onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “weight loss”

Keeping it to yourself: the gift that keeps on giving!

Today is my birthday! I’m 44! Hooray!

About 5 1/2 years ago, I started working out regularly, 5 days a week. I had left New York City, where significant portions of my daily travels were done by walking, a few years before. But even in the suburbs of Chicago, I was still using my own two feet as transportation. But in early 2016, when we moved to Kentucky, I got a driver’s license and a car. And I thought to myself, “Kate, you are very clearly never going to move your body again now that you can drive.” So I started my bare minimum workout.

And that workout has done me well over the past few years. It keeps me sane. It has especially kept me grounded and emotionally elastic over the past year and a half, which were particularly stressful for me. 

But I don’t workout to lose weight. I don’t do it to sculpt or tone. I don’t do it to wrangle my body into a traditionally pleasing shape for the benefit of the eyes of others. I do it because that is how one cares for a body. And my body has been particularly good to me over the course of my 44 years.

But this thing happens every once in a while and I hate it. Someone will see me on my jog and tell me “it’s working” and that they can see how I am losing weight.

The other day, I was running, and a neighbor, not one I know, called out that she was proud of me and she could see how much weight I was losing. Ugh! Cringe!

First, let me be clear. I have not lost weight in the past 5 years. I have, in fact, gained some. Not a lot. But definitely some. And I don’t actually care. When I laughingly assured the lady that I had not lost any weight, she assured me that I had and that “she has been watching me.”

This has happened to me repeatedly, not only when it comes to my workout, but also when there have been people who perceive my food boundaries as “a diet.” They will suddenly see that “that diet is working.” And they will insist that I have lost weight. (Again, I have not lost any weight in years. My “diet” is not about losing weight. I’m not *on* a diet, I *have* a diet.)

I don’t know what that thing is that happens, but it happens. Strangers and friends alike see something that they associate with someone trying to lose weight, they somehow see the weight loss, real or imagined, and then they *talk to me about my body* as if it were any of their business.

The idea of praising this perceived weight loss is that fat is bad and thin is good. Period. That any kind of “thinner” is always better than any kind of “fatter.” And I have been dealing with those judgments all of my life. I was “good” when my weight was down, and bad or shameful or “needed work” when my weight was up. And I let these judgements color how I saw my own value and worth for almost all of my life. I let the size of my body dictate how much I liked myself and how much I harmed myself for about 30 of my 44 years. That is a long history of self-hate and self-harm.

I just want to be clear, there are a very specific few humans who I speak openly and honestly with about my weight and my body now, and they know who they are. Other than them, I hate it when anyone remarks on my body, even when they think what they are saying is a compliment. And frankly, most people I know feel this same way. I don’t know many (any?) people who are interested in anyone’s opinions about their body.

The truth is that people don’t know what constitutes a compliment to me. Certainly not if they think telling me I lost weight is a compliment. Especially, though not exclusively, when I have not. And their wrong assumptions about what will please me only make me feel gross and a little angry. I even made some minor changes to my running route, because I don’t want to have to deal with that lady ever again. That is how much I hate people talking about my weight.

I love my 44-year-old body. I love the way I look, and the way I feel. But I love it for me. I love it because it is mine. And I love it because I take care of it and it takes care of me in return. So if you want to give me a gift on this celebration of my 44 trips around the sun, maybe keep your body opinions to yourself. Not just about my body, but about all bodies! It’s a gift that keeps on giving!

I’m giving away social currency.

Over the past 9 years, this blog has been an excellent catalyst for my growth. It is a whole thing to not just have thoughts, but to also send them out into the world. When they rattle around in my head, they are a lot more like blunt objects. Imprecise. Doing a lot more harm than good.

The other day, I was writing a post for this blog about social currency. It was, if I do say so myself, an interesting topic. It’s one I think about a lot. I am a conventionally attractive, still young-ish (43) white woman in a socially acceptable sized body. That is a lot of social currency. 

The thing that made me put it down was that I was having a hard time saying that I want to devalue thinness. 

I am not skinny. I say this all the time in this blog. I am about a size 14 (US.) A L/XL. But I also need to point out that I have been a size 28 (US) and that is objectively fat. 

So at 33, when I was skinny and young and white and just plain gorgeous, I was socially rich in a way I had never experienced before. (Maybe when I was 4. I was a really beautiful little kid.) And now I am the equivalent to upper middle class social currency wise. Still beautiful and white and kind of young. But not skinny anymore. But also not fat.

