When Good Friends Get It Wrong

best-friends-source

The other day I ran into the epitome of what, no doubt, I encounter just about every time I flip on Tumblr or read some of the comments left on a body-positive photo. I had a friend over and we were hanging out, just catching up, when she innocently asked if I follow any blogs. I replied with something along the lines of, “Well, this past year I really got into body positivity. It’s so refreshing to see someone with my body type in front of me, because the media has always fed me images of women who are so different from me. So, a lot of the blogs I follow are just cool fat chicks.” My friend replied with something along the lines of, “Oh, yeah. I saw you liked a photo on Facebook of a REALLY big girl.”

Me (trying not to sound peeved): “Oh? What did she look like?”

Her: “I dunno. She was way big, and I think in some lingerie?”

Me: “Tess Munster?”

Her: “YEA! Tess. She’s pretty big. It’s just so unhealthy.”

Oh lord. Here we go.

Me: “Well… She is NOT that big at all, and any way…… are you a doctor?”

Her: “Eerrrrr…… She’s really pretty though.”

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Then it was on to a different subject. My husband was sitting in the room with us, and I probably would have went off on a bigger tangent, but I just stopped cold in my tracks.

I’d be willing to bet a couple of things:

  1. Tess Munster is probably either the same size I am, if not smaller. My friend and I have been friends since fourth grade, and I’ve always been the fat kid. Does she think I’m really unhealthy? If not, what would make her think Tess is? Stereotype?
  2. My friend will never even think of that conversation again, whereas I will carry around that irksome feeling I had when this conversation went down for a good week at least. I also thought about it the rest of the time we were hanging out.

I find it ironic that we have been friends for so long and, thankfully, she has never once mentioned my weight (or health in connection with my weight), yet she sees someone like Tess as “unhealthy” and “REALLY big,” when in reality Tess wears a smaller size than I am. This is just one of those questions that may never be answered.

Please folks, just stop. Stop trying to force a connection between weight and ill-health. And if you can’t help yourself, just keep your mouth shut and recognize that the world was never intended to be comprised of everyone looking and thinking the same.

soapbox

Meet the Humans

After my chat with Dear Abby last week, I had a revelation. I think that, for some people, fat people are not really human. I’m not surprised, really. (More surprised that it took me this long to realize it.) I mean, how many times have you seen a picture like this in/on the news?

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Do you know why the media does this? Because they don’t want you to think about the fact that there are human beings in that photo. If you saw the faces of these women, if you got to see them smile and hear them speak, you’d probably end up having positive feelings about them. And if you start to have positive feelings toward fat people, how will the diet industry make $60 billion a year?

I’m simplifying, but this is really a thing – and a problem. Dr. Charlotte Cooper first coined the term “headless fatty” back in 2007. I’ll let her explain:

As Headless Fatties, the body becomes symbolic: we are there but we have no voice, not even a mouth in a head, no brain, no thoughts or opinions. Instead we are reduced and dehumanised as symbols of cultural fear: the body, the belly, the arse, food. There’s a symbolism, too, in the way that the people in these photographs have been beheaded. It’s as though we have been punished for existing, our right to speak has been removed by a prurient gaze, our headless images accompany articles that assume a world without people like us would be a better world altogether.

It doesn’t seem possible, but are there actually thin people in the world who don’t know any fat people personally? Is that why Dear Abby wrote that fat people have no self-control when it comes to food and exercise? Is that how people can go online and spew hate at strangers? Not to mention shaming and abusing fat people in public – from the drive-by shouting to the grocery-store tongue-clucking? I feel like they must not know any actual fat people, because otherwise they would know that we are just as human as they are, and deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.

How do you feel about this person?

How do you feel about this person?

I am super lucky to have doctors, physical therapists, gym instructors, friends, and family in my life who treat me with respect. They do not treat me as a body, a headless fatty whose morals can be determined and judged based on the circumference of my belly. I am lucky, too, that I have a voice. I use it to stand up for myself, to try to make the world a better place for all bodies. I use it to let people know I expect their respect. Maybe using that voice is part of the reason I’m human to others. I speak, loudly, and people listen.

