Real Women Have Back Fat

Real women have back fat. Real women also don't have an ounce of back fat. Real women, in fact, have all kinds of curves and wrinkles and pockets and lines. Every single body is different and has its own flaws and perfections, the result of a complex play of socioeconomic factors, heredity, health issues, lifestyle choices and a myriad of combinations of those factors. Women, just like men, come in every imaginable shape and size.

While none of this is big news, the thing that has me worked up at the moment is the double standard when it comes to weight and gender. Women get fat-shamed for the slightest bulge, pudge or cosmetic imperfection, while men get beer commercials and sitcoms. It's not only accepted, but expected that men get beer bellies or man boobs. Go on, big fella, get you one of those big, fat juicy burgers and down that with a few pints of ale. Ladies, here is your lettuce and Smart Water. And you need to get on a juice cleanse next week, because that extra three pounds you put on over the holidays is beginning to show.

After losing half my body weight, I somehow thought that life would get easier. Somehow, I thought that all of this would be easier. But as it turns out, it's harder. It's more frustrating and far more painful living in this body than it ever was living in my 300-pound one.

When I weighed 300 pounds, it was easy to look in the mirror and say, "Okay, this is not going to be everyone's cup of tea." It was easy to slide into a size 30 set of knit separates and understand why I wasn't getting asked out or getting my drinks bought for me or having to field advances. That was easy. It sucked, but it was easy.

Losing the weight doesn't necessarily fix anything. And losing that much weight doesn't necessarily land you in a bikini body, either. I have back fat. I will probably always have back fat. I don't have the money to undergo a full plastic surgery reconstruction and I'm not sure I'm vain enough to undergo such a procedure if I did. So at the moment, this is me. This is my body. This is my back fat. And this is my arm fat, and waist fat and butt fat.

(Photo Credit: Rebecca Brown)

I had a friend recently tell me, when I was going through a particularly tough time, that I needed to stop going out with attractive men, because guys like that won't ever love a girl with back fat. They might in private and behind closed doors, but not publicly.

I have not been able to shake those words. I can't shake them because they are true. She's right. Now, don't go getting all, "I know lots of men who like back fat," "Guys don't really care," "If you are beautiful on the inside, it doesn't matter,", etc. Those statements are true as well, to an extent. But in most cases, those are the exception to the rule, or are comments coming from partners who connected before the baby weight or slowed metabolism set in. So, let's just quit the bullshit and talk honestly and frankly for a second.

A single girl with back fat is going to have a harder time dating. Period. End of story. That is just the truth. She's going to have a harder time because we have all been programmed to think that only conventionally beautiful women are deserving of love and desire. We are told that and shown that every single day of our lives.

There are a myriad of Hollywood movies and TV shows where the leading man is fat, but the wife or girlfriend is smoking hot. There is no flip side to that. The fat girl, ugly girl or nerdy girl never gets the guy unless, of course, a team of experts transforms her and she emerges stunning. Then, and only then, is she worthy of him falling in love with her.

The only slight exception to this that I am aware of is "The Mindy Project," but even then the whole show's premise is really about her struggling with her own body image. I'm glad it's out there and I celebrate her, but I wish it were more about how funny and kickass she is, and less about her size. And let's also keep in mind that at a size 10, she is hardly in the BMI range of her male TV counterparts like Kevin James or Jim Belushi.


Just yesterday morning, both of these posts came up in my Facebook newsfeed:

(The "She" is Kirstie Alley)

Those aren't from celebrity gossip sites or some tabloid. Those are people I know. That is the voice of the human collective consciousness. And do you know what that does to me? Do you understand or comprehend how completely that destroys me? And I can't help but wonder how many of you it destroys as well.

It makes me feel like everything I went through -- all of the struggle, all of the emotional turmoil, all of the restrictive eating, all of the miles of walking, all of the times I made my ass go to the gym, all of the days on and off the scale -- were for nothing. I went through all of it only to make things 10 times harder on myself.

It's 10 times harder now than when I weighed 300 pounds because when I look in the mirror now, I see a stunning girl. I see a beautiful, strong woman who has worked her ass off. Not just on my physical self, but my entire self. I wielded swords and fought demons. I faced truths and fears and pain and found a way to let it all go.

I learned to love myself. I learned to honestly love my reflection. I learned to love my hair and my clothes. I remembered how to play with makeup and how to wear high heels. I look in my mirror today and I see the most stunningly beautiful version of myself that I have ever seen. And none of this takes into account my contributions to this planet or my accomplishments as an artist, businessperson and human being.

When I look in the mirror, I love the woman who looks back at me. So, it utterly destroys me to know that in spite of everything I have achieved, something as trivial as the little lines on my back makes me undesirable and unlovable to the general population.

It makes me want to never open myself up again to anyone. It makes me lose faith in love altogether. And it makes me lose faith in humanity. It makes me feel like everything around me is nothing more than a farce.

At the end of the day, art and literature and culture and intelligence and wit and strength and ethic are all just bullshit, because what it all boils down to really is nothing more than superficiality. Get as smart and successful as you want, but in terms of your love life, if you aren't beautiful, then all of the rest of it is a waste.

Even at my prettiest, I'm just not pretty enough. And even if I was vain enough or rich enough, all the surgeries in the world aren't going to make me stereotypically beautiful. That's just not the genetics I was born with. And to add insult to injury, it makes me feel like a failure that I even care. It makes me feel like a humongous hypocrite, because all of this superficial shit goes against everything I want to project or be in this life.

You see articles and hear names like Kevin James, John Goodman, Chris Farley or Jack Black and you'll hear words to describe them like funny, brilliant, smart, and successful. You hear names like Kathy Bates, Rosie O'Donnell, Roseanne, Kirstie Alley, Melissa McCarthy or Adele and you'll probably hear those same descriptions, but you will also hear fat, fat, fat, used to be fat, then got re-fat. It sucks. And I don't know how to fix it.

I don't know that I can fix it, but I can write this blog and that might reach some people. Maybe this will connect with another woman out there who can't understand why other people don't see the beautiful creature she sees looking back at her in the mirror. Maybe just her knowing that I understand will help. I know that if I get one note back telling me that someone feels the same way, it will help me.

Maybe I will make one person stop and think for a second before they write that body-shaming post. Or maybe putting this out there will start something bigger and begin to turn the tide of that collective consciousness. That is my ultimate hope.

Yes, real women have back fat. I am living proof and as much as it hurts and as hard as it is, I'm not going to give up hope and I am not going to change my perception of myself in the mirror. I love my back fat. I think it's soft and quite beautiful and maybe not in my lifetime, but hopefully one day, everyone else in the world will, too.

Epiblog: A place for paying it forward and supporting artists, entrepreneurs and people who inspire me. I hope you find some inspiration here too.

This week's epiblog goes out to Mindy Kaling. It's not perfect, but it's a start! "The Mindy Project" is great for binge-watching. Her wit and humor is undeniable. Go check out her other work as well.


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