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.
Want more support in living a fabulous life as a fat person in a fatphobic world? Check out the Fat Activism Conference Three days, 40 speakers, 30 workshops, teleconference style so that you can listen on the phone or computer from wherever you are, recordings so you can listen live or on your own time, only $39 with a pay-what-you-can-afford option to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Check it out!
Book Me! I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!
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Here’s more cool stuff:
My Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details
Dance Classes: Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details