Sorting Out My Head

Published September 15, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

What a funny few days it’s been.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was processing a lot from the Australian Fat Studies conference.  It’s been a real mix of emotions.  Delight at meeting several of my favourite Aussie members of the fatosphere, as well as some of the women who have really influenced me since I came to Fat Acceptance.  Intellectual exhaustion from so much really stimulating and challenging discussion and ideas that came from the conference.  Physical tiredness from a trip to Sydney and right back to work the day after I got back.

Not to mention a whole host of emotional stuff stirred up.  Sharing my own story of the lowest point in my life with everyone both at the conference and here on my blog, a story that I’d never told anyone before this time, really meant a lot of thinking about how I felt about that time in my life, and how I felt about the world knowing of just how dire things got for me at one point.

Then there was hearing so many other stories from women who had suffered humiliation, shame, self loathing, bullying, desperation and so many other hurtful emotions and experiences before they found the positive messages of Fat Acceptance.

But mostly, I had a bit of a harrowing experience of my own self esteem taking a rather massive dip there for a few days.  I found myself surrounded by so many amazing, beautiful, intelligent, funny, talented, fierce, fashionable women (and a handful of fab men) that I started to feel really inadequate.  There were moments that I found myself thinking those old thoughts that I was not worthy of being there with these people, that not only was I the fattest in the room, but I was the ugliest, the least intelligent, the most annoying, the least fashionable, the least talented and so on.  I really had some big moments where I just felt like I was worthless and that my presence at the conference was a huge inconvenience on everyone.

It’s silly really.  I know it was just one of those things that comes with intense times in your life (and boy, was that an awesomely intense weekend!) that old emotions and things are churned up, but it crept up on me so stealthily, but so strongly, that it was very overwhelming to be taken back to that place.

I’ve had a few days to process, and have been able to talk to my counsellor about those feelings, just so that I could set them all out in front of me and look at them before putting them in their correct place.  I know those feelings are just old recordings from the days before I started to work on actually loving myself as a person, and can move forward from that place.

But that brings me to think about how I hear so many women worry that they won’t “fit in” to Fat Acceptance because they still struggle with low self esteem, disordered eating or exercise behaviours, a longing to change their bodies and self loathing.  I think that because most of the bloggers of the fatosphere write so much about the importance of strong self esteem, positive living and fat pride, among other positive topics, there is a perception that we’re all so together, that we really just love ourselves these days and don’t struggle with self esteem issues ourselves.

Please know that this is not true.  We struggle as much as anyone else.  Only we use our blogging, and the community of the fatosphere, to help mend those disordered thoughts and behaviours.  One of the best things I have ever done for my self esteem was take up a place in the fatosphere.  Every time I find myself in that place, the place where my brain sends me off into a spiral of self loathing and feelings of inadequacy, the best way to bring myself back to reality is to read the writing, see the photographs and art, admire the fashion, follow the tweets and Facebook updates, and generally just surround myself with the people of the fatosphere.  Even better still, to talk to them.  Whether it is through social media, or through my own blog here.

It doesn’t mean everything is rosy and perfect in the fatosphere, but I believe that there are so many good people there that you can just move on from those who you do not feel comfortable about.

I have found an incredibly supportive community, with plenty of good honest advice and common sense to share, some laughs, some tears, and some passionate debate.

If you’re like me, and you struggle with your self esteem, and yet you feel hesitant to become involved in the fatosphere, give it a go.  If you write, blog.  If you like to share pictures, post pictures (Tumblr is really good for that!)  If you love fashion, share your fatshion inspiration.  Whatever is your gig.  I don’t believe you’ll regret it.

I certainly haven’t.

31 comments on “Sorting Out My Head

  • Great post. This is something I experience on a daily basis, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times in my blog. It’s something that many people involved in the fatosphere seem to experience – I’ve seen others talking about it on Twitter.

    I think just knowing others have those same feelings helps a lot. It certainly helps me, knowing that I’m not the only one struggling with these issues.

    • Thanks Jen. I noticed a lot of talk about it lately, and then I found myself in that head space, so I figured I’d feed two birds with one seed (I don’t like killing birds with stones!)

  • Ok now you made *me* cry.

    You have summed up perfectly *exactly* how I have been feeling. I have even been considering throwing in the towel as far as blogging goes.

    But thankyou for understanding. Thankyou for ‘getting it’.

    Love you lots.

    • omg please dont…so often i quote you on facebook…i quote you on twitter… often you say what i am feeling in a way that is better than i can say it.

      Dont stop please? it would make me a sad panda

  • You (and Bri and Natalie) have me seriously wanting to post more pictures of myself, to be more visible as a fat person online. Thank you for your presence in the fatosphere, thank you for your honesty and thank you for being awesome 🙂

    • Visibility is a really, really important act of activism. I won’t sugar coat it, it is hard and sometimes you wish you hadn’t for awhile… but usually you get so much support from the community that that irons out before too much longer.

  • I so appreciate your sharing this because one of the obstacles I’ve faced in my own blogging about Fat Acceptance is that “Who am I to say anything about this subject?” After all, so many people (Marianne Kirby, Marilyn Wann, yourself) have articulated their own experience so much more clearly, who am I to bring anything to the party? But all our experiences are unique. I’m starting to realize there are many levels to feeling ‘worthwhile’…I may have allowed a redemption of my body in that regard but I have yet to fully accept my own voice. It makes me nervous to be the only voice of FA that some of my friends and family will ever hear, as if I will do the movement some kind of disservice by failing to articulate, failing to convince. But again that’s me thinking I have to justify my own existence.

