[TW fat-hatred, weightism]
I’ve often heard people ask, “what is it about large women’s and/or muscular women’s bodies that scares people so much?” And I think the answer is a pretty straightforward one when you boil it down to the bare essentials.
Women aren’t supposed to take up space, metaphorically or physically. Any woman can tell you about a time when they’ve been in a public space (on a bus, plane, park bench, restaurant) and found themselves retracting their limbs and minimizing themselves (frequently to their own discomfort) in order to make room for others – usually men (who rarely think twice about splaying their legs out, taking both armrests, reaching over the top of the bench you’re both sitting on, etc).
Further, women are constantly bombarded with media that tell us to be thin, to be small, to be diminutive. In our culture, femininity is patented pocket-sized. Thus, large/big/fat/strong women are inherently radical, because their very experience is constantly denied by our oppressive, fat-hating society. In the face of weight loss “cures,” exercise regimes, advertisements, newspapers, television, and movies hurling normative (and impossible) standards of beauty at us every minute of every day, loving your body - your beautiful, amazing, lovely body - becomes a radical act.
Fat/large/strong/big women challenge patriarchy by their very existence. And I think there is something totally awesome about that.
Drawing by Heather Keith Freeman of Fire Sea Studios.