Is Fat Acceptance the key?

The Fat Rant video – in a roundabout way – led me to discover the Fat Acceptance movement.

I actually didn’t know there was such a thing.

It’s been a real eye-opener in a lot of ways, and I have to keep wondering: is it “the key” for me?  While I can’t place all the blame for my depression on all the fat haters out there, I definitely believe they held a key role in my mental health and self-awareness.  After all, how could I not know that I was fat if I heard it every single day of my life?  And how could I not know that BEING fat made me less of a person, when the fat-haters kept telling me so?

Earlier this year I encountered it again.  Yes, at 31 years old, there are still people who think that juvenile name-calling is the way to win an argument.

A girl down the street from where we used to live was shoving grass down the throats of my 2 youngest children – and they weren’t the only ones she was doing this to.  I used to have a friendly rapport with her mother, so I went over there and decided to speak to her.  Yes, I was upset, but I didn’t start out with name-calling or any other juvenile behavior.  I simply told her what her daughter was doing.

Suddenly she starts yelling at me, telling me that her daughter’s been on the computer all day (funny that I could see her sitting in the grass about 50 feet to my left, huh?), and how I’m fat, so that’s all there is to it.

Huh?  What the fuck does THAT have to do with anything?

Oh, and it got worse from there – both her AND her boyfriend threatened me with physical violence.  All they had to say was that they would deal with it and I would have said thank you and walked away.  But they brought my weight into it (and I should point out that this woman, while certainly thinner than me, was no model contender herself), thinking that THAT was the way to win an argument.

I’ve come to learn in just a few short days that Fat Acceptance isn’t about saying that it’s okay to weigh 300 lbs and do nothing but eat and sit on the couch all day.  Far from it.  These are simply people who want to be accepted for WHO they are, and NOT what they look like. 

They’re actresses and triathletes.  They’re journalists and even formerly thin people.  These are not people who want the whole world to let themselves go.  But they ARE people who don’t listen to the masses telling them they “can’t do _____ or ______” just BECAUSE they’re fat.  Sarah (the triathlete) really amazed me.  I’d first heard of her when I first went over to Shapely Prose and looked at the BMI Project.  There was a picture of her – in all her over-weight-ness – in the PROCESS of running a triathlon.  How many people – regardless of how overweight they may or may not be – have the guts to do something like that?  Not very many, I can tell you that.  And how many overweight people just might be interested in doing something like that but feel they can’t just because they happen to be fat?  From reading the comments on that particular story, I’d have to guess that there’s an awful lot of fat people out there with the “I’ll-do-it-when-I’m-thin” syndrome.

There are even currently thin people out there involved in this Fat Acceptance movement.  Why?  Because they see all the bullshit that fat people have to put up with, and that’s what it is: BULLSHIT.  It’s similar to what black people have (and in some ways, still do) gone through, all because of the color of their skin.  It’s still all about skin, the only difference is that us Fatties have more skin than some, and that’s what’s getting harped on.  (No, I’m not saying that fat people have the same problems that slaves once did, but it’s the closest analogy I could come up with.)

The more I read, the more I wonder… how much of my problem lies with me, and how much lies with others?  Because in my immediate life, I have to be honest: I’m the one with the problem.  I was talking with my 10 year old daughter today (who is beginning to have some weight-related self-esteem issues herself; and she’s only JUST begun to gain weight), and I reminded her that us females are our own worst enemies: we’ll think things about ourselves that are worse than anything anybody could possibly say to us.  I used her stepfather as an example: not once – NEVER – in 8 years has he ever brought up my weight in an unkind manner.  When extremely angry, he’s called me stupid, and crazy, and a lunatic (he tends to stick to the crazy-type words), but never EVER in EIGHT years has he ever said anything untoward about my weight.  Even when put on the spot and asked if there were anything he’d change about my physical appearance, the only thing he could think of were my saggy boobs (which, I hate to say it, have always BEEN saggy; that’s what happens when you literally go from nothing to a C-cup in less than a full year – at the age of 9, no less).  And he’s nearly 6 foot, 140 lbs. soaking wet.

If my husband is okay with the way I look… then why aren’t I?  I really like the whole idea of FA: to accept someone based on WHO they are, not what they look like.  That in itself is a message that I think people of all sizes could use to have drummed into their head.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the majority of the time, it’s ME that has the problem, not other people.  Of course there are Fat Haters out there, and they can be very vocal, but 99% of the time I’m coming across people who don’t have a problem with the way I look… but I DO.

But on the other side of the same coin: my self-hatred was a direct cause of all the fat-hatred I was subjected to as a child (and when I say “child,” I’m referring to myself before the age of 15).  The ironic thing is that, as a “child,” my HIGHEST weight was 145. ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-FIVE POUNDS AND I SUFFERED THAT KIND OF ABUSE????  Can you feel the unfairness of it all dripping from my skin like perspiration?  The fact is, even though I got away from those people who abused me over and over again, they’re still doing it: through me.  I abuse myself in their place.

By the time I got away from most of the fat-haters (couldn’t get away from the ones in my family, though), I was already convinced that there was something wrong with me.  And it all boiled down to my fat.  If I got into a fight with someone, it was because of my fat.  If a certain guy didn’t like me, it was because of my fat.  If he did like me but then broke up with me later, it was because of my fat.

