“But you’re suggesting we all get fat and disgusting!”
How many times have you heard this one? I know I’ve heard it a whole lot of times, and not only by trolls on my blog. Family, friends, acquaintances, you name it like to pull this one out when anyone talks about fat acceptance.
There seems to be a perception that those of us who are advocating fat acceptance just want the world to be fat like we are.
This is not so. What I want as a fat activist is for the world to accept ME as I AM. To respect my right to a happy, safe, confident life without discrimination, ridicule, censure or harassment. And I want people like me to accept their bodies and live their lives to the full, regardless of what size they are.
Fat acceptance does not automatically mean living a sedentary life, however if someone chooses to do that, then that is their choice and they should not be treated as less for doing so.
For me, fat acceptance means freeing myself from the self loathing and getting out and doing all the active things I was always too ashamed to do, because I am fat. Accepting my body as fat makes me more likely to be active and healthy, because I’m not shutting myself at home in shame any more. But I’m not doing it to lose weight, I’m doing it because it makes me feel good, because I enjoy it and because it makes my body feel good.
The same goes for eating. I am learning that food does not equal morality. There are no good foods or bad foods. Well, except for peas, those are bad.
I eat when I am hungry, or when I have a craving. I do not feel the need to starve myself, or purge when I do eat any more. When I am sad or frightened or hurt, I do not starve myself as punishment. I listen to what my body asks for, and when it wants chicken I give it chicken, when it wants beetroot, I give it beetroot. When it wants ice-cream, I give it ice-cream.
Thankfully it never wants peas.
Fat acceptance is not about encouraging people to gain weight. It’s about acceptance of our bodies at any size and shape, and the demand that others accept them as that too. It’s also about the understanding that health and fat are not mutually exclusive.
I know when I am at my healthiest. It’s certainly not when I’m thin. My body tells me when I’m not healthy, when I need to make a shift in my activity or eating.
Just as an example, when I was travelling through the US a couple of years ago, I was really active at the time, walking most days for the whole day, but I was also eating out at everyone’s favourite restaurants, takeaways and cafes because all of the people I visited really wanted to share their favourite treats with me. It was delicious, but after about 2 weeks, my body was SCREAMING at me. “Please! Just give me some broccoli!” I can remember begging my friend Missy to take me somewhere vegetarian or health food based because I really just wanted to eat everything green. She took me to a Panera (lovely chain of sandwich, salad, soup plus bakery kind of restaurants in the US) and I almost cried over the first mouthful of a vegan garden vegetable soup. It was so good, and after that I realised that as much as it was lovely to be eating “party food” with folks as their guest, I had to make sure that I politely pointed myself in the direction of foods that my body was telling me I needed. Because while I was visiting them for a few days or a week, I was on to the next lovely host who wanted to show me more party food from there. I knew I had three months of this, so I knew to take care of myself.
I will never forget how good steamed Chinese broccoli with soy sauce tasted in Chinatown in San Francisco. It was like an injection of energy too.
The perception that self acceptance is either being vain and saying “I’m perfect.” or being lazy is an erroneous one. Self acceptance is about loving oneself as you are, and any changes you decide to make to yourself are FOR yourself. I believe that as a human being I’m in constant need of improvement, challenge and polish. But that is for me, not because other people tell me I should, or tell me that I’m less than they or others are.
I know the things that I want to improve in myself. They are my business and nobody else’s.