We’ve Done Our Time

Published September 19, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

A little questionnaire for you all:

  1. How many years of your life did you put into trying to be thin?
  2. How much of your life did you put on hold while you tried to be thin?
  3. How old were you when you first remember being told you were fat?
  4. How many diets have you been on?
  5. How many exercise “plans” have you been on?
  6. How many years of your life have been taken up with eating disorders?
  7. How many people have told you that you are fat?
  8. How many people have treated you badly because you are fat?
  9. How many years did you spend counting calories, watching the number on the scale or the size label on your clothes?

Now tally the sum of all those years, all that time, all those diets, all those times you made yourself sick in the effort to get thin, all the punishing exercise regimes, all the hurtful experiences add all those numbers together.

Take that number, write it down, look at it for a minute, and ask yourself…

Don’t you think the fat haters should invest the equivalent amount of time, the same number of years, in trying as hard to be a decent human being, as we fat people invested in trying to be thin?

Fat people are not the ones with the problem, or who are in denial.   Fat people are not in denial of being fat.  We know we are fat, and in choosing fat acceptance, we accept ourselves exactly as we are, and we accept others exactly as they are.

You can let go of all those numbers now.  Set yourself free of the pain that those numbers represent.  You’re off the hook – you’ve done your part.  Close your eyes and imagine that all those instances of trying to be thin, or being bullied and shamed for being fat are balloons, filled with helium.  Imagine them in your hand, bobbing above you, all different colours.  Now open your hand and let them all go.  You don’t have to carry them any more.

This isn’t giving up.  This is letting go and deciding that YOU control your life, not other people who feel they have the right to judge you.  This is about deciding to live your life to the fullest you can.

People who think that fat people are somehow worth less as human beings as thin people, that fat people deserve to be shamed, discredited, their experiences denied and generally just shamed and bullied for being fat are the ones who have the problem.  They just can’t get on with their lives and let people be who they are, as they are.

We are not the ones in denial, it is the fat haters that are in denial.

Denial that they are in fact… arseholes.

*Post inspired this post by Ragen of Dances with Fat.


32 comments on “We’ve Done Our Time

  • 1. Too fucking many.
    2. Too fucking much.
    3. Around 8. Yeah, how “healthy” is that? Then my parents and doctors WONDERED why I had stunted growth.
    4. Too fucking many.
    5. Too fucking many.
    7. Too fucking many, that need to learn to mind their own business.
    8. Too fucking many.
    9. TOO FUCKING MANY! I’d rather spend my adult life enjoying my friends, family, music scene/community, job, and interests than worrying about if my ass will ever fit into anything below a size 16.

    I’m so fucking fed up with this elitism/moral superiority that comes from being thin. I know that we reiterate this in the fatosphere all the time, but I just see these outbursts of stupidity that make me headdesk all the time– like assuming that fat people are just lazy, don’t work hard, etc.

    I’m one of the hardest-working people around. I put my life on hold to finish my Master’s degree, and again when my health started failing me due to respiratory issues (which have nothing to do with weight, though trolls like to find a way to say it does. Don’t thin people get pneumonia too?)

    So yes, I think of all the wasted years (and money) on stupid diets and obsessions that for what…when my weight did yo-yo around until it settled around 220/a size 16-18, well, I had to look back and see– did anything REALLY get thrown off-kilter?

    My family still loves me. My friends still love me. I’m still highly-regarded in my community. I still have the same ineptitude with guys by out-dorking them and knowing more about punk, metal, and hardcore than they do; the same creepy schmucks get obsessed with me while the guys I want to call me don’t…it happened to me at sizes 14, 16, 18, and 24. No change.

    And absofuckinglutely: all the time wasted pouring my cereal into fucking measuring cups in the vain hope I might see single-digit jeans one day, the time I spent 3-4 hours a night at the gym instead of the 1.5-2 I’m more comfortable with now, nights out I missed with my friends because of anxiety over going to restaurants or missing a workout…

    …hell yes, that’s time these haters should spend learning to become decent human beings instead of fucking trolls.

    I honestly think after all the years of trolling I’ve put up with and seen that I’m not alone, that haters gotta hate because well…they’re JEALOUS.

    They want all fat people to be these miserable self-loathing people without jobs, lives, families, and friends because I think that’s what a lot of these trolls are. Just full of self-loathing and that if that’s how they feel, that’s how everyone feels. Or ever hated someone for having something that you don’t? I bet many of them probably say “Goddammit! How dare that fattie have a good job/good spouse/nicer house than me!” and they just can’t get over themselves. Like that post you wrote before about some of these people who seriously went out of their way to send you diet crap, write offensive comments on other entries, etc. SERIOUSLY? And they say fat people don’t have lives?! What?!

