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Recently Cosmopolitan.com picked up my campaign for Diversity in Plus Size Bodies (holy shit, I know!). It’s been met with a truly awesome response and people have been so kind and wonderful about it… mostly. Now, I’m not one to read the comments section (just like I’m also not one to smack myself in the face), but when people send me emails to make sure I know they don’t like me, there’s not much avoiding the negativity. And these lovely emails are what prompted me to write this little post. So what are these eloquent folks writing to me, you ask?
Now I’m obviously being a bit tongue in cheek about the emails authors, but what I have to say about the sentiment behind these emails is very important. Nobody owes you healthiness. Fat people do not owe anything to anyone. We get to exist, in our bodies, as we are in this moment, without apologies. We get to love ourselves, at all times, unabashedly.
To my emailer who is concerned about my running: I can run just as well today as I did when I was 200 pounds lighter… which is not at all. I’m a terrible runner. But at my current weight I can run (if absolutely necessary… I mean jeez why would I just be running? gross!) without hating myself for not being able to run as well as everyone else. Because I know my body is my own and comparing it to other’s abilities is not, as you like to call it, “healthy”.
And to the person who wants me to know that my existence does not equal health: I’m sorry to break it to you, but a person’s health is not the singular trait of which I base a person’s worth. In fact, a person’s health does not cross my mind at all when considering their worth. When 5 skinny people line up in front of you, do you immediately ask for their medical records or have you assumed their health by looking at them? Do you know that skinny people can be unhealthy too? How many thin people have you deemed unhealthy in the last week?
And to my dear reader who doesn’t understand how dying works: I’ll be dead. Thanks for checking in.
You cannot tell a person’s health by looking at them. You just can’t. You don’t know my story, and I don’t owe it to you to tell you about it every time you want to share your perception of my body. But more than not knowing a person’s health, my concern for the “health” rhetoric is that it creates a space where we cast aside anyone who isn’t of optimal health and wellness (and ability). And that’s scary. It’s not just scary, it’s fucking creepy. Don’t judge people’s worth by their health! Because unhealthy people exist, and are worthy of love and respect.
Fuck. I can’t believe I had to say that.
illustration by the always amazing Alex Dehoff