I saw Mathilda Gregory’s How to be Fat in Edinburgh this weekend. I follow her on Twitter and I was intrigued as a fellow fattie. Her show explores her relationship with her body and so it felt relevant to the running blog I am also doing.
Her performance style is very candid and warm and I recognise a lot of what she has to say, but it quickly becomes clear that her relationship with food is totally different to mine – isn’t everyone’s? I am not an over-eater (though sometimes I am a secret eater). I don’t crave food in fact I don’t think about food very much at all. I don’t care or like food enough to plan it properly so I often end up not eating proper meals at all, or eating cereal (it feels guilt free and I always have it in the house). I do like snack foods though. A lot.
When Mathilda talks about the indignity of listening to slim people* obsessively discuss the weight they need to lose (in order to not be like us), leaving us literally feeling like the elephant in the room, it is a gut punch. Yes! This.
What really gets me is when she starts talking about how we are told to love our curves but we all secretly know that that does not include the curve of our protruding belly. This is when I start to weep… Also this. I’ve spent so long wrestling with the idea that I am supposed to be happy with and love myself while being bombarded with information that tells me no-one else will while I look like this.
I’m not sure that Mathilda has said anything wildly revelatory (and I wonder what a thin person would get out of seeing the show) but I felt comforted hearing another fat woman voice my feelings. To say all the things I can’t say to my friends because they don’t want to hear me call myself fat, for a start**. I felt less alone. After I saw this show I did talk to a friend about it and she said she would never describe me as fat. She would say I was “short with big boobs”, which I am, but I don’t think her reluctance is because I am not fat. I think it is because she likes me, so she doesn’t want to think of me in a way that we are programmed to think of as negative.
Mathilda seems to be saying that fat is just what she is. She seems to be trying to be comfortable with it and I commend her. I’m not quite there yet, I don’t know how to be fat yet, which is another reason why I am openly using the term now.
* I don’t believe this is their intention.
** There is a culture of silence around being a fat person. I’ve talked a little about that here.