I have one fat friend.
Shit is different for her because she is a butch dyke who carries her fatness in the typically male pattern and whose gender presentation and clothing preferences are suited just fine by a belly. I know she has her angst about fatness and I'm not minimizing it, just pointing out the divergence in our experience of fatness. I would like a fat feminine-presenting friend with whom to bitch and shop. But this friend is a good deal. She is, although not currently doing a lot of reading and thinking about fatness, a person who is on my theoretical/political page in her approach to identity issues, including fatness.
My boyfriend recently moved into a big communal living situation run by this friend, which is nice because it means that I can sleep in to a normal-person hour when he has to wake up obscenely early for work because I won't have to be awkward and invisible with his roommates, so when I woke up there this morning, I got to have a little hang with her. It had been a bit. We went out in the rain to the coffee shop around the corner and we had a catch-up.
The conversation took some turns, and at some point, in the middle of our regular-volume chat about identities and fat stuff, I realized that I'm not even a little bit embarrassed to refer to myself as fat in public anymore. I'm just not. I don't have the feeling that I'm outing myself, as if no one will notice that I'm fat if I don't point it out. I am, if I am being honest, a little bit embarrassed to participate in a conversation about my friend's complicated poly romantic situation in tight proximity to other tables full of people, though, so I suggested we take the conversation to her roof, since it had stopped raining. Her roof is where I met my boyfriend, lo these several years ago now, which is part of what makes it funny that he lives there now. It has an incredible view of the entire sweep of the Manhattan skyline.
We sat on the roof and I smoked two of her cigarettes (first cigarettes all summer, kind of sad to break the streak, but I like smoking on occasion). I talked to her about the gap in the literature that I've been thinking about—this came up because she was talking about an acquaintance of hers who's a pretty well-known fatshion blogger, and I'd mentioned being surprised to hear that even the folks who sort of lead the charge around fatness in the collective consciousness are often struggling with the nuts and bolts of their own day-to-day self-care. I told her about the "being a body" theme I've been pursuing. We sat on the roof and watched the thick clouds roll over the Empire State Building.
We are grown-ups, and this is a way in which I have changed. I no longer feel like I'm climbing a giant fucking wall when I talk about fatness; I no longer feel myself choking up around the words. This is just a thing. I have come a long way towards getting my head around it. If I am being honest, I think I have come a longer way than my friend—and I say this without judgment—perhaps because I devote a larger percentage of my emotional and intellectual energy to it. At some point she referred to herself as an "inbetweenie" in a way that seemed to request my stamp of approval for that, like, "I am not THAT fat, right?", and later said that she'd been losing weight, in a way that also felt approval-seeking, like she wanted to be congratulated. But I didn't feel hurt by either of those things. I didn't feel angry, I didn't get mad at her. I was just happy to get to chat with her about it.
Onward and upward. It works if you work it.