Surprise, it's me!  (I took off the Home Fry part so it didn't give it away.) Now how do you feel?

Surprise, it’s me!
(I took off the Home Fry part so it didn’t give it away.)
Now how do you feel?

Not everyone has the desire, the ability, or the safety to speak out loud, to use their voices. There are many people who have been told so often that they are less (worthy, lovable, good) because of their size, that they believe their voices should not be heard. They feel they do not have a right to be treated with decency, kindness, and respect. They become those symbols of cultural fear, even to themselves.

The next time you start to judge someone based on their weight, the next time you see a headless fatty on your screen, I want you to remember that that person is just as complex and interesting, just as deserving of respect, and just as human as you are.

Six Minutes to Make a Difference

You guys, my phone rang at eight o’clock on Friday night, and I kid you not: It was Dear Abby on the other end. A bit ago, I wrote Dear Abby an open letter, which I not only posted here on BFD, but I also sent to her through her website. Well, she felt bad that her column had made me upset, so she rang me up to chat about it.

Me, basically.

Me, basically.

And chat we did. She wanted me to know that she’d called the woman she wrote about in this column, which caused a pretty big (negative) reaction. Okay, great? The point is, I told her, she can’t deduce anything about a person’s health by just knowing their weight (or by looking at them). I think this was the first point where I mentioned that she has a national platform and could do a lot to eliminate fat shaming.

Also this.

Also this.

I brought up her JUST FOR TODAY column, and how awful the assumptions she made about fat people were. She said that column was actually written by her mother, the original Dear Abby. Fine, I replied, but that doesn’t mean you need to spread that junk to another generation! I asked her if she was equally concerned with the health of skinny people who don’t eat well and don’t exercise. I think this was the second point where I mentioned that she had a national platform and could do a lot to stop the stereotyping of fat people.

Oh, and this.

Oh, and this.

At one point, she wondered if she could ask me a personal question, and I said yes. She said: “Why are you heavy?” We talked a bit then about my exercise habits, my weight loss and regain, and my current level of health (excellent in all markers except the dreaded BMI). Afterwards, I realized that I should have made the point that it shouldn’t matter why I’m “heavy.” I could be fat because I have a glandular disorder or because of genetics or because I eat sixteen Whoppers a day. No matter why I’m fat, the fact is I still deserve to be treated with respect, to be treated with decency, and to not be stereotyped and shamed.

We talked about the horrible recommendations by Dr. Caroline Apovian, who would like doctors to stop treating patients for their actual concerns, and instead make them take weight-loss drugs. We also talked about my blog. I hope she came here and checked it out.

I told Dear Abby several times that people don’t care for things they are taught to hate – and that applies to our bodies, especially. And I think I mentioned a third time that she has a national platform and can make a difference as far as these issues are concerned.

Reenactment of how I was (left) versus how I felt (right).

Reenactment of how I was (left) versus how I felt (right).

Funny, that six-minute phone call (which felt much longer) was the pinnacle – so far – of my BFD life. And yet it was just a private discussion between two people in my living room. Well, one small step, right?

Dear Abby called me, she said, because she wants her column to make people’s lives better. I hope that in talking with me, she realized that she can play a role in doing just that for fat people. My platform is super tiny (for now!), so having a loud voice like hers would go a long way.

It Doesn’t Get Better

The other day, I went to see my doctor. Just a routine appointment. I’ve gotten in the habit of not looking when nurses weigh me, not talking about the number. But the office now hands you a piece of paper when you leave, and on that paper is my Current Weight, along with my BMI, and something mysterious called IW. It took me a minute to realize that it means Ideal Weight.

In the reenactment of this moment, the role of me will be played by Adele.

In the reenactment of this moment, the role of me will be played by Adele.

