When I was younger, I was acutely aware that I was different to
everyone else (doesn't every teenager have this experience?)
Sometimes this was a good thing, sometimes a bad thing,
nevertheless, I've felt the effects of this into adulthood and
these differences have made me who I am today.
When I was younger, I was big, not only was I big, but I was
beginning to realise that I was gay. I remember being constantly
plagued by "fluffy" adjectives; you know the ones - they're used to
make light of a bad thing.
My weight issue was buried in language and I became blanketed
with "optimistic" words such as: "cuddly", "plump" and "squidgy".
The phrase "but you have such a pretty face" often accompanied
these. Looking back now, it's laughable how these words affected
me, but at the time I resorted to hiding away in over-sized clothes
and munching on a chocolate digestive - constructive, huh?
So, there was no escaping that I was large and it wasn't just my
weight issues that I had to contend with. By now I'd also realised
that I was a lesbian, therefore, my mental baggage was equally as
large as the physical and I was struggling with knowing how to cope
being part of two stigmatised communities.
Firstly, I tried to deal with the "being gay" segment; I tried
to get myself a boyfriend. Upon asking someone out I was met with
negativity: "Sorry, I don't date fat girls" being their preferred
response. Ouch. That certainly hurt my feelings. Over time, I
eventually succeeded in getting a boyfriend, but, quite frankly, it
was shit. I wasn't myself.
Getting a boyfriend clearly wasn't going to work, so I tried to
be true to myself and get a girlfriend - to my surprise, I
succeeded. However, this was an issue (for other people) in itself.
She was large too. I remember we were walking through our local
town centre holding hands when I noticed two guys looking at us,
immediately I became tense; I knew what was going to happen. As
soon as we were within earshot they began: "Look at the Big Fat
Dykes! They clearly can't get boyfriends, dykes"! Harsh, but in my
head it was true. I was a BFD. Although, looking back, it seems
absurd that those ape-like boys having a pop offended me.
Needless to say, I soon had a complex about
everything and adopted the "fun-fat girl" attitude.
I used humour to hide my angst, and that seemed to work. I bobbed
along like this for a while; internally I was constantly thinking
about and fighting with my BFD status, but externally all of the
comments washed over me - like water off a dyke's back.
For years the pretence was exactly that, it was pretend, but I
began to notice something… the comments, looks, gestures, they
weren't bothering me anymore. Without even realising it, I'd become
happy with myself.
I owe a lot to my mum and my girlfriend - they helped me learn
to love myself. In spite of all the bullying over the years, I'm
happy. Although I've lost weight, I'm still not "tiny" but my
figure doesn't bother me as much as it used to - my girlfriend
seems to love it anyway. Being part of two stigmatised communities
doesn't upset or anger me any more, it empowers me - I'm proud to
be a part of the BFD Brigade, and if you're a Big Fat Dyke, you
should be too.
Recommended reading: Bevin Branlandingham is a
Queer Fat Femme artist and community leader, her blog queerfatfemme.com chronicles
her "relentless pursuit of life".