onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “weight loss”

Lots of love, but no pretending

When I first started this blog, I wanted to heal the parts of myself that had been squashed and damaged by all of the self-preservation I had put in place. I wanted to work through the default thoughts and actions of my life to that point that kept my life small. That kept me protected from any kind of hurt or embarrassment. From really any kind of emotions.

Also, I hated fatness. I hated being fat. I hated seeing fat people. Even the ones I loved and liked and admired and respected. And having given up sugar and lost over 100 pounds, I felt incredibly self-righteous. 

Since then, I have grown and changed a lot. Much of the change was because of this blog. And one thing that I have changed my mind about is fatness. I am so much less judgmental. I have love and compassion for my fat self, and that love for myself has overflowed into love and compassion for others.

But there is a place that I stand that is very much considered fat phobia by fat people and fat acceptance culture. And it is that I do not want to be fat. 

It doesn’t matter that it is about me and nobody else. It doesn’t matter that I have been fat and hated it. To not want to be fat is to value thinness. (Sigh. Again. I am not that thin. I wear the biggest of straight sizes and I have plenty of chub.) But I do value not being fat. For myself. For my life. For how I feel about my body. For how I feel about navigating the world in this body. 

I am writing this because I saw a social media post that said “If you don’t want to be fat, that is fat phobic.” And I immediately thought “No! Not me! I’m not fat phobic!” But maybe I am. Probably I am. 

My body stays relatively thin-ish, because I don’t eat most sugars, grains or starches. And I don’t eat those things because I am addicted to them and I have the same kinds of behaviors as an alcoholic or drug addict (btw, sugar is a drug for me, so I really am a drug addict.) I lie, cheat and steal. I manipulate. I am self-centered and emotionally volatile.

I don’t continue to abstain from sugar because of my weight. I do it because I don’t like the person I am when I eat it.

But I also don’t want to be fat! And I don’t want to have to feel bad or ashamed or uncomfortable or like a heartless asshole because of it. And I guess if that makes me fat phobic, then I am. And I don’t feel the need to do any work on myself over it. 

I remember what it was like to be treated like a disgrace for being fat. The way people would comment on my body with laughter and jeers and sneers. Strangers and acquaintances and people I considered friends. And how people would stand by and let it happen to me. And to this day I hate doctors, and the medical community in general. Because the way they treated me as a fat person always made me feel like I was a failure as a human being. I always felt ashamed and embarrassed. And I was scrutinized and reprimanded whenever I went for an appointment. And yet, I was never offered a solution that worked. (Willpower is not a solution, my friends.)

I see other people, fat people,getting the same hate and cruelty that I received for so long, and I am so sad and hurt by it. When I listen to the casual fat jokes and dehumanization of fat people in all forms of media, I still feel an echo of the excruciating pain I used to feel as a kid when I saw a fat joke or a fat shaming on TV shows or in movies. Some of those movie lines and jokes are burned into my psyche.

I want to be trusted and accepted by the fat acceptance community. Because even if I don’t look like it, I feel like fat people will always be my people. But maybe I can’t. And maybe I shouldn’t. And maybe I need to let that go. Because the actual, absolute truth for me is that if someone wants to do what I do – give up sugar, weigh their food and keep strict portion control, keep boundaries about when and how and how often they can eat – I want them to. Because it is without a doubt, the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and it is the foundation for the life that I have which is a life beyond my wildest dreams. And I didn’t get it because I wanted to have a spiritual awakening. I got it because I didn’t want to be fat anymore when I was in my 20s.

So I am going to keep following my fat brothers and sisters on social media, and loving them and their hot fashions, and their beauty. But perhaps I am going to have to give up wanting to be accepted, and a true part that movement and that moment and that group. Because I have a different set of experiences. And I don’t know how to be over here, grateful to not be fat, and still make fat people feel loved and honored as themselves.

Maybe I can’t. Maybe I can, and I just don’t know how yet. But I love having an easy body. And I am not willing to pretend I don’t.

My Body as a Temple

There is a saying. My body is a temple.

Now that is originally a quote from the Bible. And the short, paraphrased version of it is that our bodies are temples to the Holy Spirit and that our bodies do not belong to us, but to God.

Yeah…look, your body may, indeed, be a temple to God with a capital G. But mine is not.

My body is a temple to me, to my own life, to the things I want to do and the person I want to be. To this amazing vehicle! I remember I was in my 20s when I realized that this body was the only thing in the world that I owned outright. And I take that seriously.

