It dawned on me earlier, as I munched on my luscious salad, and perused twitter to see what bile Mr Miller was spewing today. It dawned on me how fat acceptance is seen as this big evil, and how “normalising obesity is crippling our NHS” is the biggest pile of poop, because it has only just got legs in the last decade, and this country has been getting bigger for a lot longer than that!
I have been on a diet of some sort for a substantial amount of time each year for about 30 years. And I am in my mid 30’s. In primary school I was teased and bullied for my size, in PE lessons aged 6 I specifically remember how different I was to other kids because I couldn’t feel my ribs. In secondary school I was also teased and bullied for my size, and then as a youth worker I had snide comments from shitty little brats who found it hilarious to comment. The 80s and 90s were not kind to girls of a larger stature. At Secondary School our Home Economics lady was big. And the boys in the class felt no shame in loudly mocking and ridiculing, and making her aware of how they felt about her appearance. Fat acceptance was not a thing. Thin was acceptable. Fat was not. It’s safe to say I grew up with enough self loathing to see me through the rest of my days. And as a result of believing that thin was good and fat was very, very, very bad, I spent many days, months, years, on ryvitas and cottage cheese, or slimma soups, or dust. I followed Rosemary Conley’s recipes to the letter, I exercised each evening to Cher. I tried my damnedest to fit in to the acceptable norm, knowing that big was not acceptable.
And I doubt I’m alone. In fact I would go so far as to wager that many of the fat acceptance campaigners will have grown up with similar experiences of torment and ridicule, and will have seen others dealing with the same. I would wager that fat acceptance has come about as a reaction to years and years of fat shaming. So to be blaming the “obesity crisis/epidemic” (really, that deserves a whole other blog post of its own) on a movement that has really only gained ground in the last few years seems somewhat ridiculous, no?
Think about that for a moment. These people who are fighting for acceptance have endured years and years of ridicule, and have remained fat. Often in spite of diet after diet. So while Mr Miller sits there on his throne of judgement, he is merely continuing a behaviour which is what many of us endured in childhood and teendom. And fat acceptance CANNOT be blamed for a situation that was taking place for decades before it even existed.
So what is the answer? Well, for me, it is about kindness and care. I want to look after my body. I want to feel healthy. I want to protect myself from disease if I can, and be around for my kids. Sometimes I fall back into old coping mechanisms. Sometimes eating gives me a way of not dealing with feelings I don’t want to face. But day by day the self acceptance and self care gets easier, and the critical voices of old get quieter and quieter. It may not be the whoopy doop super fast weight loss that Miller demands of fatties everywhere, but it is maintainable and life changing.