If These Bodies Could Talk

Splits Cropped
Photo of Ragen Chastain by Substantia Jones for the Adipositivity Project

I was trying to decide what to write about today and then I got a comment from Hera339 that absolutely inspired me:

“I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, but just found this post, Since finding SA 2 years ago, I have come to accept my fat body, but this post…this made me fall in love with it. I just want to give myself a great big hug now!”

So I’m reposting this piece from 2010 and hoping it will inspire others to feel the same way about their bodies:

I’ve read several places that 8 out of 10 women and 6 of 10 men are unhappy with their bodies. Virginia over at Beauty Schooled clued me in to a Glamour Magazine study which found that 71% of women “feel fat” (and presumably aren’t happy about that…)

It made me think – what would the bodies of those 80%, 60%, and 71%  say if they could speak for themselves?

If I were my body when I used to feel like those folks, I think I would have said:

“You’re complaining about my size and shape?  Are you freaking kidding me with this? Do you have any idea how hard I work for you? Breathing, blinking, cell division – millions of things every day that you don’t even ask me to do.  And don’t even get me started on the things that you DO ask me to do. Could you at least say thanks and go a day without complaining to someone that we have man hands…”

But our bodies never say that.  They just keep doing stuff for us.  Perhaps not to the level that we would like all the time, but you have your body to thank for being able to read or listen to this and I have mine to thank for typing it.

Go with me on this for a minute:  Imagine that your very best friend gets seriously injured and  needs someone to completely take care of them:  wheel them around, feed them, type for them etc., while constantly squeezing a bag to make them breathe, and performing chest compressions every couple of seconds to keep their heart going.  Now imagine that while you are doing all of this, your friend incessantly tells you that your nose is weird, your hair is too frizzy, the shape of your thighs is wrong, your stomach is too big, your upper arms are too loose, and your toes are ugly. Constantly.

Imagine that it’s been a week that you’ve been pushing them everywhere they want to go, feeding them, taking them to the restroom, breathing for them and doing chest compressions and all they do is point out  your “aesthetic  flaws”.  How long until you just want to scream at them?  How long until you start thinking about not squeezing that bag anymore?

We get to choose how we feel about our bodies,  so I’m thinking maybe we should take a minute to focus on all the completely awesome things about them, and thank them for all of the hundreds of millions of things they’ve done for us in our lifetimes.  And if there are things that our bodies can’t/don’t do (or things they do that we wish they wouldn’t) maybe we can say “That totally sucks” and then try to make it us and our bodies against a problem, rather than us against our bodies. No matter what goals you might have for your health and/or your body, or what you want to do in life, I’ll bet it will be much easier if you you are your body are a team.  What do you say?

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13 thoughts on “If These Bodies Could Talk

  1. That is a BRILLIANT post. I was chatting this morning with a hospital reception clerk who was moaning that she ‘just needs to lose another ten pounds’ to get to her Christmas ‘goal’, and I politely commented that as far as I’m concerned, I’m more concerned with stamina, strength and suppleness, and the weight thing just doesn’t concern me – she looked startled, then agreed that actually, fitness is just a tad more important!

    When you’re dealing with cancer patients all day, and their main concern is to keep weight ON, to be angsting over a few pounds overweight is a tad bizarre.

    1. Not just bizarre, but downright hurtful and demoralizing for them. While they are fighting for their lives, and grateful for every ounce of fat, to have one of their health-care workers complaining about fat, and that fat bodies aren’t good enough is a mind-twisting vortex of pain.

      If they are thin, and therefore don’t have enough fat to survive, then they are “good enough”, but dying. If they are fat, and more likely to survive, they are “not good enough,” because of their size, no matter what they may accomplish while they are living a bit longer.

      Imagine if this healthcare worker were to spout off to one of her cancer patients about how weight-loss is so important, and her patient, who had been hanging on until that point, were to nod her head, and say, “You’re absolutely right. Weight loss IS that important. I’m going on a diet right now. Nothing but water and celery for me, please!”

      “But, you’re wasting away! You need to hold onto every bit of your body that you can!”

      “Says who? My doctor? What does he know? EVERYBODY knows that EVERYONE can ALWAYS stand to lose weight, and no body that is higher than a 17 on the BMI scale actually needs or deserves nutrition or love. You’re absolutely right! You’ve been such an inspiration for me! In fact, I’m so inspired, I’m going to cut out celery, as well! CALORIES!”

      “But… You could die!”

