When I think of how being fat has affected my career in media, I think of when I was at university, taking the first reporting and camera course. We were partnered up for our different story projects in this class. For one of my final projects, I was partnered with a friend, Christine. She and I lugged the heavy equipment from various buildings and flights of stairs. The light kit, the tripod and the camera with two batteries was easily 50 pounds and more. She made a comment that made me realize something that would haunt me and push me at the same time: “I kinda miss working with the guys, ‘cos they always carried this stuff for us girls.”
I had no idea what she was referring to. Apparently (and I checked), the boys who worked would carry the heavy equipment for all the girls in the class and open doors for them, but not once did they do the same for me. It occurred to me that this was the first real smack in the face of reality that looks are 99% of it and that rarely is that 1% given a care. That 1% of professionalism, passion and drive to get the project done is all in the spirit of teamwork.
It wasn’t like the boys were rude to me – they never made comments that I was unattractive, fat, anything like that. In all fairness, they probably didn’t realize they were doing it. But it was a cold hard truth that I was fat and the other girls weren’t. Some wore makeup, some didn’t. Some wore tight clothing, others didn’t. I easily wore the baggiest clothes because I wanted to see the rolled up fat that surrounded my whole body less than anyone else.
My immediate response to Christine’s comment was to hide my face and push back tears, then after a few beats say, “Well, I never had such help. I am an independent, capable person just like I am sure you are. So quit your whining and pick up the 30 pound camera bag so we can get this story done and get our A.”
And we did get an A. We did get our story on the university student-run show (which I became the producer of by the following year). My weight will change for the better for health reasons; I may have a few more eyes on me and boys trying to impress me by lugging the equipment. It might not happen but I do hope it will, because once they take notice of this fit girl, I will not abuse it, I will not let it make me any lazier. For one thing will stay the same: my professionalism, my drive, my passion to do what I love to do. I will always be that 1%.
Tara works in media production and is currently living her dream of traveling, telling stories and continues to be a television and film aficionado. Follow her on twitter @tara_jabbari and read her travel experiences on her blog: tarajabbari.wordpress.com, her videos from around the globe can be found on youtube.com/user/mstarajabbari