I have written about this before, but I will write about it more until people can understand this.
I’m fat. There’s no way around it, I just am. I also think the ‘fat acceptance movement’ is very damaging to people like myself. They take the message that people like myself share with the world, and warp it to justify a lifestyle of excess and lack of health.
Some of us aren’t fat because we only eat crap and don’t exercise. I think I’ve shown on more than one occasion that I can exercise 1.5 hours in a day in the middle of a heatwave, burning 700-800 calories and still not getting anywhere. (And the following is only from when the phone was on me, I don’t actively log all the things in between.)
As a diabetic my main focus is keeping my glucose values in check. I want to low carb, but can’t, lest I drop into a hypo from irregular insulin production combined with insulin injections. What I eat in a day is still very limited especially when combined with exercise like the above.
This is a very typical day of food for me (except for dinner, it was a treat day). As you can see I’m not eating anything that fucks up my glucose values. I’m not eating massive amounts of junk food. And you know what? I’m still fat and not losing. And you know what else? So fucking what.
I know better than anyone else that with a bicycle as my main method of transportation, I’m getting 30-60 minutes of exercise 5 days a week minimum. Which is a pretty solid thing considering I can’t feel most of my right leg due to a pinched nerve and I have messed up knees. After the summer holidays are over, I will also be swimming every Friday with my therapy group on top of everything else. I know better than anyone else how much I’m eating because, guess what, I’m diabetic! I kind of need to know what goes into my body so I don’t die. And guess what else?! I’m not diabetic because I’m fat, I just am diabetic because I have an auto-immune disorder that screwed me over.
I’m doing the best I can with my body’s limitations and my limited fixed income budget. I also think I’m doing extremely well with everything factored in.
Yes, I had years where I let myself go. I was in a bottomless pit, my clinical depression maxed out, my anxiety disorder was fucking me over, I had no money so what little I did have got me as much as cheap junk food as possible etc. I bettered myself.
You know what else? I have a sister who is about as tall as I am (6’0″) and who literally weighs half of what I weigh. She is officially underweight (BMI of 17) and cannot for the life of her gain anything. She eats and eats, she snacks, she eats high calorie candy all day long, she doesn’t exercise much, she even consumes medical protein drinks for malnourished people as advised by her doctor to gain the weight she desperately needs and she’s not gaining anything. We’re both frustrated because she doesn’t understand why I’m not losing weight, and I don’t understand why she isn’t gaining. We both try our hardest and don’t succeed.
The reason why I think the fat acceptance movement is so toxic and demeaning is because it negatively affects both me and my sister. The words ‘thin privilege’ are thrown around as if thin people don’t struggle. They do. My sister’s in laws are always peering at her plate and telling her she should eat more, she’s too thin, she needs to eat better. They’re always commenting on how she’s too scrawny. She always feel uncomfortable and anxious eating out in public because of the whispers of ‘look at that anorexic chick, you think she’ll throw up in the bathroom when she’s done?’. It’s the same bullshit we fat people get too, but in reverse. Even people at healthy weights get this. Nobody is immune from the bullshit opinions from other people who think they’re better than everyone else and feel the need to express their shitty opinions.
Furthermore, I know that fat acceptance is a term used more often than not to justify an unhealthy lifestyle and shifting responsibility over one’s own body onto others. It’s not thin privilege that made you fat. It’s not thin privilege that got you sick and eat too much. Are there issues in society with shaming people for their choices? Yes, and it’s wrong. But it’s not exclusive to fat people. My own flesh and blood is the living proof that shaming knows no gender, no size, no age and no class. It happens to everyone. It can damage everyone. It can ruin everyone’s lives.
Loving yourself is an entity totally separate from everything else – it means to appreciate who you are, right now, the good and the bad, and understanding what potential there is in you that you can work towards without putting yourself down or giving up. Working on being a better, healthier and happier you is something everyone should strive for, no matter their current situation. Perfection doesn’t exist, which is why it’s important to not be complacent and sit by accepting things the way they are if we have a chance at making them better. You don’t have to run a 5k in the next 4 months, but you can eat better, even if it’s just cutting down on portions and drinking water instead of sugar loaded soda, or choosing richer meals if you have to gain weight, or making balanced decisions when you eat out. You can get up and take a 5 minute walk, or however long you can go for without hurting yourself. The more you do it, the easier it gets. If you can’t walk, find something else that you can do. We’re on the internet, the biggest freely available resource in the world since the beginning of mankind – you can figure this out. You don’t have to be a certain weight in order to be happy and healthy. I will probably never get below 200lbs and that’s fine if I can manage my glucose levels, exercise plenty and eat healthily. My friends with PCOS will always struggle with weight even when they try their hardest.
I know what it’s like to be stuck in a body that doesn’t cooperate with you. So does my sister. I know that it’s frustrating doing everything right and not getting where you want to be. But don’t go lying to yourself that it’s okay to be unhealthy. It’s different to acknowledge a hurdle and working on overcoming it, than it is to sit by idly eating yourself into obesity and yelling injustice while pretending you’re not responsible for your current state of health. I know better than most people we can’t always change the way our bodies work. PCOS, diabetes, thyroid problems etc. are real things that affect people more often than we like to believe. But they’re not excuses not to try. They’re not ‘get out of jail for free’ cards you can just throw around. Privilege is not an excuse not to better yourself.
I don’t want to be part of the fat acceptance movement. It’s a lie, it’s hatred and excuses and blaming everyone else but yourself. If you have a disorder or a health issue that is causing you to gain weight, it’s your responsibility to find professional help to be healthier. It’s not on society to cheer you on for continuing destructive eating behaviors. It’s not on society to cater to your inability to face your own demons.
You have the power. You know what you’re doing to yourself. Accept that and do something with it.
Yes, there are problems with fat shaming. I get treated poorly for my weight because people refuse to acknowledge the effort I put into my health. You know what? Educate them. These ideas stem from ignorance, and telling them they’re ignorant pieces of shit is not going to make them want to know our struggles. I certainly don’t want to listen to someone who goes nuts, yelling, screaming and calling names when I say something wrong. I DO listen to someone who tells me “Hey, can we talk for a moment?” and then explains to me what happened and why it’s bad, without accusing me and using words like ‘privilege’ to guilt me into submission. I do listen to someone who says “I’ve got this problem and I need help – can you help me?” because I understand sometimes, we need extra help from the outside to be better selves.
Fat acceptance shouldn’t be a thing. Self acceptance should, and it comes with responsibilities. Life has responsibilities, and denying that is toxic all around.