There is a level of fatness that is acceptable in our society. The average size of a woman is a 14/16 which is mostly accepted. Men can carry around quite a few pounds and still be considered a “normal” big dude. But at some point fat people are labeled “too fat” and others feel they have the right to stare, mock, and judge.
I have fallen into the “too fat” category for as far back as I can remember. I haven’t just been chunky or chubby in a cute and acceptable way. People have thought me to be “too fat” to date, “too fat” to hire, and even “too fat” to survive much longer (that was 20 years ago…)
At age 9 my gym teacher used a “pinch test” to tell me I was “too fat”
There are women that aren’t as harshly judged for gaining weight if they were pregnant – especially if they’ve had more than one child, maybe that’s you. Maybe you are the woman who is happily married and has put on a few pounds. Or perhaps you are the woman who has achieved great professional accolades, and still fits into sensible suits and can “pass” for “normal” even though you cut the plus-size tag out of your clothes so no one will know how fat you’ve gotten.
I am not these women.
I never had babies. I’m not happily married. I’m still finding my professional self and I can’t find clothes that fit me in the store or even in the plus-size clothing stores. I am the kind of fat that people judge with venom and disgust. I am the fat woman who other fat women see and say, “Wow – at least I’m not that big”.
If I were an “acceptable” plus-sized woman – it would be much easier for me to make the argument that health can come in any size.
I would have more clout for two reasons:
1) People validate proud plus-size women if they stay within parameters such as; wearing 2x or sometimes a 3x, stylish clothes, wealthy, married with kids, etc.
2) People can more easily believe that an “acceptable” plus size woman is practicing the concepts of health if she is an “acceptable” amount of fat. Mostly because people define health by a) how you eat b) how much you exercise c) appearance. (And not necessarily in that order)
Now here’s where my truth feels less acceptable to admit out loud (taboo)… I don’t move much, and sometimes I eat A LOT of food. At times I even eat what people would consider “naughty” foods too! In fact, I can gain 40lbs. in one month without trying at all. You see the eating until you are satisfied and moving more principles have always been, and still are, my greatest challenges to self care and overall health.
Sadly, not many can see past that reality to these FACTS:
- I am not lazy; I have accomplished and still accomplish things that thin people wouldn’t dream of doing with 200 extra pounds strapped to their back.
- I have healthy blood pressure, and blood sugars.
- I am really smart and capable.
- I usually sleep about 7 hours a night.
- When I do eat healthy foods, and move quite a bit – I still have to work really hard to fit into the high end of an “acceptable” plus-size range.
- I am beautiful, lovable, and worth knowing.
- Treating me differently because of what I look like deeply damages my psyche and is a portion of what keeps me trapped in a cycle of depression and anxiety.
- I am really healthy in these ways: I have great compassion, creativity, wit, empathy, ability, motivation, intelligence, willingness, communication, and an understanding of myself at 38 that some people won’t achieve in their lifetime.
- Every fat person is unique – just like every non-fat person is unique.
Why is what I weigh grounds for you to judge and disrespect my human spirit or my life?! If I never “master” this personal goal to move more and eat intuitively, and I never become an “acceptable” amount of fat – should I live my life in shame, feeling unworthy of respect, love, and the good things life has to offer?
The REAL war on obesity is fat discrimination!
If you want to make a difference in a fat person’s life – please start with yourself.
Examine your beliefs about being fat. Listen to how you speak about your body, and others’ bodies. Notice your feelings and thoughts when you see someone who is an “unacceptable” amount of fat.
How are you perpetuating the cycle of hate and discrimination? What is one thing you could do differently? You have a choice to be a true ally, and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with giving advice.
Please share your thoughts with others in the comment section below; this is a conversation worth having.