Oh, how I laughed! The number was so ludicrously small, there was nothing to do but laugh. And besides the fact that this number was super tiny, it also made me laugh because of how silly it is to think that there is a single number (it was not even a range!) that someone of my height should weigh. So every woman who is 5’3″ should weigh this amount? Oh, doctor’s office, you’re so cute!

As I was walking to my car, holding that hilarious piece of paper, I couldn’t help but look at my Current Weight. Why did I look?! The number just makes me feel bad about myself. It cancels out everything I’ve done to accept my body. It erases the hard work I do in the gym. It makes me feel gross and unlovable.

But not this day. On this day… it didn’t do anything. It didn’t make me sad, or angry, or anxious. I looked at that number, at my Current Weight which is so, so much bigger than my supposed Ideal Weight, and I simply didn’t care. It was just a number. This was a really huge moment, you guys. Enormous.

I first remember being upset about my weight when I was in fifth grade. I had my first real crush that year, and the boy didn’t like me back. It had to be, I reasoned, because I was fat. If I was skinny like most of my friends, then Chris would like me! Why, why did I have to have this ugly body? Why couldn’t I be thin and pretty?

This actual me in fourth grade, but close enough. Sweet perm, Bethie!

This is actually me in fourth grade, but close enough.      Sweet perm, Bethie!

I have spent most of the last thirty years feeling those same feelings. Thirty years! For three-quarters of my life I have thought less about myself because of my weight. On the day I looked at my Current Weight, that changed. I realized that the number didn’t matter. It didn’t define me. It didn’t make me less good, less worthy, less lovable.

I wish I could go back and talk to fifth-grade me. I would tell her that it doesn’t get better. You read that right: It doesn’t. Thirty years later, fat people are still ridiculed, shamed, and discriminated against. We are still told that we are less good, less worthy, and less lovable. And now that our lives are saturated with media around the clock, it’s even worse than it was in 1985. It doesn’t get better, I’d tell that little girl with the perm and the Trapper Keeper and the first of many unrequited crushes.

It doesn’t get better, I’d tell her. But you do. 

One day, you’re going to realize that you are smart, and strong, and funny. You’re going to accomplish things you never thought you could do. You’re going to cross finish lines! And you’re going to be fat when you do.

The world is going to get bigger, but it’s going to feel smaller. You’re going to hear messages all the time about how wrong your body is. And you’re going to believe them for a really long time. But there is going to be a day when you stop listening to the world, and start listening to yourself, to the powerful sound of your own heart beat.

It doesn’t get better. But you do.

Just For Today

I think we can all agree that we shouldn’t live our lives based on assumptions. And yet, when it comes to bodies and health, we do just that – about others, and about ourselves. We assume that health and body size go hand in hand. We assume that thin people are healthy and fat people are not. We assume that shrinking our bodies will make us healthier and happier. Today I’d like to challenge you to throw those assumptions out the proverbial window.

What these say.

What these say. (The vision part, not the quarters thing.)

Inspired by darling (when are we going to get that sarcasm font?!) Dear Abby, here are a few JUST FOR TODAY ideas that will help all of us let go of these kinds of assumptions. Try them out and see how it goes.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will not assume anything about other people’s bodies. I will not assume that a very thin person has an eating disorder. I will not assume that a very fat person has no self-control. I will acknowledge that a person’s worth is not based on the size and shape of their body. And this applies to me, too.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will not assume anything about what other people eat. Food is not inherently good or bad, and I will stop assuming things about people based on what they do or don’t put in their mouths. And this applies to me, too.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will not assume anything about how other people move their bodies. I cannot tell, just by looking at someone, when and how much they choose to exercise. I will not assign morality to people based on when and how much they choose to exercise. And this applies to me, too.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will not assume that other people’s health is any of my business. I will acknowledge that health is individual, personal, and not totally within anyone’s control. I will not judge people by what I perceive their health to be. And this applies to me, too.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will not assume that people are unaware of their bodies. I will not tell someone they are “too” fat or “too” thin. I will recognize that people are self-aware, and do not require my help in realizing the truth of their bodies. And this applies to me, too.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will not assume that shame is motivating. I will acknowledge that people do not care for things they hate, and that encouraging them to hate their bodies by shaming them is unhelpful and inhumane. And this applies to me, too.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will not assume that thin people love their bodies and fat people do not, and in order to love yourself, you must get thin. I will acknowledge that body acceptance and love is a journey, and that the journey looks different for everybody (and every body). I will support all people in their journies. And this applies to me, too.

