I believe that fat people are more than just the fat they carry. They are more than the stereotyped image of the fat person who is lazy and eats all day. They have lives and families. Yet they seem to be open targets for public shame and humiliation. It seems that so many people are all too willing to poke fun at someone who is fat because of some preconceived notion that all fat people choose to be that way. Just because fat is so obvious. It cannot be hidden. It can't be tucked away within ourselves or stuffed in a box and stored under the bed. It can never be a secret.
I'm pro-fat acceptance because I am pro-human rights. Fat people have a right to feel comfortable in their own skin. They have a right to leave their houses without shame or fear of being mocked. Other people do not have to like it, but they certainly do not have a right to make someone feel less than human because of it.
Sometimes I love my body. Sometimes I feel like the sexiest freaking person in the universe. My husband thinks I’m sexy and we have awesome sexy times together. He’s the only one I’ve ever been with that has made me feel that way about my body. He appreciates me and my body…. not me despite my body. He is my best friend and he has helped me in my journey towards self-acceptance. My husband is my hero.
It hasn’t always been this way. I’ve been in a few relationships where my body was not sought after. Times when my body was used against me. When I was told it was ugly and not worth the passion I was willing to give. I believed that I was not worthy of love and that I should be grateful for any kind of affection that I received. As my high school crush so “eloquently” announced to the entire class, “No one wants a big fat cow.”
I guess that’s why, the night a man, my date, decided to rape me, that I translated it as love. He must love me if he was willing to have sex with me. Who would want to sleep with me unless they loved me. Who cares if he pinned me down and took off my clothes with tears in my eyes and a no on my lips. Who cares if he was so rough with me that he made me bleed and then yelled at me for doing so. He must love me, right? That’s why I stayed and endured his abuse for some time. He never cared that I cut myself because my heart ached so bad and I just wanted something to dull the pain in my soul.
I look back on that girl I used to be and she seems like a stranger. I don’t understand how I could have valued myself so little that I thought that I deserved to be treated with such hostility. I wish I could go to that young woman that I was back then and tell her that she was beautiful. To tell her that the size of her body didn’t define the worth of her life. I wish I could have told her that she didn’t have to hate herself. That it was okay for her to have sexual desires (because she felt ashamed and unworthy of those desires). Though I cannot, I cradle her in my memories.
We act according to our beliefs about the world. By these actions we shape a reality, a truth of how the world works. Our actions will also affect how those around us react to us. Their actions towards us will solidify our beliefs. This is how we create our own personal truth.
Consider the following:
"William and Dorothy Thomas (1928) wrote: ‘If [people] define situations as real, they are real in their consequences’ (p.572). Their point is simple: Humans act in a world they define, and although there may actually be a reality out there, their definition is far more important for what they do. In the end, it does not matter if you are a scoundrel or not; what matters is that I see you as a scoundrel and I act toward you as if you were one. And you, in turn, may not be a scoundrel, but you may accept my definition of you as one and then proceed to act that way. If I see a situation as threatening, then I will act accordingly, even if people in that situation did not mean to appear threatening. If I define school as hard or good or silly, then I will act toward school in that manner, no matter if others feel as I do and no matter if it is in reality harder, better, sillier than other schools . Our realities are our definitions of situations. Definitions must define the situation (including those others) by engaging in mind activity. We act in a world that we create through interaction with self influenced in part by interaction with others" Joel M. Charon (Symbolic Interactionism: An Introduction, an Interpretation, an Integration. 8th ed., pg 127).
I think this is something we should keep in mind when there is discourse between two groups. People act according to their beliefs. If we take a moment to consider those beliefs we can perhaps understand each other a little better. We can work together to change reality. I think that is kind of a cool concept. That is all.
We examined the contributions of genetic factors and the family environment to human fatness in a sample of 540 adult Danish adoptees who were selected from a population of 3580 and divided into four weight classes: thin, median weight, overweight, and obese. There was a strong relation between the weight class of the adoptees and the body-mass index of their biologic parents — for the mothers, P<0.0001; for the fathers, P<0.02. There was no relation between the weight class of the adoptees and the body-mass index of their adoptive parents. Cumulative distributions of the body-mass index of parents showed similar results; there was a strong relation between the body-mass index of biologic parents and adoptee weight class and no relation between the index of adoptive parents and adoptee weight class. Furthermore, the relation between biologic parents and adoptees was not confined to the obesity weight class, but was present across the whole range of body fatness — from very thin to very fat. We conclude that genetic influences have an important role in determining human fatness in adults, whereas the family environment alone has no apparent effect. (N Engl J Med 1986; 314:193–8.)
