The irony of the last couple of days is that currently I am working on losing weight. I have lost 2 and a half stone in the last 18 months. OK It isn’t the momentous 6,8,10 stone that some achieve. It has been slow and steady. And this Christmas I gained, because I had a mental health issue, and it hit me hard. But I have, overall, maintained a weight loss. Not through self hate, not through telling my fat it is unacceptable and disgusting. But through being kind. Through noticing how my body responds positively to certain ways of exercise, Through acknowledging how I feel after different foods and days. It has been through forgiving myself when I have been critical and hateful to a body that has seen me through so much.
I grew up hearing the ridicule, the hate, the spite, from people who felt justified to comment on my body. “You have such a pretty face, if only you would lose weight”, or “Have you got a sign to warn people? You know, Wide Load!” And occasionally those comments would spark in me some action. I would lose 2 stone, maybe even 3. But I would still hate myself. I still disliked my body, this body I had grown to dislike and despise and ridicule as effectively as those that had poured scorn on it from a distance. I was living in a body I loathed, and when weight loss didn’t fix that, when weight loss turned out NOT to be the answer I dreamed of, I would gain weight again.
I had grown up with food being a comfort, an answer to many of life’s problems. It’s not an ideal. But it is what it is and it was what it was. The thing is, no amount of weight loss, founded out of self loathing and hate, is going to change that need to comfort eat when it is all you know. So I would revert to food. I was disgusting anyway, why should i deprive myself of burgers. I didn’t deserve to be slim and happy, and anyway I was slim, but not happy, and what good had that been?
This was a vicious cycle. It went on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Each time I lost, each time I would ultimately gain.
So then I came across Intuitive Eating. A way of tuning in and noticing yourself. But more importantly, oh so much more importantly, a way of becoming compassionate to myself.
Gradually I learnt how to say kind things. To acknowledge the wonderful things my body had done. To thank it for carrying me. And when it was hard to say kind things, just to not say anything nasty was enough.
And it has taken many, many years. I am still a work in progress. But I now, depression aside, enjoy my lie far more than in all those years of diets and self loathing. If I follow a diet plan now (and I do, periodically, because it supports my needs and find a way that works for me) it is done with compassion and forgiveness. It is NOT done with judgement and scolding and criticism. Because for me, that way to ruin and misery lie.
This is MY story, My experience. Being larger doesn’t lessen me as a person. I am choosing to get healthier for myself through ways that work for me. With LOVE and Compassion and Acceptance of where I am now. Training to run a marathon, and accepting that some days will be easier than others, but that it will be worth it in the end.
Fat Acceptance is not about getting people to eat themselves to death. It is about learning to love ourselves where we are right now, and to come to believe and know we are worthy of love and acceptance. It’s about sticking a finger up at ridiculous unrealistic media ideals that we all have to be some fantastical version of perfect. It’s about acknowledging that health isn’t simply about size, or exercise, or food. That there are mental and emotional aspects that impact greatly on our lives and they need addressing as much as everything else. It’s about learning to live in balance in our own body, and finding what works and what is perfect for us.
I will continue to champion the larger lady, along with the slimmer lady. The runner, and the writer. The dancer, and the sunbather. The skater girl, the rockabilly belle. The academic, and the sales assistant. I will champion every single woman who is living a life that works for her. Because we are diverse. No size fits all. And this planet continues to be a beautiful place full of the unique and individual.