A Fat Body and a Fat Mind: On Taking Up Space, Unapologetically

I read this essay and immediately shared it on Twitter. Lately, I have tried to reclaim my body after years of being ashamed of it. I still remember those times people took my name and said, “Fat-Fat-Fatima.” The more I branched out, the more the teasing increased. One time, the vice principal at my elementary school gave me a Participaction Fitness wheel, the kind telling me how much activity would burn off certain foods. Guess it beat dealing with the guys doing the teasing.

When this essay came along, I felt thankful somebody else in high school will not have to go through diets or deprivation. They will not look back at their school pictures and say “hey, I was not bad.” These girls, and guys, will have the tools to take a look at a narrative square in the eye and call bullshit on it.


Carmen Maria Machado?s stunning essay in Guernica on the power of women who take up space is an important read for people of any size. Midway through the piece, she describes what happens to self-perception when you live in a world where there’s little representation of your physical self, and what representation there is is mocking or shaming.

Every day, I look for myself in other women’s bodies. This is what happens when you never see yourself in television shows or catalogues or movies—you get hungry. In passersby, I seek out a faithful replica of my own full chest: my plastic-bag stomach pooched over jeans, my milk-carton hips, and my face with its peach-pit cheekbones set in coffee grounds. In this way, I see myself in pieces, mostly, and have to assemble my body in my mind.

It isn’t like my mother and the woman buying the peppers; I’m…

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