The statements in this column were collected by HuffPost Québec and crafted into a first-person narrative.
As told to Céline Gobert, HuffPost Québec.
My name is Sonia Tremblay and I fight every day for the inclusion of marginalized bodies in society.
A marginalized body is one that does not meet society’s typical standards of beauty. For example, black women, the physically disabled and fat people are considered marginalized bodies. It feels to me like the biggest taboo is against fat people.
I’m a size 16-18, or XXL if you will. Even today, clothing chains don’t have (or have very little) space for sizes 16 and above. And when they do, the clothes are displayed out of the way — on the top floor, in the basement, at the back of the store.
It’s like these stores are afraid that people will associate them with fat people and won’t want to come in themselves — even though online, plus-size clothing is selling like wild.
Out Of Place
I have always been chubbier than others, even as a kid. And I’ve felt uncomfortable for years with the fact that there were no models or actresses or anyone in the public space who looked like me.
I always felt out of place because of my body. In the 1980s, there were no fat people on TV or in magazines, and when you’re a teenager, you need models. It’s getting better now, but there’s still very little in the way of positive examples.
I’ve had situations where I’ve told a man I’m not interested in him, only to have him take “revenge” by telling me I’m fat and that I should consider myself lucky that he even looked at me.
So it’s for today’s young girls and teens that I’m speaking up to say: You can be fat and feel good about yourself.
A Mountain Of Prejudices
Two months ago, I pulled a muscle in my ribs doing my regular weightlifting workout. When I saw my doctor and explained what happened, she said, “Ah, you’re practicing Aquafit?” followed by, “Do you mean Zumba classes?” At no time did she even consider that I could just be working out, pure and simple.
Societal prejudices against fat people are everywhere: People think that we are lazy and unhealthy, that we’re unmotivated, that we are a burden to society, that we don’t have sex. I can only speak for me, but my health is fantastic, and I assure you, my sex life is great!
Now I’m campaigning for the inclusion of all body types in Quebec society. There’s a political aspect to this body positive campaign too. How is it, for example, that people with disabilities still lack ramps to get where they need to go? Why are there people of color struggling to find jobs?
Above all, I advocate for love and self-acceptance. The best way to integrate into society is to start by loving yourself.
It Starts With Visibility
Fat people need to be more visible in the media space. The movement was started in 1996 in California, but in Quebec and other parts of the world, we are just beginning to talk about it. We need to clarify certain things: Body positivity doesn’t mean, “Let’s all be fat!” It means that people should be exactly as we want to be.
After a difficult breakup, I lost a massive amount of weight, about 100 pounds over two years. I stayed thin for two or three years and I have never been unhappier. Can you guess why? I did it for the wrong reasons!
It was the darkest period of my life. Until then, I had thought that I would be happier if I were thin.
The fact is, this is my body, this is my metabolism. When I was thin, I didn’t recognize myself anymore. Even worse, I felt less beautiful, more dull, like I had lost everything that made me special and charismatic. I looked like everyone else.
The Good Side Of Instagram
People blame social networks for a lot of evils, but it’s thanks to social media that girls today can find models with whom they identify, as well as resources and visibility. My goal is to help them as much as possible.
I receive so many messages. You cannot imagine what people confide in me. The other day, a 35-year-old woman proudly announced that this summer, for the first time, she was going to wear tank tops and not long sleeves, because I had helped give her that confidence.
I have a message for readers: No matter what you decide to do with your body, it’s your choice.
Do not do anything based on standards or to please the people around you. Do things for yourself, because that’s what you want.
And be happy.