Dear Sally, my name is Kate and I am a fat girl – my letter to Now Mag editor on body shaming

For the first time ever, women this year dominated the New Years Honours list. What a bloody great week to be a woman; a week where women’s contributions to society are recognised and celebrated so publicly. And what a bloody awful month to be a fat girl, according to Now Magazine.

You may well have seen Now Magazine’s front cover from one of their December issues. If you haven’t, here it is, but be warned, it’s not good at all. In fact, it’s downright repulsive. I was in two minds about whether or not to post this, because I wasn’t sure I wanted my struggles with my size to be splashed across the internet, but hey, we all know I’m made up of wobbly bits and bad hair, so there’s no point trying to pretend I’m not! So, here is my letter – with a trigger warning for body shaming – to Now Magazine’s editor, Sally Eyden, on why the only thing that’s shocking is her magazine’s body shaming and why I am going to eat an extra bar of chocolate tonight:

“Dear Sally,

My name is Kate and I am a fat girl. Actually, I am a thin girl, but I pretend to be fat because I enjoy being ridiculed and mocked by magazines like yours with front covers like the one from your December 10th issue. The one where you presented 21 “shocking bodies which would make me feel normal”. Only, they didn’t make me feel normal. They made me feel utterly hideous.

You see, Sally, I’m rarely proud of my body. Some days, I love my body; days where I get a new dress and I put on some heels and I look at myself in the mirror and think “Wow” are my favourite kind of days. Most days, I hate my body; days where every lump and bump is magnified, and I change outfits just before I leave the house (because I’ve talked myself out of wearing something in case my thighs look too big in it) are becoming more and more common, mostly because my thighs just keep growing and growing!

My feelings towards my body haven’t come from nowhere. They’ve come from horrible boyfriends and girlfriends and awful family members telling how fat and ugly I am, hell, even strangers on the internet have joined in. Have you ever been called a whale by someone you didn’t even know existed, Sally? How many times have you logged on the internet to find people picking you apart based on how big the gap between your thighs is? Do you know what makes it worse? The fact that comments like that appeared on a news article of something really bloody positive that I did, when I went and got myself elected to my city council at the age of 18. Why don’t you take a look at some of the comments on the article yourself?

You see, I’m trying to learn to love my body, Sally. I know in my head that my worth as a person, my ability to do the things I love, isn’t reliant on my weight or my waistline. I can write pretty well, and I read every Harry Potter book the same day I bought it, and I like to spend afternoons serving lunch to the elderly residents in my ward who don’t have any family, and I know that none of that has anything to do with the fact that I’d choose Kentucky Fried Chicken over grilled chicken, or full fat Coca-Cola over it’s diet alternative.

But it’s so hard to love my body when I’m faced with multiple reasons why I shouldn’t – and 21 of those are probably in your magazine . I’m not a size 10. I have a wobbly tummy, wobbly thighs, probably even wobbly arms (but I cover them up so I don’t have to look). I have veins and stretch marks all over my body, because when I feel sad about not having the perfect body you say I should, I shovel even more food down my gob to make me feel better about not having the perfect body you say I should.

I wonder what you’d think of me, Sally. I’d like to think that if I met me, I’d get on with me. But I’m one of those women your magazine would probably refer to as “curvy” – which is the cringe-inducing equivalent of being referred to as “bubbly”. Or better still, you might refer to me as a “real woman” which, yes, I am, because, well, I exist and I identify as a woman. I have some great friends, who think I’m funny and intelligent and caring because, well, I am. And yet I’m judged by, and often ridiculed for, the way I look and the size clothes I wear, so quite often, people don’t really care about what’s underneath the plus-size dresses. I’ve lost count of the amount of nights I’ve sat in pubs, watching my thinner, more attractive friends being chatted up and not being given a second glance. Suddenly, I’m not funny and intelligent and caring anymore; I’m just the fat friend.

I’m lucky to have met someone who appreciates me for who I am, and loves me despite my flaws (and probably because of them, because with a plus-size waist comes plus-size breasts – haha!). But he hasn’t come before a string of destructive and hurtful comments from previous relationships which have left me hating my body – “well, you’re beautiful on the inside“.

I don’t want that for my young nieces. I want them to grow up loving themselves, and loving all of themselves, every characteristic, every freckle and every imperfection. I don’t want them growing up swallowing the revolting trash that you’ve displayed on the front cover of your magazine – and don’t worry, it’s not just your magazine which is printing trashy stuff like this, they are all at it. In short, Sally, I never want them to believe they aren’t beautiful because they aren’t perfect.

I’ve tried all sorts of diets over my teenage years. Just the other day, I was considering starving myself for two days a week, just so that I could drop a couple of dress sizes. And for what? To lose a few pounds? To be hungry? To be unhappy? Instead of teaching women to fit into this abhorrent media ideal, why not use your influence to teach women to love themselves, whatever their size, whatever they may look like? How about I trade your 21 shocking bodies for 21 shocking body-shaming articles from your magazine and why they’re wrong, just for starters?

It’s not me, with my huge thighs and my flabby tummy, that’s ugly. It’s shaming women’s bodies because they might have huge thighs and a flabby tummy which is ugly. So, in your honour, Sally, tonight I am going to eat an extra big bar of chocolate. Because hey, my shocking body deserves it!

Love,
Kate”

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17 thoughts on “Dear Sally, my name is Kate and I am a fat girl – my letter to Now Mag editor on body shaming

  1. Well, aren’t you a pleasant human being? How about, instead of me having to be a certain shape or size to avoid being insulted (which, by the way, you wouldn’t do to someone based on the colour of their skin or the colour of their hair), people like you stop insulting people who are anything more than a size 10?