When most people use that quote, “My body is a temple,” they are usually talking about why they are eating unappetizing food or doing some kind of intense, strenuous exercise routine. And they are often bragging (overtly or covertly) about how they fit neatly into the modern Western beauty ideal.

From my point of view, their body is a temple to the fitness and beauty industries. Those are gods I refuse to worship.

It is true that I gave up sugar and carbohydrates to be thin. And I was really thin for a while. And I hated fatness, and I hated myself for having been fat, and I hated the poor fat kid I had been.

But I did not stay very thin for long. I was pretty thin for about 5 years. And really skinny for about 2 years. But that was it.

But I didn’t ever go back to eating sugar and carbohydrates. Not because I continue to try to be skinny, but because my body *is* a temple. And I am freer, happier, less anxious, and more peaceful since I quit those foods which are poison to me. I am not honoring thinness. I am honoring my own life.

I hated myself so much and for so long and so completely, that I didn’t even know that I hated myself until it stopped. And it stopped when I gave up sugar and carbohydrates. It did not stop when I lost weight, though I did lose weight. And it did not come back when I gained weight back. And I did gain some back. It was not my weight that was the true issue. The true issue was sugar and how I was using it as a drug. And how I was addicted and behaved like an addict. I was a liar, a cheater, a thief, and a master manipulator. And sugar made that possible for me the way alcohol makes those things possible for an alcoholic.

When I say my body is a temple now, I mean I honor it as a way of honoring my life. And my life is not marathons and intermittent fasting. Hell, it’s hard enough “fasting” between dinner and breakfast!

I honor my life and body with regular exercise and water. With fruit at breakfast and raw vegetables at lunch and dinner. With flossing. With meditation. With skin care. With limited caffeine.

But also, giving up sugar and carbohydrates gave me a new, better ability to sit still and focus. To learn new things. To have the patience to fail and keep trying. So I honor my life and body by knitting blankets and crocheting dolls.

It gave me the ability to get things done and fulfill my duties and commitments, and then to give myself time to rest. So I honor my life and body by lying on the couch for Netflix binges and YA Fantasy audiobooks.

I learned to love my body as beautiful, even when it doesn’t fit into society’s beauty standards, so I honor my body and my life by buying clothes I love for whatever weight or shape I am, and by seeking out and following models of all shapes and sizes on social media. Because seeing only one kind of body portrayed as beautiful made me hate the body I was in.

My body is a temple to celebrate myself. And in my temple there is exercise and hydration, but also bacon and homemade chocolate ice cream. And that is a temple I am happy to worship in. Good thing too. It’s the only temple I’ve got.

My body is not an issue

I have been writing a short gratitude list every day for the past few months. And one thing that has been coming up for me a lot is how grateful I am that my body is not an issue.

A little over 15 years ago, I was doing some volunteer work for a self-help seminar. The idea was that you gave them your time and you got the seminar for free. I was poor and that worked for me. At a prep meeting, the seminar leader asked me what I wanted to get out of the seminar, and I said “I want my body to stop being an issue.”

Because for basically all of my life up until then, my body was on my mind, in some form or another, all of the time. I was obsessed with sugar and carbohydrates, and I was obsessed with my body. I was constantly worried about what it looked like to other people, what other people were thinking about my body. And what they were thinking about me because of the size and shape of my body. My own body was my enemy. I hated it. I was ashamed of it. And I was continually thinking about how to change it. Or perhaps it would be truer to say I was continually trying to figure out how to eat the way I wanted to eat, but at the same time have my body look/be socially acceptable.

Over the course of that one six month seminar, I went from being on a diet and in the first stages of being an exercise bulimic, to being an all-out exercise bulimic, to abusing laxatives, to making myself throw up, to giving up and eating myself 30 pounds heavier.

But on the last day of that seminar, I had my current boundaries around my eating in place, and I was weighing my food in the restaurant around the corner from the building where the seminar was held. In other words, by the time it was done, I had gotten what I had asked for. Or, if my body had not ceased to be an issue quite yet, I was doing the thing that would let me stop thinking and worrying obsessively about my body. I mean forever.

I don’t want to imply that I have *never* had body image problems since I put boundaries around my eating. When I quit smoking and gained at least 30 pounds, that sure did freak me out. And that was a difficult time for me emotionally.

But for the most part, in my daily living, I don’t think about my body. It doesn’t even cross my mind. I don’t walk around thinking anyone is looking at me in judgment. I don’t worry about someone saying an unkind, unsolicited remark about my body.

