I don’t agree

It’s no surprise that I’m having a rather severe bout of fisticuffs with my weight, my body image, and the way I feel about myself in general. I’m not going to go in to the pathetic details of my attempts to lose weight (more importantly, my attempts to lose girth and to reshape my body) because it’s just going to make me *more* pissy, and nobody wants that.

So let’s all just agree to acknowledge that I am fat, and have been working fairly hard at not being fat for the past year.

I am also a feminist, and a large part of the feminist movement is in accepting yourself for what you are regardless of what society says you need to look like. I appreciate that, and I agree. You shouldn’t base your ideal on what anyone tells you your ideal should be; that’s just ridiculous, and it’s going to set you up for disappointment.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with learning to accept who you are and what you look like and, in particular, to love yourself. That’s super important. I think it’s a very difficult thing to do; I think it’s antithetical to human nature to love yourself, and I don’t know why I think this. Probably because it’s so difficult.

Maybe it’s difficult because of the influence of religious leaders who talk about guilt, or because we live in a world where if you don’t have money you don’t matter, or whatever. I don’t know the answer. I just think it’s incredibly difficult to accept yourself, much less to love yourself.

Anyway, what I’m about to say is going to get me in trouble with some of my feminist friends. Sisters and brothers, don’t hate me. Or, you know, do. It’s your perogy, after all.

I hate the ‘fat acceptance’ movement. It makes me really angry. As I mentioned before, I’m fat. I hate the way I look, I hate the way I feel, I hate that I’m at a higher risk for gall bladder disease, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and any number of other health conditions that will kill me. I hate that I can’t find clothes that fit me on the racks (even though my sewing skills are improving).

I hate looking at myself in the mirror. I avoid it at all costs. The person in the mirror is not me. Call this body dismorphic disorder, call this self-loathing, call it the seventh bride of Frankenstein if you want; it’s the truth. I don’t want to look like anyone else. I want to look like me. I want to FEEL like me. I don’t want to be shaped like a movie star, or a rock star, or a swimsuit model, or my sister-in-law, or my best friend.

I hate having my photo taken. I always kind of did, but now it’s just worse. I have seen, I think, two photos of me taken in the last ten years that I’ve liked. That look like *me*.

And here’s the thing. The fat acceptance people piss me off because it feels like their point of view undermines mine. That’s a weird thing to think. But on the one hand, there are people who say if you’re not skinny, you’re DOIN IT RONG and you’re not attractive. On the other hand, there are people saying if you’re not curvy, you’re DOIN IT RONG and you’re not attractive.

I don’t give a fiddler’s fart about attractive. I’m not trying to attract anything other than peace and joy within my family and circle of friends. I’m trying to be healthy. I’m trying to live longer. I’m trying to wear a pair of goddamned pants that don’t blow out at the inner thigh.

So I don’t think it’s okay for me to be fat. For you, whatever floats your boat. People *are* gorgeous, regardless of their shape and size. I hate it on me. I don’t wear gold lamé either, nor do I wear shoes with heels. Because I don’t like it.

Every time I see one of these “celebrate being fat” things going around, I grind my teeth and pound my cellulite. I don’t think fat is healthy, based on my own experience, but if that’s the way you look, it’s not like I’m going to assume you’re lazy and worthless.

This is the epitome of self-absorption, I suppose, because it’s all about me. When I have a strong emotional reaction to something, I have to ask: “what the doubleyou-tee-eff is this about?”, and with the “fat acceptance” movement, I think it has as much to do with the loss of “me” in all this flesh as it does with anything else.

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

36 Comments

  1. I am likewise engaged in a perpetual donnybrook with my self-image, my mirror image, and the guy who shows up in all the photographs people take of me. I’m not sure what to do about the rest, but what say we trade reflections for a while? The persons in our mirrors would still not be us, but I think I’d find it a pleasant change of pace, at least.

  2. First off, I’ve never understood the desire to ‘love yourself.’ I want to understand myself, but I don’t think I ever need to ‘love’ myself. It sounds too much like the worst kind of ego stroke. I prefer to think of the phrase in the purely physical, as a joke.

    Second, being comfortable in your skin is still an entirely individual matter. If someone is comfortable being overweight and accepting the health risks, that’s their choice. To celebrate that choice is fine. To expect anyone who might disagree with them to endorse them is going a bit far.

    Thirdly, I thought feminism was about equality and individual choice. Being a feminist does not mean a total rejection of the physicality of who we are as people. Nor should it because then it is as restrictive as a more patriarchal view. It’s always annoyed me that it seems that to be a feminist you must take on every single argument in support of feminism, even when it’s extreme or seems to restrict individual choice.

    So never feel guilty for making a choice to better yourself as you understand yourself. Keep it up, and never stop trying to be as great as you want to be.

        1. “We are afraid. We are afraid because we are women, I have daughters here. Every house is armed only by knives. We have nothing else, but we have God. … We are not very much afraid of death.”

  3. Can I ask what sort of exposure you have had to Fat Acceptance? I ask this because your idea of what FA is about and what my idea of FA is, seem to be vastly different and I actually write a FA blog. I am not here to tell you that you need to change your mind and feel differently. But if you want to work through your feelings about FA and why I think you might have been somewhat misled by whatever sources you learned about FA from, then drop me a line. I won’t try to convince you of anything, I am just happy to share my idea of FA and to let other people know there are many different ideas and people in the FA movement.

