My (stolen and super altered) fan art!
A while ago I also made the decision that I would spend my time - not directly fighting the oppressors - but rather empowering the oppressed. That I would focus my energy on assisting those who feel squashed by judgement, bigotry, stigma, and hate. I would give them tools to stand tall, love themselves, and self advocate.
I’m sure by now you’ve seen someone somewhere post something about a site that seeks “to inspire” all fat people to become smaller and thus obviously: happy, healthy, and finally helpful members of society (eye roll). No, I’m not going to boost their signal, name them, or share them and you can click here for why. I will share, however, that they recently chose one of my images to digitally “improve” in hopes that I would see what I could be and starve myself/work out until I became worthy of their approval.
The interesting part is though, that there was a certain point in my life where I did try to obtain the “perfect body.” I was at the gym every day for hours and was a fanatical dieter. Becoming smaller was my sole life goal and y’know what? I lost some weight. But even when I dedicated my life to becoming “physically respectable,” I never looked like our “ideal” body. I’ve NEVER been “thin” and I sure as fuck never looked like this ridiculously unrealistic photoshopped version of myself.
When I participated in extreme diet culture, I not only didn’t achieve my ultimate goal, but I also lost my soul in the process. I used self-loathing as inspiration and hatred as mental fuel. But no matter what I did, I was never enough. Not for me. Not for others. And it took me years, many similar attempts, and several role models to realize that this mindset was truly waste of my time. And honestly, it was also a waste of my life.
So yes, I’m fat now. But you know what else? I’m happy. Succesful. Fulfilled. On a career path that makes me feel whole. In a relationship that feels like it’s a dream. Mentally balanced in a way I’ve never experienced before, and no one gets to take this away from me by demanding I change my body for their comfort. I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my happiness for someone else’s approval. I’ve moved beyond that. I’m smarter than that. I am soaring high above that. And after realizing that I could be happy just as I am, I decided to dedicate my time to taking anyone who’s interested along with me on this body acceptance journey.
A while ago I also made the decision that I would spend my time not directly fighting the oppressors, but rather empowering the oppressed. That I would focus my energy on assisting those who feel squashed by judgement, bigotry, stigma, and hate. I would give them tools to stand tall, love themselves, and self advocate. I’ve realized that this where the power and my passion lies.
Brittany Gibbons backs me up with her fat girl job description:
“Here’s the thing folks . . . it’s not my motherfucking job to teach you how to be nice to fat people. That’s something you learn from your parents, peers, or from various social cues that direct you towards human decency.
It is my job to empower the people you belittle, shame and degrade publicly on a daily basis so they can grow to see the crap you dish out to make yourself feel better is just that … crap.”
So all of that being said, YES, ACTUALLY — this project does inspire me. A lot. And everytime I come in contact with a page or campaign like this, it reignites a fire underneath my fat ass and reminds me that there is so much work to be done; there's so much to be taught, shown, role modeled and reinforced.
And so, sweet people who question their right to love their “not thin” bodies, let me share with you some facts and figures that will align you with reality, some ammo for your combat against self-loathing. I’ve written many things about fat, health, and the myths we believe about the two. So have dozens of other activists, researchers, nutritionists, and bloggers. This information fills books and could be discussed for days, but for time’s sake, allow me to give you some truth bombs.
Let me share with you that . . .
- Fat isn’t an indicator of being unhealthy, and being thin is no assurance of good health. Thin bodies can be unhealthy, and fat bodies can be unhealthy. Additionally, thin bodies can be healthy and fat bodies can indeed be healthy. Weight is not the single determining factor of health.
- The weight loss and diet industry is most certainly NOT a charity created to help you build a fulfilling life; it’s a 60+ billion dollar for profit based business concept that sells insecurity. And it (as well as the beauty industry) is unfortunately successful as fuck.
- The concept of Health at Every Size® is something used by body activists (read this book) and isn’t saying that every single person is healthy at every single weight ever. Instead, “What [HAES®] does do is ask for respect and help people shift their focus away from changing their size to enhancing self-care behaviors - so they let weight fall where it may naturally.” This is a really good approach.
- The concept of “beauty” is a psychological conditioning ploy. A study in 2012 showed that our beauty standard is not necessarily dictated by biological attraction but rather the repeated viewing of one type of body which creates preferences that are altered when shown diversity. When people are repulsed by (we’re not talking about non-attraction but rather repulsion) fat bodies, it’s media conditioning. Plain and simple.
- Only 5% of women can achieve the female body that is shown as desirable in American media. However, we’re told that if our bodies do not align, it’s simply because we’re not trying hard enough SO TRY HARDER. The reality is that bodies come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and both of those things are influenced largely by the life we’re born into.
- Our healthcare professionals, those we base our definition of health around are just as unsubstantially biased against fat people as the rest of society. This means that a percentage of fat patients who are metabolically healthy are still told they must lose weight, and thinner patients who do have health concerns are assumed to be healthy and are thusly underserved.
- I can tell you that because of this, fat stigma hurts all sizes.
- I can also tell you that it doesn’t fucking matter how healthy or unhealthy you are. Your worth as a human is not dictated by your medical charts or ability to run marathons. You have inherent value. Every human does.
And just like people who are happy don’t try to make other people miserable, people who love their body don’t actively try to make others hate their own. These people are not rulers by which we should judge ourselves. They’re simply people who need body positivity just like everyone else.
I wrote several chapters about these subjects in my upcoming book and while I want to share it all here — there just isn’t enough room in a blog post to adequately dissect all of our body myths. And that’s OK. Click the links above if you’re interested and start doing your own research. And if you’re not interested in doing so, that’s okay too.
But if you’re struggling with public shame and self-hatred in relation to your body, let me remind you of some fundamental truths that have nothing to do with the scale or doctors office: Self-love isn’t exclusive. Self-esteem isn’t something you have to earn. Feeling good isn’t bad, and existing in your fat (or any other size) body while loving every second of it isn’t delusional. It also doesn’t amount to self-deception. But living your life in constant shame and self-hatred because other people have bought into this lie and want you to join them? Well, that sounds like goddamn delusional deception to me.
Soar high above the thought that you’re not okay just the way you are. This is your life and you get to play by your rules.
And that, my friends, is also a fact.