These words have been brewing in my brain for awhile. I have sat at my laptop ready to puke out my thoughts and frustrations and then I stop. I stop for 2 reasons. Number 1? I am weary that this is a conversation and I don’t know if I have the emotional energy to start a discussion. Number 2? Everything is a jumble in my brain and I fear that I just won’t be able to communicate my thoughts concisely. My favourite movie as a young teenager was “Stand By Me”… first, because River Phoenix…. but the underlying messages were not lost on me. Stand By Me was actually based on a Novella written by Stephen King called “The Body“. The opening passage in The Body goes something like this :
“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
These words have stayed locked in since I memorized them at 16 years old. I go back to them again and again when I struggle to find a way to spit out what it is that is so limitless in my head.
The diet and exercise industry is always hard at work – and despite the fact that they are co-opting language like “health” and “it’s not a diet” …. they don’t really care how you “feel” about your body. They just want your money. And more importantly still? When a diet doesn’t work? They want to make damn sure that you understand that the diet not working is YOUR fault. The science and studies that prove again and again that bodyweight and health are actually in no way linked to your overall health are a post in of itself – but this is not “the most important” thing I want to talk about today.
I want you to know that I’m still just as confused as you are. That I still struggle when I look in the mirror. I have been experiencing a health crisis for the last 2 years and gained some weight and everytime I see a photograph or a video of myself; those old diet demons are waiting in the wings for their chance to shine again. I am learning that the one of the reasons there is more weight on my body is quite possibly a reaction to my lack of dieting (4 years since I’ve dieted, thank you very much), my body is re-setting from DECADES of binge and purge and binge and purge and binge again…. Like, there was a “fattening” phase that my body had grow accustomed to and then it was left with “WTF??” when I did “de-fatten” with a diet. And oh, I have been tempted… let me tell you… My return to music has me having to see images and videos that I do not have the luxury of editing just so … and thus seeing these images of myself made it hard to resist going on a diet. Fortunately, I don’t even think I have another diet in me… the very thought of it exhausts me. When it comes to these videos? I just don’t watch them. I LISTEN to them… and what I sound like is far more important than how I look. And I sound okay and I’m softening into thinking I look okay too. However, my brain is still hardwired to only see the fat on my body and it has never mattered how much actual fat is on my body. I’m working on it. I do believe that there will come a time that my brain is healed from seeing images of myself and looking for the fat… I have also radically accepted that this matters far less than making sure I don’t let seeing the fat hold me back from being the best possible version of myself that I can be.
And yet, there are so many layers to all of this; “I don’t want to diet anymore” seems to swing so far to the right that if I am saying this that it must mean “I don’t want to lose weight”. I have had many conversations about this recently with other people saying how the body positive movement has not served them. Sure, “Love Your Body” …. such a dismissive, almost “gas-lighty” phrase…. easy to say until you have to leave your house into our most fat-phobic world. There are people that would be more than happy to love their bodies but that becomes more difficult when you have to think about fitting in a restaurant booth, or airplane seat. Never mind the outward hostility experienced for some; having someone comment on the food in a grocery cart, the comments on social media of a fat body in a bikini or basically the entire world seeing a fat body and assuming that if you’re not constantly, actively, ferociously trying to lose weight you are failing at life! Love you body? More like, “You BETTER love your body because the rest of the world is going to make damn sure that your know how shameful and humiliating your body is”.
So? Where can you start? Clean up your social media. Unfollow diet/exercise/body shaming sites. Start seeking out Body Positive representatives; Dianne Bondy, Tess Holiday, Lizzo, Amy Schumer, to name a few. Fill up your newsfeed with images of larger bodied people – trust me, it helps seeing bodies similar to your own, particularly when they are as bad-ass as the ladies listed above. Learn about human physiology; something about the science behind why diets don’t work landed so firmly in my brain. The infamous “they” have known that diets don’t work since World War II. Dig deep into your feminism; and you’ll begin to understand how much diet culture comes from misogynistic patriarchal roots…. find ways to remind yourself that the size of your body being attached to your worth is an outdated and soul-crushing lie. Tape quotes on your mirror, sign up for newsletters, read all the books.
An extremely effective tool I recently used was writing a letter to my body; it started with “Because of course I love you…” and listed ALL of the reasons and ways I love it…. and then I BEGGED it for forgiveness.
This post is the first in a series that you will see rolling out…. because September is coming and y’all are going to start hearing about “back on track for back to school” and “get in that little black dress for little black dress season” and…. and…. and…. I hope you’ll watch our Fan Page for more body positive insight and education; and stay tuned for a deep-dive Workshop Series. It’s time my friends. We have work to do and the work that needs to be done has nothing to do with the size of our pants.
Click here to read a great article to start understanding how harmful Fat Stigma is…