I am in several Facebook groups for plus size women. A couple of days ago, one of the moderators of one group posted the following question:
“Based on a few threads in here where some of us feel particularly low or unattractive I think a bit of forced positivity is in order….
When was the last time you genuinely felt attractive and sexy?
Where were you?
What were you wearing?
What in particular made you feel that way?
Why did you feel that way?”
Good questions. My reply was
“I felt absolutely fab last night. I went to the wedding evening do of a uni friend and met up with some people who I haven’t seen for years. Despite the fact I am quite a lot heavier than I was at uni, I dress better and feel better about myself. Ive let go of the angst about being fat and have decided that as I’m never going to be thin, I will dress myself nicely now rather than putting it off (forever) with the mindset that I will wait until I’m thin.
Anyway, I got loads of complements from people, including from two guys I haven’t seen for 20 years. I also got a free drink at the bar and a lot of smiles from people. I think it’s cos I felt fab and happy and that made me look great”
But some of the other replies have almost had me in tears. People saying that they only felt great when they were a size 10 and they could feel their hipbones grinding into the mattress, or saying that they lost 4 stone and felt great, but have put weight back on and feel terrible, or even that they have NEVER felt great.
The self hate of so many people in a closed plus size, supposedly supportive community is distressing. Having been there in the past but escaped, it makes me very, very sad.
And then of course there are the women who are dieting and have lost weight who are showered with congratulations (this is not a diet community). I always feel terribly awkward when people are congratulated on weight loss. Like you’ve made yourself smaller to take up less space and conform to the pressures of society, where’s the good in that?
WHY? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why are women of all ages so focussed on losing weight to conform to a single societal ideal? Why do women think that there being less of them is a good thing?
Yes, I once felt the same having drunk the diet/magazine/media Kool Aid, but now I’ve come to a place where I know that the word “Fat” is a descriptor. I am fat, I have been less fat and more fat, but I have always been fat. It was learning that the word is not an insult, but just a word (even if meant as an insult) that helped me to come to terms with the fact that I can live a perfectly OK life as a fat women, and all the mental energy I put into hating myself and wishing I was “normal” could actually be put into my relationship, my career, my crafting hobbies, my ukulele playing and my friends.
No, I don’t feel 100% all the time, BUT when I feel “fat” I now recognise that I’m feeling unhappy/nervous/upset/apprehensive/insecure about something and that my body insecurity is actually my brain playing up.
I have found that people take me more seriously now in my career because I dress better and speak out and I’m not afraid of being insulted about being fat (which I always was before). And now it never happens. I’m very short (5’4″) but people alway think I’m taller and I think it’s because I project confidence in a fat body.
I WISH I could help some of the women who are so unhappy about their bodies to let them know that it is possible to get to a place where you don’t actually mind your body. I’m not a “body love” sort of person, I think loving a body that you are constantly told is defective/non-conformist is very hard, but I am definitely a fat acceptance person. I accept my fat body, dress it nicely, feed it and exercise it and then get on with living life.
Meanwhile, here is a link to a ground breaking, mind-opening blog post by Kate Harding that started me on the road to fat acceptance back in 2007.
“But then, the other day, I got to thinking about a particular kind of resistance that shows up every single time anyone dares to say that dieting doesn’t work — the kind that comes from other fat people and amounts to, “DON’T YOU TAKE MY HOPE AWAY!” Those of us in the anti-dieting camp are frequently accused of demoralizing fat people, of sending a cruelly pessimistic message. I’ve never quite gotten my head around that one, since the message we’re sending is that you’re actually allowed to love your fat body instead of hating it, and you can take steps to substantially improve your health without fighting a losing battle with your weight. I’m pretty sure that message is both compassionate and optimistic, not to mention realistic. But there will always be people who hear it as, “I, Kate Harding, am personally condemning you to a lifetime of fatness! There’s no point in trying, fatty! You’re doomed! Mwahahaha!”……..
“Overcoming The Fantasy of Being Thin might be the hardest part of making it all the way into fat acceptance-land. And that might just be why I’d pushed that part of the process out of my memory: it fucking sucked. Because I didn’t just have to accept the size of my thighs; I had to accept who I am, rather than continuing to wait until I magically became the person I’d always imagined being. Ouch.”