I have the most delicious feeling of weariness tonight. Not so much tired, but the feeling of having spent some time this afternoon moving my body in a way that I enjoy, and getting delicious fresh air into my lungs and bloodstream. I know that when I go to bed tonight, I’m going to sleep well, in a strong, deep sleep that refreshes me beautifully for the day tomorrow. I’ve come home hungry for a good meal (I’ve got some beautiful home-made chilli con carne I whipped up in my Thermomix last night) and to stretch a little before quietly winding down for the night.
It’s a good feeling, one that I really relish. And it comes from being physically active. I won’t use the term “exercise”, because I think exercise is what people do as either punishment or penance. Or because they feel they are supposed to. To me, exercise is not something you do because it makes you feel good and because you enjoy it.
Enjoyable physical activity is routinely denied to fat people. We’re told that we must exercise or we will die. We’re told that we have to exercise to atone for our fatness. We’re told that we’re only worthwhile if we exercise to diminish our bodies, to make them smaller. We’re told it’s simply not possible, and it’s often disbelieved if we say we do it. Physical activity becomes exercise which then becomes punishment or a chore. Yet if we do find physical activity we enjoy, we are not given access to suitable equipment or clothing to fit our bodies, we are often patronised as if we are children “well done, keep it up”, (I’m surprised we don’t get a pat on the head) and on top of that we are regularly shamed if we dare to engage in physical activity in public. The cowcalls and things thrown at us from passing cars, the sniggers over the clothing we wear to engage in that activity, the calls of “Keep going fat arse!”
Part of fat activism for me is engaging in the radical act of living my life to suit me, not because others say I should or must. I reclaimed my right to engage in physical activity because it’s fun, it makes me feel good and helps me relax and sleep. Because riding my bike by the sea, or walking through the shops for the afternoon, or going to the beach with a friend is something I love to do, not something I feel I should I must do. It doesn’t make me a better person than those who don’t engage in physical activity, it doesn’t make me more worthy of respect and dignity, and it doesn’t act as penance or an excuse for my fat body. Fuck that, who wants to carry that crap around. It makes me feel good inside and out. It makes me feel good. When something makes me feel good, I want to do more of it.
But there’s a little bonus. It really pisses off fat haters. It really sticks in their craw to see a happy, positive fat person doing something and having fun at it and feeling good. It messes with their imagined world where fat people just stay at home and sit.
And anything that messes with a fat hater’s world is something I want to be doing.