After several years of fantasising about being discriminated against on the basis of thinness rather than fatness, I finally crafted the following: a stranger stops me for the fifteen millionth time at the shops and tells me that I should be a model, simply because I'm so tall (strangers never seem to get that you need more than just height to be a model). For once, I listen, and go to a plus-sized modelling agency. They reject me because I'm too thin.
I know that's a bit pathetic, but that's body image for you. Mine was pretty bad for quite a long time, and I find it hard to believe that at least any of the female readers can say with perfect honesty that they've never harboured any sort of daydream about some physical trait or another - being thinner, having bigger boobs, longer legs, better hair. I didn't carry the weight all that badly, because of my height - the below is a photo of me at about the age of 21, and the skirt in that picture is a 16, but it was snug, and I always buy skirts a size too small - but I was never, ever happy with myself.
Fast forward seven years (did I break a mirror, perhaps?), to the Myers at Marion shopping centre. Today I went looking for winter clothes in the sales, in preparation for an upcoming holiday in the Northern winter. The line at the changeroom on the right hand side of the store was a mile long; there was not a soul in the plus sized section. So I moseyed on over there, and smiled nicely at the (appropriately plus-sized) girl, and asked if she minded whether I used the changeroom. She said "you're not really big enough to use it; I shouldn't let you but I will" to which I replied "I used to be big enough". She said "oh, okay, well I'll definitely let you use it then". I get into the changeroom, close the door, and think "hang on a sec, what the hell just happened there???"
After all these years of hoping to be subjected to skinny discrimination - or, as I like to call it, dis-skinny-ation - it has finally happened. Where is the smug feeling I had hoped for? Where is the elation? It is nowhere. I am nothing but angry and disgusted. How dare she imply that I wasn't welcome??! How dare she make me feel like I was in the wrong place??! When I was overweight, nobody ever made me feel like I shouldn't be using the "normal" changerooms, so where does this mole get off implying that I, now being "normal-sized", shouldn't be using the plus-sized changrooms??? She made me feel like a lesser person for finally, after all these years, taking control of my life, and choosing a healthier lifestyle. I feel so much better as a size 12, not just because I feel more attractive, but also because I actually feel fitter and healthier. Why should I be made to feel bad for taking such a positive and empowering step?
Oh, and it gets better. While I was in the change rooms, two or three others decided they wanted to try on clothes, so she made a very loud song and dance about going to unlock the other changerooms, right outside my door; the wording made it clear that she was having a go at me. What a bitch.
So here I am now, as a size 12. I'm still no supermodel, but I look and feel better than I ever have before, which is saying a lot given that before, I didn't know I had a heart condition! Note the juxtaposition to the elephant - I'm nowhere NEAR elephant-sized, and that one's only a baby! Yahoo! :)
So you can stick it, Myer Changeroom Lady. Make the thinner people feel awful if that's what keeps you warm at night. But while you have that attitude, while you feel the need to exclude others in order to make you feel better about yourself, you will only rule a tiny little domain - about 20m by 10m in size filled with severely over-priced and not particularly flattering clothing - and not your own life. Oh yes, I can judge you, because I was bigger. I know what it's like to be stuck inside a body you hate. I know what it's like to have people look with pity or even disgust at you, say nasty things like "lose some weight" or "move out the way, you fat bitch" and have motherly salesladies try and coax you into something more flattering (invariably something that would suit your mother better than yourself). I know what it's like to order the large Big Mac meal with a dessert and watch the person behind the counter glance at your physique and wonder why you do it to yourself. It really is self-perpetuating, because there is no immediately apparent change caused by eating a small Big Mac meal instead of a large one. It takes time, and it takes exercise, and it takes a whole lifestyle and attitude overhaul. But you know what? I also know what it's like to climb out from the body you're stuck in, and make it what you want it to be. And that's where I can get my smug feeling, my elation. I didn't need someone dis-skinny-ating against me to make me feel smug or elated, after all. I now realise that comes from inside myself, and I'll be damned if I'll ever let that feeling go.