Periodically, (okay–all the time) I run into folks who think I am crazy for my belief. They cling to the idea that only thin people can be healthy and their life will be so much better once they lose that 20 lbs. And they think (okay–tell me to my face) that I am wrong or in denial about my ability to be a healthy fat person.
And sometimes, it makes me a little upset (okay–wildly angry).
But when that happens, I try to take a deep breath and remember a few things:
1. Some people are never going to agree with me, no matter what I do or say. And that’s okay.
2. Some people may disagree with me, but still take something useful away from our conversation. And that’s great.
3. Some people may agree with me someday, but they just aren’t there yet. And that’s awesome.
At least in my experience, the journey towards Fat Acceptance and HAES is just that, a journey. I didn’t get there all in one go and I suspect that many other people find it that way.
In my experience, the attraction of the culture of thinness lies somewhat in it’s simplicity. Lose weight, feel great, be healthy and then you will find career success, love, adoration, wealth and truly fabulous clothes. The beauty of this plan is that it allows you to believe that all of those things are coming as soon as you lose weight. So naturally you don’t have to do any of the other difficult things that are required to get you what you want in your life until you lose weight. This leads to the whole syndrome of “weighting around” to start your life.
Sure, once you apply research and logic and good common sense to this formula, it’s easy to see that it’s hogwash. But in giving up this fantasy, you’re giving up a lot. And the truth, at first blush seems a lot less sexy and much more subtle and nuanced.
Once I gave up the “weight loss fantasy” and started moving on with my life, things clearly got SO much better. But it’s important for me to remember, as I try to shepherd others along that there was a mourning process involved. I had to mourn:
1) The idea that I would lose weight and find the man of my dreams and earn a billion dollars and win an Academy award all in the same year.
2) The EXCESSIVE time and money I wasted involved in body-hating schemes and plans.
3) The idea that I’m right about everything all the time, because I had to admit a lot of what I believed sincerely with my whole heart was wrong.
It’s helpful to remember that the journey towards Fat Acceptance and HAES is intrinsically destabilizing and uncomfortable for people–both for those experiencing it and those watching it. And I believe that we have to work extra hard to replace the benefits of our old fantasies with other benefits that are healthy and more sustainable. Like playing with our kids, or going for a walk.
What loving, kind thing can you do for yourself today? I took myself out for a healthy lunch. (It was awesome.) What’s one simple thing you can today to help replace the fantasy of the perfect life that comes with the perfect body, with the reality of tiny, simple, daily joys?
I’d love to hear from you! Tell me in the comments or participate in the discussion on Facebook.
The Fat Chick