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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Embracing My Fat and Body Positivity



Society tells us so many messages that are damaging. The saddest part is that so many of us have internalized these harmful messages and think they're immutable truths, and don't even question why we have these attitudes nor think about the damages as we pass on these attitudes to the next generation. And we definitely aren't thinking about who benefits from these harmful views.

Of all the damaging messages society tells us, the most pervasive and in my opinion most harmful one is the one that says that you aren't good enough, you aren't worthwhile, you aren't worthy of love and respect and admiration as you are. You need to change or do something else in order to be worthy. This message plays out in so many ways among so many different groups, from POC to the disability community to LGBT to specific socioeconomic groups to different religions. But even if you don't fit any of those previous examples, the one way in which this message has most probably touched you is being told, either overtly or covertly, that you need to be thin to be a valued member of society.


My friend, Gwen, an advocate for body positivity in my community recently said something that put this so well.

"Fat has gotten a terrible reputation in recent western society. And fat people a thousand times more so. Fat is the last bastion of overt bigotry. The western world at large is pretty aware, even if they personally don't take issue with it, that it is hurtful and not cool to put down any group of people, be they black, Mexican, gay, gender-dysphoric, Jewish, disabled, female, etc... except for fat people. Fat people are pretty much fair game for a million negative stereotypes and insult."

The reason for this post today is because recently I experienced someone being upset and offended that I described myself as fat. Specifically mentioning my fat stomach when looking for shirts that are long enough to cover it

But fat is just fat. I am somewhat fat and I don't see any problem as describing myself as such because I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with being fat. Contrary to what society tries to tell me, it doesn't mean that I am lazy, unhealthy, unattractive, undesirable, etc etc etc.


People see me describe myself as fat and get bothered by it. Because they think that by my mentioning my fat, I'm calling myself ugly. I'm putting myself down. I'm being mean to myself.

But that isn't true.

Facts are facts.

Fact is that I'm tall, at five feet nine inches. That is a fact even though my friend, Izel, is six foot three. The fact that there are people taller than myself doesn't make me not tall.

I'm also currently 225 pounds or so, putting me, according to the outdated BMI charts as 33.2 BMI or "obese". And according to height vs weight vs build charts, I'm "officially" 75 pounds more than I "should" be. The fact that there are people fatter than me doesn't make me not fat, any more than being shorter than Izel makes me "not tall".

So yes, there's a fact. I am fat.

And the fact that I'm calling myself fat at my current state doesn't mean that I am saying anyone who weighs more than me is "omg too gross and fat and not worthy and ugly" or anything of the sort. Fat is just fat is just fat.

I am fat.

I am also brown haired, blue eyed, broad shouldered. I am physically strong. I am also kind, and lovable, and fun, and intelligent, and resourceful and so many other things that describe me. They're all descriptors, and saying that I'm fat is no more insulting than any other description about myself.

Fat doesn't mean ugly any more than dark skin means ugly. Yes, society has bashed people for being certain ways, but that does not make it true. Stigmas and stereotypes against certain types of people doesn't make that type of people bad, inferior, or subpar.

Yes, society has tried to convince you that fat means ugly.

It doesn't.

It is a state of being.

I mean I can use other words to try to "soften it" and say I'm soft and cuddly. Or round. Or voluptuous. Or curvy.

But why not just use the word that is simplest?

Fat is short and to the point.

Its descriptive.

And it's not negative.

Some people might think that by calling myself fat I'm fishing for compliments.

I'm really not.

I'm not trying to say "Hey, I think I look ugly, please make me feel better about myself." Because fat in my books does not mean anything bad. I use the term when its relevant, and talking about buying clothes that fit makes it relevant.

In the past I did try to lose weight, and I chronicled it here. But I'm changing that.

I'm accepting myself.

I'm working on loving my body as it is.

I'm a work in progress, I'll admit. I'm not perfect.

But when I look at myself in the mirror, I try to remind myself that in years past, the rounder the woman, the more beautiful she was considered.

And now, people think that the skinnier the woman, the more beautiful.

I go back to my original paragraph where I wrote about people not thinking about who benefits from these harmful messages. But the answer is that the people who benefit from these messages that you're not good enough are the beauty industry, and in this case specifically, the diet industry. Dieting and weight loss are such a big industry, and if everyone felt good about themselves and happy as they are, then these businesses would tank.

So there's a vested interest in getting people to hate their body, so that they are willing to spend money to try to "fix it".

I refuse to be part of that any more.

There is a movement that fortunately is gaining traction in the world. It is the body positivity movement, and I'm happy to be on the journey towards body positivity.

A journey of working on loving my body as it is. Of thanking my body for allowing me to get up and do what I need to do. Of having carried four wonderful children inside of it. Of being strong and capable, and a wonderful vessel.

And you know what? I don't just not hate my fat. I am embracing it. I am loving it. Because you know what it means?

I am fat because for the first time in years I am taking care of my mental health. I am on the path to healing my body, mind, and soul. And part of that means that I gained weight. And I'm completely ok with that. I am actually happy that I have a concrete sign, proof for myself that I am taking care of me.

I know lots of people will have many disagreements with me, especially when it comes to health. I plan on doing more posts in this series, including an interview or many with my friend Gwen. But that will have to be for another day. So please hold back those questions for now.

For now, lets just be kind to ourselves. Lets learn to embrace our body as it is, and not buy into the myth that fat is ugly and only skinny is beautiful.

You are beautiful as you are.

Don't let anyone else convince you otherwise.

Oh, and anyone that says that I'm harming my children by referring to myself as fat? There's no reason it has to mean that at all. Children don't automatically assume fat means bad. My little daughter, Rose, recently mentioned to me that I was fat. And I smiled and said "Yes, I am". And she said "You're really soft to hug. I like that you're fat."

And you know what?

I do too.

3 comments:

  1. You have a point there, word "fat" should is not inherently bad, we made it that way. I like this subject and I am looking forward to the new series.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love everything about this post. Most of the times that I work on being thin or have been thin, I've actually been stressed out and filled with intrusive invalidating thoughts. It's terrible.

    It's better to feel the love--the self-love, the gratitude for my body the way it is and what it accomplishes every day--and just be plump. There's more mental space for everything else I have to take care of, too. And honestly, I feel better physically than I did when I was struggling every day with hunger pangs and inner debates about everything I ate.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A beautiful post. I'm looking forward to the new series too.

    ReplyDelete

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