views on my best friend changed once I got to know her. Your views on the girl who wears a full face of makeup in class everyday changed once you got to know her (side note: petition to have people shut the hell up about what and how much you choose to put on your face!). Your views on the big, burly guy changed once you experienced his sweet, mushy personality. That’s how the world works. We have the opportunity to show you that we’re not stuck up, we’re not desperate for male attention, and we’re not aggressive despite your assumptions based on our outward appearance. Unfortunately, fat people don’t get that luxury. Our friends and family still believe we eat a box of Twinkies often (or eat extremely unhealthy overall), lay in bed all day, and that we are walking around with a whole bunch of health issues. We are not afforded the luxury of changing your mind.