    I live my life to the fullest. I don’t let being fat stop me from doing what I want/getting to where I want to go. Why the hell should I?

    And bonus #10: Times I said “fuck” in this reply: a whole fucking lot! 😀

  • oooo I love questionaires! 😛

    How many years of your life did you put into trying to be thin?

    Not as many as some thank goodness. I discovered FA when I was 24 after only about a decade of thin obsession.

    How much of your life did you put on hold while you tried to be thin?

    This is a harder question because there were a lot of forces at play. But I remember not wanting to go to prom because I was too fat (junior prom- size 14 juniors). I didn’t really stop going places or avoiding things until I was a size 20/22 when I stopped being able to fit into rides at amusement parks or being able to find good/fashionable clothing. That was probably about 4 years

    How old were you when you first remember being told you were fat?

    I think it was 4 grade so about 9 years old. I remember that I didn’t really notice my weight until someone else told me to.

    How many diets have you been on?

    um.. That’s hard to say. ten years of dieting, maybe an average of 2 diets a year so maybe a couple dozen?

    How many exercise “plans” have you been on?

    not as many- i actually love exercise so I stuck with it (never lost weight though) so if you count breaks between then maybe 3

    How many years of your life have been taken up with eating disorders?

    10 years.. 😦

    How many people have told you that you are fat?

    hundreds.. thousands! everyone from family, to peers, to perfect strangers both in real life and on the internet.

    How many people have treated you badly because you are fat?

    again, I’d have to say thousands.

    How many years did you spend counting calories, watching the number on the scale or the size label on your clothes?

    I may not have started dieting until high school, but I remember watching the scale from about 6th grade thinking “if I could stay this weight.. just this one.. then i’ll grow into it and be thin.. ” that would be about 11 years old so 15 years

    “Don’t you think the fat haters should invest the equivalent amount of time, the same number of years, in trying as hard to be a decent human being, as we fat people invested in trying to be thin?” If they did, the world would be a much better place..

    Thank you for this post. It made me cry but in a very moving and touching sort of way. Remembering all of that pain isn’t easy, but it also makes me thankful and grateful that I found fat acceptance and body acceptance.

  • I’m posting this anonymously because I don’t have the balls to attach my name to my shame just yet.

    This post speaks to me so much that I have tears in my eyes as I read it. I’ve put my life on hold for far too long waiting to be thin. I’m in my early twenties and still haven’t had sex because I can’t bear the thought of someone touching my fat. I’ve pulled back at the last second 20,30,40? times wishing I could go through with it and let my barriers down. But I tell myself I can finally be sexually free when I’m thin. When I’m thin I’ll go to the beach for the first time since I was a kid, when I’m thin I’ll do x, y or z. It’s just such fucked up thinking.

    But it helps so much being a part of a community or group of friends that love their bodies. I became friends with a girl a few years ago who was fat like me and encouraged me to go swimming with her at the beach. And I did! I actually did it. Because she made me feel normal. She’s moved overseas now so I’ve kind of lost that support network and slunk back into the self-hate. What’s really stemmed its flow is my weight loss. When I travel, I lose weight from all the sightseeing and I took off 12 months to backpack around Europe and lost about 35kg completely unintentionally. When I got back I received so much positive attention from friends, family and men for the first time in my life that I decided I was keeping it off and developed bulimia. I’m still fat, just not as fat.

    I have a long, long way to go in the body acceptance world (I guess everyone has their slip-ups – even Dr Samantha recently said she was disappointed in herself for commenting on her doctor’s weight loss and how good he looked). It’s just so ingrained that fat is not beautiful and it’s hard.

    Anyway, your blog is amazing.

    • Thank you Anon. I don’t normally allow Anons on here, as it’s usually an invitation to trolls, but I’ll make an exception for you.

      You can do all the things you want to right now. Well, maybe you need to work on your confidence some, but right now as your body is. I’ve learned from experience that people love to touch fat bodies, even VERY fat bodies, to make love with them, to be close to them, to be affectionate with them. Fat bodies can go to the beach, they can swim. They can travel around Europe (even without losing weight) and they can do anything else they like.

      It is a journey for all of us in accepting who we are as we are. Let’s work on it together.

