I have spent most of my life desperately trying to take up less space. I’ve stayed quiet, gone to public spaces during times they’d have the least amount of people, worn dull colors. My entire life goal is to draw the least amount of attention to myself in an attempt to have people forget I exist. There have been more than a few times in which I’ve actually had some success in that department – I’ve scared a few folks while we were around camp fires because I moved and they didn’t notice at first and I’ve regularly surprised people because they didn’t hear me enter a room. On more than one occasion, people have forgotten that they were giving me a ride home. That’s right – while in the same car, people have forgotten about me.
I strive towards this invisibility because I know just how little space I am to occupy in public as a fat person. I aim for anonymity in so many spaces because I know what happens when I am visible in any way. I know that being visible online as a woman, as a fat person, as a queer person, as anything that is labeled as ‘other’ brings a litany of hate and trolling.
I’ve faced some of that hatred and vitriol from time to time online but my obscurity and general insignificance means those times are few and far between. Those who are more visible than I face a whole lot more on a much more regular basis – like when Leslie Jones had to take a break from Twitter after Ghostbusters because of the near constant trolling or how someone used Lindy West’s deceased father’s identity to troll her. Some of the conversation that Heben and Tracy had with Jonny Sun on a recent episode of Buzzfeed’s Another Round dealt with being a visible person of color on the internet.
Taking up less space has been a desperate attempt to build up walls to protect myself from the world. There’s so much hate and misunderstanding that if you don’t have thick skin to deal with it all, it’s easier to try and shrink down. But that is a lonely way to go. It’s more than just not existing online – it also means just shying away from the world in general.
I hope one day that I can be a bit more fearless and that the world is filled with a little less hate. That second hope might just be a pipe dream but there’s still a part of me that dreams of a better world.