As a thin, conventionally attractive woman, there’s no denying that society affords me privileges that aren’t extended to everyone. I’ve always been aware of this to some extent, but I’ve never truly grasped just how difficult life can be for people who don’t have the looks or body type our culture idealizes. That’s why I recently decided to spend a day in a fat suit in order to understand what it’s like to be your mom.
You may think that this sounds like a gimmick, but please know that I embarked on this experiment only hoping for greater insight and empathy. I wanted to feel the way your mom feels when she steps on a scale and it says “To be continued.” I wanted to experience the same embarrassment she experiences when measuring her waistline with an odometer, or having to rent a U-Haul in order to get carryout. In wearing the fat suit, I was wearing the stigma that burdens your mom every single day. And I quickly learned that it wasn’t easy.
From the moment I put on the fat suit, it became clear that your mom’s life was way more challenging than I ever could’ve imagined. You can’t sit down without first checking for innocent bystanders. You can’t roll over in bed without getting your passport stamped. You can’t even take a selfie without using Google Maps. Little mundane tasks and actions suddenly become tremendous ordeals, and yet, for your mom, that’s just reality.
I wanted to feel the way your mom feels when she steps on a scale and it says “To be continued.”
Things got even harder once I left the house. Walking a mile in your mom’s shoes means so much more than destroying millions of dollars worth of asphalt and infrastructure. It means having poachers constantly trying to kill you for your tusks. It means walking into a restaurant and seeing a sign that says “MAXIMUM OCCUPANCY: 100 PEOPLE OR YOUR MOM.” It means leaving your home in a raincoat and having everyone shout “Taxi!”
After just a few minutes outside, I desperately wanted to take the fat suit off and return to my normal life. It was crushing to think that your mom doesn’t have this option, that 24/7, 365, she has no choice but to get by in a world where hot dog carts are constantly following her like baby ducks. While I could happily go back to my life of thin privilege, she would have to continue going to SeaWorld to take baths and continue having small objects orbit around her wherever she goes. And that’s not fair.
After all, who cares that she has to iron her pants on the driveway? Who cares that her blood type is nougat? Who cares that she orders her Ubers honey-glazed? She’s a human being just like everyone else, regardless of the fact that if you search her name on Wikipedia you get redirected to “Neptune.”
To feel what your mom goes through and to experience the cruel judgment of strangers and livestock appraisers that she faces every single day was incredibly eye-opening. It left as huge of an impression on me as your mom leaves on the Richter scale, and it made me realize that everybody—skinny people and land-dwelling super-mammals alike—is equally deserving of happiness and respect. Period.