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.