So I guess what I want to call myself out on today is that so much of what is going on in my head is about my social currency. And how I want to keep what I have. And also how I do not want to be that girl. Because there is another girl, who is also me, who would have had an easier, better, more peaceful life if thinness were not of so much value. And I don’t want to throw 12 and 16 and 18 and 23-year-old Kate to the wolves so that 43-year-old Kate feels like she can keep some societal leverage before she is too old to be “attractive” anymore. And it’s not just young me that I want to protect. I don’t want to throw all of the current fats to the wolves either.

The last several years, but especially this past year has taught me a lot about who I want to be. It has made me ask if I want things at the expense of others. Or if, on the contrary, I am willing to have less than I currently have so that others can have a share. 

I don’t want wonderful things at the expense of others. That, in fact, if it comes at the expense of another person, it is not wonderful. Of the very many things I have learned from having my eating under control, one of the most important is that I have my journey, and everyone else has theirs. That not everything is for me. That life is not a zero sum game. That I don’t need to look at others as competitors. That there is plenty to go around. And that just because some will grasp and claw to get the biggest piece, doesn’t mean I will. Or that I want to. Or that the biggest piece will make me happy. The biggest piece will not, in and of itself, make me happy. That I am very clear on.

When I am thinking rationally, and not out of fear of deprivation, I remember that I *do* want to devalue thinness. Because humans are worthy and lovely and lovable by virtue of existing. Not based on what they eat or if they exercise. I can love a person who is unhealthy (though I am *not* saying that being fat is unhealthy) just for being alive and near and available to be loved. I don’t need people to earn my love with thinness or the desire to achieve thinness, or perceived health. (Though not being an asshole helps a lot!) And I don’t want to live in a world where that makes me weird. So that means I have to devalue thinness myself. For myself. About myself and everyone else.

I also want to reiterate that I love my eating boundaries. That I do not want to give them up. This is not me angling to get some cake. I am happy to live without cake. I just want the fat people who *do* want cake to be able to have it and eat it too.

Also also, this has made me want to go back and revise my post about thinness as social currency. So maybe you’ll see that in the next few weeks?

15 years. Still grateful. Still angry.

Yesterday was the 15 year anniversary of having boundaries around my eating. Every day. No cheat days. No extra bites. No special exemptions for birthdays or holidays. 

To this day I am grateful for the solution I found to my eating problem. 

When I started this blog, it was about my weight. And I still really love living in a smaller body. I posted some pictures on social media yesterday. 3 from when I was a teenager, and 3 from this year. And it is strange to look at that body that I lived in for so long. It is easy to forget now what a prison that body was for me.

It was hard to move in that body. Hard to be mobile. Hard to get to where I needed to go. It was a cumbersome, uncomfortable vehicle. 

But more than that, it was a humiliating vehicle. And that is something that is still hard for me. Because I am still angry at the ways I was treated. I am still angry at the things people said to me. Family and friends. Strangers and acquaintances. And that was not about me and my food issues. That was about society and the issues of our culture.

I am so happy and grateful and filled with peace, because I got my eating and my sugar addiction under control. I have no interest in or intention of changing my food. I am happy to never have another bite of cake again. I mean that. Really and truly happy about it. 

But I don’t do it for anyone but myself. And I am still sad and angry that society told people, and me, that for the first 28 years of my life I was unlikable, detestable, shameful, pathetic, contemptible, unqualified for respect and unworthy of love.

I understand if you are impressed by my having lost weight. I can see how it can look impressive. But I will tell you what is really impressive. That I was able to honor myself and my body, even when people were telling me that that body meant I was grotesque and disgusting. That I was able to love myself enough to honor myself when the general consensus seemed to be that I was broken and wrong.

If you love a fat person, maybe just love them. Exactly as they are. Even if they can’t or won’t do whatever things you think they should do to be healthy or happy or whatever it is you think they should be. 

So on this 15th anniversary of me doing this crazy thing that resulted in long-term weight loss, I am going to tell you that the weight is not the actually answer. It never was. The answer is in honoring myself. Bodily, emotionally, and spiritually. The answer is that food was killing me and now it’s not. The answer is that if it’s your body, it’s *your* answer to find. And if it is not your body, the answer is to love the person in front of you. Not who you have decided they should be.

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.

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