"People like to stare. Stare back." 10 life lessons from a fat woman.

Hello there. 

My name is Shannen and I'm fat. 

That isn't the opener to stories I usually lead with, but given why you're reading this, I'd say it's pretty fitting. 

You see, I have learnt many lessons from being fat. I've learnt things people probably wouldn't ever have to consider. I've made up rules in my head about how most people (but especially fat people) are meant to act and behave, simply because of these lessons. 

Watch: How to improve your daughter's body image. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

My whole world revolves around being fat. Admittedly, it can be an exhausting existence, but I think it has made me a little bit wise. 

But back to these so called lessons because honestly, I have quite a few. 

And I am willing to share them, because they show just how bloody good I am at like, learning from my mistakes or something like that. 

So here goes. 10 life lessons from a fat woman, written from me to me, but for you to snoop at: 

1. Your bronzer doesn't have to look like theirs does. You know that, right?

I've learnt many a skill from (admittedly, thin) beauty experts. I follow at least a few dozen across my socials, and I have come to understand that the reason my makeup doesn't look as good on me, as it does on them, is purely because I have a fat face. 

A light sweep of bronzer and contour isn't going to give me that drag queen definition I so deeply desire.

So instead I have deployed a new method: Put. It. Everywhere. 


2. Being beautiful is the least important thing about you.

When I was a teenager, being beautiful felt like the most important thing in the world. 

I've discovered it's not actually that essential when you've never really been considered the definition of 'traditionally beautiful' anyway.

It's nice to be pretty, but it's even nicer to just... not be. In my personal opinion, being objectively 'unattractive' is the key to being the most interesting person in the room. It forces your personality out in a big and, dare I say it, beautiful way. 

3. Walks are actually really really nice. 

For so long I lumped walks into the 'exercise' bucket - meaning it felt like a form of punishment, and not an activity that would *spark joy*. 

However, as it turns out, walks are pretty lovely. And they're 10 times better when you're walking with a dog, too. 

4. Do not, under any circumstances, listen to teenage boy's opinions about how bodies should look.

I'm sorry to everyone who may be raising good, kind sons but in all honesty, I don't know that many. 

Boys are like, really mean until they're about 17 and even then I like to ignore them until they're about 22, because that's when they become good people in my eyes. 

Don't ask me why, it's just science. 

That pre-22 time for me involved a lot of judgement, anti-cat-calls and straight up bullying, which is why I learnt to mute them and their wildly silly thoughts as quickly as possible.

5. Being fat doesn't mean you don't deserve respect.


A lot of people pretend they agree with this sentiment, but when push comes to shove, fat people still end up as the butt of the joke. Or ignored in a group setting. Or discounted as the main character in their own lives. Basically, some people like to treat fat people as if they weren't a person at all.

I learnt this lesson very quickly, and responded just as swiftly by saying to myself: 

DO NOT BE FRIENDS WITH THESE PEOPLE. They're not 'your' people. 

6. Sneakers. 

Just buy 'em and wear 'em. Because they've come to be pretty handy on a night out, when it's 2AM and I'm walking home from the club. Way more handy than a pair of heels. 


One time, a well-meaning friend told me my feet looked like stuffed hams when I wore a pair of particularly strappy heels. I never wore them again. In fact, I threw out every pair that I had bought to 'fit in with the trends' and only kept one that I truly liked. Which had a heel that was barely half an inch tall. 

...so, yeah. Just stick to the sneakers, Shannen. 

7. Sometimes s**t food is only good for the soul. And that's okay.

Buy the burger. You're not going to die. 

The most important lesson I've learned after having an incredibly complicated relationship with food is how unproductive guilt is. Feeling bad for eating an unhealthy meal doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't cancel out the fact you've had an unhealthy meal. Just eat it! And be thankful you had a meal to fill your belly at all. 

8. People like to stare. Stare back.

It happens all the time. People like to look. And look. Thirty seconds later and they're still looking. It's bizarre. It makes me feel icky inside. So I stare back. With a creepy smile on my face. They usually divert their eyes quickly and make you feel like you're crazy. 

But you're not crazy. It just means you've won the battle. 

9. Your love interest does indeed know what you look like.

In fact, they knew the moment they laid their eyes on you what you looked like. And no, it's not a crazy concept that they still wanted to keep looking and get to know you. 

If they didn't want to get to know you, they wouldn't have swiped right or approached you. So, go forth and be glorious in all your rolls and GET SOME. 

10. Judgement. It's going to come from everywhere and everyone.

I used to let the thoughts of others consume me. It kept me up at night. I wondered how I could be better, how I could make people feel proud of me. The classes I chose in high school depended on whether my mother approved or not. The endless diets I undertook were mostly so my aunties and uncles would stop telling me I'm getting 'bigger' every Christmas. 

I used to let people's judgement be my own internal compass. 

'If they think something is wrong with me, then maybe they are... right?' 

No. Wrong. 

Letting go of other's opinions is a slow, painful lesson. One I have to relearn almost every day. 

But it doesn't make it any less true when I say another person's judgement of me has absolutely nothing to do with me. It's the way they are hard-wired. Not me. I have no control over what another person thinks of me. 

So I do me. I let myself be whoever I want to be. Wear the weirdest clothes. Sing out loud. Be brave. Be the brightest light in the room.

Because honestly, it's just a much better way to live.

Feature Image: Supplied.