There are two F words I’m going to claim in this post that might be dangerous to claim. Why? Because I’ve seen the hate and trolling and abuse directed at those who’ve claimed both or either of these F words themselves, those who’ve refused to live their lives in the two-dimensional world of the Internet hiding behind anonymity. No, they’ve boldly proclaimed who they are. I don’t want to be hated or trolled or abused, but it’s time for me to step up and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Whatever the potential backlash, it’s worth it to empower myself and hopefully others by acknowledging my truth and rejecting shame.
What are the two F words? Feminism and fat.
I’m fat. I’m a fat woman. I’m a fat feminist.
I’ve been fat for all of my adult life. It may shock some people to read that “fat” F word. I’m not denigrating myself. Fat is only an adjective, nothing more. I won’t allow it anymore power over me than being an adjective. In the past, I’ve lived in the harm that can do, and I’m not doing that anymore. I’m stepping out of the shadows, off of the sidelines, and engaging in the work and message of spreading positive body image while embracing, developing, and strengthening my own positive, healthy body image. I’ve been journeying into being a body image activist this past year or so. There are people who’ve been body image activists for ages and ages and their work is awesome. I’m not entering this space unaware of those who have paved the way, nor am I unappreciative of that paving, nor am I trying to one-up the work that’s already been done. I’m intentionally adding my voice as a member of the chorus.
I want to empower other people to overcome body image issues and the only way to do that is to empower myself, to claim myself, to inhabit my body proudly, to reject the shame that culture has heaped on me for years. I believe that no one should live in shame because of their body or any aspect of their physical appearance, whatever size, weight, shape, whether differently abled, male, female, trans, race, etc. We deserve to inhabit our bodies without being inhibited by shame. Bodies should not be made taboo, should not be terrorized by cultural ideals or other people’s opinions.
I’m fat, I’m okay, and whatever size you are, you’re okay, too. I understand now and espouse that all bodies are good bodies, all bodies are valid bodies. My body is good, my body is valid. During this part of my journey, I’ve been seeing a therapist on a regular basis, one whom I trust, respect, and am comfortable with, and it has made a powerful difference.
Months ago, I started seeking out and reading fat positive, size positive, body image activist blogs to understand my experience through others’ experience. They’ve been writing and working in this space for years, and they articulate things in powerful, honest, ballsy, amazing ways. They’ve been ridiculed and hated and judged and trolled in heinous, awful, cruel, hateful ways. They are defenders of the downtrodden, of the shamed, of the broken, of the hopeless, of all kinds of people, of all sizes. They are fierce feminists, independent thinkers, and they all have very unique, strong voices. Here are links to a couple of the blogs that I’ve read most often:
The Fat Chick belongs to/is the work of Jeanette DePatie, who lives in SoCal and holds a free exercise class three times a week. Jeanette has been a great friend and support as well as an inspiration during this part of my journey.
Simultaneously, I’ve been on a journey from misunderstanding feminism and releasing preconceived notions I had to coming into my identity as a feminist and continuing my education about what that means.
I’ve only really been active on Twitter since February or March of this year. Before that, I had an account that I barely used. When I got a new phone in February (thanks, brother!), I discovered the appeal of Twitter (and Pinterest and many, many, many apps). This past week on Twitter has been its own education in feminism in the wake of the UCSB Isla Vista tragedy and the Yes ALL Women hashtag (the hashtag originator asks that it not be used any longer, so the non-hashtagging here is purposeful). It’s been a fascinating, maddening, sad, awesome, tragic, terrifying, powerful discussion.
On the heels of that, there’s been an effort to trend the hashtag, #WhyImaBodyImageActivist, inspired/based on a video of the same name by Melissa A. Fabello (@), which was inspired/based on a Why I’m a Feminist video. It was great to participate in the hashtag and to share in, read, favorite, and RT reasons and experiences that led people across a wide spectrum of life experiences to claim their identity as body image activists. Here are mine:
- Because I believe in #healthgains, #wellness, #bodyacceptance, #bodylove, not in #weightloss glorification. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because fat and thin are adjectives, not feelings, not declarations of worth, not states of attractiveness. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because we transform lives when we acknowledge that all bodies are valid #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because distorted body image can’t be “fixed” w/exercise, by controlling food, by a number on a tag or a scale. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because negative body image keeps people in abusive relationships. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because the pressure to look a certain way pushes people into many kinds of self harm. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because “but you have such a pretty face” is as much an insult as a compliment. #whyimabodyimageactivist
- Because we are bombarded by airbrushed, photoshopped images that are selling something that doesn’t exist in 3D. #whyimabodyimageactivist
- Because we’re culturally conditioned to be insecure. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because of the work of @FatBodyPolitics @FatChickSings @Fatheffalump @danceswithfat to name a few. #WhyImABodyImageActivist (I’d also include @, though I either forgot to or didn’t have enough characters to in this tweet!)
- Because shame imprisons. Loving and accepting myself empowers and frees others to do the same. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because all bodies are good bodies. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because too many people think less of themselves for how they look. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because some random guy once felt the need to shout “Go home, fatass” at me while driving past. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because the BMI hardly deserves to be called science yet is often wielded as a weapon to oppress, judge, condemn. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
- Because life is too short to waste time trying to live in a body I don’t have instead of valuing the one I do. #WhyImABodyImageActivist
I’m still on my journey. I am powerful, capable, strong. I am healthier than ever, mentally, physically, spiritually. I realize that some people will take issue with being fat, feminist, and a believer embracing both of those F words. Here’s what I have to say to that: My body is a temple of God, the God who created me, who loves me as-is, who accepts me unconditionally. God didn’t put a weight or size restriction on my identity, and I’m not going to be held back by such meaninglessness any longer.
“[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. [God] has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
May you know today that your body is good, your body is valid, your body is amazing. You aren’t obligated to hate your body anymore. You don’t have to be ashamed of your body anymore. You are free to love your body and to accept yourself as the miracle you are. May you be empowered to always speak words of kindness to yourself, to value the body you’re in. May you be empowered to help others to do the same.
*I moderate all comments, so if it ain’t fit for reading, it’ll be deleted.*