Sunday, May 15, 2011

Size Doesn't Matter

One thing that is really near and dear to my heart is the issue of fat acceptance. I like the term size acceptance better because I think fat is a derogatory term in our culture and because I feel that it is definitely a relative thing. Where do you draw the line?

In high school, I weighed around 130, and I knew I was fat. I thought I was so fat that no one would ever want to date me. For most of my adulthood I weighed around 235 pounds, and I knew I was fat. I thought I was so fat that no one would want to be my friend. Then I went up to 320 pounds for a few years. For those years, I knew I was fat. I couldn't walk very far without getting out of breath. I had trouble getting in and out of bed. My back ached on a regular basis. At any gathering, I knew I was the fat one. The odd thing was that I no longer thought that no one would want to date me or to be my friend. Even though I weighed more than at any other time in my life! Even though my health was definitely suffering in a way that it had not been before. Something had changed. I had learned to accept myself.

Now I am back at around 235. The weight that has stuck around most of my adult life. I actually feel thin! It is funny because I suppose most people, especially people who don't know me, label me "fat," but inside myself, I know that I am not fat like I was before. For the most part, I feel great! My back rarely aches. I can jump into and out of bed. I sleep easily and rarely snore. I can walk wherever I want to. These are very good things.

The point is that I was labeling myself fat at 130 and 235 and 320, and now at 235, I am not labeling myself fat. I am just me. I have a certain amount of body fat. Most people would say too much. I choose to not use the fat label because I don't want to draw a line. I do not want to have to decide when I am no longer fat. My low weight is 115. I am one of those people who still has a chubby stomach at 115. Will I be fat at 115? Do I want those of my daughters who have more body fat than some people think they should to be labeled fat? Yes, I could tell them to reclaim the word. I would rather just do away with the word as a description of a human being.

I have a daughter who is underweight by the definitions given out by medical science. People notice that she is very thin. She has occasionally been judged for being very thin. She has never been judged to the extent that those of my daughters who are on the other side of the spectrum are judged. This is in spite of having a dangerously low bmi. It seems that being at risk of death from anorexia is preferable in our society to having 20 pounds of "extra" fat even though the health risks are less by anyone's standards.

Today I proclaim my stance. Size doesn't matter. A person is a person. I choose to blog about weight loss because losing weight has helped me to have better health, and I think I might have some positive things to say that could help others who are choosing to give a weight loss path a try. I am not judging anyone based on their size or saying that weight loss is necessary to health in any instance. I can only talk about me and what I know.

1 comment:

K. said...

Oh yes, I get very tired of the constant automatic association with skinny and health. I eat better and exercise more than any of my thin friends. Period.

I was always the tallest girl in my class, but thin with absolutely no curves in sight aside from my thighs, which were the bane of my existence. Then for Health class in junior high we did BMI and it was announced that I was overweight! I accepted it because I believed anything my teachers told me back in those days, and besides, I always felt too big, like a half-giant around normal sized people. But now I look back on those photos of me and see how painfully thin I was. Yet I already knew that terms like "big boned" or whatever were tossed around with derision. I was told that I was fat and I believed it. The numbers don't lie, right?

Now I have a daughter who is full of curves and loves that about herself, and I'm in a constant state of near breath holding wondering what sort of magic this is, that she's able to be so at home in her own skin, and I'm afraid of saying or doing something and breaking that spell.

I have a cousin who has always been petite her whole life and who has just now started gaining some weight, and she is traumatized. She actually wrote a post once about how much harder it is for someone like her to gain weight after being thin her whole life, unlike the rest of us who have had plenty of time to get used to it, I guess. She writes the most terrible things about herself on Facebook, and when I call her out (not even for my own sake, but because she has a daughter who is not perfectly thin who is reading her Facebook posts and internalizing her mother's attitudes) she swears that she's only talking about herself when she says that she feels disgusting. She doesn't see how that affects anyone else.

Sorry for the ramble, just thinking aloud, really. I know what you mean, about accepting yourself. I look at the mindset of society and see how very sick it is, toxic, the way people think and the things that they put out into the world about size, what they put into their own daughter's heads without a thought. And it isn't even the fact that it's so sick that makes me feel despair, but the fact that so few are able to see how sick it is!

Anyway. Your daughters are blessed by your self love. I think maybe it's one of the most beautiful and useful things that you can give them.