I was not always fat.
Growing up, I had been a little overweight, but I had never been ‘fat’. At fifteen, I began the process of losing weight – working out and eating little brought me closer to the size that promised everything my fuller figure denied me. Despite my obsessive relationship with food, I believed that my body looked ‘healthier’ than ever. For once in my tumultuous teenage years, I felt good in it.
When my mother suddenly passed away from a heart attack later that year, the struggles I had been having with food my entire life were reflected in how I grieved. Instead of reaching the ‘ideal weight’ I set for myself, I gained the seemingly impossible sum of 60kg. As a result, I became what everyone is warned about, what most people spend their entire lives trying desperately to avoid: I was, and remain, fat.
In the six years since, I have discovered just how small the world is. Once, I could never have imagined what it means to not fit into spaces where it is taken for granted that one should fit – but now, from aeroplanes to theatres, I am constantly confronted with the problem of space and the realities of my body. I have learned to anticipate the feeling of being clasped between the cold metal handles that separate the seats in auditoriums and lecture halls. I have suffered debilitating back pain after the agonising hours wedged between armrests. Before deciding whether to attend an event, I try to decipher from Google images of a venue if the seats look wide enough for my body.
There are, of course, aspects to being fat that are not merely dehumanising, but dangerous. Everyone knows – and has no issue expressing their opinion on – how obesity poses a plethora of risks to one’s health, but they seem remarkably less concerned with the fact that, say, seatbelts don’t fit people that exceed a certain size. It is as if we do not exist (or perhaps that we should not exist); as if there is no need to make seats or seatbelts...