perfectionism

All posts in the perfectionism category

It Sucks to be a Fat Woman

Published May 17, 2014 by Fat Heffalump

I don’t know if you’ve all seen this snippet from the TV show Louie, but it has done the rounds of the fatosphere quite a bit over the past few days.  Just in case you haven’t seen it, or want to refresh your memory, here it is again.

I’m not a watcher of Louie, and I have mixed feelings about Louis CK, and his show as a vehicle for social politics, but I want to move away from that aspect just now.  That’s a conversation for another time.

This clip has garnered a lot of criticism within fat activism circles.  Some of it is valid criticism, some of it I disagree with because I think it is viewed through a lens of privilege and internalised misogyny as well.  I’m going to do more than one post about it, so please hang in there ok, and we’ll hit the issues up one by one.

But for me, well, I connected with it very deeply.  Not only because Sarah Baker gives one hell of a performance, but because she voices a lot of things I feel and think.  I have a lot of thoughts on being a fat woman and dating, but I think those are for another time.  I will actually have a post on that coming up soon.

What I want us all to focus on here is the statement that seems to have got the most criticism.  “It sucks being a fat girl.”

So many people have complained about this, saying that it doesn’t suck to be a fat girl and that her saying it sends a “bad message” to the rest of the world, that it’s “so negative, we can’t see it as a win.”

Well I’m going to be the one to say it as a real life fat woman.

It sucks to be a fat woman.

It really does.  But not because of physically being fat.  It doesn’t suck having a fat body, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest.  It sucks to be a fat woman in a world that treats us as second-class citizens.

It sucks to be treated with contempt, derision, ridicule and outright hatred.

It sucks to have a lot of men act like their dick is going to fall off if they are seen with you in public.

It sucks to be sneered and tutted at on public transport as though you don’t have the right to be there.

It sucks to go to the doctor for a cold or a sore toe and be lectured on your weight instead of being given treatment.

It sucks that retailers who know they could make very good money off you refuse to stock reasonable quality, fashionable clothing at a reasonable price because they don’t want to lose their thin customers who wouldn’t be seen dead in the same outfit as a fat woman.

It sucks to have random men scream abuse at you in the street.

It sucks to get hate mail and trolling because you dare to be a visible fat woman.

It sucks that furniture often isn’t made to include your body.

It sucks that you can’t turn on the television or open a magazine without being shamed for your body.

It sucks that strangers take your photo in public without your consent.

It sucks to be a fat woman.

I find the whole idea that we must be positive at all times, and only represent the good things about being fat at all times really damaging.  It’s not helping anyone to expect that fat women are always depicted as everything being perfect and rosy.  Or that we’re 100% arse kicking, take no prisoners, school every nasty dude that crosses our path at every moment of our lives.  Not only does it provide a false sense of “Everything’s fine!” to not fat people, but it doesn’t help we fatties.  It doesn’t help we fatties to think that so long as you’ve got good self esteem and don’t hate your body, suddenly the world gets all sunshine and roses.  It doesn’t.  People told me back in my self hating days that when I learned to build my self esteem and be confident, people wouldn’t be as horrible to me as they were when I hated myself.  That’s a blatant lie.  It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t get better.

What does change when you find self esteem and confidence is YOU.  You get better.  Not better as a person – you were already perfectly fine even before you found self esteem and confidence.  But better at dealing with the crap.  Better at valuing yourself.  Better at realising that other people’s crappy behaviour is no reflection on you.  Better at self care to deal with other people’s horrible attitudes.  Better at advocating for yourself.  Better at saying no.  Better at shrugging off the haters and living your life anyway.

I also don’t want us to have to deny any vulnerability.  You know what, people are shitty to and about fat people, and it’s hurtful and bloody stressful!  We’re dealing with a constant level of stress that thin people generally don’t have to think about.  Will I physically fit in that furniture?  Will people be rude to me for taking up too much space?  Is the doctor going to take me give me treatment or are they just going to prescribe a diet?  Can I take a walk without someone mooing at me and calling me a fat bitch?  Will I be able to find a suitable outfit in my size for a job interview?

But most importantly, the answer to “Being a fat woman sucks.” is not “Well become a thin woman then.”  Firstly because there is no proven way to do that and secondly because our bodies are not the problem – our culture is.

Note: Please keep to topic in the comments and any “But thin people have it hard too!” denial of privilege will be sent to the spam bin and banned from commenting permanently.
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Her: The Movie

Published January 25, 2014 by Fat Heffalump

I just got home from a day out at the movies (with a little brunch with a friend and shopping interspersed amongst it).  I saw The Book Thief, which is wonderful, I can highly recommend it, and then I saw Her.

