Seeing as it’s the end of September, I’m a little bit late with this post, but hey! It’s still September! The month of back to school! The month where the masses, with their brand new binders and pens and notebooks, reluctantly start waking up early and dragging their overtired but willing-to-learn asses to school for another semester.
The first day of classes are never easy for anyone. It’s always a big adjustment. Figuring out where to park, figuring out which building each class is in, silently critiquing your professors, scoping out your classmates to see if there’s anyone friendly looking. Just sitting through four to five professors going through their class syllabus alone should count as a test grade!
But for the fat girl (or fat people at all!) there’s another issue. Those horrible. Menacing. Unforgiving. Chair desks. I have nightmares about these things. The thought of them makes me cringe.
You see, for most schools, it’s the easiest way to cram a ton of seats into a small room. You don’t have to worry about keeping the desks separate from the chairs, they’re small and unobtrusive, you can fit many of them into a small space. How convenient!
Until, of course, someone with an ass like mine walks in. Then it quickly becomes a game of ‘Let’s see which classroom will have seats that fit Amber this semester’.
I find it humorous in the worst sort of way, that at the end of every class syllabus at my school, there’s a note about accommodating disabilities, and if you have any problems that you think would prevent you from learning, to please contact ‘*name of person*’ at ‘*phone extension*’. There’s some kind of facade about equal opportunity learning, and yet bam! One size fits all desks.
I cannot fit into the majority of these desks. My belly simply won’t allow for it. In far too many classes, I’ve had no choice. I have to squeeze myself in, looking obviously uncomfortable, to the point where I have to restrict my breathing and my ass is hanging halfway off the seat. It’s not pleasant, and frankly, it’s embarrassing. What makes it worse is that I’m left handed, and the desks are ALWAYS right handed desks. I’m fairly comfortable with my size, but, although I’ve accepted that there are certain places that I just won’t fit, I really hate that my classes have to be one of those places. It’s nearly impossible to learn to my full capacity when during the entire class, my belly is aching from being squished, and I’m getting sharp pains in my butt from having to rest all my weight on one side of my body. In a very real way, it impairs my education.
I know that the obvious thing to do is to call up whoever handles the accommodations for disabilities, and make them fix the problem. But there’s a few reasons that I’m hesitant at the least to do this.
- Doing this would perpetuate the stigma that fat is a disability. It’s not. Desks are made to fit people, people are not meant to fit desks. There should be a wide range of desks in every classroom. I’ve seen people who are too small to fit into these desks as well. I’m sure they feel just as uncomfortable in class as I do.
- Being that fat isn’t a disability, my request could easily be denied. Yes, the law protects disabled students, but since I’m not disabled, I run the risk of being laughed out of the office, with the message of ‘lose some weight fatty’. OOGAH BOOGAH BY HELPING YOU WE’D BE PROMOTING OBESITY!
- I’ve heard too many horror stories. Both online and off, I’ve heard of fat people who’ve had to stand during classes (how are you supposed to take notes?!) fat people who’ve been forced to drop the class since they couldn’t fit in the seats, fat people who got the smug looks and the comments and the ridicule. Frankly, it’s scared me out of saying anything.
- I’m embarrassed. Yes, me, the vision of self-esteem. I hate to even admit this. But to me, somehow it’s admitting defeat in a way I can’t even really describe.
To my particular school’s credit, this semester they’ve added one free-standing desk/chair to each of the classrooms of the building I have 3 out of 4 of my on-campus classes in. And so far, I’ve managed to snag this one desk/chair combo every time. But what happens if I come in late and someone else already took it? Why is there only one? There should be at least three, in my ever so humble opinion.
At some point, I’m going to have to pluck up the courage to bring this problem to my school’s attention. It’s one of those situations where if no one complains, it’s obviously not going to change. It’s just a matter of. . .getting there.
Suggestions on how to approach this would be most helpful!