  • 1.most of them
    2.All of my teens, much of my 20s. I made choices based on my aversion to being ‘seen’ so I wouldn’t go to the beach, or on a plane, to a cinema unless I knew it had fairly wide seats (or I’d go alone the first time so nobody would see me wedge myself in if the seats were small).
    3. 5, in kindy, the other girls didn’t want to play with me because I was fat and thus unworthy
    4. dozens, some barely lasted a few days
    5. just a few-I thought starving myself was the way to go till recently 😦
    6. at least 10, I still can’t eat carbs without feeling guilty and I;ve lost track of the number of “medical professionals” who congratulated me when I was subsisting on less than 1000 calories a day because they thought that was “healthy”.
    7. more than I can count, even when I was young and wasn’t really fat just bigger than other kids
    8. More than I can count
    9. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t count calories (as a barometer of my self worth-every day I would remind myself how much a failure I was when I went over the arbitrary line in the sand I’d decided was enough for me to eat). the scale obsession was a relatively newer thing till I realised that weighing myself twice a day was the likely result of my dehydration (and thus headaches etc). I remember cutting labels out of clothes so nobody knew what size I wore, not even my husband. I don’t do that anymore-and some of my clothes even show that I have a shape. I like my curves now.
    It’s sick when you think about it that there is so much pressure to conform because we are encouraged to think of ourselves as less because we are fat. I have to admit to still being stuck in the weightloss groove to some extent, and a lot of that is to do with the limits placed on me because of my weight. ie I can’t get clothes I like when I go above a size 22/24 because the options are so limited, fear of embarrassment when getting on a plane. I like the idea of getting rid of the balloons though-I’ve been working on not taking on board other peoples problems with my weight because when I look in the mirror I look good, and if they can’t see that I am healthier and happier than I have been in 15 years then it’s their problem.

    • melhoneybee – I used to cut the labels out of my clothes too. I would even cut them up into little pieces so nobody could fish them out of the bin and read what size clothes I wore. Then when I started in Fat Acceptance, and tried leaving them on, I would still make sure to peg them hidden on the washing line so none of my neighbours or visitors could see the tag. Yikes, the things we do huh?

      I can HEAR that you are healthier and happier than you’ve been in a long time in your comment. That makes me happy. Let go of those balloons, you’ll feel so much better for it.

  • Since I’ve never actually dieted, I only score on questions 3, 7 and 8. I was thirteen when they started bullying me about my “fatness”. That was more about high school power struggle than anything else (since my weight was in the “normal” BMI range back then, and my clothes were straight-sized too). In some level I knew that, but funnily enough that was the time I really started to feel fat, and I often tell people how I’ve always felt the same amount of “fat” even though my weight has fluctuated between normal and deathfatz.

    So, even though I haven’t done as much time as some, and even though the amount of fat-hatred targeted specifically at me has gone way down since puberty (I’m 27 now and my mom is basically the only person who still makes me feel bad about my body on a regular basis), this post deeply resonates with me. I am ready to let it all go.

  • I LOVE this post. Yes I can say with certainty that the past 30 + years of my 44yr old life have been spent trying to force my body into being other than what it is. I have some horrible stories about things I’ve done to myself and life experiences I’ve missed because of my body shame. I’ve been reading your blog for about 12 months now and I have come to the conclusion Kath that the Australian Govt needs to employ you as an adviser! You are absolutely brilliant. I am slowly but surely finding my way to FA and for that I have to say thankyou – I am SO grateful that there are people like you Kath who have the fortitude and intelligence to TELL IT LIKE IT IS!!! Keep going strong Kath – you are a gem.

    • Thank you Janine, you make me blush! And I’m not sure the Govt would hire me for that purpose (I am already a public servant though, shhhh!), cos I’d probably get way too ranty pants and swear too much!

  • Oh I love this! I had never heard it put quite this way, but yes! YES! More people should try to see the other side of things and work toward a positive and loving environment rather than spewing hate at every turn. Woo hoo!

  • I agree with your post. Yes I did all that. Yes I wasted so much of my time and skipped so many meals and ended up needing anti-depressents. I lived on a beer diet (which does keep you thin but at what cost!) and I still felt like a big fat slob.

    It is important to let go of all that crap. I am a size 20-22 buxom, (my lover says curvaceous) 37 year old woman who loves food and cooks wonderfully. People try to remind me of how good apparently I looked when I was a size 10 (they don’t know that I was anorexic then).

    The odd thing is without the anorexia I feel less fat now than as a skinny underconfident teenager. I feel like me. I would like to be a little fitter but it is not about size or shape for me and I am not giving up enjoying food! I am not going to waste my time bemoaning my kilograms. The fact is I am 100g of pure, enjoyable LIFE. Yes LIFE. And I will focus on my family, friends and career not waste my life trying to atone for ever gram of my weight.