  2. Well said I’m a big girl and Im fed up with being told I should be skinny . I agree with what you said and I wish more people could stick up and fight the system. We all the same on the inside. X

  3. I’m not big (and that’s hard for me to type because I don’t believe it), I’m a size 10. In consideration, I’m probably one of those girls Now wanted to make ‘feel normal’.
    Instead, articles like that force you to look at the lumps and bumps of other people, as well as, now, the ribcages of those who dieted to avoid the bumps.
    All that does is make you turn the spotlight on your own lumps and bumps – even if they’re smaller ones. They make you obsess until you feel like you could be one of the shocking bodies.
    Thank you for sending that, not just for the bigger girls, but for the smaller ones, and for the ones in the middle.

  4. OMG!!! I love this completely and utterly! There are so many people in the same boat as you and I am one of them, I have tried everything! And even considered starving myself, I have researched pro-Ana websites to see how they do it to become skinny!! I look in the mirror some days and I’m absolutely ashamed of what I see, and think how can my fiance love me like this, he must think I’m as disgusting as I see myself. And then the way I try and numb that pain if those thoughts I grab a mcdonalds and everything else that tastes good hoping it will disguise how I feel. And it’s a vicious circle because I then feel guilty for eating the bad foods! And the reason I am made to feel like this is because of years and years of abuse from my mum and ‘friends’ and men who think it’s acceptable to treat you like shit!
    I love you for this letter, you have done what thousands of women haven’t got the guts to do. So thank you!

  5. I completely agree that the media demonises women’s bodies and body shaming is atrocious, but don’t you think that by saying things like, “So, in your honour, Sally, tonight I am going to eat an extra big bar of chocolate” is just shifting the blame for your bad habits? That kind of binge eating is just as dangerous and damaging to your body as anorexia and bulimia…I’ve battled my own demons for years but have come to realise after a long time that it’s not about how other people see me but about how I see myself. I think we should be promoting a greater understanding of a healthy lifestyle instead of pandering to the people who think that it’s acceptable to eat whatever they like and then blame everyone else for the result. Of course it’s awful that you feel horrendous but the magazine was also showing women who should really gain a little weight; I’m not saying at all that i believe this article is in any way beneficial but I think it’s important to appreciate that often it is our own responsibility to be healthy and if you’re not willing to look after yourself, then how can you expect others to sympathise with your plight? I truly hope you find a way to love and respect your body but eating an extra large bar of chocolate to yourself just to spite a magazine editor seems a bit ridiculous…

  6. Hi Alix. Firstly, the chocolate comment was a flippant one, and isn’t about “eating a bar of chocolate just spit a magazine editor”. Secondly, I don’t blame anybody for the fact that I’m not thin. I make the decision to eat, and I’m the one who makes the decision what to eat and when to eat it. What I do blame other people for, mostly within toxic relationships, is the idea that I’m somehow worth less as a person because I’m not thin. I don’t expect anyone to “sympathise with my plight” insofar as “feel sorry for her, she eats because she’s fat and she’s fat because she eats”, but what I do expect is for people to recognise that it’s fuck all to do with them what I eat or how I look, and for anyone apart from me to tell me how I should look is just not on.

  7. I would love to accept my body for what it is. I’ve been what I call thin (size 12 at 5’10”) and loathed it more than the size 16 I am now. I’m always told I’m pretty so why am I so worried. Coming from a size 24, I should be happy with where I’ve got but I’m not. Can’t ever see that point in my life. It’s pretty sad.

  8. As a size 6 model I am always being pressured into being a a size smaller and to lose an inch on my waist (which is 24″). I don’t like seeing my photo plastered on these sorts of magazines or pro Ana websites (I’ve dealt with Ana myself because of modeling) All these photos are edited so heavily it’s not funny anymore. Young girls are being taught that having a huge thigh gap and tiny waists when that’s not right! Good on you for doing this! Well said! (Ps. I had maccies for tea tonight so what can I say?)

  9. Fantastic letter and think you are absolutely spot on! What is particularly sad is it reflects our wider interests and attitudes – Now magazine is a business and so will only print features and covers like this because there is an interest among their audience – mainly women. I think the change partly needs to come from women ourselves, to stop buying the magazines and change our attitudes towards body – but of course this is sub-consciously woven into all aspects of our culture today. Also what I would add is the cover is not just an attack on those who are deemed ‘fat’, but other bodies for being too bony etc or the wrong shape – the issue is not just about society judging larger women, but the fact that we are so obsessed with other bodies and feel it is appropriate (and are interested in) to publicly comment.

    Also – have you seen this week’s edition? http://www.nowmagazine.co.uk/ “Screw the diet” – we just can’t win!

    I cover lots of similar issues on my my blog thesocialpoint.wordpress.com and it would be great if you’d let me feature your letter in the next post – please let me know if interested:)

  10. I don’t care what size you are; people of all shapes and sizes should have been disgusted by that magazine cover. Unfortunately most people are so desensitised to it all now that if anything, they probably thought “oh wow, what a positive thing, putting celebs with bellies on the cover!”
    I live for the day one of those magazines has a front cover about something other than how a celebrity looks in a bikini.
    Also you write very well and I will be back. Nice to meet you!

  11. By including images of ‘royal rib cages,’ that article not only illustrates society’s hate campaign against larger ladies, but also how there can be no acceptable norm for the female body. I can also see my rib cage when in the same posture as the photograph used, and I consider myself to be generally very healthy. Unfortunately the media will always be able to capitalise upon women’s insecurities- and so will never change their tune.

  12. Pingback: One of UK’s youngest councillors hits out at magazine’s body-shaming cover…and is then invited to meet editor | The Social Point

  13. Pingback: Over to you, Sally… | Does My Blog Look Big In This?

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