A few days ago I wrote an article for Elephant Journal with a clickable title of “In 2016 I Want to Be Bigger and Fatter,” and since that time I have found out that fat shaming is alive and well in our society.
The comments on the article itself and other places on the interweb have been surprising evidence to me that some people seem to associate being bigger and fatter with being dumber and unhealthy.
This shouldn’t be a shock to me, I guess, but somehow it has been a big eye opener.
Of course, it is not like I have been under a seige of negative comments—just a smattering of them—and I got my big girl panties on (literally), so the comments haven’t bothered me.
However, I have found myself saddened and maddened by this view that somehow having a bigger body is a choice to be unhealthy and to have an early death wish, and the emotions of sad and mad are excellent feelings to have coursing through our systems, because they can be very motivating.
There is a lot of injustice in the world, and we need to let our reactions rise to the surface so we can speak out in the name of kindness and peace.
What I am really interested in is reality.
And all we have to do is look around us to know people come in all shapes and sizes. This is the truth. Some babies are five pounds at birth, and some are 10 pounds. Everyone is different. And this difference is where we get our strength.
We need the big people and the little people. We need the tall, the short, the round and the thin. We need everybody. Because there is a lot of work to do to heal this planet, and all sizes and skills are required for the job.
The challenge is that some people benefit by giving us a different message. The message that thin is better, sexier and healthier is big money for a few.
It is easy to shame people. Our egos are weak, and our sense of self is fragile; this is the normal state. This is why we need compassion so badly.
It doesn’t take much to get a person to believe they aren’t good enough, and the multi-billion dollar beauty industry preys on this all day and all night long.
And what is very sad is that the yoga industry (let’s not pretend it is anything else) preys on this “thin is better” image, too.
There is a process of aligning with health.
There is a process of coming home to our selves for the purpose of healing first our own being and then the world around us.
But it doesn’t look like “looking” different; instead it is an embodied state of feeling different.
And here is the clincher. The things that will make us healthier and feel better don’t have a profit margin.
Getting a hug.
Having a nap.
Going for a walk in nature.
Things like these are essential for our health. But when we do them, nobody makes money.
In my mind this is a good thing.
So many of the so-called good-for-our-health things that earn companies money also trash the planet.
If you see yourself as a true environmentalist you will be constantly questioning, Why do I about looking thinner or more conventionally beautiful? What is the environmental cost to buying new clothing, getting a pedicure or going to the gym (or even flying to a health spa)?
We all need to be asking these important questions. Who profits, and what is the cost to our self-esteem and the health of the planet? These questions are essential to our survival.
But what worries me even more is what we are not thinking about when we are spending all of our time worrying about being thinner and more beautiful.
It baffles me how much time and worry I have given to being “fat” over the years, and I am on the low maintenance side of caring about my body image.
But still there have been times that I have spent maybe 40 percent (this is a serious estimate just to give a sense of perspective) of my energy and thought to contemplating how I was going to be thinner.
That 40 percent of my time I wasn’t thinking about;
- How I could be more creative.
- How I could help my neighbors.
- How I could change my consciousness.
- How I could contribute to the planet.
You see what I am getting at?
From the comments I got on my article stating I wanted to be bigger and fatter in 2016, I learned that people equate being fat to being a choice. I assume the concept is that if people just chose to eat healthier and exercise more their bodies would be different.
I just want to say that if this were the case there would be no multi-billion dollar diet industry.
Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows it is more complicated than that.
I know this is anecdotal, but we just need to look in our own social circles to see that we all know people who drink soda and eat chips and are skin and bones, and we all know people who live on herbal tea and a vegan diet and are big and round.
I will never believe in “calories in/calories out” being the reason people are different sizes.
People are different sizes for just one reason: Because people are different sizes.
Just like people are different races, skin colors, religions and have different sexual preferences, body size to me is the same.
And what does it matter?
Large and small people experience pleasure and pain.
Large and small people have sexual joy.
Large and small people have health issues, and we will all die one day.
I really think the end to fat shaming is the next revolution, and I can’t wait to see it happen.
As we start to spend less time obsessing about looking beautiful, we can start to spend more time being encompassed by beauty, which looks like a quieter, more loving mind that is open to encompassing all human experience for the purpose of love and healing.
I wish you all well.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Roberlan Borges/Flickr