    Thanks for your article. I will continue to be the large woman in bathers enjoying summer in the pool when my friends are covering up their thighs for shame!

  • How many years of your life did you put into trying to be thin?
    About 20.
    How much of your life did you put on hold while you tried to be thin?
    Quite a bit, mostly the parts that deal with social stuff and relationships.
    How old were you when you first remember being told you were fat?
    I was 13 at the beach and a neighborhood girl told me my ever-so-slightly rounded lower belly made me look 3 months pregnant.
    How many diets have you been on?
    I would say at least 15.
    How many exercise “plans” have you been on?
    I can’t even come up with the number – every trendy new exercise was the One that was going to fix my body.
    How many years of your life have been taken up with eating disorders?
    Not diagnosed, but I consider myself a binge eater and have for about 10 years.
    How many people have told you that you are fat?
    Hard to say since so much about the media/internet effectively “tells me” that every day! But I’d say at least 20 have said something to my face.
    How many people have treated you badly because you are fat?
    Definitely more than have been ballsy enough to actually say something to me. I’d say I get a look, a giggle, an attitude, etc. almost once a day.
    How many years did you spend counting calories, watching the number on the scale or the size label on your clothes?
    I’m still learning to stop doing that, esp. the scale and size stuff, so I guess at least 20!

    Pretty damn depressing, really. Ooh, and one question I could add – how many hours have you spent worrying about how your size and weight were going to impact your activities (traveling, shopping, socializing, working, interviewing, etc.) Eleventy bazillion!!! 🙂

  • Beautifully eloquent post. I literally gasped when I got to number 3. I don’t remember a time when my family DIDN’T tell me I was fat. And I have a clear memory of another child telling me when I was 8.

  • I decided dieting didn’t work and that I would not waste a single second more obsessively weighing myself, starving, exercising, counting in my head and on my fingers how many days, weeks, months it would take me to loose this many kilos or that many dress sizes, all to reach and maintain a weight I was never meant to be, 14 months ago.

    I remember cutting off the labels on my clothes so nobody would know for sure what size I wore. I remember wearing my school jumper all day on scorching hot summer days and when kids or teachers asked ‘aren’t you hot in that?’, looking them dead in the eye and answering ‘no’ as I felt the sweat dripping down my back. I remember furtively dumping my lunch in rubbish bins my first year of school. My first diet (or my first undiagnosed eating disorder) at 4 going on 5? My first diagnosed eating disorder? Bulimia at 30. My second diagnosed eating disorder? Anorexia at 45.

    I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t told I was fat. My mum was always telling anyone who would listen that her bridesmaid warned her she would have fat kids if she married my father; that she lost weight when pregnant with me but I was born 9lbs 2 ounces; that I was so big at birth the hospital staff thought I was a boy; that while other children at the hospital had to be gently tapped on the check to keep them awake during feeding, I was always wide awake and sucking away like there was no tomorrow (Mum always mimmicked my baby sucking motions when telling this story). When I was eight, people came to weigh us in front of everybody at school. I weighed 12 kilos more than the nearest child in weight to me. I remember in Year 7 a boy telling me he really liked me and he would go out with me if I lost weight. I remember getting my first job then, after being asked to undergo a physical, being told they couldn’t employ me because I was morbidly obese and their superannuation provider wouldn’t cover me. While I’ve gotten jobs, travelled overseas, partied, bought a house, fallen in love and gotten married, I was always waiting for the day when I was thinner, when everything would be perfect, when I would be perfect. Until 14 months ago, that is….

    I’m 47 now. My story, while uniquely mine, is so very similar to the stories told by everyone who has lived a life not ‘naturally’ thin, who has felt beatten and left broken by family, friends, co-workers, doctors, strangers and the media telling them that they have a problem, that they can’t possibly be happy, healthy, productive, loved, that they ARE the problem. Oh yeah, we’ve done our time and I’m done wasting my time.

    Sorry to take up so much of your time. Thank you so much for this post and for your blog. You help me stay sane in an insane world. I’m going to be thinking of balloons blowing away in the wind the next time someone moons me with their lame-arsed opinions!!!!!!!

    • Gina, don’t apologise. I want this space to be a place that you can share your story, and shed the stuff you’re carrying around.

      I wish I could send you all a beautiful helium balloon to let go of.

