Beware the Quarantine 15.
Beware the fat clinging to your body. Beware change. Beware relaxing. Beware satisfaction with, or even mild acceptance of, your appearance.
“Remain vigilant!” says a wave of advertisements on my timeline for weight loss programs and exercise leggings. “Complacency adds 10 pounds.”
“Here’s me after quarantine lol,” says a former colleague who always seemed nice enough. Her words hover above a picture of an unfamiliar woman. It’s unflattering. She’s fat and unaware she’s become the butt of someone’s joke.
I wonder if the photographer had permission to take the picture, and know they most likely didn’t. A woman’s body is treated as public property, regardless of whether it’s showered with praise or scorn.
“Wonder Woman after the Quarantine 15 hits,” says a cosplayer I follow. The picture they post isn’t of them. It’s of yet another fat body, dressed as Wonder Woman, as if this is the greatest of jests.
Beware the Quarantine 15, chants a chorus of voices online, their greatest fear not becoming ill, losing their livelihood, or having to bury a loved one, but of growing larger. I listen, because the alternative is being alone in my house, disconnected from the world.
I listen, and an old voice reminds me, “They’re right.” I hate hearing it more than I remember.
But I’m tired of my body being a joke. I’m tired of worrying about the way my body looks as opposed to how my body feels. And my body feels so very, very tired.
I’ve spent my whole life listening to these voices telling me I’m too much. And I’ve spent too much of my life believing the diet culture cabal. Believing I was too much. Believing I was disgusting.
In a time of death and disease, when we are all trying to survive, I do not have the energy to negotiate with my eating disorder. I do not have the willpower to cater to the thin ideal.
Do you know fat people can see what you say about us? Do you know your fat family members, loved ones, and coworkers read every word and say nothing, because to push back is to admit to our own fatness, something every fat (and thin) person is taught to strive against?
Do you think about how dangerous reminding vulnerable people to live in constant fear of their bodies during a pandemic is? Do you think about the rise in bulimia and anorexia?
“Your fat friends can see your fatphobic comments,” says an artist I’ve never heard of. I hit “follow,” hungry for more.
“Keep a cake from drying out by eating it in one serving,” says an activist, bravely admitting that fat people eat, something every fat person has been trained to deny.
“Give yourself permission to eat,” says a plus-size model, her curves spilling out from her crop top. I share it to my timeline, careful not to read the comments.
To those who have been told they are too much: you have permission to love every inch of your body. You have permission to grow larger now, or whenever. Eat. Find comfort where you can. You have permission to feed your body and soul.
The truth is you’ve never been too much. You have always been just right.