Turning a weight question on its head

A few ideas have been brewing in my mind around body image, feminism, fat shaming, comedy… yes, all rolled into one.
Maybe I’m still percolating.  For now, here are a few thoughts.

I heard someone joking the other day about being asked how she stays so thin and responding that her job keeps her that way. It made me think about what it would be like to turn that question on its head. It seems to me that the idea that being thin is the ideal to strive for is so ingrained in our collective (western) conscious that this question is a compliment without having to try. So, I did some thinking and reading about discussions of body size, how all too often a woman’s value is based on her looks or assumptions are made about how she dresses and what this means you can do or say to her. On a more fun note, it also reminded me of a cute novel I had read about a woman who wakes up in a world where the standard of beauty is the opposite of our current culture and super models are size 14+ and celebrated for their amplitude (Making it Big by Lyndsay Russell).

As an exercise, I pretended I was being asked: ‘how do you stay so fat?’
I imagined myself blushing at the compliment, coquetishly drawing my hand to my chest in a ‘who, me?” gesture…

“Well, it comes down to a balance of a lot of factors, really. Thank you so much for noticing and asking! I’m someone who learned the behavior of eating emotionally at a fairly young age. I wouldn’t know what to do with feeling good, bad, sad, angry, so I would eat. Oh! I also have an overweight husband, so we support each other in eating poorly. I eat fruits, veggies, superfoods and lots of other crap too, the key is really in the “lots”. The best part is my PCOS which has not only been contributed to my weight but also makes it stay on!”

Yikes, that wasn’t easy to write without wanting to add disclaimers about how I was changing that. I had trouble keeping it within the realm of me (pretending to) be ok with being fat. I felt so many of my own judgments about myself and my weight come up. I realize I haven’t learned to be ok with me because I still believe the voices of others telling me I’m not good enough, that to leave the house while fat makes me a target for people to comment on it, that people feel entitled to comment about how beautiful my face is (and the silent: unlike the rest of you!), or that I am unlovable or lazy because of my size.   I don’t enjoy these thoughts- I feel like I’m being judged if I’m eating anything but an apple in public. Even when I am, I imagine them thinking, oh good for her, she’s eating healthy. Because, of course, it is only ok to be fat if you are actively doing something to become not fat. Crap, I’ve imposed this same set of beliefs on myself and have caught myself applying them in judgments about myself and others.  Please don’t get me wrong, I am very aware of the health risks and consequences of being overweight or obese. I am not saying that ‘this feels good for me, so suck it health’. I’m realizing as I write that I am really just trying to look at where I’ve internalized the hurtful way the world can be about being fat and how this isn’t a helpful way to think on my healing journey. A way of shining a light on it, so I can dispel this pattern.

My feelings of low self worth have, in the past, made me wish or imagine that I was invisible. I literally take up a lot of space now, it’s laughable that I thought I was hiding. Up until now, this has served me well because my ego has thought this was the way to stay safe and protected from being hurt by the outside world. Isn’t that ironic?

Sigh, and there I was thinking I’d keep it light with this post (!). I’ll keep percolating for now, so I suppose this is to be continued…


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