      “So? Better dead than fat, right? Hey, Merry Christmas! I hope you make your starvation goal! Too bad you’ll be spending all your money on weight-loss products and new, smaller clothes, so you won’t be able to send anything to the food bank so the poor and homeless in this city can have something more healthy than ramen to live on. They don’t need to eat, anyway! They’ll lose weight! You’re doing them a favor! It’s much more important to lose weight. You’re absolutely right! No ifs, ands or buts. Get thin or die trying! Happy Holidays!”

      Bonus points if you’re in an area that gets really cold in December, and “dieting” makes you feel even colder.

      Yeah, this just triggered a serious snark reaction in me. Probably a good thing I’m not a patient in that hospital. Time was, I would have kept my mouth shut and silently fumed. Now that I’ve stopped dieting, I have some energy to fight back.

      Yaaaay, body, for effective use of fuel and energy storage!

      Also, I’m grateful for my pain, because although it is painful, it is also a trustworthy indication that something is wrong. Without pain, people can seriously injure themselves and not even know they need treatment. For example – diabetics with damaged nerves in the feet have to do a visual inspection, because they can cut their soles and not even know it. I saw a documentary, once, about a man who was working in a leper colony, and discovered that he had leprosy, too, because he was washing his feet. He put one foot in the water, and it was fine, and then put the other foot in the water, and jumped out, going “OWWWWW!” because the water was way too hot. Then he realized that he hadn’t felt the excessive heat in his first foot, and knew that he had a problem. So, yes, even painful pain is a great thing our bodies do for us, and I’m grateful.

      I’m also taking a pain pill.

      1. A family friend was recently diagnosed with cancer, and the first treatment she received was 25 lbs weightloss (which she said has reached 7 and hopes the doc is happy with her). I don’t know of any research that states that weightloss is a recognized treatment for cancer.

        Weightloss by itself is one of the most accurate indicators for future cancer (within the next 10 yrs). Same with naturally decreasing cholesterol.

        She also went on and on about how she’s been sticking to her diet, and our party she decided to “cheat” since there were snacks and dips.

        And yes to your imagined conversation about buying clothes you can’t wear so you have no money to donate to the food bank.

        1. Wait…

          Your friend’s doctor actually prescribed weight loss for a WASTING DISEASE?! Weight loss is a natural affect of cancer and its treatments! Cancer patients have to do everything they can to HANG ON to their fat, in order to last long enough to beat the disease!


          1. I kept my mouth shut since I know from previous that she is one of those who is obsessed with vanities and physical appearances. I also think she said that because I was the only one present for that, so it might have been a more “wink wink nudge nudge” message directed to me.

  2. Thank you for this read! I have been working on my self-acceptance daily and some days are harder than others. I mostly need to stop focusing on others opinions. Especially strangers.

  3. Another thing I love about my body is fine motor control. I’m VERY grateful for that, because I recognize that not everyone has it, and I love it. I love being able to write and type and color and knit and sew and other fiddly things. Fat doesn’t get in the way of that. I could weigh 500 pounds, and still be able to write and type and color and knit and sew and other fiddly things! That’s something my body does for me to help me express myself and live a full and happy life!

    Another thing my body can do: HUGS! I just gave several, and it was great!

    I’m just making a sort of gratitude list, here. Anyone want to join me?

  4. I’ve been following your blog for a while, but not since 2010, so this is the first time I’ve seen this. I have tears in my eyes. Most of the time, I really do appreciate my body–it has allowed me to do some pretty awesome things in my life and never stopped to TELL ME it was “too fat.” Recently, though, I have been having some physical things going on (not serious, more annoying) and reading your post I suddenly realized, maybe my body IS trying to talk to me…not to say that it’s too fat or wrong in any way, but to speak up and say, “Hey knucklehead, take care of me for a change, how about it?” I think I’m going to listen very carefully going forward and try to do the best things for my sweet body that I can. Thank you so much for this wonderful reminder!

    1. Good for you! And remember that what works for someone else’s body may not work for you, and vice versa. Listen to your body, and find what works best for you, and take care of yourself, and enjoy.

  5. Oh..wow… I’m a bit behind (been reading chronologically) and just got to this one. Ragen – I’m honored and humbled that I inspired you to re-share this message with your audience. You’ve helped me reshape my attitude in everyday life and I owe a lot to your spirit and your voice.
    For example, I finally plucked up the courage to write a polite but firm email to my company’s HR dept regarding the fallacious use of BMI as one of the “health markers” for our annual insurance incentive. Never could have done it w/o your mad research skillz and dedication to speaking the truth, no matter who’s listening. You’re a genuine (capeless -we really need to do something about that) superhero!

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