One of the comments on my blog yesterday asked a really good question that I wanted to address as a full blog. She asked:
Basically, even though I may be genetically predisposed to it based on my family’s size and the fact that I have PCOS, I feel that I am overweight because I spent 15+ years eating crap and not exercising. This leaves me vulnerable to the blame/shame messages that society sends me about my weight – I feel like I can’t defend myself because I did it to myself.
I understand the FA movement is in part a push back against mistreatment and oppression, but is there a difference between being fat-accepting and being pro-fat?… I don’t see my fat as a natural part of me, I see it as the consequences of mistakes that I am now stuck with.
We know that different bodies react to things in different ways. Someone else could have engaged in the same behaviors and ended up thin while this person ended up fat, this person could have engaged in different behaviors but still ended up the same size, the truth is that we’ll never know.
Although I knew that, I’ve still been in that cycle of blame and shame. When I learned that dieting causes weight gain I went through a period of “blaming myself” for my body size because of all the dieting that I had engaged in. I went through a time of alternating between feeling bad about myself, feeling sorry for myself, being mad at myself, and being mad at the people who encouraged me to diet.
The first conclusion that I came to was that even if I could have been thin, even if being fat was my fault, wondering how I got to be fat and who I should blame for it does not serve me in any way. This is the body that I have. It is fat. It is also scarred because of death-defying bike tricks as a kid and working with aggressive dogs as an adult. I don’t begrudge my body those scars, why would I begrudge my body its size. What difference does it make if things could have been different? This is what’s happening. I have a fat body and my choices at this moment are to love that body, or hate it. I chose to love my body. At the time I didn’t know how I was going to do it, the important thing was making the choice that I was going to figure out how to love my body no matter how long it takes.
It took a lot of work, and it took fighting to keep my focus on the goal. This exercise did more to shift the way that I feel about my body than anything else. I had to fight through a time when I could appreciate the beauty in every body but mine.
After time I realized something deeper – all of this angst about my body size is based on a social construct that a fat body is a bad body. That’s just not true. Every body is beautiful as it is right now, at every size. I sometimes get stuck around the idea of “size acceptance” because I want better than just to “accept” my body, which often comes with a connotation of resignation. I love my body, I appreciate my body. I have a fat body and that body is what does everything for me – from breathing and blinking to walking and hugging. That body deserves to be nurtured, loved, and defended from anyone who dares to say a negative word about it.
I owe this body my unconditional love and devotion. So I’m not just fat accepting, I’m a pro-fat fat-loving fat activist fatty. More importantly, I am the only person who can decide how I feel about my body. I can choose to accept other people’s opinions, I can choose not to do the work to make shifts if my current feelings aren’t the way I want to feel; but at the end of the day I have no idea why my body is the size it is, but I do know that the way I feel about my body is on me. I’m the only person in the world who can choose how I feel about my body. I choose love.
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