If you’re a plus size/curvy/fat woman, daring to exist in the public eye, you’re going to come in for some hate. Sometimes it’s really obvious: the other day, my friend had a group of men lean out of their car’s windows and start oinking at her. Other times it’s more indirect, like getting the side-eye from shop assistants when you ask for a size 16, or realising that someone’s muttering under their breath when you order a full fat latte.
But then, there’s the internet.
Ah, the internet! Home of multitudes of anonymous folks just dying to put their opinions out into the world. Sadly, it is therefore a daily occurrence that women of all sorts, but particularly bigger women, get trolled for being audacious enough to exist outside standard beauty parameters.
And so it was that I woke up on Monday morning and was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came across a comment from someone I haven’t seen on there before: a guy in his early 20s, who really, REALLY, loves gym selfies. He’d found my post about designing my summer swimsuit for this year, hashtagged with #beachbodyready, and decided that the best thing to do was advise me that my body was disgusting to him and I should eat less cake.
Yeah. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t that surprised or upset: this is the kind of thing that happens every day to women like me. But it sort of amused me, if for nothing other than the fact that I really, really love cake, and I really, really feel great in my swimsuits, so he was missing the mark in a few places.
Now in many ways the best thing you can do with a troll is just ignore them, because they want upset and drama, and by depriving them of it, they get bored and move on. But there’s actually something even better that can come out of it: HUNDREDS OF LADIES (and the occasional man) EATING CAKE!
For that is what happened. I mentioned this incident on the photo of my awesome green striped Colette Moneta maxi , and as a laugh, hashtagged it with #CakeWithCashmerette. A little while later, Mary took a photo of herself eating delicious cake while reading my blog posts with the hashtag… and then it exploded! A lady cake-eating explosion! At last check there were over 150 photos in support on Instagram, and just an overwhelming tide of support and positivity and public cake eating. I was/am so, so touched.
Not only did it re-confirm my immense sense of unity and belonging with the sewing blogosphere but it was also a definitive UP YOURS to fat-shaming, body-policing anonymous people out there.
Bigger women deserve to eat whatever they’re hungry for just as much as smaller women. No food is inherently unhealthy (except poisonous things!), as my nutritionist pointed out to me many, many times as I was learning how to do Intuitive Eating. Food isn’t moral, and neither is fat. Beyond that, you can tell virtually nothing about what someone eats based on what they look like. “It’s just calories in/calories out” was debunked very many years ago, and my personal experience with tons of skinny friends who eat junk food every day and tons of bigger friends who eat mostly vegetables and work out regularly is proof enough for me.
But even if you *could* tell someone’s health and eating habits from looking at them, so what? My health is mine. It doesn’t affect anyone else. I’m not obliged to disclose my medical records to any random person who expressed fake concern about my health based on my appearance. And nor do I exist to be sexually appealing to you.
So to all my #CakeWithCashmerette friends: thank you. What could have been a nasty little dip in my day turned out to be a day full of laughs, joy and cake. Lots, and lots, of cake (and ice cream, and cookies, and brittle – you guys are inventive!). And thank you troll for giving us such a delicious day! Maybe next time instead of taking a gym selfie you could enjoy some lovely cake. I suspect you’d be a bit happier, and a bit less hateful.
If you’re interested in reading more about how sewing helped change my body image, check this out.
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