As Joy Nash said in her Fat Rant video: “They won’t like me… I’m fat.  They won’t hire me… I’m fat. That guy would never ask me out… I’m fat.  …  I make this guy’s failure to fall in love with me the fault of my fat… it’s stupid.  Such a waste of time.”

And while outwardly I totally agree with her, I have to admit that inside my own little head, it’s exactly the opposite.  Inside my head is the little voice that continues to tell me that nobody’s going to like me, because I’m fat.  My husband is eventually going to leave me because I’m fat.  The reason I find it so hard to make friends in this country is because I’m fat.  I’m ugly because I’m fat.  I’m worthless because I’m fat.

And while rationally I realize these are absolutely inane things to be telling myself, I can’t just shut it off.  It’s been engraved on my brain for so long that because I’m fat, I’m not even a “real person.”  A few of the suicide attempts I survived were direct results of fat hating – inwardly and outwardly.  You tell a person something enough times, and eventually they’re going to believe it, regardless of the actual truth of the matter.

I keep thinking to myself, “I’ll be happy once I lose the weight.”  But what in my life is really going to change once I lose the weight?  There will be a smaller number on the scale… my clothes will be smaller… and I might (emphasis on MIGHT) not feel so self-conscious about my body.

What, in all of that, is a guarantee that I’m going to be happy?  NONE OF IT!!!!!

So, as the title of this entry says: is Fat Acceptance the key?  Is accepting myself for who I am, regardless of my weight or the size of my clothes, the key to being truly happy?  Probably.  Am I anywhere near that point?  Hell-fucking-no.  Am I going to let that stop me?

HELL-FUCKING-NO!!!!

I’m going to go out there and do what I want to do; what I feel I need to do.  I feel I need to exercise.  Why?  It’s not just my weight, it’s my health.  I have 4 young children, one of them disabled, and I want to be fit and healthy so that I can enjoy them for as long as I can – REGARDLESS of what the scale might tell me.

And while I freely admit that I’m nowhere near accepting myself for who I am, I truly believe that my discovery of the Fat Acceptance movement has shown me the right path.  I’m not saying that all fat people are healthy, because I myself have known more than a few unhealthy fat people.  But on the other hand, I’ve also known (and am one at this point) some extremely healthy fat people.  Fat doesn’t always have to equal unhealthy.  So why should it ALWAYS equal unworthy?

It shouldn’t.

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~ by nuckingfutz on October 23, 2007.

11 Responses to “Is Fat Acceptance the key?”

  1. And while outwardly I totally agree with her, I have to admit that inside my own little head, it’s exactly the opposite. Inside my head is the little voice that continues to tell me that nobody’s going to like me, because I’m fat. My husband is eventually going to leave me because I’m fat. The reason I find it so hard to make friends in this country is because I’m fat. I’m ugly because I’m fat. I’m worthless because I’m fat.

    I could have written this myself. I too am new to the idea of fat acceptance and I think the hardest part is not blaming fat for everything. I personally know I use it as a scapegoat…a reason to hold myself back. However, in the past couple of years I’ve found myself tired of being held back and I think I’m ready to take the final leap towards freedom and it seems you are too 🙂 And you know what? Even if we have a ways to go, we are going to make it.

  2. I’m glad you’ve found the movement to be so empowering. Frankly, before I started my blog in January, I had no idea such a movement even existed. It’s taken on a real force to be reckoned with in a relatively short period of time. Voices like yours only help it gain strength.

    Side note, I was a former thin person for a very short time in my life. I first noticed I was larger than others in the third-grade and steadily gained from there. Beside a period before I was 7 or 8, I was thin for probably less than two years, thanks to a diet turned eating disorder. It’s a moot point, really, but I thought I’d clarify since it speaks to my own lived experiences as a mostly fat person.

  3. Rachel, thanks for clarifying, but the point I was making, using you as an example, is that the movement consists of a more varied people than some others might think. I can see someone who’s never heard of Fat Acceptance (as I myself was until just a few days ago) thinking that it’s just a bunch of lazy couch-potatoes crying in their beer, so to speak. But that’s not the case at all.

    BUT… as I said, thank you for the clarification. Having only just started to read up on the movement, it helps to have all the information I can get. I’m totally insatiable on the subject – I’ve spent the majority of the last 3 days doing nothing but reading all I can find (partly because I’m ill and don’t have the energy to do anything else), and there’s so much of it I know I’ve only just scratched the surface.

  4. And Jae, thank you for your words of encouragement. I need all the encouragement I can GET! 😀

  5. Fat and crazy sucks. I know I’m trying to focus on the crazy and ignore the fat. The fat doesn’t matter anyway.

    And screw the rest of them. I’ll survive nuclear winter. 🙂

  6. thordora… thanks for that. *lol* I needed it. 🙂

  7. It is hard, it is slow, it is SO totally worth it. Not dieting, of course (although according to the people around me….) but learning to love yourself just the way you are. And in loving yourself, taking care of yourself- which has nothing to do with those numbers on the scale or what size pants you wear.

    May we both make that journey 🙂

  8. just stumbled over here from kate harding’s blog. I just wanted to tell you I love this post. love it love it.

  9. Well written, my dear! I think you and are on the same road with learning to accept the acceptance. I wish us both peace on that journey 🙂

  10. beauuutiful post. I’m so encouraged to read things like what you’ve written. Thanks for putting this out there.

  11. […] verdict is in: the answer is yes. The answer to what, you ask?  Why, the answer to this, of […]

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