I had an uncomfortable epiphany on my path to body love. I was near the beginning of my journey and I was working on getting to a place of gratitude for all the things my body did for me, instead of focusing on hating it for not looking like a Photoshopped picture of someone else.
The more I appreciated things my body was doing – from breathing, blinking and heartbeat to smiling, waving and moving around – the more dissonance it created with the messages that I was getting from society about my body, and the way that I had always bought into those messages
It seemed like everywhere I turned I was told that my body was ugly, worthless, morally corrupt. In the past I had agreed that a fat body was ugly, insisted that it might be worthless now but that I was “working on it,” and insisted that despite my fat body I was still a good person.
The more appreciation I had for my body, the more I was seeing my body as a friend. The more I thought of my body as a friend, the more trouble I had continuing to participate in putting my own body down, whether it was self-deprecating jokes, or apologies for my size, buying into the idea that manipulating my body’s size would improve it, or agreeing that my body deserved to be constantly stereotyped and stigmatized.
I realized that if anybody treated my friends the way that they treated my body, I would never stand for it – I would flip out, not join in. My body deserved better. My body, that does so much for me every single day, deserves the same respect and support and complete intolerance for mistreatment that I would have for any friend. My body deserves nothing less than my full-throated support.
So I stopped putting myself down. It wasn’t easy – when it came to beliefs about my fat body, I had had been shopping at shitmart and paying full retail price. I had employed the “beat everyone to the fat joke by making it about myself” technique for a long time so when I not only stopped making the jokes, talking badly about fat bodies, and engaging in the Good Fatty/Bad Fatty dichotomy, but also made it clear that I wasn’t going to stand for others making jokes, talking badly about fat bodies, or engaging in the Good Fatty/Bad Fatty Dichotomy it was a struggle not just for me, but for a lot of the people I interacted with. I was a little shocked by how many interactions depended on both of us buying into the idea that a fat body was a bad body.
Now I know the truth – my fat body is amazing and beautiful, my body is worthy of love and respect, and I am a good fat person, not a good person despite my fat. Viewing my body as a friend has helped me to deal with injury and illness by conceptualizing them as me and my body against a problem rather than me against my body, it has helped me to treat my body better, and demand better treatment for my body. My body and I are much better as friends than we were as enemies, and I’m never going back.
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13 thoughts on “When My Body Became My Friend”
It is so important for us still on the journey to know that you have made that journey as well. Thank you so much for sharing!
I did this! I’d make jokes about my body, and sometimes friends would laugh with me, or they’d look a tiny bit uncomfortable, because THEY cared more about me than I did myself, and didn’t like that I’d insult myself, even in the form of a “joke.” I made a decision to stop, and sometimes they still slip out. But not as often.
I’ll admit it: I don’t like being fat. But I don’t hate myself for being fat either. I’m very glad to have found both this site and Fat Nutritionist.
Yes, Ragen and Michelle are probably the best resources out there. Also check out Sandy’s old blog: junkfoodsciece blogspot com. She was a nurse and actually took the time to make accessible nutrition/medical research.
It’s so good for us still on the journey of erasing those tapes and replacing them with other, better words, that you have made it to this part of the journey and we can follow your road and have you to A: look up to (or down to if you’re shorter than us,) and B: emulate when we need words put in our heads cause we don’t yet have them.
I had a really cool epiphany, though not about my own body, last night. My niece sent me pictures of her wedding (I live too far away to attend). I haven’t seen her for a couple of years and I haven’t seen her parents in much longer than that. I looked at the pictures, and my FIRST thought was how beautiful my niece (in her late 30s) and her mother (in her late 60s) look. And my second thought was how proud her father looked, and how handsome her husband is. And only then did it strike me that my niece has gained weight since I last saw her, her parents have both gained a lot of weight, and her husband is plump. Five years ago, I would have looked at that picture and thought “Oh my GOD, they’ve all gotten so FAAAAAAAAATTTT!!” Last night, I looked at it and thought, “Oh, they’re all so beautiful, and so happy!” I hadn’t quite realized how great a paradigm shift I’ve had since reading this site … Just another reason to say THANK YOU, RAGEN!
This made me cry. I didn’t expect that.
You shared this revelation of yours in a previous post maybe a year or so ago- and it CHANGED MY LIFE. I didn’t know this way of life existed. I didn’t know I could stop dieting and ACCEPT my body however it looks. And it took a lot of hard work, a ton of daily Reagan reading, and many steps forward and backward to clean the 31 years of lies out of my system. Because I don’t live under a rock, I still have to battle fiercely against the heaping piles of crap thrown my way…but because of Reagan and all you other women who are living fully, I feel like I have an army beside me fighting for and with me. THANK YOU.
Loving and appreciating and befriending our bodies: What a thought! I love it!
And for some reason, this reminded me of a meme I saw just the other day:
Picture – a tree (pretty basic)
“If trees gave off wi-fi signals, we’d be planting them all over the place, and taking care of them. Too bad they only give off the oxygen we breathe.”
We appreciate the things that give us physical pleasure, much more than we appreciate the things that simply keep us alive. And our fat bodies do keep us alive!
Maybe if someone were to invent a way to get fat to emit wi-fi signals…
Enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing!
I like most of the bloggers here went thru my own version of Ragen’s
journey of learning to love oneself as is, NOW, not as projected by the visual mass media and much of society. It is unfortunate that so many people have to be subjected to the psychological abuse and put life on hold for a long time while getting one’s act together. It’s not only fat people and their admirers but any person who does not fit the “ideals” who is placed under some form of social pressure. Skinny people, “ugly ” people, disabled people, old people etc. but especially young people who are caught in the web of self -hate.
I believe we are all completely unique individuals and beautiful in our own way. If we choose as an individual to attempt to change this discrimination, just as we came to self acceptance uniquely we have to seek change in society in our unique way individually.By listening to our intrinsic sense of truth, likes, dislikes, interests, curiosity and everything else as much as we can we become an invinceble army.
Elizabeth, your story made me cry. It’s so sad what we miss out on when we’re too busy judging each other to appreciate each other.
It took me a long time, even after finding Health At Every Size and Size Acceptance, to stop using self-deprecating humor when it came to my body. I forced myself to stop the direct shaming fairly quickly, even though I still hated the way my body looked. A lifetime of training a person to hate themselves will do that.
I used the self-deprecating humor as a defense mechanism. If I’ve already called myself fat and ugly, I’ve beaten the potential attacker to the punch.
These days I won’t do that. That I’m fat is a fact. Fat is a body type, not an insult. Whether or not another person perceives me as ugly is subjective. I don’t think I’m any beauty queen.
Regardless, nobody has the right to treat me or anyone else like crap because of my perceived f**kability in their eyes, and if anyone thinks they are allowed to do so because of my size, age, or whatever other reason, they will get an earful. I’m done with being shamed and bullied into silence and I’m definitely done with believing the crap that kept me hating myself for so many years.