Be What You Want to See

Published August 14, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

So have you read this awesome post by Bri over on Fat Lot of Good, on the subject of the quality of life of fat people?  I’ve been thinking about the difference between my quality of life now, as a Fat Acceptance activist, and that I had before, in my old diet/exercise bingeing/body loathing/low self esteem days.  I talked to a few people about the quality of life of fat people too.  And do you know what conclusion I came to?

If fat people have a low quality of life, it’s not because they are fat.  It’s because they are stigmatised, loathed, feared, bullied, shamed and generally disrespected by the world around them.

Being fat doesn’t make your quality of life lower.  The things that make your quality of life lower are being dismissed by doctors as needing to lose weight when you have allergies, or a sore throat, or anything else completely unrelated to the size and shape of your body.  It’s when you’re ridiculed on the street by douchebags who think that your effect on their penis is the only value you hold.  It’s when you cannot buy reasonably priced, fashionable, well-made clothing because the clothing industry believes you are not worth catering to.  It’s when complete strangers start giving you unsolicited advice on how to change your body to suit their standards of acceptability.  It’s when the media and marketing tell you that you are lazy, dirty, smelly, disgusting, gross, stupid, unhealthy and so on simply because of the size and shape of your body.  It’s when you’re constantly made to feel like you are worthless because you do not conform to an arbitrary measure of what is normal or acceptable.

And it’s the disappointment of not being able to lose weight and keep it off, or if you do lose weight, the lie of being thin suddenly “curing” everything in your life that ails you.

For me, the moment I opted out of that world, the moment I decided that I was no longer going to let people shame and bully me into hating myself because my body happened to be fat, was the very moment that my quality of life began to improve.  I am no less fat than I was (in fact, I think I’m fatter) when my quality of life was so low, but that hasn’t influenced how good my life is one little bit.

I think it’s important that those of us who are Fat Acceptance activists, speak up and say this.  Because I know I’m not the only one who has found this is the case.  When we share that life is better when we accept and love ourselves, that happiness is achievable as a fat person, it gives our fellow fatties hope.  It shows them there is an alternative to the misery of self loathing that is so often pushed upon fat people because of other people’s prejudice.  It gives others an option to step off of the cycle of self abuse, shame and low self esteem that society at large expects fat people to just swallow as their lot in life.

We are the positive portrayals of fat people that we wish to see more of.  They’re not going to come from the mainstream media and marketing for some time yet, and when they do, it will have been damn hard work to get them there.  So we have to fill that void as best we can ourselves.  To promote ourselves and our Fat Acceptance peers as much as possible.

I know it was Fat Acceptance activists that brought me to this place of a high quality of life, and I hope I can bring others there too.

7 comments on “Be What You Want to See

  • You took the thought right outta my brain on this one! My quality of life improved so much after I stopped hating myself and stopped being so hung up on what other people thought of my body, and douchebags feeling the need to concern-troll me.

    Life’s for fucking living, not sitting there counting and measuring every frigging thing that goes in your mouth and feeling guilty about nourishing yourself; and something I love to explode peoples’ heads with is that FA helped me embrace exercise when I saw it could be about getting stronger and feeling good, not about losing weight.

    A person of any shape and size can have a great quality of life once they opt out of this “thinness = perfection and health is irrelevant” realm.

    • Absolutely Rose. It’s damn hard work every step of the way – it’s still hard work for me and I’ve got years of work behind me on it.

      That’s why it’s really important that as many FA activists as possible show an alternative to those messages we get from media and marketing.

  • Oh my maude. This is exactly how I feel but have not been able to put it into those exact words. I haven’t read Bri’s post yet but look forward to it.
    In searching for the life that I want and deserve, the diet mentality and a fantasy of a mystical perfect life if only I weren’t fat, have to be gone.
    It is the only way for me.

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