Before I changed my eating, I was eating myself to misery. I was harming myself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually with food. With addictive foods that made me feel crazy and unhappy.

I have often noticed that when we harm someone, we have to do one of two things:
1) Own up, take responsibility, and make amends,
Or
2) Double down and make it their fault, so we don’t have to feel bad for being the jerk.

I did this to my body for most of my life. I fed it foods that are poisonous to me, and then blamed it for looking a way I hated. (Which, in retrospect was just internalized fat phobia.) Blamed it for my difficulty of mobility. Blamed it for being sub par and not as “pretty” or easy or socially acceptable as other girls and women.

But today, there I have a peace around my body that I never expected. And the even more unexpected thing is that it’s not about the size of my body. It’s not about how skinny I am, because I am not. It’s about how comfortable I am with the way I treat my body. My food is in line with my commitments to it. My exercise is to love it and care for it, period. Not to make it thinner, or shaped differently. In getting my eating under control I got to stop judging my body.

Basically, though it was fraught with difficulties at the time, I got exactly what I wanted out of that seminar. More! Because all I was looking for was to stop thinking about my body, and instead I got to love it.

Delicious and Shameless

There is a prevalent theory about eating disorders that I see a lot as someone who likes to stay abreast of what is going on in fat acceptance/body positivity communities. The idea is that food is neutral, and that food addiction, especially sugar addiction, is “false.” It does not exist. It is a made up concept created and fueled by the diet culture.


This kind of frustrates me. Only a little. Because I know very clearly sugar addiction is not only true for me, but knowing it and acting accordingly, has transformed my life for the better. I want others to get the opportunity that I got, but I don’t have to worry about it because I am completely taken care of.


Is this selfish? Sure. Do I care? Not particularly. One thing I learned early in keeping boundaries around my eating was that *if* people want what I have they can do what I do. That I am planting seeds all the time. And that what other people put in their bodies is none of my business. I keep my eyes on my own plate.


But I read a post by a dietitian and fat activist the other day. This is a person who is entirely anti-weight loss and claims quite emphatically that sugar addiction does not exist. Which is fine. But they had one post where they listed a number of questions to ask yourself if you are having trouble with guilt or upset over your eating while in quarantine, and another with the recommendation that one “sit in the yuck.”


So I have to say that I whole heartedly agree that “sitting in the yuck” is crucial! And the questions they asked were excellent!


But how can someone like me do this if we are high on the food we are feeling guilty over eating? And for me, to sit in the yuck necessarily means not eating the foods that get me high and make me numb. I can’t feel the yuck and be numb at the same time.


Perhaps if one is not addicted to certain foods this makes perfect sense. But whether this person believes it or not, I am addicted to certain foods. And this advice is missing a crucial aspect if the person using it can get high on cake and not have to actually feel the yuck.


There is a saying I always appreciated. If you want to know what you are using over, stop using. When I quit smoking, it became glaringly clear to me that smoking was how I kept from feeling, or having to acknowledge for myself, others’ judgements of me. When I went to the grocery store for the first time after I quit, I was forced to see the way that the checkout ladies rolled their eyes and sneered at me. (I insisted on packing my own grocery bags since I had to carry them a mile home on foot, and I could get everything perfectly into 3 shoulder bags and they always packed them light and then just put what was left in plastic bags I would have to carry in my hands.) I used to light up a cigarette right after I shopped. And when I couldn’t, because I didn’t do that anymore, I broke down and cried on my walk home, loaded down with a week’s worth of groceries.


But ultimately, I was taken care of because I took care of myself. And I sat through the yuck. And I learned not to care that these women didn’t like me. Really not care. Not artificially not care because I was hopped up on nicotine.


I don’t pretend that everyone is addicted to sugar. And even if they are, I don’t care about that either. I met my husband (again – we were childhood friends) after I quit smoking, and moved across the country to be with him and eventually married him when he was a two-pack-a-day smoker. I don’t care what you eat! I don’t care if you smoke! I don’t need to judge anyone.


But if food is killing you, physically, spiritually, or emotionally, and you are trying really hard to get sane and you can’t, maybe it’s not just about what is in your head and your heart. Maybe it *is* about what you are putting in your body. And maybe if you are desperate, you should try putting down the foods that you are feeling guilty over.


I will end with this. The absolute, 100 %, no-doubt best thing about putting boundaries around my eating, from day one until today (5,235 days later – a little over 14 years) is guilt-free eating. Bacon? Guilt-free! Homemade Sugar-free chocolate ice cream? Guilt-free! Deep fried onions? Guilt-free! Pork rinds? Guilt-free! I have boundaries, but that doesn’t mean I am deprived. I love my food. I love every bite. And I am so grateful that there is also always an end. Every meal concludes. And there is always another one coming. And it’s delicious and shameless!

The First of Many Ways I Learned to Honor My Body

Today I am sharing the link for a documentary that I was featured in that I am really happy to be a part of. It’s called Follow me, and below is a link to rent or buy it on Vimeo.com. If you are interested, I highly recommend it.
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/followmefilm

As a person who was fat and hated it for my so much of my life, I was still terrified of giving up sugar and carbohydrates 14+ years ago. Now I treat those foods as poison, but then, I didn’t think I could have any joy if sugar was gone from my life.


But I have said it before and I will say it again: Giving up man made sugars, grains and starches is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.


When I was eating sugar, I ate even when I did not want to eat. I could not stop. My eating was completely out of my control. And that lack of control was terrifying and shameful. I felt like I was morally inferior to thin people. And because it was written all over my body, people treated me that way as well. And they were allowed to. For all of my life, fatness has been a thing it was OK to mock, and fat people a “fair target” for shame and abuse.


For a while now, I have been moving away from focusing on weight and weight loss, and moving more toward looking at freedom and happiness. Specifically, the freedom I have from food addiction and the happiness I find in having my physical cravings and mental obsession lifted.


Look, I am significantly happier in an easy body. And I am not ashamed of that. And I am grateful to not be subject to the kinds of judgement I was a target for when I was fat. And I am not ashamed of that either. But that doesn’t mean I think it was or is OK. I am just relieved to not be on the receiving end of it. That is natural.


But whatever my body looks like (and it has looked a lot of different ways over the past 14 years – skinny, strong, curvy, chubby) giving up sugar and carbohydrates has created freedom for me from not only compulsive eating, and sugar addiction, but also from the shame I felt in not being able to stop eating.


In having freedom from my sugar and carbohydrate addiction, I can have a much more gentle view of my own fatness. I can love myself and my body, in all of its various shapes and sizes through my life. I can see how beautiful I was when I was fat. Something I could not see when I was in it and cowed by food. And I can see how beautiful I am now. I can see that how much I like and love myself doesn’t have to do with my size or shape, but by how I am willing to honor my body. And for me, putting down sugar was the first of many ways I learned to do that.

PSA: Your Quarantine Fat Jokes Aren’t Funny

So, a little public service announcement to those of you making quarantine fat jokes:
The fat people in your life can see and hear you and it is most likely making them feel shamed, ugly, and judged.

Here’s the thing. I understand that some of us are not used to having this much time, plus this much stress, and many are stress eating and boredom eating. If that is how you are coping, I don’t have any judgment about that. Maybe you have, are, or will gain weight. It happens. Bodies change, and we change our bodies through what we put into them and what we use them for.

But if you are grossly exaggerating the amount of weight you have gained “as a joke,” please know that you are shaming someone that weight. If you went from a size 8 to a size 10 and you are taking about being 300 pounds, and talking about it like it’s an impossibility, because “who could let themselves go to that extent” please understand that I weighed 300 pounds. And not in a pandemic. That was just my life and my body. And I was just as valid and valuable a human as I am now.

Or if you are bemoaning the weight you have gained and are talking about how it has made you ugly, or shameful, or somehow unworthy, you are telling the fat people in your life that you have been seeing them that way this whole time.

Or if you are making or sharing pictures, gifs, and memes with unflattering and humiliating images of fat bodies, you are sending a clear message to the fat people in your life that you do not respect, honor, or appreciate them. You are telling them that you are willing to make jokes at their expense. And not particularly funny jokes at that.

And chances are they won’t say anything. I never would have when I was fat. I would have kept it to myself and it would have festered in me. Or it would have killed a little bit of my soul and my joy. But to bring it up would be to put a spotlight on my own fatness. A target. And I never ever wanted to do that because it had painful consequences.

I did not like being fat. It’s true. But to this day I have a hard time separating and differentiating between not liking being fat because of my own physical comfort, and not liking it because the world at large was so cruel to me for it. And the world was certainly cruel.

I will not lie to you about how grateful I am to not be eating compulsively right now. I am so grateful that my eating has had boundaries for a long time. It has made my life easier and better for the last 14 years, and it makes it better now. I have “built up that muscle” so that not stress eating or boredom eating is the norm. And that is a blessing to me. But that is about my eating, and my eating disorders. Not about my weight, or size, or fatness, or beauty.

