It is a truth universally acknowledged that you hate your body. No, really. Just ask any women’s magazine. Or men’s magazine. Or pinterest. Or the people who write about waging war on fat. Battle of the bulge. Fight the pounds!
Fitspo. Thinspo. Ragespo?
Here’s the thing: I’m fat. By any measure or judgement, I’m fat. No, no. Don’t assure me that it’s not true. I don’t use that word as a negative or as a self-insult. I use it simply as a descriptor. I’m fat! Someone calling me fat has very little power because, well, yep. On the other end of that spectrum, someone hurriedly assuring me that I’m not fat makes me wonder if they come from a land where everyone is 250 pounds and they’re just the odd one out at 130?
I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking about fat acceptance. One of my favorite authors, Lesley Kinzel (a self-described “mouthy, fat broad”), was my gateway into fatshion – the startling idea that you can be fat and still enjoy being visible. I’ll let you dive into fat acceptance on your own, because body acceptance and rejection of body policing is just awesome.
Someone’s going to make some kind of assertion that by saying I like my body the way it is, I’m ruining America, because — obesity. Blah, blah. Obesity can have health impact. No kidding. But so can a myriad of other factors. We all know a super skinny girl who can’t make it up the stairs and we all know a fat girl running the half marathon. Weight isn’t everything. All of that’s beside the point.
What I’ve struggled with is walking this line… How can I both love my body and desire to change it? How can I resist the cultural siren call of loathing myself while also acknowledging that I want my body to be smaller?
I’m not totally sure how I’ve managed to walk this line. Sheer obstinance, for one. I once saw an ad for Jenny Craig that showed a thin woman who had presumably lost weight. “Now I can wear colors again!” It proclaimed. As if being fat is a ticket to all-black, colorless invisibility. As if being fat removes your value and takes away your permission to exist. Fuck that.
I want my body to be smaller. I want to be able to run faster, wear J.Crew, and go rock climbing. (Okay, mostly I just want to wear J.Crew, let’s be real.) But wanting that, and desiring to be stronger, faster, and yes, healthier for me, doesn’t mean that I loathe the body. My body’s carried me through roughly 28 years of life thus far. It’s taken me into horseback riding competitions, hiking up beautiful mountain trails, kayaking on my favorite lake in the world. It’s been good to me, except that pesky little inability to be exposed to the sun because I am ghost-colored. I’m strong and I take up space and I refuse to apologize for that.
Body hatred is a sport in America. Loathe it, fight it, use war-related language to discuss your relationship with your own physical self. I refuse. I’m not fighting anything. I am not at war with my own flesh. I will wear red pants and polka dots and I will take up space, because no one has the right to insist that I don’t. You are valuable without being thin. You are valuable if you are thin. You are valuable without being able to run a mile as fast as that other woman. You are valuable if your breasts are small. You are valuable without going to war with yourself to achieve some unachievable standard of beauty and acceptable body size. You are valuable.