I want to talk a little bit about the latter, because I came away with many thoughts buzzing around my head.  Luckily I had a bit of a wait for my bus and then a good half hour bus trip, so that I could begin to gather my thoughts on the movie into some coherence to write about here.

her-movie-wide-560x282

Let me start by saying that Her is beautifully written, shot and acted.  Visually it is gorgeous, the language of the film is quite poetic and the cast are excellent, they all give nuanced performances that felt very human and real.

But the concept of a man falling in love with an artificially intelligent operating system-woman really stuck in my craw.  At first I couldn’t work out why, humans falling in love with robots/computers/artificial intelligent beings isn’t new, but when I sat with it for awhile, I realised what bothered me.  This perfect woman that Theodore (Joachin Phoenix) has found, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johanssen), has no body.  She has a brain, she has emotions, she has humour, she has intellect, she even has sexuality, but no physical form.

The perfect woman in this film is a woman whose body has been effectively photoshopped out of existence.

We’re all used to the concept of a woman’s body being photoshopped/edited to be something it isn’t.  We’re even used to seeing the results of that editing rendering women’s bodies smaller and thinner and more unrealistic.  All the “messy” bits of women’s actual bodies have been edited away for a long time.  Cellulite, wrinkles, stretchmarks, body hair, fat… even women’s genitals are edited to the point of “perfection”, which is completely unattainable by any living human being even after extensive cosmetic procedures.  Human beings are animals and we’re innately messy.  Our bodily functions are like that of any other animal – messy.  In this case she has been edited completely out of having a body at all.  All her physical “flaws” have been removed until there is no physical form left.

It reminds me somewhat of Alexandria’s Genesis, a fictional “condition” prevalent in science fiction where female characters have purple eyes, pale white skin, dark hair, slow ageing, no body hair or periods (yet they can still conceive) and they don’t get diseases.  This condition is a lazy writer’s way of making the “perfect” woman, who doesn’t have any of the messiness of things like illness, body hair or a menstrual cycle.  Because actual women are seen as dirty, messy, leaky things.

It’s inherently a misogynistic view of women, that suggest we are somehow unacceptable for being living creatures, as human beings.  It’s acceptable for men to be hairy, flawed, smelly, sweaty and physical bodies.  But somehow it is considered far worse a crime for a woman to be any of the above.

I also take exception to the idea that the “perfect woman” is entirely there to please her man.  She is created entirely by and for him, and while she sometimes has emotions that he cannot understand or takes exception to, she never argues with him, never disagrees with him and spends much of the movie apologising to him for her questions, assumptions and actions.  In fact he gets angry when Samantha starts speaking with her peers – other operating systems, and befriends a male operating system.

If this behaviour were replicated in a human relationship, it would be an abusive relationship.  However this makes Samantha the “perfect woman” that Theodore has found.  There are other moments that are deeply problematic, but I don’t want to get spoilery on you all.  Ultimately when Samantha has very human reactions and feelings, things begin to turn sour for the relationship.

Ultimately while I could see the beauty and talent behind the film (both the cast and the director/cinematography) I came away feeling like the film was a very harsh criticism of actual women, that suggested the only way to make a woman meet the standard men are seeking was to erase her physical form and make her sole purpose to please her man.  Take away a woman’s personhood and she becomes “the perfect woman”.

A deeply misogynistic premise… and misogyny in films is so dull, we’ve seen it all before.

Your Body is not Voldemort

Published July 28, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

One of the lovely, but slightly scary, things about blogging and having your blog audience grow to a fair size is that people start asking your advice about all kinds of things.  It’s lovely and awesome, to be seen as some kind of fairy fat-mother, but in the same time, it’s kind of scary.  I mean, I’m not an expert on anything by any stretch of the imagination, and in my day job, I’m an IT librarian.  I want to get things right for you guys when you ask my advice, I want to help.  But I am a human being and I can only give my own thoughts/opinions and hopefully that helps.

I get a lot of questions from people who hate their bodies.  Or they hate something about their body or appearance.  I get a lot of questions about people (usually young cis-women) who are ashamed of something about their bodies/appearance, and don’t know how to change that.  Or want to know how to hide the thing they’re ashamed of, or who to talk to about that shame.  Sometimes it’s about being too embarrassed or ashamed to go to the doctor to talk about something that worries them.

