Growing up in Australia in a time when fad diets and homophobia were all the rage, for me, the 90’s and early 00’s meant crash diets and sneaking off to Sydney to make out with girls on the weekend. I hid my sexuality and forced myself to have relationships with men to appease society, I went on every diet imaginable to try and fit into what diet culture had convinced us was the ‘ideal body’.
I hated myself for a good portion of my teens and early 20s. I slipped into and out of depression, anxiety and eating disorder spirals, all because I was trying to change myself so that I fit someone else’s ideal.
A few weeks ago, I was asked in an interview: “As a proud fat lesbian, do you believe that your body positivity, sexuality and in turn your gender expression are intrinsically linked?” I hadn’t really thought about this connection.
In my mind, sexuality and being fat have a lot of similarities: they are both aspects of an individual that are vastly outside of their control, they can often be tied to a deep sense of shame and self-loathing and they are both personal attributes that society views as being their business when it has absolutely nothing to do with anyone. (Thanks, society.)
Being gay in Australia hasn’t been fun; surviving the fight for marriage equality and the sheer torture that was the postal vote was a real highlight. Despite the undercurrent of homophobia present throughout Australia, I managed to find my chosen family, and through them and moving to Melbourne, I became and out and proud lesbian. Why wouldn’t I be proud? I was born this way.
I was born fat too, but society hasn’t caught up with that one yet.
In thinking about the question from my interview, I realised my gender expression is the crucial link between my sexuality and my body positivity.
If you were going to label me, I am a femme, and for a long time I clung to that label. Fitting into a heteronormative ‘femme’ role made being gay more palatable and my want to conform was reflected by my wardrobe. In an effort to fit into the femme role, I wore nothing but rockabilly dresses, make up and heels for a solid two years.
I baked, I cleaned, I entertained, I was a Stepford wife on steroids. On the outside, I was exactly what society thought a feminine lesbian should be. I was also miserable and I hated my body, but you couldn’t really see that. I hid my rolls under petticoats, my self-consciousness under layers of makeup and my need to be loved by others distracted me from the fact that I didn’t love myself.
I was super girly, super gay and super fucking miserable.
My body positivity journey started about 18 months ago, long after I embraced my sexuality, because while it’s no longer socially acceptable to discriminate against someone because of their sexuality, if they’re fat… go for it. They did this to themselves, they’re unhealthy, you have to save them from themselves, being fat is a choice!
See the irony?
Living in Melbourne, where self-expression is encouraged and gender fluidity in the queer community is becoming the norm, I have found a new found sense of self. While I am a cisgender lesbian, I take so much inspiration from my non-binary siblings as they live their lives as their true selves, unashamed and uninhibited. The likes of Ruby Allegra and A Bear Named Troy give me life and all of the inspiration I need to embrace every aspect of my gender expression.
I’m now at a point in my life where I say “fuck society” – I love my body and I’ll wear what I like. This is a concept that many people find hard to comprehend, and sometimes, offensive.
You’re a size 18 and you’re not trying to lose weight? Wait, what?
That’s right, bitch.
I love myself just the way I am, and this newly found self-love has helped me embrace my gender expression completely. I’m still feminine. I love wearing makeup and dressing up, but at the same time, I no longer feel the weight of society forcing me to look a certain way.
I wear jeans in public, I leave the house without makeup on and I publicly and unabashedly embrace my stronger more ‘masculine’ traits. I am not demure, I am not dainty, I am strong, physically, mentally and emotionally. I take up space and I will not apologise for that.
Australia is still years behind the likes of America and the UK when it comes to body positivity, fat activism, and LGBTIQ rights. However, I have been lucky enough to have both surrounded myself with a chosen family who love and support me, and found it deep within my thick and juicy thighs to love myself for the fat lesbian that I am, despite society constantly telling me that the two aspects of myself that I hold most dear are unnatural and basically make me the devil.
Sexuality and body-positivity are only really intertwined in the sense that, if you listen to society, you’ll start to believe that there’s something wrong with you, when actually, you’re perfect just the way you are.
Why cover up your light when you were born to shine?
Lacey-Jade Christie is based in Melbourne, Australia and is the host of the Australian Body Positivity Podcast The Fat Collective. @laceyjadechristie.
Aroma therapy: The smell of my vagina helped me overcome shame & love sex
Changing the story of living with HIV
Sam Stoich Image Essay: Shot in the Dark
Archer Asks: Kelli Jean Drinkwater, director of Nothing to Lose
Trans women in sports: End the discrimination now
Fat femmes to the front: Pushing back on false representation
Queer body horror: On the grotesque dysmorphia of self