This is my ‘coming out’ post.
No, I’m not gay. I’m coming out as fat.
How does one ‘come out’ as something that is patently obvious to the naked eye? Well, I guess you do it by acknowledging that for twenty-nine and a half years you have been hiding behind your fat, or ashamed of it, or trying to pretend that it doesn’t exist. You’ve tried covering it up, sucking it in or dressing in ways that emphasise you in ‘flattering’ ways rather than dressing for comfort or for sheer pleasure.
Today I am saying that I have had enough of trying to live as though my body is not mine. This is my body. It is fat and I love it. It is the vehicle in which I move through the world. It is what allows me to dance and sing and hug and speak and run and walk and swim and ride and love.
I am not proud of being fat, just as one does not take pride in being short or tall or having brown eyes or blonde hair. Fat is the state of my body – it is made up of more adipose tissue than people who are not fat.
Today I embrace the concept that just because you CAN modify your body doesn’t mean that you should. Especially if the process of doing so is dangerous. Today I accept that 95% of diets don’t work, that 80% of people who lose weight will regain what they have lost in the first year and the other 15% within 5 years. Most people will regain what they lost and more.
I see now that crash dieting and yo-yoing up and down with my weight have caused lifelong problems in my health and real problems with my eating & exercise habits including using food as a reward and exercise as a punishment. I accept that years of not accepting myself meant that I went through periods of starving myself and then binge eating.
I also accept that the fact that I am fat may or may not be because of medical conditions. Or that being fat caused some or all of my medical conditions. Either way, I know that I am no less deserving of respect or love because of the composition of my body, and the cause of it should not be a reason for judgment, whatever it is.
Today I understand that dieting is a multimillion dollar industry designed to make me feel ashamed of my body so that I will spend my hard earned money changing it.
Today I commit to improving my health, not my weight. I know now that health can be achieved at every size and does not have to be premised on losing weight. I know that if I eat well and move my body in ways that I will enjoy, my health indicators will improve just as, if not more, rapidly as if I go on a crash diet and lose an amount of weight deemed appropriate by increasingly arbitrary means.
Today I accept for myself – I am fat.
Obviously my life will not magically improve now that I have truly begun walking the road of self acceptance.
To start with, fat is hated in today’s society, and as an outspoken fat woman who is confident in her body, I know I am likely to come across people who take issue with that.
I also know that the prevailing opinions about fat and health as different to those articulated by me in this post, so I’ll probably cop some stick about that too.
And at the end of the day, the health question is a tricky one for me, because I’m trying to balance my mental health with my physical health. There is always more I could be doing to improve my physical health whether it be eating better or exercising more. But I also have bipolar disorder, which is a fairly significant condition which requires me to treat myself a little more gently than I would generally prefer. I know from experience that sometimes a night of takeaway in front of the TV will prevent an episode from occurring. And I’m okay with that.
I accept that I’m not always going to love my body, every day, day in, day out. Loving my body will be an ongoing process, and I’ll have days where the thousands of messages out there telling me I’m not good enough, subhuman and not deserving of love will get to me. And that’s okay. As long as I am willing to pick myself up when I fall, and allow myself to be supported by the many wonderful people I have met so far along the way who believe as I do.
Many of you know that I have been exploring fat acceptance over the past eighteen months or so, and I am so grateful to the many people who have helped me understand the movement.
Some of you would have seen me alluding to it but not really knowing what I was on about.
Some of you would never have heard of fat acceptance or even realised that it was necessary in today’s world.
I’m not going to go into it in detail now, but suffice it to say that there is plenty of stigma in the world if you don’t fit into society’s perceptions of ‘acceptable’, and it doesn’t stop on the catwalk or in clothes stores. It is so pervasive in society that strangers think it is acceptable to yell out at me ‘pedal faster fatty’ when I’m riding my bike, or make disgusted faces at me when they see my knees in a dress or arms in a singlet. This stigma needs to be fought and the way we are doing it is through a movement called fat acceptance. I will talk about this more in the future.
I’ve been fat my whole life, and knowing that I was never going to be accepted for my body I have worked very hard at being accepted for my mind – to the point where the whole of my identity was in my intelligence, my job, my study, my political views and my faith. My body played no part in it at all.
But now I realise that my body is not just a part of it, it is integral to all of these things. Body politics are important to me now because a my body is important to me and nobody should be able to make a judgement on the kind of person I am – lazy, gluttonous, over-indulgent – because of the size of my body.
This is the day when I accept my fat body in the hopes that 2012 will be a year where I can truly begin to love myself again.