Mostly, it’s a whole lot of shame and fear about their appearance.

Every time I get a question like this, there are two things I want to do.  Firstly, I want to hug that person and tell them that they’re perfectly ok as they are.  But I also want to give them something to set them free of that shame and fear.  I don’t quite know what that is yet though!

One thing I do know, is that fear and shame often make the issue seem a whole lot bigger than it is.  That’s the nature of fear and shame – it festers away in our heads growing bigger and bigger and bigger by feeding off itself and each other.  Think about when you were a kid, and someone told you a scary story, or you watched a scary movie.  It was terrifying, wasn’t it?  But then when you go back and watch it as an adult, often it looks silly and cheesy, rather than scary.

Fear makes the wolf look bigger.

Source unknown*

Well it’s the same with our bodies and our appearance.  That scar we obsess over, those stretchmarks, the wobbly arms we hide away, the round bellies, the hairy legs… whatever it is we attach shame and fear to.  We stare at them in the mirror, or poke and prod at them as we get dressed or bathe… and we look at them in every minute detail.  You’ll never know a body as intimately as you know your own.  We practically go over ourselves with a magnifying glass, looking so closely at our supposed flaws that we are afraid other people will see, that we usually fear those flaws far bigger, far uglier and far more dramatic than they actually are.

Sometimes douchey people pick up on those things, and they use our fears and shame against us.  They are perceptive of our vulnerabilities, so they will hone in on that and ridicule or point out those things because they know they can hurt us with  it.  Thus the person who has that ridiculous habit of bellowing “You’re so fat!” or something else about our appearance, or in my case, posting troll comments about how I’m fat, hairy or ugly.

I do understand those fears and the shame though.  I lived with them my whole life until just a few years ago.  I’m fat and hairy.  I’m kind of a tall hobbit really.  I tried EVERYTHING to hide my fat, hairy self.  I avoided those topics in conversation.  I wore clothes that I thought disguised me.  And worst of all, for many years I let so many people hurt me so deeply by pointing out how fat and hairy I am.  Sometimes the barbs still sting for a second, but not like they used to, and it’s rare that it does actually sting any more.  Because it’s a pretty sad person that has to highlight other people’s supposed faults or belittle someone because of their appearance to make themselves feel better.  Seriously… it’s a bit hard to give them any power to hurt you when you stop and think just how pathetic that is!

What we do, is turn our flaws into Voldemort.  Yes, I am a Potterfile, stick with me here.  Through most of the Harry Potter series, everyone is SO afraid to even think about “The Dark Lord”, they can’t even name him.  He is You-Know-Who and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  Even the name Lord Voldemort isn’t really his name, it’s the name he’s given himself to appear even more frightening, because he knows that not speaking the real name of something you fear, keeps the fear growing.

J.K. Rowling actually said it in the first Harry Potter book:

Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 1997.

We do that.  We speak of fatness in hushed tones.  We don’t mention being hairy, or having acne, or stretchmarks, or skin problems, for fear of uttering those names will conjure them up in front of us, or put a huge neon sign over those “flaws” we have.

When really, most of the time these things aren’t Lord Voldemort, they’re just boring old Tom Riddle, and can be defeated, or at least reduced to something so much easier to deal with, simply by not fearing them any more.

Letting go of that fear and shame is not easy.  But that’s the hardest bit – letting go.  Taking that first step.  Opening the door.  Once you take that step, and set off, it really does get a whole lot easier.  That doesn’t mean you never stumble, or you never have the overwhelming urge to run back in and slam the door shut behind you.  That still happens.  But I think once you’ve taken that first big step, you can often recognise the fear and shame for what it is.  You’ve given it it’s real name, rather than hiding away and never mentioning it.

So… how do you feel about fear and shame in the context of your body and/or appearance?  Is there something you think you could let go of to make the wolf look smaller?  To lessen the grip that fear and shame have on you?

Or have you been able to give something it’s real name and chase that fear and shame away?

*I’m unable to find a source/credit for this awesome grafitti/photo – if you can provide one please let me know and I’ll update with full credit.

Dear You, Volume 2.

Published May 29, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Dear You,

Hello again.  It’s a little while since I wrote to you last, isn’t it?  I was just thinking about you.  Yes, you!  And you.  You too, over there in the corner.  I’ve been thinking about you a lot.

I want you to know something.  You’re ok, you are.  Oh I know, you’re not perfect and sometimes you feel fraudulent, like you’re only pretending to be ok, but the truth is, imperfection and “faking it” are ok too.