    I never expected that accepting myself would involve a concerted effort to trust myself, or that this part would be harder.

    • I think you’re right. Every voice has a unique perspective and experience, and brings something to the table.

      Not to mention being the only FA voice in your immediate community circle, is definitely a tough job!

  • I feel thay way all the time, not good enough for something I’m definitely a part of. *hug* I wish there was a way for you to know, in that instant of doubt, that every one of us thinks you’re just as amazing, talented, and insightful as you’re thinking you might not be. Fantastic post.

  • Your posts are always so valid.

    As part of FA’s message, we need to remember that ALL women (& am sure guys, too!) have those moments of feeling completely unworthy or fraudulent when in the company of those they admire. It’s not just us fatties who have moments of self-loathing; thinnies get that, too. It’s just part of being a human in this world – but would you really want to be anything else, or anything less than the terrific being you are?

    Keep the wonderful posts coming – they are SO appreciated!

    • Thank you Carol. I am aware that almost all people have the feelings of unworthiness. I just think that as fat people, we get the message rammed down our throats daily that we’re somehow less than those who do not deal with fatness, so we have twice the work to do to get past it. We have to battle the media messages, the medical messages, the sheer volume of cultural messages that tell us that we ARE worth less than those with smaller bodies.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I know what you mean – some days I have huge moments of self doubt but then I just have to remember that I’m only human. We’re all incredibly brave for unlearning all those behaviours and feelings that our society have insinuated on us. Some days I look at tummy or my upper arms and just feel – crap – but then I know its just a temporary blip on the radar 🙂

    You’re fabulous and I love reading your blog 🙂

    – Liz


  • Well done..AGAIN 🙂 I don’t know that you’ll ever really know how many people you’ve touchd by being so open and vulnerable with us ❤ xoxoxoxo

    • Jessica, that’s a lovely thing to say. I feel that the one thing I have to bring to the table that is uniquely mine, are my experiences and vulnerabilities. If I’m honest about those things, then hopefully others will feel they can be the same, and I get to put it outside of my head, you know?

  • Thank you for this, it’s just the tonic I needed. I revisited past hurts last night and you know what? Everything is going to be all right. (Cue Shawn Mullins’ Lullaby)

  • Ah, the joys of impostor syndrome.

    But you know what? Every one of our voices is important. Why? Because we’re trying to be heard in such a huge chorus of negativity that we all need to sing our loudest just in hopes that someone will hear our message.

    More than that, I love your voice. You have so many good things to say, and say them so very well. You inspire and support more people than you can possibly know. I’m just one of them.

    We all have tough times with FA. We have to fight so hard just to keep going that it’s bound to get discouraging. The important thing is to acknowledge the fears and discouragement, but not let them rule us. Sharing your tough times this openly helps others dust themselves off and keep going along with you.

    You? Are one of my FA heroes.

  • We’re all human and flawed and vulnerable and thank the stars for that! Thanks for this post. It takes so much courage to share so much of your life and personal stories to would-be strangers in such an open & on the web way. I know. Thank you for that. We all learn from each other and hopefully we can lean on each other for strength, too when those tougher times come and we need that help. *hugs* =0)

    • Thank you so much. I guess the important thing to remember is that we all go through it, we all have these times. The beauty of the FA community is that we’re all here to support one another through it.

  • Hi, Sydney stirred up a lot of emotions in me too and I felt a bit confused about why my self-esteem sank a bit upon returning home. I just want to say though that it was a real honour and privilege to hear your talk. And to me, you were one of those “amazing, beautiful, intelligent, funny, talented, fierce and fashionable women” at the conference. Why are we the hardest on ourselves?

    • It is confusing isn’t it Barbara. I mean, you’re in a positive environment, surrounded by supportive, giving people, but the old self esteem just drops anyway. I’m not sure if anyone else knows why this happens, but it seems fairly common amongst a lot of us.

      And thank you so much for your kind words and praise. You can’t know how much it means to me.

  • it’s so brave to admit that you have self-loathing when you are “supposed to be” all positively self-esteemish with body acceptance. Just know we ALL have those moments, fat, thin and in-between. Everyone experiences high tide/low tide! The trick is remembering that these sometimes paralyzing thoughts/feelings/behaviors are not the real truth of who we are, and to keep connected with everything that reminds us of that truth: “amazing, beautiful, intelligent, funny, talented, fierce, fashionable” YOU!

  • Thank you for your blogging it is real and touches something inside of me. I have been subscribed to your blog for a couple of months after following a link from another FA blog.

    I am a fat woman who has been a yoyo trying to meet society’s standards, now I think I am going to accept myself for me.

    Listening to the FA bloggers at the moment is more useful than my psychiatrist (but I do like his drugs to keep me out of deep depression).

    I am still to speak out as a fat advocate to my family who want to see me at the gym (I will when I am ready), my psychiatrist who secretly wants me to be thinner (as he thinks it will help my self esteem (he has spoken about it in at least two of our sessions)).

    Again thank you for your writing you rock

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