A while ago at work, I overheard two women talking about how they were fine with calling their sons fat (one had even given her little boy the nickname "gordito"), but not their daughters. As I was listening in, I couldn't help but wonder why we give so much power to such a small word and turn it into a gender-based insult (for example: we joke about men's beer bellies, but criticize stomach fat on women).

For men, its a statement.
For women, its a source of shame.

Fear of the word is literally ingrained in our psyche from infancy.

I've always thought it to be interesting that we rarely hear men complain about gaining weight or state their fear of gaining weight based on the food that they eat. (Have you ever noticed how weight-loss commercials tend show women, rather than men, promoting their products?) But as women, we've all been there; it's second-nature, a rite of passage. We navigate our lives through restrictions based on our body size.

You can't eat that.
You can't wear that.
You can't be happy as yourself.

All for the sake of avoiding or escaping identification with the worst thing imaginable.

Being fat.

I've mentioned this before, but in high school (also during my binge eating disorder) I went on a choir trip to San Francisco. As we were waiting for our flight home in the Oakland Airport, two friends and I decided to go get some smoothies before it was time to leave. I ordered a medium with whey protein (to keep me full until we reached Salt Lake), but the whey caused the smoothie to expand--so the workers had to place my order in a large cup instead. I didn't think much about it (although I was ashamed to be carrying around something so huge--which is another problem we face as women; we shouldn't feel like we need to eat like rabbits, we're human beings with human sized appetites...eating less should not be considered more feminine), until one of my friends mentioned that the sizes of our smoothies reflected the sizes of our bodies. Small, medium, and you can probably guess mine, large.

Needless to say, I was mortified and utterly humiliated at being labeled as such.

As women, we tend to have this nasty habit of self-objectifying our bodies. We worry about how others perceive us more than how we perceive ourselves.

I think my biggest problem with what she said, was that her words confirmed what I thought I already knew to be true.

I was the size large in my friend group.
I was the biggest.
I was the fattest.

And therefore, I thought I was also the ugliest.

It's so ironic how we associate body fat with being unattractive-- we see fat as a synonym for ugly. Is that really true though? Is every fat woman ugly and is every ugly woman fat? What does it even mean to be ugly? Is anyone really ugly or is it an insult we give those we don't personally find appealing?

We've all heard it said before that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I want to go as far as to say that ugliness is as well.

So be kind to yourself (and others)! Your body is your own regardless of how much you do or don't weigh; whether your have fat rolls or defined muscle; whether you see yourself as ugly (which isn't true) or beautiful.

It's funny how we sometimes (even with ourselves) see weight first and worth second. Being fat is a fact and it shouldn't carry with it a negative connotations concerning one's value.

I want to clarify that I'm not saying that my friend was intending to make me feel bad, but I think she was grateful that she had (and I guess she was?) the smaller smoothie in this situation.

On the same note though, I was ashamed for having the larger sized smoothie (and being a larger sized person).

In all reality, both viewpoints are wrong.
It's just as toxic to judge someone else's body as it is to judge your own.

It's okay to have fat, it is okay to be fat, it is okay to love yourself with your fat.
Fat is natural. Some of us have more and some of us have less, but it shouldn't be source of shame or fear.

It's life!

We need to rewire our brains to accept the word "fat" as a neutral description, not a death-sentence. From my own experiences, I've learned that the less I care about what I eat or the fat on my body, the happier I am. I actually even like the dimples, stretch marks, and squishy aspects of my skin!

I'll admit that I have lost weight since my trip to San Francisco (due to my recovery from the eating disorder), but I still am the "large smoothie" that my friend said I was. However, I realize now that I am not less of a person for having more fat on my body than some of the people around me.

I am fat.
I have fat.
And I'm okay.

PS: This is a large smoothie :)

No comments