I want you to know, you don’t have to feel invincible all the time to be ok.  You don’t have to be permanently fabulous to make a difference to the world.  Nor do you have to be completely loving of yourself, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be ok.  It’s ok to feel afraid, to have doubts, to be a little less than your shiny self from time to time.  It happens to all of us, and that’s ok.  The key thing is to acknowledge it, feel it and allow it to pass.  Or if you need it, it’s totally ok to ask for help.  You don’t have to change the world all on your own.

Also, don’t feel you have to perform all the time either.  There will be times where you just need to step back and BE without worrying about what you have to DO.  Anyone who expects you to be perfectly “on” all the time doesn’t really care about you – they’re caring more about themselves and their own expectations than your needs or feelings.

The thing is, self love is about so much more than just declaring “I am awesome!” and believing it.  You are awesome.  But you are also human, and part of caring for yourself is acknowledging that all humans are flawed, and cutting yourself some slack.  Forgiving yourself.  You will make mistakes, and you will be flawed, but that’s fine.  We are all flawed, we all make mistakes.  What matters is how you work through those mistakes and flaws.  The most perfect thing you can do is acknowledge them and learn from them.  But most importantly, be responsible for your mistakes.  That’s the thing that will make a difference.

Because really, it’s all about doing the best you can within whatever circumstances you’ve got in your life at any given time.  So what if someone else is able to do more, give more, be more.  That’s them, in their lives.  You have yourself, in your life, so that’s what you’ve got to work with.

But there is something I REALLY want you to know.  You are a perfectly acceptable human being right now, this minute.  You are just as valid as any other human being, without changing a single thing about yourself.  That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to want to grow, evolve or improve yourself, or you can’t do better sometimes, it just means right now this instant, you are worthy of your own self love.  Even if it is hard to love yourself sometimes (and boy, is it!), or you’re struggling with some really difficult stuff in your life, you still deserve it.

So dearest you, be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and give the best version of you that you can give, but know that even in the tough times, you are still valid, worthy and deserving of your own self love.

I love you.

Kath

Dear You

Published March 7, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Yes, you.  Yeah… the person reading this.  I need you to know something.

There is nothing wrong with how you look.

There isn’t.  Not a single thing.  No, there’s nothing wrong with your butt.  Or your belly.  Your hair is fine, seriously.  Who cares if you’ve got tuckshop lady arms, or skinny arms, or any other kind of arms, they’re fine too.  That body hair you’re hating on so much?  It’s alright too – nothing wrong with that.  What did you say?  Your thighs rub and are dimply?  So?  Mine do too, lot’s of people’s do.  You’ve got zits?  Well, skin does that sometimes.  Double chins?  Perfectly acceptable, I would even say cute.  Come on, everything that you think is terribly wrong with you… it’s not.

Your toes, your feet, your ankles, your calves, your knees, your thighs, your genitals, your hips, your butt, your belly, your boobs, your back, your shoulders, your arms, your elbows, your hands, your fingers, your neck, your chin, your mouth, your nose, your eyes, your ears, your cheeks, your head, your  hair… all perfectly fine to look at.

Yes they are.

When I see you, yes, I’m talking to YOU, in a photo, on the street, at work, on the internet, at a friend’s house, in a shop, at a school, wherever I see you, I don’t see those things that you think are hideous.  I see you, a human being.  Nothing about you makes me recoil in horror at the mere sight of you.  No, not even you there, hiding in the corner.

All those things that magazines and advertising and TV and music videos etc tell you aren’t good enough about you, that’s bullshit.  They are designed to make you feel bad about yourself so that you’ll buy more stuff.  They lie to you on purpose.  They make lots of money by lying to you.

Oh I know, there have been people who have pointed out things about you and carried on like they’re hideous, disgusting, gross.  They do it to me too.  But guess what?  There’s something wrong with THEM, not you.  There’s something wrong with people who need to humiliate other people because they look different.  There is something wrong with people who feel the need to point out other’s “flaws”, as if they themselves don’t have any.  They are the flawed ones, the broken ones, not you.  They are the ones that need to change themselves, not you.

You hold your head high.  Wear what you want, when you want.  Live your life how you want, and what works for you and those you care about, not how anyone else thinks you “should” live it.  Don’t hold back.  Don’t wait until something changes about you.  Do it right now.

