Recently I’ve seen a lot of discussion around the idea of fat and fault so it seems like a good time to repost this. One of the comments on my blog asked:
Basically, even though I may be genetically predisposed to it based on my family’s size and the fact that I have PCOS, I feel that I am overweight because I spent 15+ years eating crap and not exercising. This leaves me vulnerable to the blame/shame messages that society sends me about my weight – I feel like I can’t defend myself because I did it to myself.
I understand the FA movement is in part a push back against mistreatment and oppression, but is there a difference between being fat-accepting and being pro-fat?… I don’t see my fat as a natural part of me, I see it as the consequences of mistakes that I am now stuck with.
We know that different bodies react to things in different ways. Someone else could have engaged in the same behaviors and ended up thin while this person ended up fat, this person could have engaged in different behaviors but still ended up the same size, the truth is that we’ll never know.
Although I knew that, I’ve still been in that cycle of blame and shame. When I learned that dieting causes weight gain I went through a period of “blaming myself” for my body size because of all the dieting that I had engaged in. I went through a time of alternating between feeling bad about myself, feeling sorry for myself, being mad at myself, and being mad at the people who encouraged me to diet.
The first conclusion that I came to was that even if I could have been thin, even if being fat was my fault, wondering how I got to be fat and who I should blame for it does not serve me in any way. This is the body that I have. It is fat. It is also scarred because of death-defying bike tricks as a kid and working with aggressive dogs as an adult. I don’t begrudge my body those scars, why would I begrudge my body its size. What difference does it make if things could have been different? This is what’s happening. I have a fat body and my choices at this moment are to love that body, or hate it. I choose to love my body. At the time I didn’t know how I was going to do it, the important thing was making the choice that I was going to figure out how to love my body no matter how long it takes.
It took a lot of work, and it took fighting to keep my focus on the goal. This exercise did more to shift the way that I feel about my body than anything else. I had to fight through a time when I could appreciate the beauty in every body but mine.
After time I realized something deeper – all of this angst about my body size is based on a social construct that a fat body is a bad body. That’s just not true. Every body is beautiful as it is right now, at every size. I sometimes get stuck around the idea of “size acceptance” because I want better than just to “accept” my body, which often comes with a connotation of resignation. I love my body, I appreciate my body. I have a fat body and that body is what does everything for me – from breathing and blinking to dancing and hugging. That body deserves to be nurtured, loved, and defended from anyone who dares to say a negative word about it.
I owe this body my unconditional love, devotion, and full-throated support. So I’m not just fat accepting, I’m a pro-fat fat-loving fat activist fatty. More importantly, (thanks in part to the privilege of neuro-typicality) I am the only person who can decide how I feel about my body. I can choose to accept other people’s opinions, I can choose not to do the work to make shifts if my current feelings aren’t the way I want to feel; but at the end of the day I have no idea why my body is the size it is, but I do know that the way I feel about my body is on me. I’m the only person in the world who can choose how I feel about my body. As long as it’s my choice, I choose love.
It’s almost here! There’s still time to register for the Fat Activism Conference Three days, 40 speakers, 30 workshops, teleconference style so that you can access the workshops on the phone or computer from wherever you are, recordings so you can access the workshops live or on your own time, tools for everything from armchair activism to marching on the White House only $39 with a pay-what-you-can-afford option to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Check it out!
Like this blog? Consider supporting my work with a donation or by becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!) Click here for details
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!
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