Who Really Needs to Hear This?

Published July 15, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

A comment that was left on my last post has got me thinking.  ako says:

“Sadly, I suspect most of the people who need to hear this think “If you were capable of taking care of yourself, you wouldn’t be fat!” is an effective refutation.”

And ako is right that the majority of the anti-fat brigade will think that.  The more I do this fat activism stuff, the more I realise that fat haters and those who are set in the “But fat is unhealthy!” are not going to be persuaded by anything I say.  Because I am a fat person, and to them, fat is bad.  Plus I’m really, really tired of having to “prove” everything about myself to these people.  To be honest, I don’t care what they think.

But there is something I want to clarify in response to ako’s comment.

I don’t believe they are the people who need to hear what I have to say.  What many of us have to say in the fatosphere.

I believe the people who need to hear these things are you my dear readers.  But not just you, me as well.  I realised on thinking abou this for awhile, is that I want to talk to all of you out there, who feel like I felt (and still do feel sometimes).  I want to reach those of you who struggle with your self esteem.  I want to reach those of you who have bodies that the mainstream doesn’t approve of.  I want to reach those of you who feel like you are worthless because you are fat.  I want to reach those of you who have loved ones who are fat that you genuinely want to support without judgement based on their bodies.

I want to reach those of you who have felt desperate, worthless, alone, scared, worried, vulnerable, bullied, ashamed, depressed, frustrated, angry, hurt and suicidal because your bodies don’t meet some arbitrary standard of “normal”.

You matter to me.

I have felt all of those things at some point in my life because my body doesn’t meet that arbitrary standard, and I want you to know someone understands.  Someone else has felt what you are feeling.  Someone cares that you are feeling these things and wants to help you feel better about yourself.  Someone wants to help you find your voice.

That someone is me.

Because it wasn’t that long ago I was lost in a world that hates fat people and I found the fatosphere, and it saved my life.  A few years ago, the fatosphere* gave me an alternative perspective to consider.  They gave me the tools to understand what was happening around me.  They gave me evidence, language and information that I could use to think about how I felt and what I needed to do to bring myself out of that dark place of self loathing and worthlessness.  But most importantly, they helped me find my voice.  They helped me realise that I actually have a voice and helped me find ways to use it.  I cannot tell you how empowering that is.

Finding that voice is what has improved my life far beyond anything else.  It is what guided me to find the confidence and self esteem I have today.  And I believe that with confidence and self esteem, one can face everything that life throws at them with a whole lot more resilience than without.  That doesn’t mean everything becomes wine and roses, it just means that you’re able to stand up for yourself, you’re able to let go of other people’s negativity and problems and focus on your own needs and growth.

I want all of you to have it too.  

I believe the real beauty of a strong self esteem – the more you have, the more you want to give to others.  But even better still, the stronger someone’s self esteem is, and I mean real self esteem, not self importance, the less judgmental they are about the arbitrary things in world around them.  The stronger the self esteem, the less likely one is to judge others for their bodies, appearance, gender, race, faith, age, sexuality, physical ability, health and so on.  All those things cease to be so important when you feel strong and confident in yourself.  What becomes important are things like respect, equality, humour, intelligence, fun, balance and creativity.

I’m here doing this for you.  You deserve it.

*And to share the tools that helped me, I’m building on my blog-roll over there on the right.  I’ll be adding more as time progresses, so keep your eye on it!

23 comments on “Who Really Needs to Hear This?

  • I agree completely with your post. True self esteem doesn’t need you to put other people down to make you feel better about yourself. True self esteem and the feeling of inner self worth can make you withstand whatever anyone says to you. True self esteem makes you think ‘yeah, I’m fat and…so what?’. Great post.

  • Thanks so much for this post. I needed a little pick-me-up this morning. To know that you and others are out there helps me to feel not quite so alone.

    In the past few days, there has been much talk in the US about taking obese children away from their parents. I know there are extreme cases, in which the parent may be doing the child harm (I want to highlight EXTEME), but I just can’t see the government rounding up all the obese children and putting them in foster care. What is the world coming to? What about the kids who have a disorder or a genetic predisposition? What really bothers me about all of this is not the fact that they will round up the fat kids, because I don’t think it will ever come to that. This is just a bunch of windbags stirring up trouble. What bothers me is the damage that can be done to the obese children in the world – it puts them in yet another negative spotlight situation. I just know that all of this publicity has made things harder for those kids that are already a target. Do these idiots have a brain in their head? They just don’t get it. You would think they would put some energy into helping children accept differences in each other. That would be a hell of lot more productive!

    Michelle Obama is over here touting her healty eating plan for the fat kids…she makes a speech and then goes to the “Shake Shack” for a 1,600 calorie burger, fries and milkshake meal. What example is she supposed to be setting? Oh, she also ordered a diet coke, so that must have been her message to the fatties!

    Of couse, like you, I go and read these news stories on the iternet and then look at all the comments on the story and I get so pissed off when someone who has obviously never struggled with our situation says something about how lazy and stupid we all are. I’ve got to stay away from that stuff. I just can’t believe the level of ignorance.

