This is Part 4 of a six-part series on Fat Acceptance, based on a talk I did in 2008.
I’m coming to realize now two of the ways I went wrong in college. First, I was way too boy-crazy, and second, I turned my back on writing. But there was one thing I did right.
On summer during college, at the local Hook’s drugstore, I discovered a magazine that introduced me to the size acceptance paradigm. The funny thing is that finding it grew out of my boy-craziness. I was in my first “real” relationship, and, to feed the fantasies in my head, I wanted to look at “Bride” magazine. Next to Bride, BBW—or Big Beautiful Woman, caught my eye. It was a fashion magazine, but with a purpose.
In the front of every issue was a statement of policy. It was so good, I read parts of it to my mother on the way home, and, almost twenty years later I remembered parts of it. I was able to track it down, and the words of BBW Editor Carole Shaw (who also coined the term BBW) are still relevant:
“This is where you STOP FEELING GUILTY about being a large size woman and concentrate on being the beautiful and attractive PERSON that you are, regardless of any size.”
“Are you any smarter if you wear a size 8 dress? Is your basic character any more worthwhile if you’re 120 lbs than at 220 plus? Will the world applaud you in 100 years if you forego that piece of cake and settle for black coffee?” The point is you are who and what you are, and your dress size has nothing to do with your success or failure as a person. You are neither smarter, better educated, nor, for that matter, jollier, than a person of smaller physical dimensions. The fact is that many of us have treated ourselves as second class citizens and therefore we have attracted that kind of treatment.”
“Once we STOP APOLOGIZING to ourselves and the world because we are large, we will have political and economic clout. “
“We are 25% of the population—we represent a goodly portion of humanity. It’s time we start respecting ourselves and demand respect from the smaller world around us.”
I was enthralled. I studied BBW magazine like I would be taking a final exam on it later. I had found the validation that society had never given me and started on the journey to accept myself as a fat person.
Until BBW, I had no words to describe what it was like to be a fat woman. BBW gave me a voice, and let me know that there were other woman-girls out there who believed that they could be attractive AND fat, or smart AND fat, or athletic AND fat. Being fat didn’t mean I had to settle for the box society wanted to put me in. I didn’t think I was ugly, stupid, or lazy, and BBW showed me that I didn’t have to be.