“Liberation Starts From Within” -Fat Pandora
Whoever follows Colombian fashion influencer Fat Pandora on social media, probably thinks she was born a liberated woman -spectacularly comfortable in her own skin. The truth, however, is that behind her impeccable style and colorful Instagram feed, there’s a tough road traveled, worthy of admiration.
Adriana Convers, the creator of Fat Pandora, shared with Mindful Feminism her story of liberation.
“I grew up fighting against my weight. I was always the biggest, and the tallest, I had a lot of issues with my body because there are no fat people in my family, and I always had internal struggles trying to satisfy my parents’ wishes for me to be skinny”. Family confrontation was especially hard for Adriana “my dad used to criticize fat people when I was young. I have this memory of when I was a child, of him seeing a fat woman on the street and saying ‘why do people destroy themselves like that?’, without knowing it, his message was very hurtful. My mother, on the other hand, would sign me up for tons of fitness classes, which made me hate all of that.”
At 26, after going through bulimia as a teenager, and trying “all possible diets,” she turned to surgery and decided to get the gastric sleeve, a procedure designed to reduce the size of the stomach.
This changed her life forever. “Before the operation, I was fat but healthy, the only reason I got surgery was to satisfy my need to be skinny.” Her mental and physical well-being brutally deteriorated, “I lost 30 kilos in 5 months, I got hypothyroidism and resistance to insulin, I was terribly unbalanced”, she had to start taking a lot of medications to sustain the effects of the surgery. “I became hysterical, I would count calories, and weigh myself before going to the bathroom. There was a moment where I was looking at myself in the mirror, skinny, with bags under my eyes, my hair was shedding, and I felt horrible. I thought, 'I’m at my ideal weight, but I’m unhappy, I hate myself, I hate the world, people don’t tolerate me because I’m unbearable, I’m not me.’"
That was rock bottom for Adriana. She decided to stop taking the medications that were keeping her thin, and she rapidly began to gain weight. “In the next couple of years I became fatter than I was before getting surgery and that was really hard on me. I had to go to a psychiatrist, forgive myself, and learn to throw away food. It was a weird rebirth, a process of learning and unlearning, but today with all the kilos I have on me, I feel a prettier woman, more sure of myself than when I was 40 kilos lighter.”
Adriana created her blog Fat Pandora with the intention of showing other women that size is not a reason to stop living or enjoying fashion, and wow, she achieved that. She’s become an influence and an example of self-love for women of all sizes in Latin America. Aside from being a successful fashion editor at a renown Colombian magazine, with her flawless style, Adriana has accomplished things that would be a dream to anyone in the fashion industry. She’s been in front of the lens of legendary photographer Mario Testino, and has graced the pages of the popular fashion blog Man Repeller.
She's a pioneer for the plus size world in Latin America. Seven years ago, when Adriana began to talk about this topic in Colombia, the matter was unheard of. Getting beautiful clothes for plus size women was a huge struggle, and although it's become better, there’s still a long way to go. “There has to be a double change in mentality. From plus size buyers, that think they can only wear black or dark clothes to pass by unperceived, —because ‘fat people can’t stand out’— and from manufacturers, that frequently think fat women are all older ladies with a bunch of children and not young women below their 30s wanting to be on trend. It’s a problem on both ends.”
Towards the end of the conversation, Adriana wanted to make something clear: “This has been a very tough healing process, and I don’t glorify obesity. I don’t tell anyone that it’s better to be fat than slim. In this world, that's a huge lie. It's better to be thin because of how others treat you or the opportunities that come along, I’m not going to deny that, but your body is only a part of you, and it doesn’t have to define you. Let’s not beat ourselves up, let’s love ourselves as we are, and if they call us fat, dude that’s not an insult, it’s a characteristic of yours, just that”.
*This interview has been edited & condensed for clarity.
3 BELIEFS WOMEN NEED LIBERATION FROM ASAP
By Adriana Convers
1. Marriage and motherhood define us.
2. Others have a say over our bodies.
3. Women are each other’s competition.