I recently ran across this photo on Facebook and was floored by the brave beautiful young woman staring at me. And when I read the post from Stella Boonshoft that went with it, I got even more excited. And the longer story, was also touching and interesting.
I’m so amazed at the brave and amazing things that young size acceptance heroes and heroines are up to these days. They are putting themselves out there in new and exciting ways. They are making a significant impact on the movement and on peoples lives at younger and younger ages. They are getting it done!
To a certain extent, I think young people in the size acceptance movement are very fortunate. They’ve grown up in the age of computers and the internet where the concept of size acceptance may be available at a much younger age. Even if they are the only fat kid in the class, they can connect with other fatties all over the world via facebook and tumblr and twitter. After all, I hadn’t even heard of the notion of size acceptance until I was nearly 30 years old.
We older folks have a lot to learn from the younger set when it comes to body acceptance. We can see what a life is like when size acceptance begins in high school, junior high or even elementary school. We can see the energy savings that come from not beating yourself up for 40 years before you start to feel better. We can marvel at the bravery of a college girl posting a revealing picture of her body with rolls and stretch marks and all. We can be encouraged by her direct stare and her challenging words:
MOST OF ALL, this picture is for me. For the girl who hated her body so much she took extreme measures to try to change it. Who cried for hours over the fact she would never be thin. Who was teased and tormented and hurt just for being who she was.
I’m so over that.
THIS IS MY BODY, DEAL WITH IT.
and FUCK YOU ALL who tried to degrade my being and sense of self with your hurtful comments and actions.
GUESS WHAT IT DIDN’T WORK HAHAHAHAH
But if we read between the lines, we see that growing up today as a fat person is no picnic. The same technology that allows young people of size to connect with one another, subjects them to the potential for 24/7 bullying–often from anonymous sources. Stella’s story has generated relatively positive results–receiving hundreds of likes per minute when first posted and launching her blog on a national stage. But she has also had to shovel through some of the nastiest vitriol the Internet can serve up. And it’s not hard to imagine that Stella’s story might have had a very different ending. In our visual world, the pressure to be stick thin and look like a television show/rock star/supermodel/celebrity is greater than ever. And maybe we, who grew up in a different time, have already endured decades of lumps, can offer some perspective to the younger generations as well.
They say hindsight is 20/20. And I find myself having more and more hind to my sight these days. So I can offer Stella some thoughts and advice. I can say things like:
Enjoy your day in the sun. They are rare but beautiful. But know that rain will come as well.
You don’t have to read every comment. There’s only so much nasty a body can endure in one day. Let your friends help you filter through and find what you really need to know.
You are not a persona, you are a person. That means you will not be perfect. But that’s okay, because what makes us human makes us real and allows others to relate to us. This allows us to do good in the world.
There’s a place for folks of all ages in the size acceptance movement. The generations are different and face very different challenges. But those differences ultimately make us stronger. We are better when we learn from one another. Here’s to using our differences to unite, to share and to build a better place for all of us.
The Fat Chick
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I love this story but it also makes me so sad. That could have been a picture of me 25 years ago and I hated myself for it. But I think she absolutely stunningly gorgeous. Good for her for being brave!