A few days ago my boyfriend said something that healed the little fat girl inside me:
"You're the whole package."
It's funny/sad/to-be-expected-I-guess that I keep finding little creepy ass fat shame skeletons in my closet and wounds I thought had long been healed.
When he said it I felt tingly and flattered, but I also felt a little bit surprised. And that surprised feeling kinda surprised me.
I was taught that my fat body was what prevented me from being whole and definitely prevented me from being anyone's idea of a whole package.
I was taught that no one would love me and if they were with me it was because they couldn't do any better.
These beliefs have made it difficult to feel safe in romantic relationships and get close to people I date and love. That's how fatphobia and other systems of discrimination and oppression work: they isolate us from love and an understanding of our intrinsic value, worth and beauty.
This week I dedicated a bunch of time to finishing edits for an article I wrote for the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Journal.
At first I didn't want to talk about the role that men played in my story of healing. Even though I wrote really (REALLY) openly about it in Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion this time I was writing for an academic audience and I was afraid of how it would be received by other feminist scholars. But my editors pushed me to talk about the ways I came to heal my relationship to my body. And leaving my boos out of that story would have been a dishonest omission.
I realized in writing about that journey, that it was my friends and community who helped me survive and who brought me back into my body. Yes, my partners and lovers have played a part in my recovery from the debilitating fatphobia I had internalized. And yes those people have historically been dudes. But the bigger story was that they weren't just boyfriends. They became a part of my community. Just like the friends I wasn't sleeping with, they helped me see the world in a different way and they helped me see my place within that world differently. They saw me, and our shared sexual connection did not diminish their contribution to my healing. And that is something I am, honestly, still processing.
For a long time I have placed my boyfriends outside of my community, both actually and psychologically. As a feminist with my past, men have long been a source of suspicion, even (and maybe especially) the men I let into my life intimately.
My community of fat and fat positive friends has been the most pivotal part of becoming the person/femme/activist-badass I am today.
My boos aren't outside of that community.
So when my boyfriend told me I was the whole package, he helped me to see something about myself that I apparently couldn't see for myself. And I love him for that.
So today I'd like to talk about how I'm the Whole Motherfucking Package (WMFP)! I'd like to define what that means and in such tell you why you're the WMFP too.
The WMFP is someone who has a complicated and at times difficult history and who has the capacity to heal from that past.
The WMFP is someone who sees that their CURRENT body as it exists RIGHT NOW is central to their WMFP-ness.
The WMFP is someone who knows who they are and fights to be that person.
The WMFP is someone who knows how to take lemons and turn them into fucken delicious alcoholic beverages or has the capacity to be that person.
The WMFP is someone who has room in their heart to hold other people.
The WMFP knows that traditional, oppressive standards of beauty based in sizeism, racism, ableism and ageism are fucken TI-RED. The WMFP is someone who is working to define their own beauty.
The WMFP is not strong all the time and doesn't feel like a badass all the time. The WMFP can be vulnerable and tender too.
What does being The Whole Motherfucken Package mean to you?
Have you heard of the FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE? I'm key noting it! It's a virtual conference and I hope you can make it!
Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.