Advocating for Unhealthy Bodies
I feel like I'm on a tightrope talking about the issue of health and body positivity. I truly honestly love myself, but I don't feel like I'm at the place I want to be for my health. As Roxane Gay put it "I don't want to pretend that I'm OK with it (being fat), and it's not judging anyone else. It's just that I know the realities of living in my body. I know how irritating and how exhausting it is to, for example, climb a set of stairs. And so I don't need to be thin, but I want to be in better shape. I want to have more stamina. And I honestly, because I'm vain, want to wear cuter clothes."
And it's like, not that I'm not okay with being fat - I've been a size 18 or larger for the last nine years, basically my whole adult life. But just a year ago I was doing 5Ks and now to walk a few blocks uphill is a struggle. That's a big change in my health.
One of my main issues is that I eat mindlessly when I’m bored. I also eat when I’m sad because the food tastes good and makes me happy (that’s my logic at least). Sometimes I feel depressed and when I think about how much I’ll have to change my lifestyle to be healthy that makes me more depressed. I make meal plans and talk about goals and then it rains or I get sick and I feel like all is lost. I just give everything up completely and binge on all the things. I have a lot of guilt associated with food. Not because certain foods are good and bad, but because I knowingly and consistently put unhealthy things into my body because it's "easier" aka mindless. I know how to take care of myself, but sometimes it just feels unattainable.
What I’ve always wanted my whole life was to love myself and just be happy. Those are not goals you achieve and move on from. They're not something you ever "finish". Every day comes with decisions and roadblocks. I've learned a lot about loving myself in my 27 years. Loving yourself is not dependent on your size, the status of your health, the amount of “cute” clothes you have, how good you look in selfies, or anything physical really. Self love is loving your body, your mind, your spirit, your entire being. You are beautiful, but you are also so much more than your body. You are so much more than the world can see by looking at a picture of you. Loving yourself is treating yourself as a friend. It’s being encouraging along the journey and realizing the journey is forever because we never stop growing.
It's important while you're growing, learning, and changing, to educate yourself and surround yourself with things that will further your journey in the direction you wish to go - to positivity. Things that are not body positive do not contribute to self love.
Hold up. I've been wanting to talk about this since Corissa aka FatGirlFlow got all that hate from her video last month. Dieting is not body positive. Dieting is, according to Websters, restricting oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight. Dieting is not sustainable. Being healthy is about incorporating nutritious food choices and more activity into your life, without the pressure, restrictions, and guilt of dieting. You can lose weight and be body positive, but losing weight will not make you body positive.
If I get my shit together, start eating more balanced meals, start walk/jogging 5Ks again, and stay the same weight - I will be pleased. I will be healthier. If I lose weight because of a lifestyle change I make to become healthier - I will be pleased. There will be no goal weight. There will be no pills or fasts or "quick fixes."
For fat women specifically I feel there is this overwhelming urge to defend your fatness with health. I see a lot of posts from women in the body positive community saying “call me fat, but I exercise every day” or “you can say what you want, but my doctor told me I’m healthy.” Even Ashley Graham's response to not wanting to be called plus size - "The things that I don't necessarily like about it is all the negative stigmatisms that go with the word plus-size -- you're fat, you're lazy, you have no drive, no determination, you're constantly eating," she explained. "Honey, I work out. I work out three days a week. I lift. I do barre. I do it all." Well, I don’t have that defense. I am unhealthy and I still love my fat body.
My self love and body positivity are not determined by the status of my health. Unhealthy bodies are good bodies too. You do not have to be healthy in order to be considered worthy or beautiful. No matter what "body activist" Ashley Graham would have you believe. But that's a whole different blog, literally - clink the link.
I am not a healthy person. I am not telling you that because I am proud of it (see above). It is a fact, just like the fact that I am fat. I am a fat unhealthy person who loves herself. As a fat woman this feels like a thing I should be ashamed about. I think to myself that if I were smaller, no one would mind if I was unhealthy because they wouldn’t be able to tell from the outside. When you’re fat and you have an eating disorder people compliment you on your weight loss. No one asks how you lost it unless they’re looking for tips of their own. People expect you to be counting calories and working out two times a day when you’re fat. If you're overweight, you should constantly be trying to not be. We're taught that fatness isn't supposed to be a permanent state.
As stated above, I have my own issues with health and my relationship with food. Maybe you have a complicated relationship with those things too. But what I know for sure is that you do not have to be a perfect person before you're allowed to love yourself. You don't need to reach a certain weight or a certain level of mental health before it's okay to love yourself. If you don't love yourself now, you're not going to magically just because you lose weight. When you apply that same thought process to someone else it sounds insane. "Yeah, mom I really love you and all, but actually it looks like you gained some lbs since we last talked... Ooh, I actually don't respect you at all now."
No. No way. No how. You wouldn't talk to your mother or your best friend or your boss like that.
Also, here's some people talking about health and bopo much more eloquently than me.
Being Body Positive and Weight Loss
Why Dieting Can Rarely (If Ever) Be Body Positive
The Danger of Praising Weight Loss
Diet Culture and Capitalism
How to Stay Body Confident and Lose Weight
Until Next Time,