What a funny few days it’s been. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was processing a lot from the Australian Fat Studies conference. It’s been a real mix of emotions. Delight at meeting several of my favourite Aussie members of the fatosphere, as well as some of the women who have really influenced me since I came to Fat Acceptance. Intellectual exhaustion from so much really stimulating and challenging discussion and ideas that came from the conference. Physical tiredness from a trip to Sydney and right back to work the day after I got back.
Not to mention a whole host of emotional stuff stirred up. Sharing my own story of the lowest point in my life with everyone both at the conference and here on my blog, a story that I’d never told anyone before this time, really meant a lot of thinking about how I felt about that time in my life, and how I felt about the world knowing of just how dire things got for me at one point.
Then there was hearing so many other stories from women who had suffered humiliation, shame, self loathing, bullying, desperation and so many other hurtful emotions and experiences before they found the positive messages of Fat Acceptance.
But mostly, I had a bit of a harrowing experience of my own self esteem taking a rather massive dip there for a few days. I found myself surrounded by so many amazing, beautiful, intelligent, funny, talented, fierce, fashionable women (and a handful of fab men) that I started to feel really inadequate. There were moments that I found myself thinking those old thoughts that I was not worthy of being there with these people, that not only was I the fattest in the room, but I was the ugliest, the least intelligent, the most annoying, the least fashionable, the least talented and so on. I really had some big moments where I just felt like I was worthless and that my presence at the conference was a huge inconvenience on everyone.
It’s silly really. I know it was just one of those things that comes with intense times in your life (and boy, was that an awesomely intense weekend!) that old emotions and things are churned up, but it crept up on me so stealthily, but so strongly, that it was very overwhelming to be taken back to that place.
I’ve had a few days to process, and have been able to talk to my counsellor about those feelings, just so that I could set them all out in front of me and look at them before putting them in their correct place. I know those feelings are just old recordings from the days before I started to work on actually loving myself as a person, and can move forward from that place.
But that brings me to think about how I hear so many women worry that they won’t “fit in” to Fat Acceptance because they still struggle with low self esteem, disordered eating or exercise behaviours, a longing to change their bodies and self loathing. I think that because most of the bloggers of the fatosphere write so much about the importance of strong self esteem, positive living and fat pride, among other positive topics, there is a perception that we’re all so together, that we really just love ourselves these days and don’t struggle with self esteem issues ourselves.
Please know that this is not true. We struggle as much as anyone else. Only we use our blogging, and the community of the fatosphere, to help mend those disordered thoughts and behaviours. One of the best things I have ever done for my self esteem was take up a place in the fatosphere. Every time I find myself in that place, the place where my brain sends me off into a spiral of self loathing and feelings of inadequacy, the best way to bring myself back to reality is to read the writing, see the photographs and art, admire the fashion, follow the tweets and Facebook updates, and generally just surround myself with the people of the fatosphere. Even better still, to talk to them. Whether it is through social media, or through my own blog here.
It doesn’t mean everything is rosy and perfect in the fatosphere, but I believe that there are so many good people there that you can just move on from those who you do not feel comfortable about.
I have found an incredibly supportive community, with plenty of good honest advice and common sense to share, some laughs, some tears, and some passionate debate.
If you’re like me, and you struggle with your self esteem, and yet you feel hesitant to become involved in the fatosphere, give it a go. If you write, blog. If you like to share pictures, post pictures (Tumblr is really good for that!) If you love fashion, share your fatshion inspiration. Whatever is your gig. I don’t believe you’ll regret it.
I certainly haven’t.