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I Declined To Appear On TV Because I Think I'm Too Fat

Why does a dress size hold so much power?

21/02/2017 3:00 PM AEDT | Updated 21/02/2017 3:01 PM AEDT
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The validity of a woman's voice can no longer be tied to the size of her thighs. 

I was recently asked to appear on television to discuss an article I had written about motherhood and feminism.

After much deliberation, I turned down the offer.

Why?

Because I decided I was too fat.

I gave up the opportunity to further develop my career, to discuss issues I am passionate about and to help send a message that was aiming to empower women, because I was worried that rather than focusing on my words, the audience would not be able to see past my double chin and tummy rolls.

I was not brave enough to take on the battle.

How often do women do this? How often are we throwing away opportunities because we are ashamed of the way we look? Is part of the reason we are held back professionally more about image than we realise? Are we, in fact, holding ourselves back, in fear of the judgment and disdain, before it even has the opportunity to present itself?

It's not at all surprising that this is the case.

Fat women are a mockery in our society. They are the hefty butt of jokes, they are seen as a sexual waste product and because they are seen to be of no value sexually, they are seen to be of no value at all. As such, their word is without value. Their voice is not heard, as we are so busy focusing on their too full bosom or their too tight clothes.

How could I have expected my own message to be taken seriously when I knew that before I had even spoken a word, people would have taken on board my appearance and immediately my impact would have been less powerful.

The subject matter I was being asked to discuss was already contentious and had resulted in some debate online. It would have been easy for the hosts or audience to paint me as the 'fat feminist' and dismiss me as nothing more than confirmation of a comedy that plays out consistently through film, television and online.

The fat chick. The angry feminist. A joke, to be judged, laughed at, and dismissed.

I was not brave enough to take on the battle.

We do not listen to the words a fat woman says. Instead, we focus on her weight and invest our energy into determining whether or not what she is wearing is appropriate for a woman of 'her size'. We make subtle insults, or conduct more obvious attacks. A woman speaking up within our society is already putting herself up for trial -- if that woman happens to be fat, she's already convicted; immediately found guilty without ever having had her chance to speak.

These are the messages we send to women. That we live within a society which values beauty above all else. We are taught to distrust that which is not thin and pretty. We learn that looking good is the marker of success and the determination of our value and worth.

Why does a dress size hold so much power?

When you look at the female media personalities in our country, you are going to struggle to find someone who is not thin and attractive. We learn from an early age that a women's worth is wound tightly to her weight. We value more strongly words which are delivered from a svelte figure than those from a woman who wears a size 18.

I do understand that being overweight is not, in most cases, healthy. I believe we should all be aspiring to improve our lifestyle choices in regards to diet and exercise so that we can be the best versions of ourselves.

But I also live in the real world. And the real world has curves.

Listening to women is challenging enough in our society. We can only just manage to find it palatable if the woman in question is attractive enough to be considered desirable.

I want to see big women with big voices making big decisions. That's going to have a big impact.

That needs to stop.

The validity of a woman's voice can no longer be tied to the size of her thighs.

Let's start seeing journalists and media personalities who defy the stereotype. Let's experience what it feels like to hear news read from a woman who is larger than the man who sits beside her. Let's have females debating political issues and providing financial advice and discussing music and entertainment without also requiring them to be able to fit into the children's sizes in a department store.

I want to see big women with big voices making big decisions. That's going to have a big impact.

If we can do that, then maybe the next time a TV show asks me to come and talk about the power of a woman's word, I will be brave enough to say yes.

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