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.