What Can I Do If I Still Wish I Was Thinner?

Realizing that fatphobia was the problem, and that my fat body was fine allowed me to start living the life I had been planning to live one I got thin. (1)I got an email from someone who had just completed another round of weight-cycling (losing weight, then gaining it back – often gaining back more than was lost.) They understood that there was almost no chance that they would become thin – especially since they have repeatedly failed.

They understood that the research is clear that the outcome they experienced – total weight regain –  is the most common outcome of any weight loss attempt. They were clear that they can pursue health without pursuing weight loss (and understand that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control.) But they still want to lose weight both because they believe that they’ll have trouble finding a romantic partner, and because they just want life – shopping for clothes, flying in a plane, etc. – to be easier.

If you feel this way I want you to know that you are not alone, this is a very common experience. The fact that we understand that dieting almost never works (and that the chances of success can drop even lower on repeated attempts) doesn’t change the fact that we are a fat person, living in a fatphobic world.

Fatphobia, weight stigma, and weight-based oppression are not in our heads – they are real and fat people experience them constantly in everything from fashion, to travel, to the working out, to medical care and more.  The more fat we are, the more oppression we experience and things are even worse for those who are part of multiple marginalized groups.

Still, in my experience, hanging on to the fantasy of being thin (and, at least subconsciously, the idea that I could move myself out of the oppressed group) kept me aligned with diet culture and made it impossible for me to move forward with my life.

One good way to start to take control of this might be thinking about some questions, like:

–Knowing that I will probably always be fat, do I want to believe that the problem is fatphobia, or do I want to believe that the problem is my body?

–Knowing that the most likely outcome is a lifetime of weight cycling, do I want to try to continue to fight my body in the hopes that I can someday be successful in appeasing my oppressors?

–Would I really want a partner who only wanted me if I was thin?

–If being thin wasn’t an option, what would I want to do moving forward?

It can also help to follow fat activists who are living their lives without pursuing weight loss as role models. (Here’s a great thread to get you started: https://twitter.com/SofieHagen/status/1235182106810208257)

For me, my life turned around when I realized that the problem is fatphobia and not my body. As a person who is both queer and fat, I think it helped that I could see parallels between the way that I’ve been treated as a queer person with the way that I’ve been treated as a fat person. This includes the suggestion that these states are changeable, and that the solution to the oppression I was experiencing was to change myself to make my oppressors happy. Completely rejecting these suggestions has made my life immeasurably better.

When I realized that the world is fucked up and my body is fine, it was liberating. I no longer pursue weight loss. I no longer have lists of things that I’m going to do/start/be once I get thin. I no longer participate in my own oppression. I choose to fight my oppressors rather than spending my time, energy, and money trying to submit to their demands.

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4 thoughts on “What Can I Do If I Still Wish I Was Thinner?

  1. I needed this post today. When you asked recently for blog ideas I wanted something like this but didn’t have the words to express it. I keep feeling like I know the research, I know in my brain the truth of weight loss success. I don’t feel negatively towards or judge other people’s bodies. But applying that to myself … damn, it’s been hard.

    As always, thank you Ragen!

  2. Excellent post. I was particularly taken with: “ –Would I really want a partner who only wanted me if I was thin?” I have always thought that should be obvious, but it isn’t to most people as long as they are of the belief that this time, they will keep the weight off, and they will never have to be fat in front of their newly-acquired partner. Of course, this is a recipe for a failed partnership or marriage—not just because they are likely to regain the weight they lost, but also because those few who do not regain may keep from doing so by Herculean efforts. Those efforts may include food obsessions, going hungry, or developing an eating disorder, any one of which can be very hard on any partnership, even in the best of times. And any partnership that includes one or both parties having a very narrow definition of what they consider attractive, is probably doomed in the long run, anyway.

  3. I know from experience the more you try to push a thought away the more it resurges. I say let yourself have the thought, then remember where to root of it lies. Why you have been made to feel unwelcome in the world, in the body you have. Remember the Billion Dollar Business that has been going strong since the sixties to shame. blame, condemn and marginalize fat bodies (bodies with fat;) for profit. Remember the first step in the “lifestyle Change that is the same as the carp you heard in Childhood. Do you really believe your thin friend life on water an shredded carrots? Don’t bet on it. Your body is YOUR BODY, anyone who hates it has issues! unless you are sitting on them, it’s none of their damn business!
    What ever you have to do, do it. You shouldn’t have to hate yourself to live. Let the thought come, then gently blow it away and go do the thing you think you can’t do till your thin.

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