Yesterday I discussed some absolutely horrible advice that Dear Abby gave to a reader in which she perpetuated the idea that the best thing for fat people is to never ever be happy with ourselves, never be comfortable in our skin, always hide our bodies, live in constant shame, have low self-esteem and poor body image, have strangers make constant assumptions about our health and habits, be constantly stigmatized, stereotyped and bullied, never have even a moment of peace unless and until we become thin. This is a message that has made weight loss companies lots and lots of money – over 60 Billion a year and rising – and one of the reasons for that is that they’ve been so successful at getting so many people to regurgitate their marketing language as if it’s the truth.
Many fat people, having heard this message over and over again, eventually buy into it and put their lives on hold while they attempt to lose weight. I was one of those people for a number of years. I was always going to do the things that I wanted to do – dance, date, perform, wear a bathing suit, wear a bikini, wear clothes I liked etc. – just as soon as I lost the weight. I get e-mails every day from people who have been putting their lives on hold waiting for weight loss.
My life changed drastically and dramatically for the better the day I decided to stop waiting for another body to show up and just take the body I had out for a spin. I arrived at that decision when, having yo-yo dieted for years, I decided to do the research and find the best diet. After reading every study I could find about weight loss, I was shocked to find that there wasn’t a single study where more than a tiny percentage of people had lost weight, and “success” was typically defined as having lost 2-5 pounds.
Based on the research (rather than the constant drumbeat of “everybody knows,“) the truth was (and is) that being thin will probably never happen for me, or most fat people. So was I supposed to live a joyless life subjected to constant bullying, stigma, stereotypes and oppression all of which I should accept because I deserve it for being fat, hiding my body in shame, putting my life on permanent hold? Screw that.
I’m here today to suggest this: If you are putting your life, or aspects of your life, on hold until you lose weight, then whether you decide to practice Size Acceptance and/or Health at Every Size, or try to manipulate your body size for whatever reason, consider taking your life off hold, starting right now. Start today! Do something that you’ve been waiting to do. Or start planning to do something that you’ve been waiting to do. Or start asking questions – like where you got the message that you should wait to do things that you want to do until your body looks different (was it by any chance from people who are profiting from that message?), if those messages serve you, and if you want to keep buying into that.
I think that this is so important because as we take our lives off hold, we show other people that it’s an option. I’m never interested in telling anyone how to live, but I have dedicated a significant portion of my life to making sure that people know all of their options and that they include the option of living a full, amazing life in a fat body.
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16 thoughts on “Fat Lives on Hold”
The whole time I was reading Abby’s response to this woman, I was thinking she obviously hasn’t heard of the Underpants Rule. LOL! I think of that all the time when I read or see someone judging another for something that is not any of their business. I just want to start saying to everyone…”Follow the Underpants Rule!”
Does anyone remember the old BBW Magazine slogan, “Stop weighting and start living”?
Just checked, and there is still an online BBW Magazine:
I used to have an entire drawer full of print issues of BBW. They’re still HERE!
I still have a bunch. Also have the book. I can’t tell you how much it helped me back then. I attribute many years of feeling good about myself to that magazine. The online version is but a pale vestige of the magazine, unfortunately.
You can still find used copies of the book — the styles are out of date but the ideas are right on.
i think so many people are brainwashed by the diet industry and cultural expectations they don’t even realize that there is another way to live. That was certainly true for me.
When I stepped off the weight loss merry go round, (in large part due to this blog) I had no idea what would happen. First thing I noticed was that I was immediately happier. I began intuitive eating, though I didn’t know that’s what it was called. I just ate what I wanted, when I wanted. And despite all the dire predictions of the diet industry, I didn’t gain weight. My weight stabilized. I used to be an emotional eater–if I was upset, bored, depressed, etc. I would eat. That simply doesn’t happen any more. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full.
My body is my ally, not my enemy.
It’s sad that so many people won’t even attempt to challenge their assumptions and “everybody knows” beliefs. They’ll try 30 different weight loss gimmicks but never even consider just stopping the insanity and then see how that makes them feel. I explain my philosophy (when asked) and hope that eventually it gets through.8424.
Yesterday I was reading an article by a woman who had taken a virginity pledge. She got so wrapped up in believing her body belong to the church and to her husband she couldn’t have a happy sex life.
The weight thing strikes me as the same thing. Out bodies don’t belong to us, they belong to other people.
For various reasons I have trouble believing my body and my life aren’t completely mine.
Unfortunately, this attitude is very prevalent in society and the media that it is hard to escape. It may be time for another media vacation.
I think I saw the article you’re referring to, and you make an excellent point.
A “media vacation” is a great idea! I think we all need to detox from that crap and all the fat-phobic messages it spews every once in a while.
I watched very little TV the past couple of days and definitely feel better.
I took a step today into accepting my size. I wore leggings and a tunic. Okay, I was in a hurry, going to a physio appointment, but…. I’ve never, ever worn leggings before – only baggy trousers or a long skirt.
And ya know what? The earth didn’t stop turning. Nobody yelled at me or laughed or pointed.
At 60, I’m a poster girl for ‘Someday when I’m slim’. Or I was, until this morning.
That’s great, Nyree! The first step is always the biggest.
Nyree, that’s wonderful. 🙂
I lived in this mentality for decades. Its cousin is “When X starts, I WILL BE THIN” or “I HAVE to lose weight or This Wonderful Thing That Will Happen Cannot Possibly Be Enjoyed”. I felt this way the summer before every school year started. I even spent one summer subsiding on granola bars and yoghurt and mowing lawns in the 95 degree heat for exercise. Nothing changed when I’d do the back to school clothing shopping…nothing except my self-hatred, which only got deeper, and my self-respect, which eventually fizzled into nothing.
I swore on my left nut that I would be thin before I started college or I would do SlimFast every day until I was. That didn’t happen either. Then when I was around 23 I realised my life was leaking away, that I’d been thinking this way ever since the doctor told me in 3rd grade, “My, you’re really getting HEAVY, aren’t you? Time to see a nutritionist! You’re right off the charts! Bet you’re the best eater in your house!” And the little Greek chorus that had lived in my head ever since needed to be gone because I was tired of them shrieking over every single bite of food, even the “right” ones.
I really didn’t shake the mentality until about 6 years ago when I stumbled onto a Fat Acceptance blog and thought, “There is such a thing?? Wait, I have GOT to read more…” then realised that all those years hating myself were wasted and empty. And I just got tired of it.
My mother used to be like this, and I was, too, when I first started to put on weight. I’m glad I don’t do that anymore.