Fat and being girly

I've been asked to write a blog post for the online book tour for Queering Fat Embodiment by Cat Pause of the Friend of Marilyn podcast and radio show.  She's also an editor for the book.  Thank you to Cat for asking me!

Let's talk about fat and the concept of "Girl".  Or femininity, which I always think of as girliness.  Girlhood. 

When I was a very little kid, I wanted to be a boy.  But what did I really want? Not a difference in my body.  I wanted access to the things I perceived boys as having.  I wanted to be able to run and shout and jump and play without being told constantly to "be more ladylike".   

I didn't want to rein myself in.  I didn't want to be quiet.  Girlness seemed very restraining. 

To be Girl was to be depowered. It meant submitting to the will of others.  It meant being fake and being silenced.

But Girl also meant pretty and fun.  It was bright colors and glitter and fancy.  Lipstick and nail polish.  

And thin.  Girl is Thin.  

Since I couldn't be thin, even though I tried and tried, and since I didn't want to be quiet- I rejected Girl.  Girl felt like the death of the soul.  It felt like giving in and giving up.  I didn't want Girl.  I wanted to be me.  I wanted access to pretty hair and lipstick, but I wasn't willing to die for them.

The first time I saw anyone try to bridge the gap between being girly but still having a voice was riot grrrl when I was a teen.  Pretty sundresses, but with combat boots and lipstick in smears.

It called to me.  But then I had to face reality.  I was fat.  I couldn't dress as a riot grrrl.  Where would I get the dresses?  

It's only in the last 5 years that I have been able to bridge the gap.  To grab my own piece of Girl and make it my own.  Only in the last few years has there been supply for my demands.

I wear dresses almost every day now. I like to dress femme.  For one, what reads as easy and casual on a thin person is read as sloppiness on a fat person.  I don't like looking sloppy.  I am already dealing with people's negative snap judgements of me for being fat.  I know that if I look 'sloppy', I will be judged even harsher.  

I also know that for me to read as 'Woman', I have to dress very femme.  My fat shows me as a failed woman.  Fatness desexualizes me and turns my sexuality into a punchline.  For me, wearing dresses and makeup is a defense.  If I over perform Woman/Girl, I am pushing back against my perceived gender failure.  

When I perform Girl, I am deliberately confusing my role.  I am pushing into a between place.  I am between Girl and Girl Failure.  I am being political.  I am challenging.  This can make some people angry.  It makes me the subject of gossip, dirty looks, and the occasional awkward conversation.  It also makes some people very happy.  

It is also the place where I am most comfortable.  I change my body with large, girly tattoos to suit myself better.  And when I am in my dresses and sneakers- I am most myself.  

I used to think I had to be like a boy, because I was a failure at being a girl.  I saw the devaluing of girly things and I wanted to be valued and valuable.

But being fat has freed me in a way, to be as girly as I'd like.  Because I will never be Girl, so I can freely take what I'd like from girliness and pass on what I don't care about or don't have time for.

And let's be honest.  No human person can live up to Girl. Girl can crush your soul.  

Free yourself from the shackles of Girl and wear lipstick if you want to.  Or not if you don't.