This lil post was inspired by reading a blog over on one of my favorite bits of internet, Captain Awkward. [Read Me First]
I’m a very obese woman. Every time I try to point this out as a matter of fact, my friends and family deflect with things like “oh, but you carry it so well!” or “you don’t even look that big!” or “it’s okay, you’ve got a pretty face!” Over time, I have absorbed these deflections into my internal dialogue regarding my weight. Every time I fail at eating healthy, I think “well at least I’m tall and carry this weight fairly well!” or sometimes I tell people “I’m bigger than you’d think to look at me <insert self-deprecating chuckle>!”
I have a lot of slender friends. Most of them shame themselves over their body whether they realize what they are doing or not. Tons of “I’m too fluffy for this bikini.” and “Ugh I need to lose weight before I can XYZ.” and “Oh my god I would rather die than get that big.” As mentioned in the Captain Awkward post, that last one is the one that REALLY gets me.
It’s not harmless, for example, if someone you know is looking at a fat person and says “I’d die before I let myself get like that” and the person looks like you (or better yet is much thinner than you) and you think “Does my friend think I should die?” and this is why this shit really and seriously Must. Be. Stopped.
I’m pretty sure my friends don’t think I should die. But I am also pretty sure, at the same time, that my body is their personal nightmare. Hell, most days, my body is MY personal nightmare. I’ve been struggling with my weight for 20 years. (And I am only 31.) I have said “if I ever get to <number> pounds, I am going to kill myself!” – but those benchmarks have come and gone, and I haven’t offed myself. I still haven’t given up on my eternal struggle.
Every time I meet up with a friend or family member, we do this bizarre mating ritual. Oh, have you lost weight?! You look great! That outfit is really slimming! I have to start working out, I am soooooooo fat! Ugh I can’t really fit in these jeans anymore. Like, omg, I can’t even finish because I am just soooooooo full. I can’t eat even one cookie, I’m on a diet. Oh okay, let’s eat 1000000 cookies because we’ll start our diet tomorrow…..
It’s exhausting and fake and depressing. I hate that sometimes the best news I have to tell someone is that I lost weight. That we must bond over our mutual self-hatred of our bodies. That being fat is the worst thing we could be, and we are somehow bad people because of it. Everything else in our lives pales in comparison to the fact that we are fat (whether we are actually fat or not!). This ritual happens with friends and family young and old, male and female. It takes different forms, sometimes, but the subtext of self-flagellation for acceptance is always running through every conversation.
I’m at a point in my life where I am trying, really hard, to get healthy. I know that my body is too large to do the things I want to do effectively, like survive the zombie apocalypse or kick ass like Buffy Summers. I know that my body is too big, at this time, to do the yoga poses I want to conquer and to fit in the rollercoasters I want to ride. I have all the respect for the Health at Every Size people, but I will never be happy in my life until my body is smaller and stronger. I have size acceptance for everyone but myself, and it is not ONLY because I want to know what it’s like to have 39345756865 clothing stores to choose from… it’s because I never, ever want to be too scared to go to a new restaurant because I might not fit in the booth, or ride in someone’s car and find the seat-belt doesn’t fit.
My journey to become healthy, though… it can’t just be about my body. It needs to also be about my mind. I need to stop with the self-hate. I need to stop saying things to myself that I would never say to someone else. I need to accept that this body is the only one I have, and the only way to make it healthier and stronger is to love, nourish, and cherish it. And you need to do that too, regardless of your size.
It’s time to stop bonding over body hate, and bond instead over the pursuit of health (not thin-ness) and happiness (also not thin-ness).