If you want to change something, then change it for YOU, and only YOU.  Nobody else has the right to tell you that something about you doesn’t look good, or right, or enough.  Only you have that power, and only if you are doing it for what you think, not what other people think.  Do you want to change something about your appearance?  Ask yourself, “Why do I want to change this?”  If it’s because other people say it’s not good enough, or even what you think other people might say or think, then ask yourself “Why does what someone else’s opinion of me get to dictate what I do to myself?”  Remember, if someone is criticising you for how you look, the problem is with THEM, not with you.

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.  You ARE good enough, every one of you.  As you are, right now, this minute.

But most of all, remember that no matter who you are comparing yourself to, not a single person on this earth is more perfect than you are.

Love,

Kath

P.S.  Here’s a song for you:

(Just a heads up, it has swear words and images in the clip, probably not safe for work or kiddies)

Double-Standard Dressing

Published January 9, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I bought the cutest dress from Evans.  I wore it on Christmas Day, you might have seen my earlier post about that outfit.  I just love this dress, it’s so soft and comfortable, and I feel great in it.

On Wednesday this week, I wore it again, but instead of wearing leggings underneath, I wore a pair of rust coloured opaque tights from We Love Colors, and my cute new olive coloured Mary-Janes from Rivers.  It felt so cute and fun and I really felt good in it.

But when I got to work, someone who works on the same floor as I do, made a little comment about how short my dress was.  Just a little statement of “That’s very short, lucky you’ve got tights on.”  The tone was just disapproving enough for me to pick up on it.

The following day, I wore another new outfit, with an above the knee skirt, almost as short as the dress, again with tights.  Same person, sees me in the hall, and says “You’re really getting into wearing these short skirts, aren’t you?  Bit short perhaps?”

Strangely enough, I heard her the afternoon before say to another young woman who works on the same floor, who was wearing a much, much shorter skirt than mine “Oh, look at you with your cute legs!”  No tone of disapproval there.

The difference is, I’m a mega fat woman.  The other woman is thin.  Petite in fact, perhaps a size 6 or 8.

This is a very good example of the double standards fat women face when dressing for work, or even other events.  Clothes that are considered appropriate for thin women, are suddenly deemed inappropriate when worn by fat women.  As much as our bodies are desexualised because of our fatness, they are also hypersexualised.  We literally have more breasts, more butt, more flesh that may be seen.  The same amount of exposed cleavage that is appropriate for a thin woman is deemed inappropriate on a fat woman, simply because she has more breast tissue behind it.

This double standard also stems from people who find fat flesh offensive.  It’s perfectly socially acceptable for a thin woman to wear a sleeveless dress or top, or something with spaghetti straps, or strapless, but for a fat woman to wear it, and expose her “back fat” or “bingo wings”, it suddenly becomes offensive.

It’s difficult enough when we have to suffer through disapproving comments on our clothing choices that other’s don’t have to tolerate, but it can even translate into real discrimination in the workplace.

I’m one of the lucky ones, in that I don’t have to deal with that in my workplace, well… other than from narrow-minded people who work nearby.  But many people are not as fortunate as I am.

Appearance based discrimination is a very real issue and even particularly so for fat women.  Fat women are considered lazy, gluttonous, less intelligent, messy, unprofessional and disorganised, simply because of their body shape and size.  When someone who is less qualified gets a job because they are thinner/more attractive than the other applicant, despite qualifications, this is discrimination.

Even once they have a job, fat women are passed over for promotion, pay rises, are treated less equitably than their teammates, and are expected to dress and perform to a different standard than their thin colleagues.  Fat women are even held to a different standard than fat men.

Body policing and size discrimination are not something that we imagine.  Whether it’s just commentary from people we encounter on a day-to-day basis, or out-and-out workplace discrimination, it’s real and anyone with a fat body is open to it.

So what do we do about taking it on?  How do we change it?

Dealing with the Demons

Published January 6, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I was working on a building site for a few weeks.  It was awesome but exhausting.  The minute I hit the site each day, someone wanted my attention, something fixed, a problem solved, more information.  I would have three and four people waiting for me to be available to help them at times, people interrupting my train of thought, stopping me mid-task, dragging me off to something else so that the task that was at the front of my brain fluttered away from my attention like a half read newspaper on a windy day.  Tempers were short, folks were tired and stressed.

Don’t get me wrong, I was loving it.  I was learning so much every day, working with a new type of colleague, having to think on my feet and problem solve.  I was feeling challenged and stimulated.

