“How Are You A Fat Vegetarian??” – An Essay

It’s no secret that plus size bodies are constantly policed and the focal point of public banter. Unfortunately, we have all witnessed it, especially towards public figures who are in larger bodies. Commenters often bypass general common decency and respect, resorting to boldly leaving disparaging remarks on stranger’s social media posts alleging that a fat person simply existing is the glorification of obesity. How absurd. Showing off an outfit? Dancing in the rain? Talking about a passion or hobby you enjoy? According to the “Fat Police” you are actively recruiting people to join you in the fat brigade by “normalizing” a body that society deems unacceptable, undesirable, and grotesque.

Then of course, there’s the issue of labeling a fat person as “bold” or “revolutionary” for doing the same things straight size people can do with impunity such as eating in public or wearing shorts and bathing suits. From unsolicited health advice from Google certified dieticians and physicians to actual doctors pinpointing all health concerns to fatness, this list of grievances is about as long as I-95.

The reality is someone’s body size is not an automatic indicator of their health or abilities. In fact, one of my favorite examples to debunk the egregiousness of this belief, is a comparison between my best friend and me. Looking at the two of us, it is obvious that I am plus size, and she is not. According to the internet health professionals that have an astounding photographic ability to diagnose ailments, she is healthy and disease free. While I, on the other hand, must be ridden with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and all the other “fat” diseases. The truth is, I have none of these issues. My best friend however, who is skinny, battles several of these health conditions and has for most of her adult life.  

There is a misconception that fat people are overweight because we are lazy and refuse to participate in any physical activity beyond walking to and from the refrigerator except to indulge in piss poor dietary decisions. All of which are untrue…. we get in physical activity from the s*x too! 

However, even when a fat person decides to “take charge” of their health; the taunting and scrutiny doesn’t stop. The unsolicited advice continues, backhanded compliments ensue, and people still find a way to minimize efforts. Back in February, at one of our work sites, they announced that lunch was available for the staff. As I watched my teammates devour the DMV gloriousness that is WaWa, one of them asked me if I was going to eat. I replied, “No, I’m vegetarian. I can’t have any of this.”  With a face full of shock and hysterical laughter, his reply was what I’ve heard so many times before. “Oh. You’re vegetarian?” followed by “But you probably go to Burger King and get the largest fry and a large Diet Coke.” I wish I could say that this was an anomaly or isolated occurrence but that is simply untrue in my experience. 

 Sadly, almost a year into this vegetarian lifestyle, the response is the same nearly every single time. People look at me in dismay that I, a fat, make health conscious food choices. SHOCKER. While I miss bacon more than anything in this world, I became vegetarian (again….I was in 2014/2015) because I absolutely hated how I felt after eating meat, and felt this was the best decision for me to help combat some of the weight gained during the Panny. However, I’m still fat. Not quite as fat as I was 10.5 months ago, but just the same, I am still very much so visibly fat. I’m very aware of how people perceive this information.

About the 6- or 7-month mark, I found myself immediately going into an explanation to avoid the awkward silence that came after this reveal and to circumvent the bombarding questions with the lingering question on everyone’s mind: How you a fat vegetarian? I wonder the same, to be honest. However, racing to offer an explanation didn’t last long, because I quickly remembered that I do not owe any one justification on what happens with my body or the things that go in it. 

One truth that seems to boggle the minds of many people, is that individuals in plus size bodies can and do lead both healthy and active lifestyles. There are athletes, fitness gurus, yoga instructors and dance teachers alike all donning plus bodies and absolutely dominating in their respective fields. But how? The short answer is, we just do. The long answer is, our bodies are complex vessels that maneuvers, processes and functions differently from person to person. There is no tell-tale sign of what a person can and can not do just by looking at them. Moreover, there isn’t a particular way a person should look based on their dietary choices. We all know someone who consumes nothing but “junk” food without an ounce of water and still presents as a straight size person. Funny how that works, isn’t it? 

Long story short…mind your own bodies and do what you feel is best for you. Whether I was on day one of my vegetarian lifestyle or on day 754 and still fat, in the words of our favorite vegan Auntie Tabitha Brown, “That’s my business!”