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“I’m Afraid You’re Going To Die Because You’re Fat”

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Ok, I get it. You grew up watching Sex And The City and think that friendship means being unfiltered. You can tell your friends anything – even if it means getting a little uncomfortable or giving them a reality check. I GET IT. You’ve been socialized to believe your opinion really matters. No matter what. And that we’re all allowed to have opinions, even if they’re not what others want to hear. 

Except, you’re not. And I’m sick of being nice about it. 

When I tell you that I’m not interested in diet culture, or losing weight, or discussing my body with people – it’s not a debate. I didn’t ask if you believe in my decision. I didn’t ask if you agree with me. I told you my values about my body. Full stop. 

“But I want you to feel good”

I do, most of the time. Probably about the same amount of time as you. I have days where I don’t feel perfect, I’m aging and learning how to navigate a body that is changing in many ways. I’m on medications for things that make me uncomfortable (like my life long panic attacks – thanks Lexapro!), and I go the doctor twice yearly to make sure I’m well and my medications aren’t effecting me negatively. Thank you for your concern. 

“WHAT IF YOU GET SO BIG YOU CAN’T MOVE?!”

Well, first of all – there are lots of people in the world with limited mobility and it’s ridiculous to think that I’ll be less valuable as a friend if this happened.

Second, that’s not my intention but my body has been through a lot. From age 10 to 27 I cycled from a restrictive eating disorder to a binging eating disorder every 6-18 months. I have lost and gained over 100 pounds more than 5 times in my life. My metabolic system is not well, it has endured a life time of weight cycling. There are very few ways for me to “fix” this other than to try my hardest to eat intuitively, get nutrition from foods that make me feel well, and take medication that helps me process insulin more effectively. I do all these things. 

I could maybe, possibly control my weight with a diet that restricts my calories. Except, diets don’t work and you gain weight back. And you know what’s harder on your body than being fat? Weight cycling. So i’m not doing that anymore. 

 

“Why don’t you just go to the gym more?”

Listen, if you think being fat, having eating disorders (which btw 1 in 5 fat people have), and living in a society where everyone thinks your body is “gross” is a real push to make it to the gym well – you’re wrong. It’s fucking hard. And it comes with a lifetime of learned bullshit that makes me feel bad about myself. I can’t step into a gym without thinking I’m there to “fix” myself. I’ve been in years of therapy, I am obsessed with yoga, I love going for walks… and I am still riddled with anxiety about moving my body. 

So, some days I choose my mental health over the panic attack. And I dedicate a lot of time thinking about my relationship to movement, and trying to make things more accessible for me. Some times I cry on my yoga mat and wonder if maybe my life would be different if I hadn’t hated myself for so long. I wonder if other people are painfully sad thinking about how they spoke to their 10 year old self about breathing heavy after running the mile at school. And I take a breath, and remind myself that my relationship with moving my body is going to be something I’m working on for a long time. 

I’m recovering from a life time of trauma that revolves around my body. It’s going to take me a minute to re-incorporate joyfully moving. If you cant be patient with me, that’s ok. I probably can’t be patient with someone who’s not kind enough to understand. 

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My sister @girlletgo and I dont move the same way. Her poses look different than mine. Neither are better or worse than the other… they’re just what is effective for each of us. Years ago (in a lot of therapy) I learned about using the word “effective” and “ineffective” instead of other more judgmental words. It’s been pretty useful. How do you talk about your body in comparison to other people? Do you use kind words or do you get stuck judging your body against others? It’s a constant battle for me to check my language around my body and others. I’m always challenging my words, I don’t think that ever changes. ALL THIS ETERNAL GROWTH YALL!!!! Leggings and bra sets from @girlfriend #fatgirlflow #yogaposes #sisters

“I just want you to be around as long as possible because I love you”

This sentiment is nice. Maybe. Kind of. But ya’ll – I cannot be your punching bag just because mortality scares you. 

I am not just a character in your life, I am my own whole human person. I have experienced things that have shaped who I am and my choices, and I make decisions based on what is best for me and me alone. I know it is scary to love someone who could disappear at any minute. I’ve got news for you – that’s what you get with everyone. Fat, young, healthy, fit, able bodied, old, thin, none of us are safe to love. You’re running a chance of losing every person you’ve ever come in contact with. There is no amount of working out that is going to make loving people you could lose less scary. 

Feeling entitled to your loved one’s health is… weird. Are humans less valuable to you if they won’t outlive you? Are you so scared of your own grief that you don’t want to experience the vastness of humanity? Do you really expect others to use their time on earth to appease you before doing what’s right for themselves? Why not support people in loving themselves endlessly, instead of trying to guilt them into caring about your reaction to their body?  

I have to believe that if you are in my life and asking these questions, it is because you care. I want to believe that. At some point your caring started hurting me. These questions, asked over and over again, hurt me. Having to justify my humanity, my values, my right to live without constantly explaining myself, hurts me. 

I am not up for debate. The way I live my life is not up for discussion. I am not asking your permission to live this life the way I choose. I am fat. I am not interested in being smaller. I will not be going on a diet. 

And I am OK. I hope you are too. 

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Jenn

Tuesday 18th of May 2021

I'm so sick of people assuming I secretly want to be a waif. I like being...big. And my husband LOVES it. And you know...if you aren't paying my bills, sleeping in my bed or directly affected by my life choices, I really don't care what your opinions are and honestly, I really don't need or want to hear them.

I ended up here by putting into the search bar: sundresses for fat people with a stomach. No offense...just getting tired of tip toeing around it and seeing ads of size 00 women modeling plus sized clothing and justifying it by holding the sides out as far as they'll go to prove there's room for more. We don't need a size 00 holding out to their side 46 inches of fabric. We need a size 26 model showing us how it would really look!

I'm pushing 40...trying to be ok with myself and trying to wear something other than jeans and a t shirt. Thanks for your little posts and thanks for being so brave to post pics and such. Very helpful. I only wish I was ever as brave as you.

(Thanks for the sundress post, btw. That was exactly what I was looking for)

Lara

Sunday 3rd of November 2019

This was an amazing read. Thank you for bringing all of my thoughts and feelings on to a page and out of my head. Thank you for your bravery!

Nadia

Saturday 2nd of November 2019

I wish everyone could read this!! Everything in this article is spot on. It’s weird and creepy and ultra arrogant to think you have any right to police anyone else’s body. Even as a slim-ish woman on social media who has recently gained 30 pounds I’ve had so many people telling me I need to hit the gym, commenting ‘what’s happened to your looks?’ and even one idiot guy commenting ‘this woman is a donut away from being obese!’ (#facepalm). In general, men don’t deal with this constant public commentary on their bodies. They are allowed to simply exist, at any weight, it is not your job or any woman’s, to be a certain weight. Your value is not based on your appearance. This is why I love all the work you do so much. Thank you for continuing to keep this super important discussion going. I will always support you 1000%.

Katie

Friday 19th of April 2019

This resonated with me. I love your words right now. I feel a lot like this.

Margaret

Wednesday 6th of March 2019

That photo of you and your sister is just amazing. Both of you doing yoga -- the bodies are very different but the hearts are in sync. Your sister looks as though she loves and accepts you. I hope that's true. It's true about my sister -- our entire lives together I've cried about being fat, hated my body, gone on diet after diet, gained the weight back over and over, and she, still a size 8, has never criticized me (we're in our 50s now). She supports me if I want to diet, compliments my new top if I've just gained back 40 pounds. That picture could be me and my sister. Thank you for this post.

fatgirlflow

Tuesday 12th of March 2019

<3