    1. My exposure to FA has primarily been through several blogs and websites and a little bit of research. There was one blog that thought was lovely, and it was a photography site.

      People -mostly women, but not all- took photos of themselves naked. Every photo submitted was of someone of generous girth. I thought the photos were gorgeous; I thought those people were wonderful, and I would probably submit photos of myself to that site without hesitation.

      How’s that for a conundrum, hey?

      I accept that I’m fat, and I accept that for others, they may enjoy being fat, and that’s fine. I hate it.

      And it’s not even that I want to be skinny. I don’t. I want to be healthy, and while I can swim five miles or walk five miles or bike or lift weight or even run (I’m getting there), I don’t feel healthy. I’d like to get down to the size I was six or ten years ago, which was still overweight by most standards, but not obese, which is how I would currently be designated.

      I also recognise that the ‘standards’ like BMI and the number on the scale and the terminologies don’t really mean much, and they don’t take into account things like your body shape. My tape measure numbers are less than thrilling, though. I’m setting my standard by what I want; by the way I want to feel and look, and this isn’t it.

  4. Hooray for us fat people who want something better for ourselves. I see it everyday at my bridal store and it amazes me at how many women today ate overweight and unhealthy and yet struggle to accept it. It’s about time we do something and I’m one of them. I just started with a personal trainer and am doing something to change the picture I see in the mirror. When my measurements and fat content were taken my body conssists of approximatly 49% fat. How the hell can that be good for anyone. And the first person to tell me it’s okay to accept that I’d like to put my foot up their butt and ask them what planet did they come from.

    We need an attidue adjustment when it comes to fat.

  5. I know exactly what you mean. Although I know everyone meant well (and they were of course all skinnier than me) everyone jumped all over me for wanting to go to the gym and deal with this fat thing I have going on. I was at the bar last night and happened to be situated across from a mirror. I couldn’t bear it and moved my seat.

    Of course it is about body image. Everyone wants to look their best. For me it isn’t about unrealistic body image (although I joke about it). It is also about not wanting to follow my father to the grave quite so quickly. It is about feeling like someone needs to call an ambulance when I climb just one flight of stairs. It is about not feeling dumpy amongst my peers at work and looking more professional and svelte and managing to fit into more professional clothing. And yes, it is about not having pants wear out at the inner thigh.

    I love you and support you in how you feel and whatever changes you want to make to make yourself the best version of you. (((hugs)))

    1. Also, I think you *should* go to the gym. *I* jumped all over you because the way you said it at the time sounded like “I can only be pretty if I go to the gym”, which isn’t what you *meant*.

  6. I hear what you are saying and have similar feelings sometimes. I know this post has everything to do with your own self image, but I just wanted to let you know that I love you just the way you are. Not that its suppose to make anything better, but I just wanted to tell you.

  7. I think you are wonderful the way that you are. I also want you to be happy with who you are. If that means that you want to lose some weight, so be it. I’ll support you — to a point; if you develop an eating disorder, we’ll have words. Luckily I don’t think that is a likely outcome for you. In any case, I’m pretty sure that I’ll like you just the same no matter what size you are.

  8. Wow, you and Shannon are going to fight on this one. :)

    I am with you. I don’t understand the FA movement – I can’t help but think its a cop-out. I am in favor of accepting one’s self as you are, which is part of FA, but a lot of folks on this one seem to take it as, and I am likely sleeping on the couch over this one, a license to be fat.

    And it isn’t. The health risks associated with obesity are proven facts. Those are what it all comes down to for me. If someone is morbidly obese, but maintains a good amount of exercise, can take long walks, hikes, runs, ride bikes and not pass out after moderate exertion – then maybe they have an argument that we should accept that fat as fine. But none of the “fat” people I know (and I include myself in that category) are healthy in a cardio-vascular fashion. All of them are easily winded, can’t sustain mid-high levels of exertion for protracted periods of time or maintain decent flexibility in their bodies.

    Now, if / when confronted with someone who is healthy, and has a strong heart that isn’t being over-worked by all that weight, I’ll gladly recant my position – for that individual. For the rest of my overweight friends and strangers, well, we need to understand that “acceptance” will still result in you likely dying younger. You might be happier throughout it, and maybe that’s more important, but that’s another discussion entirely.

    1. I’ve been doing more reading on the FA movement, and there are *parts* of it that are good, but they’re good outside of the “fat is fine” mentality. Specifically, the good points made are that commonly accepted measurements and evaluations of a person’s body shape and makeup are ridiculous (particularly BMI); that weight loss surgery is an acceptable “treatment” for weight problems/eating disorders; that weight loss will make you a better person/will solve all your problems; that (fad) diets work; etc..

      I don’t know that I think the FA movement is a cop-out, but I know I don’t accept that “fat” is healthy.

      Healthy is healthy. I mean, that sounds ridiculous, but until and unless hormones are properly balanced, body systems are in good working order, and everything runs smoothly, I don’t think you can claim to be ‘healthy’, whether you’re overweight or underweight or just right weighted.

      But. All that aside, *I* am fat, and I hate it. So. That’s why I get tetchy when I read about how I shouldn’t hate my shape; that what I should hate are the people who tell me my shape is wrong. *I* am telling me that. So, as the bard would say, “aye, there’s the rub.”

      The *other* bard, of course, would say, “He sure is!” everytime someone said “he’s big for an elf.”

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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