I'm not fat, but I've been made to feel "less than" (as they say over at Shakesville) because of my relative level of fatness, in a very specific area: breast size.
I'm 5'4" and 125-130 lbs and I wear a 32-34D bra. This does not make me, in any way, extraordinary. I know plenty of women with various combinations of the numbers I just threw out; most of my sisters come to mind immediately. And yet, it's so goddamn hard for me to find a bra, because apparently I AM extraordinary with my D-cup breasts.
My best friend, who I love dearly, wears an A cup. She, like many of the women I know, shop at Walmart/Target for bras, because they consider 3 things when buying a bra:
- It must fit me.
- It must be cute and/or sexy.
- It must be affordable.
I, as you may have already guessed, can't do that. I can't shop at Walmart/Target for bras unless I want to sacrifice characteristics #1 and #2 (anything that fits me properly at Walmart/Target is, frankly, the ugliest thing ever, and also, "properly" is a relative word). I can't shop at Victoria's Secret unless I want to sacrifice #3, and potentially #1 (they say they can measure you so that FINALLY you will wear your correct bra size, but I've found that their measurements surprisingly coincide with whichever size they currently have the most of). For that matter, I can't shop at Victoria's Secret, or Nordstrom, or any of those fancy bra places, because I live in a fucking ski town and we just don't have them here.
And so, my "bra rights" are severely limited because I have big boobies. My big boobies are not my fault; I have not had breast implants; I just have big-breasted genes. Does my best friend deserve more bra rights because she has smaller-breasted genes? Looks like it from the outside.
These days, I don't feel "less than" because of my breasts; it's just an annoyance that I do my best to get around. But in high school, when I was the dorky, shy girl with D cups, surrounded by my friends, who were beautiful girls with B cups, max, all incredibly popular, I did feel "less than". I felt that the reason I never dated was because I was Fat (by Fat, I mean the derogation and shame that generally seems to come with the adjective in our culture).
In gym class, we had this scale one day that told you your body fat percentage. Our teacher told us healthy women had around 25% body fat. Mine was 26.something%, and this made me feel Fat.
Seriously. I was like 1% above average, and it made me feel Fat. Luckily, I was a rather wise 17-year-old, which allowed me to quickly quash that omg i'm such a Faaaaatty impulse and remind myself that my teacher had said "around" 25%, and 1% was not that much higher than average, and I was pretty healthy and active and beautiful and fuck their stupid body fat percentage.
But really, those wise thoughts are beside the point. I should not have had to think ANY of those thoughts, and the society that put them there is to blame.
And the final annoyance: I'm told a lot, implicitly and overtly, that I should be delighted at my large breasts, because some people would do anything to have them. This is bad, in my mind, for several reasons:
- It's my body, and how I choose to feel about it is none of your goddamn business.
- You don't know what you're fucking talking about, because you've never had a hard time finding a bra that just goddamn fit you.
- Society tells me I'm supposed to have big breasts, in order to be a Sexually Desirable Woman, then turns around and makes it difficult to have big breasts on a daily basis, not just for 90 minutes of a feature film. Your succulent breasts exist only to feed my fantasies; dealing with them in the real world is entirely your problem.
*** *** ***
I went back and forth for a while over whether I actually had a right to discuss this. Like I said, I'm not fat, and I keep saying that I'm not fat not because I'm trying to establish right off that I'm not fat, lest anyone thinks falsely that I am, because I am not fat goddammit no fucking way -- but because I'm just not. Nobody who saw me on the street would give me the fat adjective, and neither would my BMI, if you believe that crock of shit. And yet, I have been discriminated against on the basis of my relative size.
Which is exactly what made me realize that I do have a right to discuss this, and not only do I have a right, I have a responsibility. I was feeling that perhaps complaining on t3h internets about my experiences would be something along the lines of bragging (oh hey I'm not fat, check me out everyone), or rubbing my neatly average body in your [fat] face (woe is me, I'm a size 4 but look at how hard my life is), but the truth is, if I allowed those thoughts to prevent me from sharing my experiences, I am no better than the fat-shamers, because why the shit should I feel like I'm bragging by talking about my average body unless that average body is inherently preferable to a fat one? Which would mean that fat people deserve shame -- which I do not believe.
If we want acceptance at every size, we need to talk about every size; I can't hide in my hole feeling guilty because I'm not *shudder* fat -- thank god i'm not fat! because it does nobody any good.
If I felt Fat (read: undesirable, unloveable, "less than") because of 1 goddamn percentage point, how much worse is it for the fat 17-year-olds?