I’ve never ignored the fact that I am fat, on the contrary, I’ve always been keenly aware of this fact.
Numerous times I’ve referred to myself as fat in front of friends and have always received a response similar to, “Don’t say that about yourself—you’ve got a pretty face.” And so I’ve always been focused on that.
The things that were pretty about me, making sure I emphasized them, making sure they were taken good care of. Because in spite of being fat, I was pretty or had nice eyes or a great smile or was funny.
But after college I decided I would finally do something about that fat. I’d do a diet and stick to it. I’d join a gym and sweat it all away. And that’s when the conversations started to change for me—still the practical realist referring to herself as fat.
“At least you’re trying to do something about it,” some would say. “I see you working out and you should be proud of yourself,” said others. And I took pride in that. I was fat but I was a good fat person. People were, for once, accepting me in spite of my size.
I was a member of Team Good Fatty.
I wasn’t one of those bad fat people sitting around all day eating chips and watching TV. I was working on my fitness, eating healthy foods, and paying attention to my calorie intake. I was exercising my self-control.
But I was miserable inside.
In spite of all my efforts, I still didn’t look like Workout Barbie when I was on the elliptical machine pounding out the miles. I was still wearing clothes I could only find in the plus-size section. I was secretly binging on those “bad for you” foods and wondering why I was such a loser, why I couldn’t get myself together.
Why I couldn’t lose the weight.
I wondered if there was another way.
And then I found that way. I discovered that I was concentrating on the wrong thing. Everything was outwardly focused for me. I was working to please others, to fit into the boxes I thought they wanted me in, to change my weight simply because the outside world said I should. I was never really taking care of myself in spite of the better eating and regular exercise. It was never for myself—it was never about health.
So I chose me.
I decided that being a good fatty was a waste of time. I realized how classifying fat people into goods and bads is part of the whole shaming of those of us who don’t fit into the small, ridiculous category of acceptable size and how striving to be in the good category is hurting us all exponentially more than simply being fat does.
I was tired of being ashamed of myself.
I was ready to be healthy, regardless of the size of my body.
So I decided to make my choices centered on the idea that I am good enough today, as I am, right now. I do not need to be thin to be healthy. I do not need to be healthy to be worthy of love or respect.
I don’t move for weight loss, I move for the joy of it, the sense of well being it brings—hell, just the fun of it.
And I hold the belief that one’s activity level is a personal choice and not a criterion for acceptance, that me doing stuff like belly dancing, bike riding and Tai Chi doesn’t make me inherently better than any other person. Being a fat someone who chooses to move my body doesn’t make me a “good fatty,” it simply means I am one of the folks who have made such a choice.
Nobody wins in the game where we delineate the good fatties from the bad fatties. No such person exists. When we see fat people through this limiting lens we perpetuate the cycle of shame, even if it is unintentional. We need to stop the cycle of judgment that makes us hate our bodies and ourselves for not fitting into the single-sized, unrealistic ideal of beauty.
And we do this by practicing ruthless self-love—the type where we are kind to ourselves in the face of missed opportunities.
The type that helps us to embrace our lumps, bumps and idiosyncrasies and love ourselves the way we are today.
Dismissal of the good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy is not only an act of rebellion, but also an act of compassion.
When we learn to love ourselves in spite of size, ability, or any other factor that could be construed as limiting, we all win and can heal. The world becomes a better place when we drop our collective weight loss programs and embark upon a hate loss program.
Take the first step today by being kind to yourself, no matter what.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Melissa Horton/ Editor: Travis May
Photo: Provided by author