If you’re thin they try to make you scared of getting fat. If you’re fat they try to make you scared of being fat and staying fat. They try to make everyone scared of their own body.
I spoke at a lovely event centered around body love recently and one of the booths was about proper nutrition. She had the same plastic models of food that we used in the eating disorder facility where I taught dance, and little test tubes filled with the amount of sugar that’s in various things. I was trying to block it out but her voice would penetrate my consciousness “This is how much sugar is in just a half cup of JELLO” she would say in the same voice that you would use to tell scary stories around a camp fire. Because making people terrified of some Jello is definitely the key to health.
When it comes to health it’s as if people think that we’re too dumb to make choices that are in alignment with our priorities and support our goals. Like we need to have someone tell us what we should want and then terrify us into doing what they think will get us there.
Of course this ignores the fact that people get to choose how important health is to them, and that health is not entirely within our control and is not a binary state. It’s not just healthy or unhealthy, health is a spectrum and very few people fall all the way on either end. It also ignores the fact that stress is a major predictor of poor health so having people walking around terrified of jello or that they’ll eat more broccoli than was represented in the plastic broccoli replica is counter-productive.
So I think that the four most important words that any of us can speak right now are: I am not afraid.
I am not afraid of food. I eat often to support my body and sometimes for my pure enjoyment and I am comfortable with that. I know that being afraid of food will do nothing to make me healthier – mentally or physically.
I am not afraid of fat hate. As my Mom told me – never wrestle with a pig, you’ll both get dirty but the pig is used to it and won’t mind. I know that allowing haters to stress me out is bad for my health and I will not allow them to affect my health. I will ignore them or I will mock them as I see fit but I will not give them power over me.
I am not afraid of movement. I do movement that I enjoy and I honor my body and its signals. I don’t see my body as a limitation to be overcome but as a constant friend and companion.
I am not afraid of my fat body. My body is beautiful and amazing and perfect just as it is and if it changes tomorrow if will be perfect then too. I am not afraid to be in my body in public, to ask that my body be accommodated or to have my body viewed and appreciated.
I’m thinking about this whole fear thing a lot because I resigned from my CEO job. It was great money and I loved the staff but for certain reasons that you’ll have to buy me a drink to hear about, it was the most stressful experience of my life. And that stress took a major toll on me over the last year – I got sick more in that year than I have been in the last 10 years.
There was a crossroads and I took the road away from that life for the sake of my mental and physical health and to do things that I’m absolutely passionate about. Immediately I feel better, and now it’s time to see what’s next. For now I have some money in the bank, a couple of consulting clients, a world speaking tour happening, a book in the works, and some other super secret stuff. If the diet industry can make 58 billion dollars a year with a message of self-hate and a product that only works 5% of the time, you would think that some of us could make a living supporting people in loving and appreciating their bodies and giving options that the diet industry doesn’t want us to hear. I don’t know what’s in store but I know that I am not afraid.
For a little inspiration, here is one of my favorite YouTube videos of all time: