Saturday, May 4, 2013

Textiquette for a Sexy Fatty


Ever have the problem of describing yourself to someone you've never met but are about to? Yeah, me, too. I mean, what do you say? “I’ll be the one wearing red.” “Look for the 38-year-old lass with a sparkle in her brown eyes.” “I’m the brunette with the nose stud.” Yeah, those work great.

Today I met someone introduced to me via text. (Oh, technology!) A few days prior to meeting her, I texted, “I’ll be the sexy fatty wearing a Hello Kitty tee.” The woman wrote something smooth back, but a mutual friend told me my phrasing thoroughly perplexed and, yes, even scared the textee. I’m not sure why. Did she think I was coming on to her with my mention of sexiness? Does she think college instructors should eschew clothing manufactured by Sanrio? Or was it, as I suspect, my use of “fatty” next to the word “sexy”?

Don’t think I didn't very carefully craft that text or ponder it at embarrassing length. In fact, it’s a question I've faced a number of times in the past when meeting colleagues I've never encountered in the flesh, coming for a physical interview after telephone ones, or meeting for Internet-arranged romantic dates.

See, here’s the thing: I’m easy to pick out of a crowd. I’m a fat, 38-year-old brunette who dons bright colors and carries Hello Kitty paraphernalia. I’d love to say this to everyone; actually, in the past, I have. Several times. The typical response to my description goes something like, “Oh, don’t worry – I can stand to lose a few pounds, too!” or, like the woman today, trepidation.

Here's a picture of my hand.
You can now find me in a crowd, right?
But, ya know, I don’t stand to lose a few pounds. I dig my physicality. There is no inherent apology in mentioning my body size or in my proclivity for bright pink, cartoon-festooned garb. How unfortunate that we live in a place and time where a simple descriptor like “fat” is regarded as an admission of failure or a plea for reassurance. Knowing this and wanting to avoid confusion about my attitude toward my body size, I added “sexy” before “fatty,” which is perfectly in keeping with the size acceptance movement’s focus on celebration of body diversity. Unfortunately, not many peeps are members of the SA movement. So, in spite of my best wishes and my hopes for avoiding awkwardness and confusion, my verbiage, my pairing of “sexy” with “fat,” confused, even frightened, my now-new friend.

So what’s a 5’7”, brown-eyed, curly-haired fatty with pink and red toenails supposed to do when describing herself to a stranger? Exactly. And now you understand why I spent ten minutes debating before sending that text. And what will I do when I have to describe myself next time? Probably say the same darn thing.  

Incidentally, when the woman met me, she instantly recognized me. “It was the Hello Kitty t-shirt,” she said.

Yeah, sure it was.

6 comments:

  1. My "fave"--not really, but the incident that springs to mind was going out to lunch with a friend from high school I hadn't seen in nearly 30 years (and in my case 100 pounds). I had discussed fat acceptance, writing fat positive fiction, etc.--presenting at a writers conference was why I was visiting his city. His last words before we re-met up was, "I'll have no problem recognizing you because you're big as a house, right?" In all fairness to him he was playing the flamingly bitchy role to the hilt, so it was an okay re-meet up, but it reaffirmed why we hadn't been in touch for so long. (Sample dialog: Him: "People tell me I should write, what do you think I should be writing?" Me: "I dunno, what do you read?" Him: "I don't read." Me: "Then the people telling you that you should be writing are mistaken."--I can do bitchy too, but we didn't re-bond, LOL!)

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    1. Note to self: Don't try to out-snark Lynne. ;)

      Seriously, thanks for chiming in with this. It's tough to know what to say and how people will take it. "Big as a house," eh? That reminds me -- have you read the aMAZing poem by Elana Dykewomon (I think) on metaphors used to describe fat women? It's stunning and moving and empowering and sad, as good poetry can be. I think it's in Susan Koppelman's edited anthology, _The Strange History of Suzanne LaFleshe_.

      On a final note, I think I'm kinda glad you two didn't remain besties. I like the idea of folks heaping kindness of the heads of their peeps. :)

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    2. Elle,the pink and red nails are a zinger, and I think you should include them! You are inspiring me to try to find a more interesting way to describe myself, and I think this goes for other readers of your blog :)

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    3. Thanks, Iva! Next time I'll toss my nails into the descriptive basket! ;)

      Thanks for the loving words, my friend.

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  2. This is a great topic. Personally, I don't say sexy because for me, that's a part of myself that I only share with certain people and in certain spaces where I think I am safe and it is appropriate. But I do use something similar to what you have here. I describe myself as the "rad fattie" or "rad fatty" or something akin to that. It implies that I think I'm awesome (which seems obvious to this leo) and gives the hint that I approve of my fatness so if you can't approve with me, at least don't assume that I agree with you.

    There you go. My 2 cents. :)

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    1. I love your two cents! Thanks muchly, Katie. And btw, I LOVE the idea of using "rad fatty," especially since I'm not fond of informing strangers of my belief in my sexiness. :) My partner says I use the word "sexy" like "smurf"; you have to determine the meaning by its context. :) Still, and while I do think I'm sexy, I don't love using that descriptor off the bat.

      Fantastic advice! <3

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