Albert J. Stunkard, M.D., Thorkild I.A. Sørensen, Dr.med., Craig Hanis, Ph.D., Thomas W. Teasdale, M.A., Ranajit Chakraborty, Ph.D., William J. Schull, Ph.D., and Fini Schulsinger, DR.MED.
N Engl J Med 1986; 314:193-198January 23, 1986DOI: 10.1056/NEJM198601233140401
Anonymous said: Hi! I love your blog! I also need advice. I started a new course in September and Facebook-friended many of my fellow students. A woman I friended had started a radical diet and exercise program online and was being paid to 'coach' others. She dropped out of the program quickly so I never really got to know her. Today, out of the blue, she messaged me personally asking if I wanted her to coach me. I'm a little offended and hurt and don't know how to respond. What is a body-positive response?
First, I think it is important to recognize that she probably isn’t doing what she is doing to be malicious, as she is operating in a popular cultural framework that dictates that all of us must want to be thinner because thinner = healthier.
That being said, it is also completely understandable that you felt offended because of the implications of her offer. I, myself, receive countless offers to join weight loss regimes by family and friends via Facebook. My husband has family members that invite me to events and not him. I do get a bit miffed, because I have stated how I feel about the matter. I cannot dictate what the absolute right thing to respond is, but I can tell you a couple of options that I would personally consider:
1. Ignore her. Simply don’t respond.
2. Politely decline her offer and leave it at that. You are not required to explain yourself, so do not feel obligated to do so.
3. Politely decline her offer and take the opportunity to share your body-positive outlook. (Example: Thank you for thinking of me for this opportunity but I must decline. I do not feel that dieting is beneficial to my health. I feel that raging against my body is counter-intuitive to its overall well-being…. and so on and so forth)
You are different and can certainly handle the situation as you wish. I am just telling you how I would handle it… but I am an entirely different individual. :) I hope I helped you. If not, feel free to tell me!
P.S. Thank you for loving my blog! :D
First one must define what true happiness is. Is there a universal definition of true happiness? Is the concept of true happiness a perception or an ultimate truth? Can one person define true happiness for another person? Is true happiness obtainable by any of us fallible human entities?
I subscribe wholly to the theory that perception defines reality. The way I see it is the way it is for me in my own personal life. This would lend to the notion that what I see as happiness would be judged as fallacy in the eyes of select others and what I see as fallacy is another human’s ultimate truth.
I am happy. I am happy with my life. I am happy with who I am and what I stand for. Does that mean I always run around with rainbows flying out of my butt? Nope. I am human. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else. But I am happy. I am happy because of many things, but one giant reason is because I have learned to be. To exist in the present moment and accept what it is. I could fret and worry about why certain things in and on my body are as they are. I choose happiness.
If someone came to me today and handed me a pill that would make me the “ideal” weight, I wouldn’t take it. It would negate my human experience. As a member of society, it may be tempting, but I would decline the invitation. My life, my experiences, and my body have ushered me into the person I am today. What lessons would I forfeit in the pursuit of a more acceptable body frame? If it comes to me by my actions, then so let it be.
I suppose this deserves a warning because it talks about fat hate and self-injury
When I was recovering from a time of my life that included severe depressive episodes and self-injury (2001), my mom took me to talk to our new preacher. I was way better but still struggling with the urges to cut.
What did he tell me during this meeting? “You need to lose weight, I know you can’t be happy being the size you are. You’ll feel way better about yourself. I know someone who can help you go on a diet” (insinuating that all my problems stemmed from the size of my body)…. We are going to forget the rape and all the other things that happened that could be contributing to my current state… I’m sad because I’m fat. I hadn’t even considered my weight at this point but he certainly planted the thought.
Sometimes I wish I could go back and stand up for myself instead of accepting it because I felt like I deserved it.