It’s been an intense year for me. My move to a new country has been a bumpy ride. In some ways, it’s been so much less traumatic than I feared it would be. I’ve made connections with some really amazing people and transitioning my long-distance relationship into real-time, daily life has been downright idyllic. In other ways, however, it’s been unexpectedly difficult.
Living in a city of 8 MILLION vs. a city of 600,000 is humbling. No one who hasn’t made a move like this in their life can really grasp the magnitude of the difference. The only city in the States that’s London’s size is New York. The next most populated city is less than half the size and the drop-off is steeper still from there. No matter how empowered and fierce I thought I was coming in here, life in London is DIFFERENT, and life as a *FAT GIRL* in London is TOUGH.
If Fat Hate were zombies, Portland would be the occasional half-witted, slow-moving, comic zombie that you can take out with a golf club and London would be screaming hoards of sharp-toothed, fleet-footed, superzombies in SWAT Team helmets that JUST. KEEP. COMING. It’s a relentless daily barrage of death glares, shitty comments, unrepentant staring and physical jostling. I gotta tell you, it’s been kicking my ass.
For people who have lived here all their lives and who have developed an emotional toolset to deal with it, I probably seem like a big babyhead because they can’t imagine what it’s like to live somewhere where your daily experience isn’t peppered with asshole after asshole. And for people who haven’t lived anywhere where your daily experience *is* peppered with asshole after asshole, I probably seem like I’m blowing it out of proportion. And, well, I’m not — not a babyhead and not exaggerating. This totally blows.
So that’s my long preamble. But what I really want to say is this:
I opened up my heart to friends on Facebook this week, telling them I was getting my ass kicked by daily harassment/abuse and asking for suggestions on how to cope. The stories that came out of that thread were nothing short of EPIC TALES of human strength and resilience. Not to mention crazy amounts of compassion, warmth and support. As each new person added to the thread today with their stories, being raw and vulnerable, talking about digging deep to find the strength to speak up in defense of themselves, or feeling ashamed when they couldn’t, or finding warmth and humor instead of rage, or grappling with themselves not to internalize shame, or finding little ways to resist that were purely for their own benefit, self-sufficient rebellion — I was just completely overcome with this HUGE FEELING. It was so big it took me a second to parse it out. And it turns out it was just plain old love.
But it was this wellspring. It was profound. It was this imagining of this Fat Fucking Army, where every second spent in the public eye is a battle on the front lines. And it was this deep pride at the sheer magnitude of strength it takes every single one of us to navigate this world on a daily basis. And it was this awe at the ability of so many of us to maintain enough idealism to be activists. And enough compassion to be loving human beings. It’s the middle fingers hidden in pockets, and the ‘crazy fat lady’ losing her shit in the food court when one jerk too many said the wrong thing, and the beautiful spirit that leans down and tells a staring child how exciting the world is because there are so many different kinds of people, and the tender heart that holds it in until the door is closed and then weeps, and the balled fist that just punched the bully on the playground because enough was enough, and the closed hand around the love note that someone wrote to their body so they can remember how beautiful they are when others try to tell them different. All these ways of fighting. All these ways of surviving. And it fucking SUCKS that you have to, that I have to, that WE have to. But we do. And oh, my lovely beings, my brave and beautiful comrades – you are amazing. My heart was full to bursting with you today. I just want you to know that. I see you. And all the ways that your struggles are unique. And all the ways that no one can know what you’re going through. And all the ways, still, that we are in this together. And I love you. I really, really do.