Every morning in a fresh start. What will you do with yours?

Every morning in a fresh start. What will you do with yours?

Do you have more JUST FOR TODAY ideas? Share them in the comments!

An Open Letter to Dear Abby

Spreading fat hate wherever she goes!

Spreading fat hate wherever she goes!

Dear Abby,

Recently, you sent me a letter asking me to join you in the fight against Alzheimer’s. This is a cause very close to my heart, because my grandma passed away last month after a long battle with the disease.

But you know what? I’m not going to join you in this fight. Oh, sure, I’m going to do what I can to contribute to this cause. But I’m definitely not going to do it alongside you, or because you asked me. Can you guess why? It’s because I think you’re a judgmental bully.

Oh, sure, you’re caring and kind about some things, but when it comes to fat people? Then you’re all about making assumptions and shaming. Last year, a woman wrote to you about being scolded by her mother for wearing a bathing suit (the woman is fat and the mom thought that was highly inappropriate). Your response was, in part:

While you say you are comfortable in your own skin, it would be interesting to know what your physician thinks about your obesity. I suspect that your mother would be prouder of you if you were less complacent and more willing to do something about your weight problem.

I love that you assume that this woman is in ill health, and is complacent and unwilling to do something about her “problem.” Thank the heavens you are here to open her eyes to her ignorance! Remind me: Are you a doctor? Are you a psychic? Oh my gosh… Abby, are you a psychic doctor?!

For your New Year’s resolution column, you did it again – made offensive assumptions about fat people. You offered up a bunch of “just for today” ideas, including this gem:

JUST FOR TODAY: I will do something positive to improve my health. If I’m a smoker, I’ll quit. If I am overweight, I will eat healthfully – if only just for today. And not only that, I will get off the couch and take a brisk walk, even if it’s only around the block.

Honestly, are you for real? …”if only just for today,” “even if it’s only”… Because embracing healthy habits is a huge struggle for fatties, and to assume we would do them all the time is just beyond the pale, right? Tell me truly: Have you really never met a fat person who wasn’t this ridiculous stereotype? Sorry, even if you say yes, I won’t believe you.

I’m an open-minded person, Abby. Maybe we can fight Alzheimer’s together. Just make me a few promises: Stop spreading fat hate and shame. Start treating fat people like human beings who understand and can make their own decisions about their health. Stop acting like a psychic doctor, because there’s no such thing. If you can do all that, then we can join forces. I’ll be waiting.

Sincerely,

Bethany

With Friends Like These…

We’ve talked before about how negative things like shame, humiliation, and embarrassment do not foster positive change. But some people refuse to believe this. They think that if they are just mean enough, then wonderful changes will occur (changes that they define and measure, of course). I’m going to have to assume that that’s the only way they can affect change in their own lives, because in mine, it doesn’t work at all.

Meet Steve Miller. Huffington Post UK (ungrammatically) calls him “the UK’s no nonsense, straight talking and renowned as the UK’s Weight Loss Master driving results with his unique style that combines mind programming, motivation, honesty and humour.” Steve’s website offers us the opportunity to change our lives forever, to finally lose the weight, using his program of hypnotherapy. To be honest, I didn’t read any more than that, so I can’t tell you any specifics.

Steve, I don't want to be friends.

Steve, I don’t want to be friends.