  • Another brilliant post that has come at a time when I need to hear this message. While intelectually I know that others suffer in similar ways to myself, I often feel isolated, caught up in my own struggle with the whole body weight scenario. Always waiting for the day when i would wake up and be ‘normal’ and acceptable and be able to begin living my proper life. The one I was meant to live, with no restrictions, fears, exclusions. Being happy just be alive, never having to justify my existence. Whew, imagine all the time I would have to…well just live.
    I would go places, run with abandon, take more risks, aim for the moon, push the boundaries.
    Always waiting, waiting. Then a nightmare occurs when I awake. I still have the same fucking fat body!
    Oh shit, now what do I do?
    My choice is to keep plodding along. Discovering myself and new ideas about fat acceptance, great people like the author of this blog. Championing us along to discover and reach for our greater selfs. Backed up by Dr Sam Thomas. New eyes seeing different things. Can it be hope? Maybe.
    Is it possible to live succesfully despite the size of my body?
    So yeh I have done my fucking apprenticeship. I’m 47 years old, and I dont want to tourture myself any longer. I have given some of the best years of my life to self hatred and cared too much what others thought of me.
    I want to stand up and stay fuck off dont talk to me about dieting. Healthy eating sure, great recipes sure, love my tucker, just dont try prescribing me your eating ideas. You dont know my body better than I do.
    Apologies if this comes over a little burbled, not feeling too good at the moment.
    But I reckon I have made my point. lol
    Thanks. 🙂

    • Jan love, you are perfectly acceptable right now. I want you to know that.

      But yes, I understand your frustration, and it’s important to know that nobody lives a perfect life, free to do everything they want to do. That’s a myth. Of course all of us have different levels of restriction, and I do understand your frustration and anger at your limitations.

      I can see you growing before me just in the time I’ve known you. Keep fighting to advocate for yourself and live in your body, your way. We’re here to listen and bolster you up in the fight.

  • First diet: 4 months old. Since I was my Mom’s smallest baby, I put on weight fast, to catch up with myself, I suppose. The MD freaked (circa 1958) and I was put on my first diet at…four months old. Yep, I was dieting before I could walk, talk or even sit up. Dieting before I had teeth.

    So, dieting, disordered eating, bizarre relationship to food and food rituals, internal bodyhate, external discrimination, all that, from infancy until my late 40’s. I am 53.

    Despite evidence of excellent health, I always “knew” I was unhealthy because hey I’m fat, right. Another case of long undiagnosed mild asthma (the mysteriously transient shortness of breath, most days I could dance all day, rarely I was gasping going to the mailbox in the cold; I was not occasionally fat, I was always fat, so why did I blame the rare wheeze and gasp on fatness? Gee, could it be a life of “knowing” that fat = sick? Bingo, and frak all o that.)

    How did I get out? Same husband who has been with me from 170# through 140# through 204, 147, 180, 250, 243, 280#. No diets for years and, no surprise, my weight is stable. Look at those crazy numbers. “204” “147” Such foolish precision, and I let the scale rule my moods. I look back and I can’t fathom my own cluelessness, my own pettiness in this one area of being.

    How did I get out? Marilyn Wann, queer theory, Glenn Gaesser, critical thinking, love, anger, the fatosphere.

  • Oh my oh my … I can’t answer those questions as I’m trying very hard to push those memories aside and embrace FA to the fullest (pun intended!).

    I’ve been a fattie since age 8 and am now almost 42 years of age. That makes 34 years of fat comments, diets, exercise, abuse, pain, depression, etc – all of which is now behind me in a big way (oh, another pun!) I’ve acknowledged all that is past and now embracing myself and my life the way I have always wanted to and am entitled to.

    I love all of your heartfelt posts and thank you for all the fabulousness you are putting out to the world.

    • Irisa don’t feel you need to answer them if they are triggering, just give a little thought to how much time you’ve given to those things that you could have been using constructively.

      And thank you for your kind words.

  • OMG, I never thought to add all those years I have wasted. I’m 56, probably the oldest you have reading your blog, which I love. At 15 my mother took me to a doctor and put me on black beauties, diet pills. I hated them, they made me feel awful. She would put me on a scale to embarass me in front of her so she monitor my weight. I was 120 lbs, and was tormented for it. Everytime a relationship failed, she said it was because of my weight, not that because I was dating assholes. I’m a size 14, sometimes a 12. I am what I am, I’m still trying to diet. I pray everyone who reads this does not let their life turn into mine. While I’m happy, have a gorgeous family, this is the one tape that is just too freaken hard to erase.

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