I get it. I do. You think you’re being super encouraging with your “Open letter to the Fat Girl at the gym” and your “Open letter to the Fat Girl at the race” and your “Open letter to the Fat Girl at spin class.” After all, we’re fat girls doing a thing or being at a place you never would have expected a fat girl to be able to do or be seen.
On the surface it really does sound great and I acknowledge that you probably write these Open Letters with the best of intentions. That being said, as a fat girl, I have a request:
Please stop writing them.
Here’s the thing: Those letters of yours? They aren’t really about us. They are about you. They are a way for you to let everyone else in the whole wide world know just how awesome and accepting and encouraging you are to the poor fat girl at your gym or in your spin class. I mean, if you sincerely wanted to let “the fat girl” know your thoughts, why wouldn’t you, I don’t know, go talk to her? Introduce yourself after class. Say hello. Learn her hobbies and interests. Get to know her as a person. Have a shared conversation about your mutual love for spinning or yoga or running or whatever.
But you don’t do that. You write open letters and put them on social media in the hopes they’ll be shared and liked. Readers will spread your word and congratulate you on being so benevolent and magnanimous. If you actually went and talked to the Fat Girl the only people who would know about it are you and her and then where would you be? It’s not like you can RT a private conversation.
Plus, you can’t really sincerely go into this actually thinking and believing I’m going to see that letter, right? Of all the social media sites in all the world….I mean, c’mon. So, really, the only person who truly benefits from said letter is, well, you.
I get it. You’re a cheerleader. You want me to know to be proud of myself and excited for these positive changes I’m making and blah blah blah blah blah.
But, seriously. What makes you think I need to be told to be proud of myself? What makes you think I’m not already proud of myself? You look at me and all you see is 235 pounds. You don’t see the 75 I’ve lost and have kept off for nearly a year. You see me slowly making my way to the finish line and all you see is my pace. You don’t see the many many races I’ve already completed, including two half-marathons.
Why do you assume that just because we fat people are, y’know, fat, that means that we’ve a) never done this activity before and/or b) won’t continue doing it? When you started running or spinning or practicing yoga or whatever it is that we’re doing when you spotted me from afar, did you need the encouragement of some random stranger on the internet writing an open letter? No? Then why do you think we do? What makes us so different other than our individual relative relationships with gravity?
Let me ask you an honest question: why do you feel the need to write these open letters to fat girls and not thin girls? Why does the fat girl in your spinning class deserve your encouragement more than the thin girl? Hell, why does the fat girl in your yoga class deserve your support more than the fat guy? Is it possible you don’t talk to the anonymous Fat Girl in person because you know it’s, I dunno, a little weird? Like, you’re recognizing us for doing something that millions of thin girls do on a daily basis but you take no notice of that because the thin girls don’t challenge your socially ingrained ideals of athleticism. More to the point, we’re doing something that millions of other fat girls do on a daily basis. Really, this isn’t some crazy novelty here. Fat girls practice yoga. Fat girls run. Fat girls spin. Fat girls do CrossFit. Fat girls do the same things that you do and — spoiler alert — sometimes we even do them better than you.
Seriously. This isn’t a big fucking deal so stop making it one.
I understand you don’t mean it to, but these open letters often come across as less supportive and more patronizing. Less accepting and more self-congratulatory. A chance for you to give yourself a pat on the back for being so super open-minded. So next time you are considering writing such a letter on your blog or on FB or wherever, take a step back and consider your motives. Ask yourself why you feel it necessary to put this out there in such a big way rather than just walk up to the Fat Girl and say hi. Then, next time you see her, actually walk up to her and say hi.
At the very least, learn her fucking name so you can stop referring to her as “the fat girl.”
Love from the ashes,