What I can tell you is that Steve decided it would be a super idea to start something called “Warn a Friend They Are Fat Day.” And I’m sorry to have to tell you that we missed it – it was last Wednesday, January 7th. Steve assures us (punctuation his!):

‘Warn a friend they are fat day’ proposed for January 7th 2015 is not about being cruel. In fact it is the complete opposite. It is about sensitively and tactfully talking to overweight friends and family members about our concerns for their health. In fact it is a day that could potentially save thousands of lives and at the same time heighten our friends and families confidence as they are encouraged to take action to lose weight so that they feel better and more confident about themselves.

Isn’t that nice of Steve? We definitely are not aware that we are fat, so having a friend tell us is a great idea. And of course we are all unhealthy, feel terrible, and lack confidence. Thankfully, Steve has an action plan people can use to save us fat friends, with helpful information about portion control and exercises for people with limited mobility. Because of course we’re all eating 20,000 calories a day and can’t get off the couch without the help of heavy duty equipment. Thank goodness Steve and his minions are here to save us!

Now I’d like you to meet Katie Hopkins, also from the UK (apologies to the UK in general, because I love many of you madly!). Her plan for fixing the fat world? She gained over 50 pounds (by stopping exercising and eating three times her normal calorie intake) so that she could then turn around and lose them, thus proving that fat people are just lazy and we could all be thin if we tried harder.

Katie, see above re: Steve.

Katie, see above re: Steve.

Of course, Katie will be successful in her weight loss, because Katie is not naturally fat. Once she stops gorging, her body will go back to its set point. This proves nothing about all fat bodies, or all bodies in general. It only proves something about Katie’s body. Sad that so many people will think Katie’s transformation is incredible, and believe her message that fat people are just lazy.

Lest you think this is just a British idea, there was a personal trainer named Drew Manning who did it here in America, too: Was ripped, gained weight, got ripped again. Even though this only proves something about Drew’s body, he will take your money if you would like to give it a try. Steve would also like lots of your money. Katie, I think, is in it for the attention. (You may have noticed I haven’t linked to any articles or websites; that’s because I don’t think these people deserve your clicks.)

Sadly, there are Steves and Katies everywhere. There have probably been times when you’ve been a Steve or a Katie. Think about it: Have you ever wanted to make (or made) negative comments about someone else’s body, eating, or exercise habits, in the hopes it would make them change for what you consider the better? Have you ever achieved something (like weight loss, or a physical accomplishment), and assumed that everyone else can – and should – do the same?

Bottom line: You don’t need friends like Steve and Katie. And you don’t need to be one. Figure out what health means for you. Ask for help if you want to, but make sure it is positive, encouraging, supportive help. Your body knows what is best for you. You just have to tune out the noise and listen.

Are You a Real Person?

So I’m just sitting on the couch, innocently watching some telly, and what to my wondering eye should appear? A commercial for the South Beach Diet. Hooray! I haven’t been reminded that I should be trying to shrink my body in, oh, fifteen minutes! Let’s check it out:

Oh, okay. So South Beach offers “real” food for “real” people. As opposed to, I guess, all those diets made of fake food (okay, I might have to give them that one!) for… fake people? Let me tell ya, this whole notion of certain people or body types being “real” is really irksome. You’ve probably seen stuff about “real women have curves,” right? Um, sorry, women come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and we’re all real. Just like all people are real, not just those the South Beach Diet is courting.

Now, check out this new Weight Watchers ad:

I saw this and thought: What a nice butt! But this woman is clearly very unhappy with the state of her derrière.

So, who do you think these ads are targeted to? It would make sense if they were meant for the morbidly obese, the people (like me) whose BMIs are destroying the economy, health care, and the planet, right? They have to be meant for all those people who laze around day in and day out, eating lard straight from the can, dooming our world to death by diabetes!

