Fat acceptance and the fantasy of being thin

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….

So.

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”

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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.

https://kateharding.net/2007/11/27/the-fantasy-of-being-thin/

“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.”

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Day 263/366: Oniomania aka compulsive buying disorder

Falling off the clothes-buying-ban wagon in mid-August has led me to completely losing my self control.  Having discovered Lindy Bop and found that their lovely dresses were on sale it was like the brakes were off and I went careering downhill back into my clothes buying obsession. I would check the website every day for new sale stock and signed up for notifications when stock came back in.  I also joined two Lindy Bop selling pages on Facebook, and took my obsession to Ebay where I broke my Ebay clothes ban too.

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Lindy Bop navy floral Audrey.  She is so pretty!

This spectacular failure was compounded by going to The Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool ten days ago.  This plus-size fashion show included stands from amazing plus size retailers including some I’ve not come across before like Emmy Designs and Studio 8 as well as finding that Praslin were selling all their sample dresses for £5.

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Yay – plus size bloggers represent!

It’s been an utter disaster for both my bank account and my mental health.  It would seem that I have an obsession.  There is even a medical term for it: Oniomania or compulsive buying disorder.

I love everything I have purchased.  The clothes are beautiful.  I want to wear them all, in fact I think this is part of it, I just want to Wear ALL the Nice Clothes.  It’s not even like I have anywhere to wear them to.

According to Shopaholics Anonymous, there are several different types of compulsive buyers.  I think I fit into at least three of these categories.

  • Compulsive shopaholics who shop when they are feeling emotional distress
  • Trophy shopaholics who are always shopping for the perfect item
  • Shopaholics who want the image of being a big spender and love flashy items
  • Bargain seekers who purchase items they don’t need because they are on sale
  • Bulimic shoppers who get caught in a vicious cycle of buying and returning
  • Collectors who don’t feel complete unless they have one item in each color or every piece of a set

I am definitely a trophy clothes shopper.  It’s always that the next dress will be perfect and will make me look amazing and everyone will love it.  But once it’s been worn once or twice, the excitement disappears and I’m looking for the next perfect dress.

I am also a sucker for a bargain.  Lady V London posted on Facebook today that all their sale dresses are now under £20.  I had one in my basket this afternoon despite the fact that last night I was nearly in tears about how full my wardrobe is.  But the dress was perfect and I must have it.

I saw someone wearing it at The Curve Fashion Festival and I thought it looked wonderful on her.  I want it.  I want to possess it.  I want to wear it because it will make me look beautiful.  I love the fabric.  And here I am, back to finding the Trophy dress.

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I mean, how gorgeous is this dress?  It needs to be in my wardrobe

I shut the browser and went away and didn’t buy it.  But it was beautiful.

And this is where we come to the third compulsive shopping habit I have.  I’m a bulimic shopper.  I buy clothes and then send them back, or sell them on.  In the last month I have purchased 23 dresses 7 tops and a skirt from Lindy Bop or off Ebay.  Add to that 2 Praslin dresses, an Emmy dress (at huge expense), a Studio 8 dress (also at huge expense) and one from TKMaxx which to be fair is the only dress purchase I have made in an actual shop this year.  Not that it’s much consolation.

Emmy Designs make gorgeous reproduction vintage dresses handmade in Sweden and I wanted them all, I seriously, seriously wanted to buy four or five dresses. I really, nearly bought more than one, but the cost made me think “I could get 10 Lindy Bop dresses for the price of this” as if quantity outweighed quality.  My mind is seriously screwed up if that’s the way I’m thinking.

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The utterly gorgeous Emmy dress I didn’t buy (and have non-buyers remorse oh so badly)

Of the Lindy Bop clothes, I have returned 11 and kept 12 dresses, returned 4 tops and kept 3 and returned the skirt.  Looking at this list makes me feel incredibly ashamed of myself. WHY do I feel the need to keep buying and buying.  Why am I not happy with the lovely clothes that I have got.  What on earth is my problem?

 

Above you can see just some of the clothes I bought from Lindy Bop. They are all pretty. I don’t want to part with any of them.

All the good work I have done since January has been undone in one month of completely uncontrolled binge-buying.  When I dieted, I used to be like this, good for weeks and weeks and then all of a sudden would completely lose control.  It’s the reason I stopped dieting because it made me so very unhappy.

How do I start again and get back on an even keel?  How can I train my brain to stop wanting all the pretties because I already have a lot of pretties.  Where does this void that needs to be filled with pretty dresses come from?  I think I need help….