But one cannot main that kind of intensity.  And things started to slip.  Firstly I was finding myself too tired to come home and follow my yoga DVD, a regular ritual of stretching my body and guiding myself into relaxation.  Then I wasn’t eating properly.  I grabbed a coffee as I rushed on to site.  I didn’t take breaks.  Lunch didn’t roll around until 2pm, 3pm.  I was too exhausted to cook at night.  And soon weekends disappeared into two days of sheer exhausted collapse, trying desperately to catch up on sleep and recharge enough for the next week.

Rationally I knew this wasn’t a good thing, but I kept telling myself “Just get the job done.  Just get everything over the line for the deadline, and then you’ll be able to go back to the routines and strategies you use to keep yourself strong and balanced, physically, emotionally and mentally.”

But my body, and my brain, didn’t want to let this happen.  It threw itself into disaster mode, because that’s what it thought was happening.

The critical moment came one day late in the job, a few days before deadline.  I realised at about 1.30pm I was really hungry and just wasn’t getting anything done.  So I slipped out to go and find a quiet spot to have lunch.  There was a nice little carvery cafe, so I ordered my lunch, a steak sandwich with the works (steak, lettuce, beetroot, onion, pineapple, tomato, cheese, bacon and egg with a few chips on the side) knowing that I hadn’t eaten anything of substance for a few days, and who knows when the next real meal was in this crazy schedule.

Just before they brought my food over, and I was just sitting there reading tweets on my phone when one of my colleagues spotted me and sat down with his lunch.  I didn’t mind at all, we didn’t talk much, just sat quietly and kind of did our own thing.

As my lunch arrived, another one of the guys I was working with on the project spotted us, and came and asked if he could join us.  The answer was “Of course!”   I really liked this guy, he’s great to work with and has a great sense of humour.  I was more than happy to have him join us for lunch.  He sat down and we talked about nothing much in particular, savouring a little time to not talk shop, just have a laugh and chat.

After about 10 minutes, it hit me.  I wasn’t eating my lunch.  I was pushing it about my plate, occasionally eating a chip, picking at the sandwich, just not actually eating the damn thing.  You have to remember, I was really hungry, and this was a damn good meal, tasty and with lots of variety.  I wanted to eat it, I really did.  But I couldn’t bring myself to either pick up a piece of the sandwich (it was cut into quarter triangles) or even use the cutlery provided and cut a piece off and bring it to my mouth.  It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just couldn’t.

I started to feel self conscious.  I started to lose thread of the conversation, because I was thinking “Why am I not eating this?  I want it.  Just pick it up and eat it.”  Soon the project colleague had clearly noticed that I wasn’t eating my lunch.  I could tell he was trying to be polite and not pay attention to the fact that I was pushing my now cold lunch about my plate, almost entirely there, except for a few small bites.  I tried to pick some of it up to eat it, but simply couldn’t bring myself to do it.  This went on for almost 45 minutes.  Eventually the guys said something about going off to the shops before they had to go back to work and left me.

And then I was faced with a stone cold lunch that was edible but not exactly tasty, feeling hungry, but more tellingly, feeling ashamed and embarrassed.

The real irony is that neither of the dudes I was sitting with would have given a fuck if I had picked up that sandwich and chowed on down.  In fact, they’d never have noticed… it was my NOT eating it that drew attention.

What the hell is wrong with me?  I’m 38 years old.  I’ve been doing this fat acceptance stuff for a couple of years now.  I’ve been in therapy for self esteem and eating disorder issues for 5 years.  Why does shit like this still happen?

Now that I’ve had a little time to think about it, I know why shit like this happens.  It happens because I am STILL in recovery from a lifelong eating disorder.  It happens because when I’m tired and stressed, the tiny voice inside my head that says that fat women shouldn’t be seen eating, that women should take dainty little bites, that a steak sandwich with a few chips on the side was “too big a meal” for me to be eating.

Because no matter how far down the fat acceptance road I get, I still hear what is said, I still see what is written, about women and food and fat.  No matter how hard I work on my self esteem, on recovering from that lifelong eating disorder, on learning to be an intuitive eater, I will always carry the old burdens with me through my life.

But that doesn’t mean I am a failure at fat acceptance.  It doesn’t mean that I’m permanently broken.  It doesn’t mean that my life will always be ruled by those factors.

It actually means that those things, the low self esteem, the lifelong eating disorder, the pressure on me as a fat woman, have merely been contributing factors to who I am today.   Those factors are the things that have led me to do what I do today.  The fact that they sometimes crop up again is a very handy reminder of why I am committed to fighting for the rights of fat people, in particular fat women.

Most importantly, they serve to remind me that I am not alone, because I can talk about them here and if I connect with just one of you, it’s worth it.