In a comment on the blog reader Jadelyn wrote “I have found that one of my biggest recurring stumbling blocks as I work on my self-acceptance is that I have a really hard time visualizing myself doing cool shit – like dance, or getting all the awesome tattoos I want, or whatever – because while a thin person can look around at the culture and see millions of images of someone who looks close enough to them to identify with, doing whatever it is they might imagine doing, when I’m looking for pics or videos to inspire and encourage myself, I have a hard time inserting myself into what I find because my brain immediately starts saying “Yeah that looks awesome BUT YOU WON’T LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THAT, REMEMBER?”
I think that this is a MASSIVE problem. The theory that we are currently working under, apparently, is that fat people will all get thin based on the “motivation” that we will never get to see anyone who looks like us shown in a positive light until we do. I hate to have a Dr. Phil moment here, but hey how’s that workin for ya? Based on a preponderance of the evidence, not very damn well.
It turns out that most people aren’t motivated to take care of themselves by seeing everyone who looks like them portrayed as lazy, un-athletic, bad parents, the cause of global warming or whatever the crap thing we’re getting blamed for this week. But heavens forfend we have a fat role model who is athletic, or talented or we’ll be accused of the unholy (completely ridiculous) crime of “promoting obesity“ or it’s evil cousin “normalizing obesity”.
Again, the idea being that we must keep fat people in constant misery…and why?
Because if we stop shaming fat people then they might stop pouring money into the diet industry for a solution that almost never works, and they really like getting our sixty billion dollars a year.
That’s not a good enough reason for me. I don’t buy the idea that showing fat people in a positive light will make other people want to be fat (because I don’t think this is a V8 commercial where people see a happy fatty, slap their forehead and say “I coulda been fat”), and I don’t think that a ceaseless stream of shame is doing anything good for fat people. So let’s try a new experiment. Let’s normalize bodies of all sizes. Can you imagine if size was not an issue. Movies with fat leading ladies, magazines filled with people of all sizes, billboards with fat people selling dishsoap, a world without fat jokes, a world without articles about how Santa Claus promotes an unhealthy body image.
Take a minute to realize that everything fat people accomplish today is done in spite of the fact that we live under the under the crushing weight of constant social stigma. Imagine what fat people could do if we didn’t have to live with a constant, ceaseless stream of societal stigma and shame. Research from Columbia shows that stigma is correlated with the same diseases as obesity and that women who are concerned about their weight have more physical and mental health issues regardless of their weight. Imagine how positively the health of fat people would be affected if we took away the stigma. How many fat athletes would rise up if people didn’t act like we are rainbow-pooping unicorns while actively trying to hide the evidence of our existence.
Hey wait, you don’t have to imagine… just stop shaming and stigmatizing us and see what happens!
Of course society isn’t coming along with my plan at the moment, but we fat people can do something about it right now. I think that the best thing that I ever did for loving my body was looking daily bodies that looked like mine -I found that I had no problem with their bodies and I was eventually able to transfer those feelings to my own body. I think you will do yourself a world of good if you seek out images of happy fatties doing stuff every single day.
Here are a couple of places to start:
The Adipositivity Project (NSFW unless your W is super cool)
(If you know of other places feel free to put them in the comments!)
You can also take pictures of yourself and get them out there for other fatties to see- post them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, your blog, post them in the comments of this blog – whatever. Remember that we look different than thin bodies, which doesn’t make us better or worse- just different. The constant stream of thin bodies that we see can subconsciously condition us to believe that our bodies are wrong, but that’s just cultural conditioning, and that can be changed, and we can change it. You are, in fact, the ONLY person who is in charge of how you feel about your body. They are your underpants, you be the boss of them. Let’s be our own heroes and our own role models.