I was the only fat person in the room all night at my parents' holiday open house this evening. I wore a dress both short and low-cut and received tons of compliments. I felt good, even if the cleavage on display was a mock-up of bra and arrangement.
Smalltalk question of the evening: "So, what are you planning on doing after graduation?"
Response: "I'm thinking about starting a thrift store for fat people." I tried to always accompany this with a cocked head and a charming smile.
In some tiny way, this is activism (in a more immediate way, it is immensely entertaining). One recipient of this response remarked on the ease with which I use the word "fat." He said, "I can barely get it out of my mouth." I smiled. A middleaged woman, the mother of a childhood friend, was more conventional: "You're not fat, you're beautiful."
I wasn't quick enough on my feet to ask: "Why can't I be both?"
My learning curve about talking about fatness has been so steep lately. Before the fat clothing thrift store idea, there were so few people I'd talk about this stuff to. Now, I yammer on in beer gardens and library lobbies and cocktail parties to boys my age and men my parents' age, to friends and acquaintances and strangers. I find it delightful. The best part is that nobody disagrees. I have a theory that nobody ever disagrees, that if enough people just speak flippantly about fatness, if we are just charming and pretty and articulate as we consistently talk talk talk talk talk about fatness as if we expect to be taken seriously, as if no reasonable person could possibly fail to take us seriously, public opinion (in the aesthetic sense) will begin to change.
"My mother wanted me to be a slim respectable socialite. Instead, I became an overweight troublemaker." Of course, I'd replace "overweight" with "fat," but I love Brigid Berlin.