I got talking to a guy a while ago who is really into body building. He’s not one of those huge mega muscular Mr Universe types, but he spends a lot of time and energy in sculpting/shaping his body into a particular shape and muscle definition as a sport. To look at him in an everyday setting, he just looks like a lean guy. Very handsome, but not like I think of when I conjure up a picture of a bodybuilder in my mind. But he tells me in the context of his sport, his shape and muscle definition is a class (like boxers have classes, you know, featherweight, heavyweight, lightweight etc) and he works really hard to get himself to what is considered peak for his sport category.
I’ve known him for awhile, we chat fairly often in passing, he’s a nice guy and we have some common interests, and often find ourselves chatting when we cross paths. I knew he was into body building, but I’ve never talked to him about it because I assumed that he would have the attitude that as a big death-fatty, I would be unhealthy and he wouldn’t be at all favourable to a fat acceptance philosophy.
Well, you know what they say about assumptions? They make an ASS out of U and ME. In this case, I think my assumptions have made a big old ASS out of ME.
For the first time ever, I broached the subject of his body building a while back. He eats. All day. But it’s very specific things, at specific times. I had been noticing this eating pattern for awhile, and seen how much time and energy he puts into this regime, and I’d drawn a lot of parallels to my own history of eating disorders. The strict regime, eating certain foods at certain times in certain combinations. This particular day, I was watching him mix up some concoction and I said to him “I’m sorry dude, but that looks gross, do you actually like the taste of it?” He told me he didn’t find it too bad, and it’s what works best for him. We got talking about his body building and what it takes to maintain the physique he has, which is to me, a hell of a lot of work for someone to put into just the shape of their body.
Of course, I forget that I used to do that and more in my past to try to change the shape of my body.
I don’t know why, but I finally decided to broach the topic of fat acceptance and body positivity with him. I actually braced myself for the usual ZOMGBESITY CRISIS! reaction, the lecture about health and such. The response I got surprised me, and in hindsight, it shouldn’t have. He simply responded “I’ve always believed that your body is YOUR body, and you know what’s best for it.”
Yes my lovelies, I was speechless for a moment there.
As our conversation continued, he told me how he knows that he spends a hugely inordinate amount of time and energy on his regime for his body building, but he loves his sport and knows that his lifestyle is not sustainable for a whole lifetime, and that when he decides to retire, he will have to adjust to having a body that is a vastly different shape to the one he has now. Like any athlete, he has made a commitment in the here and now to his body and sport, and he’s fully aware that it’s not his natural body shape, and that it’s not really anyone’s natural body shape.
I told him about fat acceptance and health at every size, and he was totally on board with it. I’ll be honest, I had assumed that this beautifully sculpted man who spends a very significant portion of his life on his diet and exercise would have a very poor attitude towards fatness. And I shouldn’t have. Nothing of his behaviour towards me, the fattest woman in our mutual environment, ever indicated that, he has always been friendly, respectful and pleasant towards me. We’ve talked about subjects both very personal and small talk.
I realised that I was absolutely judging him on his eating and exercising habits. The very judgements that I criticise other people for casting on me and other fat people.
I need a kick up the bum for that. I have no more right to judge someone at the highly fit and regimented end of the body spectrum than anyone has to judge a death-fatty like me.
What is really important to me is to take that lesson that I’ve received from this man and use it. To adjust my thinking, shift my assumptions, and make sure that I own up to those stupid assumptions I had. Not to mention share the lesson with others. We can’t judge the mega-sporty-fit people any more than anyone can judge we fatties.