If you are having trouble with your eating or your weight, I am sorry. And I wish you well. But please remember the people you love. They may not have the words or the willingness to tell you that you are hurting, humiliating, or shaming them. But they feel it. I promise.

There is no perfect configuration of hoops, so I stopped jumping.

When I am on social media, I block all diet ads. And not just the scams, like the supplements and diet shakes. I block the exercise and weight loss tracking apps as well. And the Meal delivery services. I block anything that says that if I hit on the perfect equation, I will get exactly the body I am told is the perfect, most beautiful, most desirable body.

Because for the past 42+ years, the body I have is exactly my body. Sometimes it has been fat. (300 pounds. U.S. Size 28.) Sometimes It has been skinny. (133 pounds. U.S. Size 6.) And all manner of weights and sizes in between. But certain things never change. And never will. The boxy shape of my butt, for example. The fact that my thighs touch and will never not touch. (They touched when I was my skinniest. There is just no way around it. It is about the position of my bones.) How short my very wide hips are, especially compared to my long torso. I don’t have that long graceful curve from waist to thigh. And I won’t. Because the only way to change these very specific things is with cosmetic surgery and 1) I have more important thing to spend my money on than meeting some made up ideal of feminine beauty. And 2) I really like my body. Exactly the way it is.

It took me a very long time to realize that most people who have “perfect” bodies, (bodies that fit neatly into the aesthetic of modern beauty standards) and faces, have had some form of cosmetic work done. The richer they are, the harder it is to tell, because the work is of such good quality that it looks natural. But ultimately, very few humans will ever just naturally fall into that “ideal Western beauty model.”

I once saw a post that had a side-by-side picture of a famous model (who was just recently, and with plenty of controversy, called “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World According to Science”) before and after what is obviously extensive cosmetic surgery, with the caption “No one is born ugly. Only poor.”

I am not judging people who choose cosmetic surgery. I think it is a choice, just like any lifestyle choice. And it’s none of my business.

Also, cosmetic surgery can’t keep a person skinny. That is most definitely a combination of lifestyle and genetics. I expect that people who get that kind of cosmetic surgery spend a lot of time exercising and actively not eating. (Probably actually starving, frankly.) My guess is that a lot of drugs are also involved. Or at the very least lots of cigarettes and Diet Coke.

But to be told that if I jump through some series of hoops, indeed, if I figure out the *exactly right configuration of hoops* for my body type or blood type or lifestyle type or whatever else nonsense, that I will then mold my body into exactly the “ideal beautiful body” as seen in magazines and on TV, is cruel, offensive, predatory, and blatantly false. (And that’s not even touching on Photoshopped images.)

The other reason this is so particularly offensive to me is that this myth gives society leave to judge bodies, especially women’s bodies, as a kind of character judgment. Because if [insert name of woman you would like to judge] had any willpower/self-respect/shame, she would figure out her hoops and jump through them.

I, of course, don’t believe in willpower. It has never helped me control anything to do with my weight or my eating disorders. And I have not eaten sugar for over 14 years. So as someone with the experience of abstaining, let me assure you, willpower has nothing to do with it. It has been about support, community, and the gift of desperation to stop eating constantly. I am not in possession of any moral high ground, just a deep sense of humility around my eating.

I choose a particularly specific eating lifestyle to keep my eating disorders in check. It’s no man made sugar, starches, and no grains except some wheat germ. It’s 3 meals a day with strict portion control with nothing in between but black coffee or zero calorie drinks. The boundaries I keep also help keep my weight/size within a certain range. And I am grateful for that because it means that I live mostly pain-free. I am free from the emotional and spiritual pain of addiction, free from the pain of weight on my joints, free from the pain of exertion while doing mundane things like climbing stairs or walking long distances. In other words, if you consider them hoops, I jump through them for my personal peace, not to live up to anyone else’s standards.

And I love my body the way it is. And I don’t just mean that I tolerate it. I don’t only love it for being my vehicle. I think it’s beautiful, not just useful. And I treat it like the precious thing it is.

Something I cannot recommend enough

In the past months I have been shifting the way I frame things in this blog. I am talking less about weight loss and more about food. I don’t want to play into fat phobia with this blog. I want it to be about recovery, not judgment. About emotional and spiritual wellness, not physical size, or “health” or moral “shoulds.”

