(The thoughts & feelings expressed in this post are reflective of my own personal experience and in no way are meant to speak for any and all overweight people.)
I read this great article on Friday. Actually, I read it aloud to Mr. Darcy as he drove us to the symphony.(Where neither of us fell completely asleep. We were just resting our eyes. Sincerely!) You should totally read the entire article but here are some snippets for context:
I have wanted to change this body my whole life. I have never wanted anything as much as I have wanted a new body. I am aware every day that other people find my body disgusting. I always thought that some day—when I finally stop failing—I will become smaller, and when I become smaller literally everything will get better (I’ve heard It Gets Better)! My life can begin! I will get the clothes that I want, the job that I want, the love that I want. It will be great! Think how great it will be to buy some pants or whatever at J. Crew. Oh, man. Pants. Instead, my body stays the same.
My question is, what if they try and try and try and still fail? What if they are still fat? What if they are fat forever? What do you do with them then? Do you really want millions of teenage girls to feel like they’re trapped in unsightly lard prisons that are ruining their lives, and on top of that it’s because of their own moral failure, and on top of that they are ruining America with the terribly expensive diabetes that they don’t even have yet? You know what’s shameful? A complete lack of empathy.
She says this great line: “Shame is a tool of oppression, not change.”
Can I get an AMEN?
I am grateful to Lindy for writing this article because she stands up for me, for herself and for all of us who are struggling to accept our bodies in a society that repeatedly bashes us over the head with “You are not good enough because you are fat” messages. I will probably get some flack for saying this but it feels true to me- fat oppression is the last allowable “ism”. Because all of us fatties made ourselves fat and it’s our fault for being fat and how dare we continue to be fat. And P.S. You are gross to look at.
Eating too many cupcakes is not the root cause of fatness. It goes much, much deeper than that. But we’re too busy shaming overweight people to see it or really do anything about it.
And yes, I said we. Because I’ve totally drank the Kool Aid.
I once read a blog post from some girl that stated that it’s gross to see two fat people dancing. That it was funny to her but not in a ha ha way where we’re all laughing. No. In the way that she is making fun of the fat people. Because how dare they move their fat bodies to music and force other people to see their chub rolling around a dance floor. HOW DARE YOU BE A PERSON, FATTY!
What. The. Fuck? I should have tit-punched that girl. I wish tit punches could be delivered electronically.
That is one small example in a mountain of examples I could give you where I come across messaging that America’s belief system is that fat people are horrible, lazy, disgusting people who should be ashamed. Who should fix themselves. Please, immediately, because fat is not nice to look at. MY EYES!
I have spent a lifetime absorbing messages that have forced me deeper into shame. I was ten when I can remember going on my first diet. I would work out in my room and not eat pancakes and walk around in a shroud of shame and sadness because I believe AT TEN YEARS OLD that I was not a worthwhile person because I was chubby.
I was not born believing this. I was taught this.
And then for the next 27 years I let the shame shape my perspective. I bought into it. I swallowed the messages. I agreed with you (the proverbial you that believes fat people are less than) that I am gross and unworthy. Your plan worked! And yet, wait, uh. . . Why am I still fat? OH RIGHT! BECAUSE SHAME IS NOT A WEIGHT LOSS TOOL.
Is being overweight unhealthy? To many degrees, it can be. So is eating a diet full of refined sugar. So is having a smoking habit. So is excessively drinking alcohol or coffee. So can excessively exercising. We all do fucked up shit to our bodies in some way or another. And we tend to do these things from an emotional place. I know many thin people who eat crappy diets with no nutrients and who never exercise but they are deemed as “okay” because they are thin and thus, they pass.
I am so fucking done with this mentality. I’m done supporting people (myself included!) in the negative dissection of our bodies. The withholding of love until we get to a certain weight. To putting off doing things because The Shame is saying we can’t until we weigh X amount of pounds. I’m sick to death of hearing women tear themselves down about every supposed imperfection. So you have stretch marks. So you have some back fat. So your thighs rub together. So what? Where did you hear the message that you are not good enough, not pretty, if you have a flaw? Go back to that place or that person and say “shut the fuck up”. Because THESE THINGS DO NOT DEFINE YOUR WORTH.
I am telling myself this more than I am telling you this. But I bet you need to hear this too.
This is not an easy thing to do. To face the messaging and not get swept up in the mentality of being less than. But if we just sit by and complain about it but don’t speak out, how in the hell will it ever change? Women didn’t get the right to vote because they discussed it in passing over tea. Segregation didn’t end because some white guy in power was all, “This is wrong”. Gay marriage will one day be legal because people stand up and fight for it.
Please don’t be passive. You have a voice- use it. This is not a problem fat people need to solve. This is a problem we all have to work together on because it’s an attitude shift. If you hold ideas about fat people, where did they come from? Question the fatism.
We can all be radical if we start loving ourselves and our bodies.
They’ve told us it’s impossible. But it’s not.