Several decades ago, I made the decision to not let negative feelings about my body rule my life any more. I decided to stop putting my life on hold until I reached a certain size or shape. I decided that all the things I was waiting to do until after I had the “right” body, well I was going to do those things right away. I have never regretted that decision. It was a massively important turning point in my life.
However, when I decided to become The Fat Chick and make this decision extremely public, I hesitated. Because I wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t perfectly healthy. I wasn’t in perfectly physically fit. I wasn’t the ideal poster child for fat people. And sometimes I had bad days where I didn’t feel perfectly happy about my body. How, I asked, can I inspire others to love their bodies and love exercise again when I don’t always exercise and I sometimes frown at what I see in the mirror.
Working with a very wise coach and my super smart husband I came up with the answer. I have it on a post-it note on the window in my office. It reads, “The Fat Chick is not a ‘persona’, she is a person. And people aren’t perfect.” Getting past this little post it allowed me to finish my book and be on national television and face down another pile of hate mail and ugly comments on my YouTube videos. It has allowed me to get on with things–even when I’m feeling far less than perfect. And it’s allowed me to stop beating myself up for beating myself up.
Look, we all have days where we feel powerful and strong and invincible. And then we have days where we don’t. This is normal. This is life. But when we make the decision to stop hating our bodies and hating ourselves for the way our bodies look, there is a tendency to want to exchange one sort of perfectionism (the search for the perfect body) for another (the complete cessation of negative body thoughts). I get it. First I mourned for all the perfect things I imagined would happen in my life once I had the perfect body.
And then I had the honeymoon period where I believed I would never feel bad about my body again and I would remain perfectly healthy and nobody could ever hurt me again. And then I had the bad days where I didn’t feel perfectly happy or healthy in my body AT ALL. And then I started beating myself up for beating myself up about not having the perfect body in a perfect recursive storm of self-recrimination.
Sometimes I just have to STOP. Take a few deep breaths and tell myself that I am hereby absolved of the need to be perfect in anything. This includes being perfect at self-acceptance. This includes being perfect about body love. This includes being perfect about not needing to be perfect.
I take another breath and try to be grateful for the whole, non-perfect, f’ed up mess of it. Try to be grateful that I can breathe. Try to be grateful that I have a life to muddle through and mess up. And try to remind myself that I don’t need to be perfectly grateful either.
I don’t always get it right. But that’s okay. Because I am a person, and people aren’t perfect.
I hope this little blog post helps serve as a reminder for some of you who are currently in the process of beating yourself up for, well, beating yourself up. You have the permission of the universe to be profoundly imperfect. Because the universe made us that way. You are a person, and people aren’t perfect. And that’s totally okay.
Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
P.S. Want me to talk to your group about being imperfect? Click HERE to learn about my speaking.
P.S.S. Want to buy a book or DVD to help you in your fitness journey? Click HERE to learn about them.