Written by KockyFatBitch, a Fattitude Intern
I want to tell you a story. Well to you it will be a story, but to me it’s my life. Obviously it is the life of many as it is a $500 thousand industry for Nev Schulman with his hit movie and TV series of the same name, Catfish. I guess I should start by introducing myself. Hi, my name is Kairo and I am a casualty of fat-shaming. It’s been five years since I have “cat-fished” anyone. As much as I hope that managed to bring you a chuckle or two, I am serious about those words. I know superficially looking at the title and this beginning statement I’m sure it is and can be construed as an excuse. Simply put: I pretended to be someone I wasn’t because I was led to believe that who I was on the outside was not worth adoring. I am amazingly fat. I am deliciously dark. I am all things little princesses should desire to be, I am strong. During your childhood, for the most part, you are unaware of how cruel the world can be to anyone it perceives as different. You have no problem throwing on the red rain boots with the purple shorts and yellow princess shirt. At home I was perfect, but in the outside world that was a whole other story.
At a young age I was always reminded that I was fat. The neighbor’s kids and I would reenact music videos of our favorite R&B girl group at the time, Xscape, and I would always be the plus sized sister LaTocha. She had the best voice of the entire group so I was okay with that. Even in elementary I took note to the fact that the smaller girls had the little boys’ attention while I didn’t. From inappropriate neighborhood games such as ‘catch-a-girl-get-a-girl’ to the age of computer love via Yahoo Messenger, I was told that I was not just fat, but ugly. I was ugly because I was fat. After being fat-shamed out of using my real pictures for my avatar via yahoo chat I heavily relied on the cartoon renditions you could design yourself. There was, at the time (14+ years ago), no way to plump the avatar up to match your body type. All were slim or chiseled with perky breast or rock hard abs.
In creating my avatar, I found myself drawn to the idea to make her the exact opposite of my physical characteristics. She was thin with very light brown skin. I thought she was really cute. As cute as she was, she wasn’t me so she needed a name. Her name was Seyla. In an effort to be more specific, her name was Seyla Mataya Williams to be exact.
Her first encounter was innocent enough nonetheless. A quick “A/S/L” private message popped up outside of the R&B chat room. After answering truthfully divulging that I was only 17, a female, and a resident of Memphis, TN I was asked to send a picture. My avatar was this cute little light skin chick with brown eyes. There was no way I was sending this dude my actual picture for him to call me an “ugly fat bitch” and quickly close the chat before I could have a conversation to even prove my worth. Please note this was before the discovery of me. I was lost and still searching for the only acceptance I needed, my own. So to avoid any negative feelings that day I searched for a picture of someone that I thought he would, the world would, consider cute. I used the pictures of a classmate of mine who I found to be attractive. She had a small waist, flat stomach, moderate hips with a suitable ass and perky breast. She was Seyla.
Right-clicking and saving her picture, I quickly changed the title to reflect that day’s date and time to make it as if I had just taken the picture. Send. I held my breath awaiting his response. I just knew that somehow he was going to know that I was lying. Somehow he was going to call my bluff. “Damn! You’re sexy as fuck,” was his reply with a boatload of smiley faces. For once in my 17 years of existence I had been validated. I was “sexy as fuck” because I was Seyla, well in spirit anyways. From that point I collected as many of her online pictures I could get my chubby fingers on. I created elaborate stories and made a life that I figured only a skinny person could live, an exciting one. Every chat room visited ended with me having over 30 plus private messages flooding my screen because I was pretending to be this small framed and fair skinned teen. I had never experienced that much positive attention ever. It was a high that I couldn’t get enough of at the time. In order to keep my secret safe I would never let the private messages conversations go too far.
After chatting with this guy all day almost everyday for two years eventually I fell for him and he fell for the image I was pretending to be. He was crazy about me, he loved me which brought me to the age old question: did he love me because I was beautiful, or was I beautiful because he loved me? I had to find out so three years later I decided to reveal myself. It was one of the most emotional and invigorating experiences of my life. We cried together that day. He was hurt from being deceived. I was hurt because he was hurt. After talking about why for about a hour he ensured me that he had fallen for me and not the picture he thought was me. Not every cat-fish situation goes this far or has this result. My experience was just one stepping stone in my journey of self-love.
Have you ever been fat-shamed into doing something you later regretted? What are your experiences with fat-shaming?
*This blog post is the opinion of a particular Fattitude intern – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.