Except, nope. These ads, like almost all commercial weight-loss programs, are actually targeted at people who have 5, 10, maybe 20 pounds to lose. People who, for the most part, already wear straight-sized clothing, who want to drop from a size 8 or 10 to the more socially acceptable 4 or 6. Check out these screencaps from the South Beach Diet ad I’d like you to see.

IMG_6104

IMG_6105

It’s funny when you see it, right? I mean, here we have someone like me, whose BMI is high enough that I qualify as “about to drop dead any second,” who could totally have their photo snapped for one of those headless fatty montages they love to show on the nightly news, and yet the South Beach Diet and Weight Watchers ads are not meant to attract me. They are meant to attract people who are already thin, to help them get even thinner.

It makes me sad that the diet industry wants people like Lisa and Tony and the Weight Watchers woman who has such a problem with her butt to feel like their bodies are unacceptable. They all look fine! And yet the message of the ads is: Nope, not good enough. Not good enough at all, until you are even smaller. That makes me sad for everyone out there who believes this. Of course, it’s so much easier to tout your huge success rates when your customers have goals of losing 5-10 pounds, as opposed to 50-100, right?

And then, there’s the point of view of someone like me, who is so, so much bigger. If Lisa and Tony and Butt Lady dislike their bodies, how could I ever hope to like mine? If these people are “overweight,” then those of us who are actually fat should drive immediately to the bariatric surgeon, I guess? Do the South Beach Diet people think that only already-thin people are real? Am I not real?!

Remember: The diet industry preys on your insecurities. It wants you to hate yourself. It wants you to compare yourself. It wants you to never feel good enough. It wants you to give it lots of money, and then, if (when) you have failed to keep off whatever weight you have lost, it wants to you know it’s your fault, you are the one who is not good enough, and the only way you can feel better is if you try again, and give it more money.

To all the real people out there (that means you): Don’t believe the hype.

Welcome to the Fishbowl

A new lady showed up for Aqua Fit the other day. She was unsure of what to do and where to go, so I helped her out. While we were talking, she mentioned that she was hesitant to take the class because the pool is basically a giant fishbowl. Floor to super-high-ceiling windows surround the pool on three sides; two face the parking lot, and the third faces the front desk of the gym proper.

I totally get her apprehension about parading around in a small, skin-hugging piece of material in that environment. She isn’t the first person to talk to me about it. In fact, I know a handle of people (all women), who won’t join my gym because of the fishbowl-ness of the pool.

That light on my face is coming from the WINDOWS.

That light on my face is coming from the WINDOWS.

I am plenty insecure about how my body looks in all sorts of situations, but for the simple reason that I love swimming beyond all measure, I have never felt insecure about being in a bathing suit in public. I figure if the people in the gym don’t like looking at my body as I move from the locker room to the pool, they can avert their eyes. Swimming and taking Aqua Fit are two of the fitness activities that make me the happiest, and I won’t let what others think about my body stop me from doing them.

But! you say. But what about those of us who don’t have that overwhelming love of the water, who want to get into the pool and are terrified of being In A Swimsuit in Public?

First, realize that what other people may or may not be thinking about your bathing-suited body doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t. What matters is you being brave, and feeling comfortable to take up space in the places you want to spend time in.

We spend so much of our lives worrying about mights. What might happen if, what someone might say if. Someone might be cruel if. Someone might laugh at us or pick on us or tell us we’re unworthy if. Someone might not love us if.  Those mights are based on the possibility of fear and shame. Just the possibility!

Here’s another truth for you (and this applies to pretty much every public situation, whether or not you are barely clothed): Pretty much everyone else is too busy worrying about what people are thinking about them to be bothered with thinking about you.

I dare you to stop letting might control your life. I’m going to stop, too. Right now. If I post a picture of myself in a bathing suit on the internet, people might not like it. They might make fun of me. But I’m not going to worry about possible shame and fear. I can’t very well ask you to abandon might if I’m not ready to do the same. So here we go. Oh, and #nofilter!

