What the fuck is wrong with you people, Part three: Beauty is not a zero-sum game

One of my favorite fashion bloggers, who has a body almost as big as her personality, posted a while ago asking if fat women expect to get more camaraderie from other fat women. I am totally cool with the whole Big Sisters club idea; humans bond over commonalities, and this one's as good as a hometown or a favorite sports team. The sociologist lobe of my brain has a sad over the fact that my skinny ass is never going to know what goes on at these particular club meetings, any more than my munchkin self will ever get to probe the inner mysteries of the WNBA, but that's about as upset as I get.

I didn't start getting mad until I got down into the comments, where a lot of the posters made it clear that the whole banding-together thing was based in large part on the shared experience of mistreatment at the hands of not-fat people. Jesus Christ. Sometimes humans just make me want to bounce my head off the desk until the argh goes away.

I would like to assure y'all that, for every thin woman who uses your weight as an excuse to treat you like a second-class citizen, there is another thin woman who wants very badly to take that bitch by the shoulders and shake until the fucking stupid starts to rattle out of her ears and onto the floor. This is because the women who think they can mistreat the "less-pretties" with impunity also think they need to backstab the "more-pretties" at every possible opportunity, because apparently on their home planet you only got promoted if you assassinated whoever was ahead of you in the chain of command. This makes life goddamn difficult for people on both ends of the spectrum, because you've got someone who apparently spends all of their free time plotting and practicing methods of sabotage running around randomly jamming sticks in the spokes of your metaphorical bicycle wheels for reasons that are completely fucking unrelated to anything else that is going on and seriously woman this is just my face I was born with it and I cannot do anything about it if you have that much of a problem with it perhaps you need some intense psychotherapy? Electroshock would be very satisfying for the rest of us, even if it didn't do you any good at all.

I am not going to mince words here. I am well aware of where I fall on the spectrum of human appearance. I like being smiled at and told I look nice, and occasionally causing minor chaos in my wake, like the time I cut across the college campus in new pair of gladiator sandals and some guy behind me walked into a pillar. I am not doing the visual equivalent of the 'poor little rich girl' thing. Not everyone on Earth finds me attractive, but you would be hard-pressed to find a member of my native culture who wouldn't understand why someone else would, which means that while I can imagine how simultaneously retarded and dispiriting lookism in general is, it's not something I have experienced personally. I respect that I'm going to have to go on what other people say here, in the same way as I have to go with other people's accounts of being tall. But it really really pisses me off that I have to walk on eggshells whenever I complain that it's unfair, because other people are such shits about it that anything I say is automatically suspect.

Once upon a time, I lived in an apartment complex with an exercise room that was free for residents' use. I had gotten into the habit of going and killing myself on the elliptical on a daily basis. (I was deeply depressed and unemployed and had an idiot for a therapist who was convinced that exercise and SSRIs would make me good as new, but that's a totally different rant.) The point is, I had accidentally dropped a shitload of weight already, to the point where my roommates were looking at me funny and my pants were beginning to fall off, and there I was, in the exercise room, a little after New Year's Day, when a fat lady came in. And I say this because I have no idea what words I'm supposed to use as a completely neutral description anymore -- she presented as female, and she was fat, end of story. She was also in workout clothes, and holding herself like she wanted to be completely goddamn invisible, and was very upset that the laws of physics were not obliging her on that.

I nodded and smiled at her as she came in, and then I ignored her, because that's what you do when you're busy exercising and hating your life and listening to embarrassingly stupid dance pop with your earbuds jammed into your ears far enough to vibrate your occipital lobes, lest someone else hear the Amuro Namie tracks leaking out. She did not ignore me. She kept looking at me -- not directly, but in the mirror at the other end of the room. If I hadn't been me and acutely people-watchy I probably wouldn't have noticed, but I know perfectly fucking well what it looks like when someone is running a comparison and concludes that they come up wanting. I personally thought I looked like hell, because I wasn't sleeping or eating and I couldn't sit on the floor without my goddamn legs going numb anymore, but I had size 4 workout pants hanging precariously on my hips, and she didn't.

I wound up leaving the exercise room early, seething not at her for making me uncomfortable enough to leave, but at the fact that someone did this to her. Someone made her so ashamed of her own body that I could see it, and held me up as some kind of fucking goal to shoot for without my permission. Someone told her that if she looked like me, her life would be perfect -- someone fucking lied, because I only look like that when I'm so miserable I need other people to remind me to feed myself and go to bed at night and, in extreme circumstances, pick me up from the local ER and pay for my Xanax. (Long story. Very.) Someone had convinced her that there was something so wrong with the way she looked that she even needed to hide while she was trying to change it. Someone convinced her she needed to change it in the first place.

I still want to punch Someone in the face for all this, and it was two and a half fucking years ago. So you see how angry this makes me.

I am also, not being made of rainbows and altruism, profoundly pissed off at all this because some of the blowback hits me. Because for some stupid fucking reason people think that there is a finite amount of attractiveness in the world? or something? And that they need to actively disparage people who fit what is seen as the traditional, patriarchal, penis-serving vision of "beauty", a group which happens to include me. (There is no one standard of beauty that's held throughout the ages, anywhere, but if you're getting the impression that rational argument and MLA cites don't go very far with a lot of activists, you would be correct.) I get that there are people feeling -- justifiably -- oppressed here, but fucking hell, why do you think stomping on other people is going to fix this? I am trying to help you goddamn it my help is not worthless just because I'm offering while wearing pumps and a push-up bra. You want to wear makeup like mine? I will teach you! You don't want to wear any makeup? I don't care! I have no emotional investment in how you look! The way I choose to dress doesn't have anything to do with you, either. And I am talking to everyone on all sides of this, here.

"Real women have curves" is bullshit. I'm not more of a woman because I'm small, and I'm not less of a woman because I'm small. I'm a woman because I fucking say so. Real women have bodies. This may be discriminatory here, but I personally feel justified in saying that if you do not have some kind of a physical corpus, you are not a human being. Beyond that, could we just please stop inventing fucking reasons to make other people feel inadequate? Because it's really awkward when you accidentally meet some of the insane criteria for the competition others have invented, and people think you totally did it on purpose to fuck them over.