I spent a chunk of time yesterday evening reading blog posts and other articles around fat acceptance and the “Health At Any Size” movement. In particular, a lot of people were praising an article called The Fantasy of Being Thin. I really enjoyed the article, but it made me realise some things.
I don’t really think of myself as “a fat person”, rather I think of myself as a thin person who is temporarily fat. I think there might be a problem in either mode of labelling to be honest. Both of them are ascribing something about “me as a person” to my weight. Can’t I just be a “person”? Well, it seems *I* can’t, and I expect a lot of people in society can’t really either.
I don’t think a single day goes by that I don’t think of my weight and pass some judgement on it, whether consciously or unconsciously. It can most definitely have an impact on my mood; whether I’m feeling fat, or thin, or if dW/dt > 0 or not (dW/dt being my rate of change of weight with respect to time).
I also make judgements about the weights of those around me. It’s that old Judgemental Crow back again. I “feel sorry” for people who are extremely heavy. I think things like “but she (invariably she, weight judgement is most definitely gendered) still looks great”, with that heavy leading “but” that notes from the beginning that weight is something that needs to be apologised for, compensated for, something that you can be human in spite of, not regardless of.
I also judge the extremely thin. “Yeah, but she looks gaunt, or worn, or she’s not a nice person, or I don’t like her clothes, or her thighs aren’t in proportion. Anything to tear a hole in the image that we’ve been taught to love, so that we won’t feel quite so bad about not attaining it.
I don’t vocalise these thoughts. I’m not a monster. But. If I’m having them about other people, I will tend to assume they’re having them about me. So, for all that I have started down a path of trying to be honest and accepting of myself, I find it very difficult to accept the body that I live in every day.
Y’see (I tell myself), I’m different from the “typical” fat person. I used to be thin. I used to be really thin. I used to be effortlessly thin. I used to be so thin that people didn’t praise my weight, but instead felt free to comment on it in a negative way. So, some part inside of me feels like I’m destined to eventually return to that state. Like it’s my goddamned birthright or something!
So, I guess I think the following steps lie somewhere in my future destiny:
- I will “fix” all the bad thinking that has made me fat.
- I will therefore lose all the bad-thinking weight that only came about because of external forces that I will have learned how to cope with properly now that I am “fixed”.
- I will be happy every day in my life because I am thin and thin = contentment.
These are not really conscious thoughts, and when I see them written in black-and-white like that, it’s pretty easy to call them out as ridiculous in various ways. But! And it’s a really important but – I don’t currently have a lot of control over their sub-conscious whispers in my ears. On a good day, I mightn’t be thinking this message at myself, but it’s nearly guaranteed that someone will be thinking it in my direction, if not out-right saying it out loud (even if they’re just saying it about themselves, it translates as “thin = happy for everyone”.
It’s not just a “thin => happy” message. It’s thin if and only if happy. Only happy people are thin. Only thin people are happy. Thin is right. And if you’re not the appropriate weight, then your immediate life goal should be to get to the appropriate weight.
For all the work I’m trying to do on acceptance and honesty, there is a big goal in there, dressed up in the guise of acceptance, and that is weight-loss. I’m just not going for the “shortcut” – my plan is to work on my modes of thinking (or blocking out of thinking) that lead me to binge (binge drink, binge eat, binge watch, binge whatever), because binging leads to weight gain.
Okay, I am making some progress in the belief that binging is bad because it’s life-avoidant, rather than the knock-on weight effects. But damned if I won’t be disappointed if I don’t lose weight on this journey.
This isn’t a thinking I’m going to change overnight. I’m only just even seeing it now. I guess that’s the first step though.