Maybe this will break the internet. Watch out, Kim K!

Maybe this will break the internet. Watch out, Kim Kardashian!

Life is short, friends. Be brave. Dive in!

The Five Stages of Fat

Show of hands: How many of you have had someone ask if you were pregnant when you weren’t? This just happened to me (for the third time in my life) the other day. A woman I had just met said, “When are you due?” I said, “Do you think I’m pregnant?” She immediately realized her mistake, but when I clarified that I was just fat, she said, “I’m so sorry, but you’re so fat!”

what

What I want to talk about today is not that conversation, but they way I reacted to it – and the way people reacted to it when I shared it with them. Most people were horrified for me. Disgusted. Sad. Apologetic (from the whole of humanity, it seems).

What did I feel, when it happened? Glad. Because it gave me a chance to educate that woman (in essence, I told her that she should not ask a woman that question unless she could see the baby being born). It gave me a chance to think about how her words made me feel about myself (and about her). And it gave me the idea to write this post.

So, here I present to you the Five Stages of Fat (with apologies to Kübler-Ross). One note: These stages are not a progression. They’re more non-linear, wibbly-wobbly. Feel free to move from stage to stage and back again as you see fit. I do!

  1. Denial. I don’t deny that I’m fat, but I sure know what it feels like to deny that I’m this fat (usually until I see my reflection from the side, or a particularly unflattering photograph). There are plenty of people who would love to help us stay in this stage. Try it out: Say to someone, “I’m so fat!,” and you’ll likely hear a chorus of “No, you’re not, you’re beautiful!” in reply. Because obviously those things are mutually exclusive.tina
  2. Anger. Oh yeah, I’ve felt this stage. I feel it. Some days my anger at being fat is small and quiet, and other days it’s an enormous green rage monster. Some days my anger is directed inward, and I hate me for letting myself get fat. Other days, I’m angry at the world for treating me badly because of the size of my body. Anger is probably the most powerful and pervasive stage of fat, along with #4. hulk2
  3. Bargaining. How many times have I thought, I will do anything to stop being fat. What would you do? Starve yourself, exercise until you collapse, swallow pills, allow your body to be cut open? What would you give up to no longer be fat? (A recent survey shows that one-fifth of folks in Great Britain would cut off a finger!)fingers
  4. Depression. This is probably tied with anger for the most popular stage of fat. How easy it is to be depressed when you’re fat! Everything is a struggle, from finding nice clothes that fit to getting adequate medical care. Being fat means we might not get the job we want, or the romantic partner we long for. And the cherry on that sundae is the message that we are unattractive, stupid, lazy, and smelly. We do not fit in the world, it is not made for us, and it doesn’t want us. How could you not be depressed, in the face of all that?beiste
  5. Acceptance. This is the big one. How many people reach this stage of fat? The diet industry doesn’t want any of us to get here. If we accept that we are fat, if we embrace our bodies as they are, then how will they make sixty billion dollars a year? How will they have money to fund studies that say being fat is the worst thing ever and all fat people are about to croak immediately? Acceptance is where I was when that lady asked me if I was pregnant, and then exclaimed that I was “so fat.” I accept that I am fat, and now she accepts it, too. (An interesting fact: You can accept your body and still be angry and depressed. Wibbly-wobbly, remember?)fatamy

I hope that you reach the acceptance stage of being fat. Of course, now is the time when internet trolls would say I’m encouraging people to abandon their health, that I’m “promoting obesity.” That phrase makes me laugh. What I am promoting is acceptance of your body as it is, right now. What you choose to do with it is your choice. I hope that you will choose things that make it healthy (and hopefully we can all agree that that doesn’t mean “thin”) and happy. Health is a personal choice, a personal decision, despite what politicians, the diet industry, the media, and internet trolls would have you believe.

What stage of fat are you in? Do you think you can make it to acceptance? What would you have done if that lady had said, “But you’re so fat!” to you?

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