My exposure to the fat acceptance and body positivity movements only began a few years ago. Since then, my understanding of both has grown. I see the need for messages that fight against mainstream expectations of women’s bodies.
Fat people have intrinsic human value. They are not props. They do not exist to play the supporting actor in someone else’s story. Demeaning people based on their weight is harmful. It says a lot about the offender’s own trapped mind.
But what if I don’t like being fat?
Before I acknowledged the limitations of groupthink, I believed that I needed to create space for everything that seemed radical and Leftist, even if doing so ran contrary to my reasoning, even if it meant chiseling down my own space for honest discourse.
Some may argue that I’m not supposed to say that I don’t enjoy being fat.
Does my preference for a svelte body even make me fatphobic?
In the most literal sense of the word, I can see why it would. I do have an aversion to being fat. I am trying to lose weight that I view as an excess. The reasons for my perspective have changed over the years.
So, I called my problem fatness and tried to solve it out of existence.
When I was younger, I was surrounded by delicate female peers. I, on the other hand, was not petite. My weight fluctuated. When I began starving myself, my fatphobia proved harmful to myself and to others. I remember being at my thinnest and still despising the fact that my bony hips were so pronounced. There was nothing I could do about genetics, even though I tried with pathological intensity to have a different, White frame.
This was before curvaceous bodies were given cultural value through pop culture’s sexualization.
I may not have been skinny enough in my eyes, but other people noticed how thin I had become. Some applauded my shrinking frame. Some were jealous that I was suddenly ‘so beautiful’.
I didn’t feel beautiful. I continued to feel fat, even as my tiny stomach grumbled hungrily. I felt fat even as my jawline sharpened. I felt fat as my blood sugar plummeted, leaving me an enervated heap on my living room floor.
Nothing could shake that feeling because the problem wasn’t actually that I felt fat. That was just a mask.
Actually, I felt worthless.
I just didn’t know what to call it back then. Self-worth was foreign to me. I was just trying to hang onto a semblance of self. So, I called my problem fatness and tried to solve it out of existence.
There was no end to that goal because I was running in the wrong race. Instead of acknowledging my real problems, I ate less. I worked out more.
My weight decreased, and nothing changed.
Now that I’m in my thirties, my metabolism has begun to slow down. During the past couple of years, I ate with abandon. I ate to soothe away new pain. I ate because I convinced myself that I could lose the weight quickly. I stopped exercising. I lost the structure of my life, until one day, I looked at myself in the mirror and actually saw how much weight I had gained.
I couldn’t recognize the person staring back at me. I was fat.
It has been almost a year since that point. In that year, I have reintegrated working out, lifting, and healthy eating into my life. I still have a long way to go, but I am kept motivated because I don’t want to be unhealthy.
Of course, I’m not supposed to say this, but I’m quite tired of walking on eggshells.
I am educated in the health sciences. I know that obesity is comorbid with several conditions that I’m not interested in experiencing. I want to take care of myself.
I have learned that a person can hate herself at any size.
There is a critical difference in my approach.
This time around, I am aware that losing excess weight will not make me worthy. I was miserable and skinny once before, so I know thinness will not solve all of my problems.
I grew up believing that my weight defined me. This too was because I had confused it with my self-worth. My self-worth does define me. I have learned to pay very close attention to it.
While I was fat, I finished my first year in a daunting graduate program. I climbed higher in my professional career. I became a writer. I started working on my novel. I built a beautiful relationship with a man who adores me.
I got a lot more done than when I was a skinny, starving woman.
Still, losing weight has been a game-changer.
Now that my body is becoming healthier, I feel better. I have more energy. I can move around with more ease. My feet don’t swell up as frequently. My period cramps are much more manageable. My mood remains more stable. My back doesn’t hurt as often.
I have learned that a person can hate herself at any size. When I learned how to fix the real problem of my self-worth, my weight stopped being such a loaded topic.
The truth is, I never incorporated fatness into my identity. Being skinny didn’t stick either. What I’m aiming for now is fitness. I have hope that this one will take. But even then, my looks are only one component. More importantly, being fit reminds me of my strength, endurance, and resilience.
I don’t have all the answers, but I think that each of us has to figure out our lives for ourselves.
I don’t want to be fat anymore, and I simultaneously believe that people deserve human respect regardless of their size. It is possible to hold both positions.