Arturo Arcos is a 31 year old psycho-gerontologist from Mexico. He loves to talk about aging related subjects, pop culture, body image and RuPaul’s Drag Race.
You can follow him on Instagram but if you really want to make him happy, please subscribe to his Facebook page: TO AGE BETTER, where he talks about everything related to aging, old age and the elderly.
Loving myself. It took a while.
Now, I feel free enough to be who I am and dress and act how I damn please; but the freer I am, the more I hear those dreaded words: “You are so brave”.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that those who say it really admire my confidence and use the phrase as a compliment. But, whenever people refer to me as “brave”, the floating idea behind it is really “if I looked like you I wouldn’t dare to be proud of myself”. Therefore, even when they complement me about my self-confidence, they still think I’m fat and ugly.
Now, I am fat and I feel no shame about it. But since being fat is still a social stigma, being called brave for wearing bright colours or (gasp!) showing some skin, perpetuates the idea that fat people who are proud of their bodies are anomalies that should be treated like animals in a zoo: watched with curiosity but still considered odd.
I mean, you wouldn’t call a guy with perfect abs and 2% body fat “brave” for being shirtless on the beach. No, they have great bodies so it’s natural for them to show it off. Us, the fat and flabby, should be covered and hidden away from any kind of social interaction, until we lose some weight, god dammit!
And that’s precisely the reason why loved ones, and even strangers, rush to tell us how “inspired” they feel about our self-confidence or (even worse) about us not giving a f*%! because they base their opinions of us on that reductive stereotype of beauty and desire.
By perpetuating the stereotype that fat people are anomalies, they also keep alive the idea of fat people being lazy. When they think about fat people, they imagine baggy clothes, bad body smell, Doritos stained fingers and zero sense of style. And these outdated views are the reason why people are so shocked by a bigger person being stylish and self-confident. It simply goes against everything they already believe about fat people.
So, when you think about it, being called “brave” for making an effort is, actually, pretty insulting. And it doesn’t help to erase all the forms of discrimination we encounter day by day. We are just a curiosity, an exception in a society where there’s still a norm to follow.
And when I say “they” I mean people of every shape and size, because the idea is so ingrained that even bigger guys and girls believe it and it limits the ways they dare to express themselves. You can see in their eyes that they so desperately want to be free, but they just can’t, the stereotype is rooted deeply.
I acknowledge that what I’ve said could come off as aggressive to some people, especially to those who use the term “brave” as a compliment and really admire people who dare to be themselves no matter how thin, fat, short or tall they may be. But only because you might have good intentions, it doesn’t mean that I should meekly accept whatever you throw my way. So thanks for the ‘compliment’, but I prefer not to ever hear it again.
Instead, expand your mind and accept that some fat people are comfortable in their own bodies and want to flaunt them. That’s a change I could truly appreciate.
So, let me tell you this once and for all: my body is not a political statement. I don’t dress how I dress to show the world that fat people can be stylish and cool; I do it because this is how I like to dress. I know it may be hard to believe, but my personal appearance has nothing to do with you.
I’m not here to be brave, bold or inspiring. I’m just here to be me. And even though it took a while to appreciate myself, I would never think of being anyone else, big belly and all.