Because giving up man-made sugars, and most grains and starches, and weighing my food, is without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. The fact that I am not “on a diet” is so important. I eat delicious, decadent meals. I enjoy every bite. I’m a weirdo about it too. I totally talk to my food. I clap excitedly when I am about to dig in. I do little dances in my seat when we have a particularly delicious meal. Like when my husband makes carnitas or when I make bacon lamb burgers. (No. No tortillas or buns. No. I do not miss them.)
I certainly chose my eating boundaries in order to lose weight when I started this journey 14 years ago. But what is it they say about the best laid plans? 
The truth is I did lose weight. And there was a period of time when I was skinny. But life had other plans for me. Plans I didn’t get a say in. If it had been up to me, I definitely would have stayed skinny. But it was not up to me. 
In some ways I am grateful for not staying skinny. Because it let me know how much of my choice to stick with my eating boundaries was based on my emotional and spiritual life. 
If skinniness were the only goal, I would have quit when my weight fluctuated, and I gained weight while eating less. If that were the point, I would have gone and looked for something else. Or I potentially would have said “screw this” and gone back to sugar. Because if I couldn’t “control” my weight with this “extreme” eating plan, I might as well let it all go and eat cake. (Spoiler alert: I did *not* say “screw this” and go eat cake. And thank the heavens!)
The gifts of my eating boundaries are about how I feel about myself. I like and love myself inside and out. Not because I am a certain size. Not because I fit into a specific, socially acceptable category of feminine beauty. But because I am free from cravings and compulsion. Because I have a clear head. Because I spent my life lying and sneaking and hiding food, and lying sneaking and hiding all sorts of other things as a result. But being deeply honest about my food allowed me to be deeply honest in all areas of my life. And that honesty is freedom. And because honoring my body by caring about what I put into it has allowed me to honor my body is so many other ways. To quit smoking. To exercise regularly as a practice. To drink water and limit caffeine, and floss daily. And to like and love what I see in the mirror. Even with all of the flabby parts, and the parts with stretch marks, and wrinkles and spots. All of it. And that complete love started with me getting control of my eating, which was out of control for so much of my life. 
And I have to tell you that I don’t know a lot of people who have that. And I don’t think a lot of us exist in the world. Not even women who are thinner and younger and live in more socially acceptable bodies than I do. I think even most of them still don’t have the kind of deep-rooted peace around their bodies that my chubby, middle-aged self does. 
So keeping my eating boundaries may have started out being about losing weight and being thin, but it is not that anymore. Now it is about extreme self-love. Loving all of myself exactly as it is. And that is something I cannot recommend enough. 

What could be more feminist than doing what I want with my body?

Ok. I think I am ready to do it. It has taken me some time to get my thoughts in order, but I am ready to talk about fat phobia and weight loss. 

A little set up for this post. I follow a fair number of body positive, fat acceptance, pro fat, fat activist, fat model, and in general size-inclusive accounts on social media. I do it because I still feel very connected to this group. I did not lose over 100 pounds to feel like I am “better than” anyone. And I am not here to promote weight loss. 

But there is an idea that gets floated around within these groups. That the personal desire to lose weight is inherently fat-phobic and therefore anti-feminist. That you can take actions to “be healthy” but actively trying to lose weight is against feminism.

Ok, so now you have pissed me off. 

Let me lay out some things I believe are true.
• I believe that in the U.S. and Western Culture in general, we have been fed a narrow (and ever narrowing) definition of beauty through a bombardment of images and advertising, to control and make money off of women. This culture and the corporations driving it have tried to convince us to starve ourselves, exhaust ourselves, nip and tuck ourselves, and generally be disappointed in ourselves so that we are willing to pay for the next thing that will make us beautiful and worthy. (Worthy of male attention, primarily.)

• I believe that diets don’t work, and that decreasing calories and eating in moderation is impossible for the majority of people who are not just doing that naturally. I believe that the medical industry has never offered me anything in terms of advice, diets, surgery, or medication that in any way makes long-term weight loss attainable. That what they do have to offer, besides physical mutilation, is “willpower” and “moral fortitude,” which are both bullshit, decidedly not helpful, and only reinforce the messed up idea that being fat is a moral failing. My experience is that it takes a lifestyle overhaul around food and eating to change your weight in the long-term. And that if you won’t or can’t do that, that’s fine. And totally valid. And doesn’t mean anything about your heart, mind, or morality.

