Perpetual Potential Thin Person

Before AfterI am tired to death of the idea that I am not a fat person, but a perpetual potential future thin person.  A walking, talking “before” picture encouraged to put everything in the world on hold until I reach my “after” picture potential.

I remember when I believed this – when time slipped by as, diet by diet, I got closer, then farther, then less close, then more far, from the “after” version I was supposed to want to be.  All the while adding to my mile-long list of things I was going to do when I was thin and my life could officially start, and destroying my relationship with my body as we went from friends to barely acquaintances, to bitter enemies.

People told me “don’t think of yourself as fat, think of yourself as having fat.”   The idea being that I  was supposed to look at part of my body as temporary and, while I was at it, I should hate the fat, blame the fat for anything that went wrong in my life, and remember that until I lost the fat the only appropriate thing for me to spend my time, energy, and money on was getting rid of that fat.

Don’t worry, they told me, there will be plenty of time to do everything once you’re thin. But they had lied and the days, weeks, and months slipped by in a fog while I fed my body less than it needed to survive in the hopes that it would eat itself into a thin body, leaving fat in socially appropriate places and I could post my “after” picture and show everyone how big my old pants were on me now, and my body would finally deserve my appreciation.

That, for me, turned out to be no way to live. It was hard on me and the people who loved me. In fact the only people it was good for were those who run the diet industry, because if you can find something at which  almost nobody can succeed, but at which almost everyone is willing to spend a ton of money trying then you can make quite a profit.  If you can find something that almost everyone succeeds at in the short term but almost everyone fails at in the long term, and if you can find a way to live with yourself while you take credit for the first part and blame them for the second part so that they come back to you again and again in a vicious cycle of failure and blame, then you, too, can earn over sixty billion dollars a year and stunt the life progress of millions of people as the diet industry does.

To this day many people perceive me as a “before”  – if I’m at the gym people assume that I’m not accomplishing fitness goals, I’m trying to reach body size goals – as a fat woman I’m told that there is no reason to move my body other than to change it’s size and shape.  If I eat a salad then they think I’m “being good” in the quest to change the size and shape of my body.  If I eat a burger and fries then they think I’ve “lost focus” and should try to “get back on track” as soon as possible.  Every action is viewed as taking me closer to, or farther from, my ultimate goal of being thin.

Except that I have no such goal.  I am no longer waiting for my thin life to start, my body has graciously forgiven me and I’m living a fat life that, even with all the shame, stigma, bullying, prejudice, and oppression I face, even with all the ridiculous hate mail I get, makes me infinitely happier than I was during my “waiting to be thin” phase. I’m no longer sitting around waiting for another body to show up, I’m taking the body I have -potential, limitations and all, out for a spin. I no longer try to solve social stigma by changing myself – I now know that the solution to social stigma is ending social stigma and, unlike weight loss, that’s a worthy use of my time.

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26 thoughts on “Perpetual Potential Thin Person

  1. What a delight to read this first thing this morning while eating my AMPPED up oatmeal… that’s high fiber instant oatmeal with raisins, craisins and pecans… mmmmmmm

  2. I like living in the now as the ‘after’ picture that hasn’t changed much from the before one. In fact, the biggest difference is the smile on my face after.

  3. .. I’m glad I wandered across this blog.. I’ve always struggled with weight, thanks in part to pcos that I’ve probably had since puberty. I’ve had previous eras of successful exercise and moderate weight loss, but I’ve rather given up on ever looking like my sister. Which… kinda led to me giving up on exercise, too.
    I guess it never really dawned on me to work out anyway… I know I’m never going to be super skinny, but that shouldn’t stop me from being healthy…

  4. Here’s my latest pet peeve: the TV commercial by Medifast in which the after (skinny) version of the woman is having a conversation with the before (fat) version of the woman.

    1. Wow …that’s a new level of low. Talk about emotional manipulation and total bs. “What took you so long?” “This is who we’re supposed to be.” The tears and the sad music in the background. This is …wow, no words for how gross this is.

      1. You know what I wanted to hear as the response to “What took you so long?” How about, “What the hell is THAT supposed to mean? Who do you think you are talking to me this way? I AM you and YOU ARE me. We are the same person, don’t you get that? Who we’re supposed to be is who we are, i.e., the same person.” Then again, THAT doesn’t sell so-called weight loss programs.

    2. They forgot a few people in that video:

      -the “return to normal” gal for when she regains the weight

      -the “accepts/loves/celebrates the body she has” gal for when she gets off the diet roller-coaster (and has no further use for Medifast)

      Yeah, I know, it’ll never happen.

      1. Yeah, a character who accepts her body would be awesome! 😀 But all I could find for now was a parody :3

          1. You’re welcome, it seemed like a pretty creative and size positive way to laugh at the diet companies’ ridiculous claims 😀 And if we want to see a new ad where her future self accepts her body, we might just have to make that video 😀

            “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
            ― Toni Morrison

  5. THIS. Nothing short of perfect!

    “I’m no longer sitting around waiting for another body to show up, I’m taking the body I have -potential, limitations and all, out for a spin.”

    And the more of us who take the bodies that we have out for a spin, the better off the world will be!

  6. I love this so much. You gave me a happy tear or 3. I’m so tired of feeling like I have to commit to a life of obsessively analyzing and calculating the impact of every single thing I eat and 3 times the exercise of a person with a working metabolism in order to satisfy some societal requirement that I did not get to read the terms and agreements about and click yes to continue.

  7. Today, I went to a new gynecologist who ended up denying me the very birth control I said was my main goal in being there in the first place. He refused to prescribe my Depo shot because of the well-known risks of bone density loss with continued use.

    On the drive home, step-dad just HAD to ask if me being “overweight”, which is his term, not mine (I’m close to 300 at this point), makes the bone density loss/weaker bones issue worse, due to the “strain” my weight supposedly causes, which is part of the reason why the doctor refused to provide my prescription.

    The doctor didn’t so much as utter a word about my size and my BP was normal too.

    I was in a very foul mood today, so it was a tad difficult to not mouth off.

  8. Absolutely! What an insightful and honest post. You hit the nail right on the head with this one. I want to be an after picture in this body that I have been given. It’s hard to let go of the years and years of programming, but thank you for the inspiration and the courage!

  9. I *love* your “before & after” pic! That is great! Thank you for all you do. I am trying to dig my way out of the same perception you mention, that once I’m thin, it will be “okay” for me to live life. It’s bullshit, I know that. But, convincing myself is what I need to do. I /am/ making progress. I WILL get better at accepting, well, me. As I said, thank you for saying we can be ourselves as we see fit. Period!

  10. Awesome post! Very well put. Fitness is a total mind/body experience. I agree totally that we must live now and not wait for some imagined perfect version of ourselves. A great reminder to all, including me!!

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