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May 1, 2011 / tallulahspankhead

Someone Like Me

You’ve heard of Adele, right? She’s amazing. She has this incredible voice, and is number one all over the world. I’ve been trying to get over a man, recently (I know, I know, my namesake would have said ‘fuck him’ and find another, but what can you do?) and I have played this video over and over.

But there’s something you might not know about Adele. Did you know she’s fat? Or “fuller figured”*? The funny thing is, she doesn’t even look that big to me. But apparently I am wrong. No, really:

So what else is interesting about this British-born pop singer? Let me see. She has lovely auburn hair. She has a beautiful, pouty mouth. She has skin like a porcelain doll. She works a liquid eyeliner even better than Amy Winehouse. Anything else? Hmm, oh yes, she’s a little large-boned, isn’t she?

Aside from the liquid eyeliner part (too much drinking in the morning for those kinds of cosmetic shenanigans) , that could describe me, so I should be flattered, right? Like fuck.

Because, you see, if, as per the article, her size and shape are the least interesting things about her, why am I having to write a ranty, expletive-filled blog post about the body-policing of her? Why is she being treated like a nice armchair?

That’s fitted, not as in tight, mind you, but as in tailored to fit, describing the shape truthfully, but not making it bulge anywhere. It’s like good upholstery.

And why does the authour feel the need to give her the nicest backhanded compliment I have seen in weeks?

The one word that would define her approach is unapologetic. She doesn’t look great despite being big – it’s an essential part of it.

Look, lady, I don’t know anything about you. But let me give you some advice. We “bigger ladies” don’t need to be patronised to. We can dress ourselves perfectly well. We don’t need your “standard rules for larger-sized women”. Because I have lived in this body for a while now, and I can tell you what the rules are.

  1. Don’t be hot while fat
  2. Don’t look happy while fat.
  3. Don’t be badly-dressed while fat.

You see, the first two break all of society’s perceptions of what fat people are like. The third reinforces them. We can’t win, no matter how we dress.
All my life, I have heard an addendum to every compliment I have been given. “You’re beautiful”. For a fat girl. “Gosh, you get around the netball court well.” For a fat girl. “You’re quite good at that “. For a fat girl. “I love you”. Which is surprising, because you’re a fat girl.

And so, I did what fat people everywhere are taught to do. I hid. Usually with potato chips and diet coke. And when I went out, I hid behind acres of fabric, dark colours, and unflattering cuts. I didn’t talk about it. Two years ago, I couldn’t have written the paragraph above.

It’s been a long process, but that’s not who I am anymore. I wear clothes that fit, that flatter me. And even when they don’t, I say “fuck it. This is my body. It’s not changing anytime soon, so I may as well enjoy it for what it is.” I wear bright colours and red lipstick, high heels and short skirts. I am not ashamed of my body, so why are you ashamed on my behalf? I don’t know Adele, but I like to think maybe that’s how she is. “Mate, I am fucking awesome. Have you seen my record sales? Can I show you my Grammys? Why the fuck are we talking about my body?”

You’re right, Maggie Alderson, “Precious things come in big packages too. ” And small ones, and medium sized ones. And brown ones and white ones, and ones with big hands and hairy legs and grey hair. It’d be really nice, if just once, we could celebrate who a woman is, rather than what she weighs, and what she puts on her body.

* Just out of interest, does this mean slimmer women don’t have the full quota of figure? Are they half full, or half empty? Are you a body policing optimist?

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8 Comments

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  1. Isabel / May 1 2011 1:24 pm

    I think larger ladies are considered to be fuller of cream cakes than their slimmer counterparts.

  2. azlemed / May 4 2011 1:04 pm

    awesome post, up till 4 years ago I only wore black, now i wear any colour I like, I wear fitted clothing, I dress to suit my large bust and curvy hips, and fuck you if you dont like it, I wore opaque tights, short shorts and a singlet top to derby the other night, it was liberating. I like to look good, I am a size 18, and I am embracing it, I was a size 24 and have lost weight and had babies and my body aint perfect, but I like it….

    • tallulahspankhead / May 4 2011 3:40 pm

      How much has derby helped with that? Not the weight loss, just the teaching you about your body and showing you the amazing things you can do with it?

      • azlemed / May 4 2011 4:16 pm

        derby is helping a lot, its making me accepting of my shape and its working at toning up some muscles too. derby is an awesome place to belong if that makes sense, its the only group of women i have belonged to that I dont feel judged, I am supported and we all look after each other. even womens groups I have belonged to still had bitchiness about body shape/size/sexuality etc.

        the weight loss has been a very slow prossess, about 20kg since 2004. its more about eating smaller amounts and exercising more often, chasing 4 kids helps a wee bit 🙂

  3. tallulahspankhead / May 6 2011 7:33 am

    It’s amazing finding those people isn’t it. For me, it was a new group of friends, people who I never feel judged by. They’re the first people I’ve ever been with, that I have been able to just be me, without feeling the need to justify anything.

    And the funny thing about your body of course, is that once you accept it, and like it, so do other people.

    • Jackie Clark / May 8 2011 11:56 am

      The question about derby is interesting, Ms T, because I feel like that about going to the gym and walking etc. It has really helped me to connect to my body. I always liked my body – after all, why wouldn’t you? It gets me where I needed to go, and it houses me, who I am, so I have always been grateful to it, but I was disconnected from it. Now, my connection to my body makes me feel stronger and more powerful than I have in years. I like it, very much.

      • tallulahspankhead / May 9 2011 12:13 pm

        The reason I ask about derby is that a lot of women seem to find it who have never been sporty. Because it is an “alternative” sport, it attracts a lot of women who were never netballers or hockey players. So for a lot of them, it’s the first time in their lives they’ve found that connection.

        I grew up playing netball and basketball. I am too lazy now, and too easily injured to do much of either, but I do miss them a lot. Endorphins are wonderful things.

  4. azlemed / May 10 2011 8:47 pm

    I mever played team sports as a kid, was scared to being hit by a ball in the face due to a freak accident when I was 7, I aren’t currently able to afford a gym membership and it doesnt fit in well with having 4 kids under 8, Derby does work though, its in the evening when the kids are in bed, and I love the social aspect of it too, but one of the big things I have noticed is that the body acceptance is awesome, size is not an issue at all…

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