I hope that you are surrounded by people who understand that you and your fat body are amazing. If you’re not, then my first thought is to tell you that your body is amazing and that bullies are just people who are insecure or desperate to feel important. You are and they are but, if you’re anything like me, that won’t comfort you very much. I want to tell you that “it gets better” and in my experience it does get better when you have the opportunity to choose who you hang around. But the truth is that we live in a fatphobic society and I would rather give you tools to maybe make some things better now and maybe change the world in the future than suggest that you just hope things will be less crappy later (even though they likely will.)
This is what I wish someone had told me when I was a fat kid:
First of all, don’t believe everything you hear. There is not a single study where a majority of fat people lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off long term. There are plenty of studies where people improved their health through healthy habits without losing weight at all. Almost everyone who diets ends up as fat or fatter than when they started. “Weight Loss is possible for everyone” is to today what “The sun revolves around the Earth” was in Galileo’s time. Something that people, including “experts” and high ranking government officials, believe fervently to be true, suggest that it’s heresy to disagree with, and for which they have absolutely no evidence basis.
Don’t take my word for it, read the research yourself – try to find a study where, five years after dieting, fat people were thinner and healthier than when they started. Research from the University of Minnesota found that “None of the behaviors being used by adolescents (in 1999) for weight-control purposes predicted weight loss[in 2006]…Of greater concern were the negative outcomes associated with dieting and the use of unhealthful weight-control behaviors, including significant weight gain.
It helps me to remember that people are basically brainwashed when it comes to this and will often defend it with religious fervor. How much you want to educate other people around this or work on changing it is entirely up to you, to me it’s helpful to remember that I’m not the first person to have to weather the storm of “everybody knows.”
But here’s the thing, the way that fat people are treated by our society is abhorrent and wrong. Even if I’m wrong and everyone can become thin, the way that fat people are treated is still abhorrent and wrong. There is no rational argument that says “Those people could look different than they do, and until they choose to do that it’s perfectly cool for me to treat them like crap.”
Suggesting that fat people should lose weight to avoid this treatment is totally and completely wrong on every level – the problem is not fat people, the problem is people who stigmatize fat people, and the solution to social stigma is ending social stigma, not weight loss. You deserve to be treated with basic human respect. You have the same right to life liberty and pursuit of happiness that thin people do, and that should include the ability to grow up without the First Lady of the United States waging war on you for your body size, and the Boy Scouts keeping you out of the Jamboree.
In short, the world is screwed up, you are fine.
I don’t know about you, but people lied to me when I was younger. They told me that if I cared about my health I would diet to get thin, they told me that diet behaviors were the same as healthy behaviors and that thin is the same thing as healthy, they told me that exercise should be miserable or it didn’t count.
If you are interested in being healthy, then you are in luck because you can pursue health outside of weight loss (though the diet companies who make $60 Billion a year in profits may not want you to know.) It turns out that, though health is multi-dimensional, not entirely within our control and never guaranteed, the best way that we can help our odds for health is to pursue healthy habits. Things like getting enough sleep, trying not to be super stressed, moving out bodies, and eating around the intersection of what nourishes our bodies and tastes good to us, and the situation that we’re in.
It turns out that movement tends to be great for most people’s health- even if we really enjoy it. You can try out lots of different stuff – I know people who hated exercise and thought that they were totally un-athletic until they found their “thing” – hoopdance, Olympic powerlifing, skateboarding etc. I also know people who just don’t like exercise and that’s cool to – some choose to still do it for the possible health benefits and some don’t and both choices are valid. At any rate, gym class is not the end all and be all of exercise and may actually be the worst possible example.
If you want my advice (and it’s cool if you don’t) I would suggest being really grateful to your body for everything that it does for you (blinking, heartbeat, breathing, waving, smiling, pushing your wheelchair, hugging people whatever.) I would suggest doing what you want to do now, and not putting it off until you’ve changed our body size. And I would suggest being angry at people who suggest that the path to health starts with hating your body, or who don’t treat you or your body with the respect you deserve. I would suggest searching on the internet for Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance and looking for places to connect.
People come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
So that’s it for now, except to say good luck, I’m here for you if I can help.