    I guess I will get off my soapbox now. I didn’t start out my response to say all this – I just wanted to say thank you and to let you know that you definately make a difference!!

    • La the same talk has been happening here, and all I see is a whole lot of bigotry and double standards. These people are in no way inclined to listen, so they’re not worth our energy.

      However, those who are already open-minded, who already want to get the whole story, and who look for the facts – those people are worth our time. Just by putting the information and an alternative view out there, we open doors for ourselves and others. I’ve seen it both in my immediate circle and beyond.

      Just an example – someone who a year ago would have told me that I should just stop using the internet and not be so visible if I didn’t want hatred and bigotry directed at me, recently said to me that it’s a really tough road to travel but I’m clearly making a difference to people’s lives, so keep going and that they would support me.

      Opening minds even further is possible and we do it every day.

  • Thank you so much!! You have been a key player in helping me feel more powerful and worthy in myself. I hope in the future I can pay it forward and help others find their voice, reclaim their power and discover their amazing beauty.

    Thanks again
    *so much love*

  • And I, for one, thank you.

    Besides, while we cannot simply convert people with logic who stick their fingers in their ears and go ‘lalalalalalala, can’t HEAR you’ there are other people out there who are not so married to believing the earth is flat. There are people who hear the message every day, and begin to question what they’ve been told by so many for so long. Every time our message goes out, there’s a chance that someone will start to get it.

    But as you say, we need to remember our own messages. We need to remember every day that we are worthy, that we are people deserving of respect and affection. In short, we need to remember how damn hard we rock.

    And Kath, you rock impressively hard!

    • That’s just it isn’t it Twistie? Fingers in the ears and “Lalalalalalalaa!!” at anything outside of the narrow band of knowledge they’ve accepted as “the way things are”.

  • You are such a gifted writer. Your posts are both healing and inspiring to others (like me). Thank you!

    It’s almost as if the “fat = unhealthy” brigade are under some kind of evil spell.

    You’re are so right — who cares what they think. But of course the tricky part is finding the self-confidence and the personal power to resist their negative influence (I’m still working on this).


    • It comes Joy. It does take work, but it does come along eventually. I found it by surrounding myself with blogs, imagery, poetry, writing, photography, art etc that is fat positive and casting aside anything that promotes self loathing.

      We’ll all work on it together!

  • There’s nothing wrong with Michelle Obama having a 1,600 calorie meal. There’s nothing wrong with a child having a 1,600 calorie meal, either. And “too many calories” isn’t even the problem for a majority of obese children living in poverty—studies show that 40+ percent of children identified as members of both of those groups consume less than the WHO recommended 1,800 calories per day for growing children.

    • I think what La is highlighting is the double standard Michelle Obama is presenting – that only fat kids (and adults) need to concern themselves with what they are eating, what exercise they are doing and how “healthy” they are. She sells this whole campaign as the “healthy” way to live, but only pushes it at fat people.

  • Thankyou for this post.
    I feel guilty though. I am by societys’ definitions “normal” (whatever the f*&% that is) But finding the fatosphere has really helped me, even though it isnt technically “there” for me. I am not the point. I realize my thin privilege. We live in a messed up, damned if you do damned if you dont society and here online is the only place I feel that I can be judged for more than my weight and appearace, because here everyone is afforded dignity, irrespecitive of size and gender and all the other crap.
    Also here I hear from people who I want to hear from. Intelligent, thoughtful, caring people who are trying to make life a bit better for everyone (and let me tell you, accepting everyone as they are helps everyone, not just those considered to be outside the “normal” now) Yeah I still have rubbish selfesteem and am working on breaking out of the diet habit of mind (I have never needed to diet, I am only 19. But in my head I have been dieting for at least a decade-messed up I know) But it has helped to hear from more balanced sensible people than I tend to hear from everywhere else.

    You should never HAVE to spend your whole life on a diet, no matter what your size.

    • Ruth that’s the beauty of fat activism… it helps everyone in the long run. It calls out that societal bullshit around appearance and accepts EVERYONE for themselves.

      I welcome anyone of any size to participate in this place, so long as they do as you have done and acknowledged their privilege and not flaunt it in the face of those who are further marginalised.

  • For me, blogs like this one are candles in the darkness. The more of us who speak, the more candles there are. The more candles there are, the brighter the world becomes.

    • That’s so lovely Eselle, thank you.

      Have you ever heard the song “Let it Be Me” by the Indigo Girls? It sums up my feelings so well. Let’s see if I can embed it!

  • I am a 17 year old uni student and I just want to say your blog really has inspired me to start loving my body.
    I admire you confidence and hope that one day my confidence levels can be just as high.

  • Wow am I glad to have found this blog.
    As someone with PCOS and a hormone disorder my weight is beyond my control but every day I’m made to feel worthless and less deserving than the skinny chicks.

    I need the tools to build myself myself up from within and I’m loving the start to this your blog is giving me.

    thank you!

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