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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.
“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.