Screen shots, gif sets, and fan fiction of My Mad Fat Diary have been flooding the body positive blog-o-sphere since the series began. For those who don’t know, My Mad Fat Diary (MMFD) is about a girl, named Rae, who is trying to deal with being plus size, having mental health issues and all the other traumas of being a teenager in the 1990s. The series has become widely appreciated and praised, with nearly every fat blogger on tumblr admitting to balling their beautiful eyes out for every episode they watched.
I was scared shitless to watch MMFD. There is a teenage, insecure, mentally unstable, fat girl inside me that I was terrified to address directly. I was afraid that watching a character have similar experiences as I did, would make my embarrassing memories and insecure feelings resurface. (This is what we call a “trigger”.)
These feelings are the product of living in a world with body shaming and thin privilege. The reality is, I can’t even bring myself to watch a television show that deals with the honest feelings of living in a body like mine because society has trained me to ignore all signs of weakness. As Rae says, in the first episode, “I have body dysmorphia without the dysmorphic.” Living in a plus size body that exists in a world which caters towards “straight” sizing (women’s 00-12), means being constantly reminded that needing a larger dress is an error, and there are only two or three stores in your local mall that can help you hide your error.
I grew up in the 90s and early 2000’s, and I remember a time before safe havens like Tumblr: when the internet was just born, and websites like Xanga and Myspace taught you how to hide your “extra” chin and body rolls with special camera angles. Before the internet (or the quick popularity of it), a world which had any style or acceptance catering towards fat bodies wasn’t available. We had to deny our own body to “pass” for a smaller one. Or, even, pretend to be more “normal” in the head, so our “abnormal” bodies could be just an exception from our charm. I remember saying to friends, while I was a teen, “I have to be a sweet girl. The second I’m mean or hold my ground, I’m going to be called a fat bitch.” With this thinking and pressure from society to fit in or “pass”, I was taught to keep my mouth shut and smile.
If you are like me, you need a safe place to get to know your body as beautiful—without anyone telling you it would be better off only half its size. Once it was available to me, I turned to the newer section of the internet; where I can follow tags on tumblr like “fatshion” and forget that straight-sized fashion even exists. I’ve taught myself, through body positive safe spaces on the web, to pretend that there is a world which accepts and loves my body—along with all other body types. I often forget that the real world isn’t as accepting or understand of bodies that do not fit into straight sizing. I was petrified that MMFD might remind me of all the hardships that my body, and bodies like mine, have tried to ignore and overcome.
The hard truth is that we haven’t overcome them (at least, I haven’t.) I’ve only suppressed the feeling of rejection from the straight-sized majority. I am confident because I ignore the symbolic isolation. I forget that I shop in special stores and pay twice as much for the same clothing styles. I don’t care when I have to order online because that’s the only way I’ll fit into something trendy that every other fat girl hasn’t bought yet. And, I let it slip my mind that I’ll always stand out, regardless of how little makeup I wear or how bland my clothing is.
I had to watch MMFD because it’s important to learn to love my body instead of learning to merely accept it. It’s imperative that I don’t shame or oppress myself the same way the world has done to me. It’s always scary to stare your insecurities in the face, but as the cliché goes (and what my buddy, Kelly Clarkson, is always singing to us), “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Ingrid (a.k.a. lilgrrrlcreep)
Editor In Chief