content warning: fat shaming
I’ve written a lot about learning to love my fat body, over the years. This is a good overview I found in my drafts folder recently and cleaned up. I hope it communicates well my life with fat and my journey of finding truth.
I used to think fat equals unhealthy. My family and culture told me that, and I didn’t have the skills as a young child to make my own conclusions and say no.
I take a moment to consider that lil Nest, doing her best to survive. Taking in information–curious, vulnerable, not sure what to believe. I love her back through time.
I used to think health was the point of life. So I believed I owed it to my family and society to be thin, so I could be healthy. So much shame was heaped on me for my fatness, and I accepted it all. I heaped extra shame onto myself, in an attempt to eat less, move more, and lose weight. Desperately, I wanted to be a good person.
It was a setup for self-loathing and deep sadness. My life was bad in many ways–I was abused in my family, and my needs were neglected medically and emotionally. I endured the drug abuse and violence of my caretakers. Hiding out was my whole desire, to avoid being harmed.
I had unmet needs that I was purposely hiding for my own survival, and a slew of differences that made life hard for me. Disability, queerness, hearing voices, mood issues, sensory sensitivity, social differences. All I wanted to do was read, write, and go unnoticed. Way too few options were given to me, considering the wild mind I had.
I thought weight loss would fix my life and my relationships. My mom taught me my body was bad, that fat is bad, and encouraged me to “diet.” I wasn’t sure how to do that. She would get upset with her life and herself and go on a weight loss kick. I didn’t like how angry she seemed. Rather than address her biggest life problem–the violence of my dad–she attacked her own body through intentional starvation. It looked like self-harm.
My mom didn’t allow me to snack, which meant I’d feel starving much of the time. Then I would stuff myself at meals, knowing no food was possible until the next meal. I started hiding food in my room. Yikes, disordered eating.
Christianity also taught me that my body was bad. I was inferior for being a girl. I was made to wear a dress, which symbolized something I couldn’t understand. Something was inherently wrong with me, with original sin. Eve handed an apple to Adam in the garden of Eden, demonstrating that women are temptresses and untrustworthy non-standard people.
We could carry life in our wombs, support boys and men, and be quietly obedient. They taught me that all the power I felt inside me should be smashed down, as it was actually evil.
Then I grew up. I learned about pleasure and saying no to common knowledge about weight and health, as common knowledge is so often incorrect.
I noticed fat people who were healthy, and thin people who were unhealthy. Thin cousins were drug addicts and almost dying from that, and thin friends had anorexia and bulimia, and were almost dying too.
I heard that exercise was more important than weight, so going for walks and other physical activity would keep me healthy. Back then, I still believed being healthy was my responsibility and a requirement for loving myself as a moral person.
So I went for walks almost every day, which was good for my mental health, and was often the only time I went outside. For some years I was mostly agoraphobic, partly because being seen and judged was overwhelming for me, and that had to do with judgement for being far.
My fat was an unwanted part of me. I hated my huge stomach, my wide ass, my double chin. They all seemed to betray me as a bad person, gluttonous, unhealthy, and coping with life by eating, in a weak way. Irresponsible, selfish, and obviously messed up.
I wanted to have sex with a friend. He told me he liked having sex with fat women, but only if the fat women were totally confident with no body shame.
“Uh oh,” I thought. Hearing that struck fear in me; I could be ok with my body sometimes, but all the time? Never a moment of fear, never a doubt?
That was impossible. I realized that if being desirable was contingent on being perfectly secure and confident, I was doomed.
I noticed smaller fat women could be seen as sexy, as long as they had a good grasp of femininity, including cute revealing tight clothing in current styles, jewelry, makeup, and a stellar gender performance. For me, gender was a struggle, as I was comfortable more gender-neutral, but I was judged for that.
I hated clothes shopping, wore jeans every day, and was outlier bad at costuming. Expressing myself was something I did in writing, never in what I wore or how I packaged myself.
I felt very dykey–I never wore a dress, didn’t carry a purse, never learned to do makeup. Never shaved my legs, had zero interest in fashion. I was always read as a woman, for these large breasts that proceed me, but I wasn’t doing gender right and didn’t get the prize, at all.
And I wasn’t a smaller fat woman. My weight was and is high. I went vegan for a few years, for the environment and animals, and I lost some weight. But I was still very fat.
what I believe fat is now
Fat is not an indicator of health or value. My body is ok. I can be fat and happy, fat and sexy, fat and beautiful. But I don’t owe sexiness, beauty, happiness, or health to anyone. Not my job.
Nowadays, I love myself. I hear doctors, strangers, friends, and culture in general insult and criticize me for my fatness. I experience meanness and have untrue shit assumed about me all day long. It goes beyond that to discrimination and worse healthcare that could kill me.
But as I progress down a path of learning how to be happy in a world that’s not designed for me, I learn about dodging harm from others and letting go of untrue ideas that hurt me. Being an anarchist and kinda lumpen means I’m not trying to get a good job anyway. Not having faith in the medical model means I can sidestep some of that, relying on multiple types of medicine, including community and ritual.
Not to say I’d do a ritual if I broke my arm. I just mean a doctor isn’t my go-to-solution for everything. I like solutions other than pills. I’m rich with options.
I love fat liberation, seeing myself on my own terms, loving myself as much as I can, being there for myself. I get a thrill from being in a space with other fat liberationists, where we can assume a few shared experiences and beliefs, and go from there. We don’t have to start from square one all the time.