I like to meet other people who work in health and fitness – especially those who work from a Behavior-Centered Health model. A friend of mine, Dave, once tried to introduce me to the owner of a gym, we’ll call him Gary. Dave described me including the fact that I’m a fat athlete.
Gary was apparently confused about why we were being introduced and immediately said “We wouldn’t want a trainer who was really big” because I would be a “poor example”. Dave told me the story and I shrugged it off – certainly not the first time that I’ve been told that being a successful, healthy, happy, fat athlete is setting a bad example.
That same night I was at one of the Eating Disorder Facilities where I taught dance classes. I found out that the girls had named me to their list of Role Models. One of them told me that I was her hero. These are girls who have body dymorphia and an irrational fear of being fat. And I, at 5’4 284 pounds, I made their list of role models. It took everything in my power not to cry – not just because I was honored but because those women inspire me. They fight against near-impossible odds, they fall down over and over and they just keep getting back up.
The moral of the story here is that we don’t get to decide to whom we are an example, to whom we are an inspiration, or when. We can only decide what we are an example of, and what we want to inspire.
I’ve written before about my feelings on inspiration. Basically, that I believe that the only way you can inspire by someone is presenting a new option – then they have to choose to walk toward or away from that option. Just the other day I was watching Coach Carter (I have an unabashed love of all sports movies) and was reminded of this Marianne Williamson Quote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
So, may I suggest that it can be kind of fun to ask yourself: If someone were watching your life – if they were looking to you as a role model – what would you give them permission to do? Are you proud of what you are an example of?
I don’t ask this hypothetically… I can assure you that someone is looking to you. For whatever reason – someone you know is relating to you right now and looking to you for inspiration. What are you inspiring them to consider?
I think that one of the most revolutionary acts that we can commit, at any size but especially as fat people, is to publicly with unabashedly love our bodies. Sadly, in this culture if you wake up and don’t hate yourself you are committing an act of revolution. If you can model not hating yourself, you are a full on revolutionary, and you give other people permission to consider that their bodies just might possibly be amazing and worthy exactly as they are.
Love your body, and you give the world the chance to change.
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I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a one-time contribution. The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post. Thanks for reading! ~Ragen