• I believe that being fat does not *necessarily* equate to being unhealthy. I know that there are plenty of healthy fat people. But having said that, I have met a great number of fat people with serious health and pain issues *directly related* to being fat. And for many of these folks, losing weight and maintaining that weight loss has made them measurably healthier, and has greatly increased their comfort.

• I believe that being fat is now, and has been for generations, an easy mark for cruelty and discrimination. Whenever I hear someone say that society has “accepted” fatness, it’s usually to also say, “and that’s a problem and is contributing to the breakdown of morality in our society,” or some such nonsense. And that is bullshit. Society has not embraced fatness. And when (if) it does, it will be an important step towards inclusion and equality. Not the slippery slope to moral decay.

• I understand that I, as a straight woman, have a different relationship to thinness than many women who are not straight. The widely accepted and agreed upon view of the kind of woman men are attracted to is that she is thin. The thinner the better. Skinny, sometimes to the point of death, is what the fashion industry has been selling as the height of beauty for at least the past 30 years. So yes, I wanted to lose weight in the first place to meet a bullshit beauty standard. But as I have pointed out before, there were many classically good looking  men who were attracted to me when I was fat. But they were embarrassed by it. And I was shamed for it. 

So I do understand how loaded weight loss talk is. And I do agree that fat *is* a feminist issue. But when you tell me that my weight loss is anti-feminist and upholds the patriarchy…well now we’re going to have words.

It reminds me of an argument I occasionally heard growing up, that women who chose to stay home with their children and work as stay-at-home moms rather than have some kind of career meant they could not be feminists. 

But I thought feminism was about making our own choices, and doing what we chose for ourselves. I thought feminism was about agency and autonomy. I thought I got to choose what to do with my body. All of my body, in any way I wished.

When I was fat, I hated stairs. Sometimes, if I knew I was going to have to climb a lot of stairs at some point that day, it would haunt me until it was done. It would take up space in my head and create anxiety. I did not hate stairs because of internalized fat phobia. I hated stairs because that level of exertion caused so much pain that I lived in fear of stairs. When I lost my weight, that stopped. In fact, I started to love physical exertion. I started to love moving and walking and jumping. And yes, even stairs. OK, maybe I didn’t start to *love* stairs. But I most definitely stopped fearing them.

When I was fat, I loved to dance. I went out dancing several times a week. And there was always a point when my feet would ache so bad i couldn’t dance anymore. Even if I wanted to. Even if my favorite song came on. I wasn’t not dancing because of internalize fat phobia. I was not dancing because the weight of my body on my feet was more than I could bear. When I lost that weight, I could dance all night, and my feet never hurt. Or if they did, not enough to keep me from jumping up for my favorite song.

And here is another thing. (But it’s muddy. And I get that.) It was also a relief to be in a body that people didn’t feel entitled to shame. 

I don’t think it was OK for people to shame me for being fat. And people did. Men and women. Family, friends, and strangers. People made me feel less than, and disgusting, and shameful. And I most certainly internalized that. 

But when that stopped, there was a freedom for me. And I am not going to tell you that I don’t like it. I do. I like not having to worry about someone making an unsolicited, cruel comment. I like not thinking about my body almost ever. Especially when I thought about it, and lived in fear and anticipation of vocal judgment, constantly though my early life. 

It is not the way the world should be. And I will fight against it with everything I have. It is not OK to shame and belittle fat people.  But you don’t get to tell me what kind of body I have to have in order to do that. And this world, the world where fat people are shamed publicly and privately and in backhanded and overt ways, is the world I live in. And since I have to live in this world for now, I like living in this world much better in a body that is not continually scrutinized. 

The last thing I will say about this is that I could not have had this conversation when I was still fat. Because I really had internalized fat phobia. I hated myself. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I was also addicted to the foods making me fat. It turns out, I didn’t have a weight problem. I had an eating problem. I gave up man made sugars, grains, and starch because eating them caused cravings for more. They made me feel crazy and out of control. I started to control my portions, because part of my addiction was always wanting ”more.” My weight was the physical manifestation of my addiction. The physical addiction and the psychological addiction. And I didn’t know that until I gave up those addictive foods and put boundaries around my eating. I did it for vanity. But what I got was sanity. And the ability to look at fatness with love, and with compassion for the way fat people are treated.

I say it pretty often here. I am not skinny. I can shop in regular stores for straight sizes, but I am not lean. I have a big butt and hips and belly. I eat decadently. I am never hungry. I don’t deprive myself. I just have clear boundaries for how much food I will eat and stay away from foods that I am addicted to. And I don’t miss them. I don’t miss cake. I don’t miss French fries (which was a surprise to me. I thought I would miss them the most.) I feel great in my mind and my body. 

So I am not advocating weight loss. But if you think you would rather be in a thinner body, I understand and appreciate that. It doesn’t make you less of a feminist. It doesn’t mean you have embraced the patriarchy. It just might mean you are tired of fearing stairs and missing out on dancing to your favorite song. It just might mean you want some control over your body. The one that is yours to do with whatever you want. And what could be more feminist than that?

If you don’t like Lizzo, don’t look.

One thing about writing a blog that is so personal is that sometimes I need to stew on things for a while. I need to sort my feelings and my thoughts. A lot of things, as they relate to fatness or society’s view of fatness, can be particularly loaded for me.

I have some things brewing in my head that I have not gotten a handle on. Things that are so emotional for me that I don’t want to write about them this week. Things around what it means to *choose* to lose weight in a fat phobic society. And how it reflects on fatness to love having lost weight. To have zero regrets about not just having my eating under control, but to also be in a smaller, easier, more comfortable, and more socially acceptable body.

But then this week, while I was trying to sort out these very personal feelings, about some very personal choices, I ended up hearing Joe Rogan and Michelle Wolf talk about Lizzo on his podcast and I was reminded again how being fat is vilified in this society. And how the argument for vilifying it is that it *isn’t* vilified, or at least not enough. 

Lizzo, of course, is a fat, black rap artist who has had a year very much in the spotlight. She regularly dresses provocatively, dances in sexy and suggestive ways, and enjoys herself and her body. She has fat, black backup dancers who also dress and dance provocatively and enjoy themselves and their bodies. In other words, she is unapologetically fat and black and encourages fat blackness. And while this clearly speaks to a lot of people, as her popularity suggests, there is a lot of backlash.

On his podcast, Joe Rogan asks (in all seriousness, which would make me laugh if it weren’t so angering) why Lizzo is allowed to show her butt, while thin women (women *he* would actually want to see) are not allowed to. I would like to know where this magical land where Mr. Rogan resides is, that loves it when fat women show off their bodies and doesn’t like it when thin women do. Because I want to go there and be worshipped as the goddess that I am! 

This idea that thin women are not loved and admired for being thin is ridiculous. It’s blatantly false. Look at any tv show, magazine ad, calendar, literally anything depicting women, and tell me that half-naked to naked thin women are looked at with scorn. How many people have been upset by Victoria’s Secret fashion shows with skinny women’s butts on display. 

And then Joe Rogan made the comparison of Lizzo showing her butt to a baboon showing its butt. I wonder if he has ever made the same comparison when a thin woman has shown her butt. Is he comparing Victoria’s Secret models to animals? I’m going to guess not.

And the other thing that makes me angry is this idea of “confidence” as a code word when dealing with the discussion of fat bodies. Confidence, when used in this context, really means “nobody actually wants to see that so you must be confident if you’re going to show it anyway.”

And that seems to be the general through line. Certain groups (I’m looking at you straight men) have decided that what they want to see, or at least what they claim they want to see, is the most important thing. That they are the valid voice of truth and beauty. But the actual truth is that lots of people want to see that. All sorts of people. 

So here is the thing for me. When I was fat, there were lots of straight men who were attracted to me. Lots of classically good looking, thin men. And they pretended they weren’t in public, and treated me like shit, because they were embarrassed to be attracted to me. So I am going to guess that there are a lot of straight men who are attracted to Lizzo. Not by her “confidence,” but by her actual body. The one she’s using to dance and sing and be joyful.

And here’s another thing. Straight men are not the only people whose attraction counts. Many of the people who are attracted to Lizzo are going to be women. Lesbians count. They have opinions and tastes. They have money to buy the things that are being sold. And many are going to be straight women who have been told that they are not sexy. But they look at Lizzo and they think she’s sexy. So they can maybe start to look at their own sexiness. They count too. 

Here’s the deal. Everyone counts. And just like I do when I see underwear models that I find too skinny, too filled with silicone and botox, and too plastic, Joe Rogan, and all of the dudes who don’t want to see, and all of the women who are shocked and appalled, can turn it off, change the channel, not look.

I am still unpacking a lot of thoughts and feelings about where I fit in a fat phobic society when I go to great lengths to both have my eating under control, and keep my weight at a place that is comfortable for me. But do not tell me that thin women have somehow gotten a raw deal because one fat black woman is unapologetically loving her fatness. I will not be buying what you are selling.  

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