On Fat Acceptance

What do you think would change about your life if you were thin? The dirty, dirty secret is: nothing. People might treat you differently about some things, but not differently about others. I’m sure you’d find other things to obsess about, and others would find other things to judge you on.

I have quite a few friends (and a few exes) that have lost dramatic amounts of weight over the last few years, and I can vouch that many of them are really angry that doing all that hard work to be thin hasn’t magically brought them this fairy tale happiness they seem to feel like they were promised. We try to pretty it up, and say “oh, I’m OK with myself, I just want my clothes to fit better” or other rationalizations, but the truth seems to be that we are taught that thin, pretty people have fabulous, trouble-free lives with hot parties and they get out of tickets and taxes, and live happily ever after, and it just isn’t true. I’ve had more than one relationship collapse because my partner could never believe that I found her beautiful, and sexy, and awesome. They would continue to strive – and punish me for apparently “lying to them” – for a goal that does what? Isn’t being attractive about finding someone to share your life? And while we all want to look well put together, what bring us the most happiness – having a partner who loves us and finds us sexy and loveable, or the random, facile attention of strangers we probably wouldn’t want to spend ten minutes with?

I get that women – and, increasingly, men – are socialized to strive towards an unattainable beauty ideal, and that the failure to measure up results in not only social punishing, and loss of social status (something woman seem to be generally socialized towards in increasingly virulent fashion, no pun intended), but self punishing to the extent of completely abandoning those good things in our lives we DO have in favor of this amorphous idea of the Cinderella myth. Fat acceptance isn’t just about fat chicks justifying their love of donuts, or some other misogynist interpretation, it’s about freeing people from the slavery of not only an unreachable ideal, but the very notion that ANY life can be lived without the pain, misery, and loss that is inherent in just drawing breath.

The horrible, horrible irony is that we sacrifice that which makes us truly happy for bullshit that ruins our lives. So, I ask again, how would your life change? Would you marry a better looking guy? Would you have more friends who cared about you? Would you drive a better car? You’d say “I would feel better in public”, but you wouldn’t. You’d start thinking about your eyebrows, or your boobs, or your asymmetrical nose or flawed skin, or a hundred other things you are marketed to believe are wrong with you. The only escape is to let it all go, and accept yourself, and to break the cycle of punishment by accepting others.

Fact is, in 20 years, none of us are going to be any prettier, no matter what the fuck we do. Age comes for us all, no matter what plastic surgeons, Real Housewives, and Heidi Montag would have us believe. We’re all going to get old (hopefully), we’re all going to get fat, and we can fight it and make ourselves and those that love us miserable, or we can accept it, and let it go. You are lovely because you are loved. It isn’t “all you need is size 2 jeans”, it’s “all you need is love”, and I guarantee you, Kathy Bates goes home to a happier home than Kim Kardashian. By all means, go for the balance of a healthy lifestyle – cholesterol and diabetes are no joke – but love yourself for who you are, and you’re going to improve something, improve that which brings you more love, not more stalkers and date rapists.

EDIT: I want to add my response to those who read this, and get it intellectually, but find it hard to internalize:

Shaking off a lifetime of oppressive socialization in the face of 150,000+ images a year that enforce our delightful social notions of beauty is not an easy process. But maybe the more we talk about it, the more support we give each other, and the more we can reinforce these different values amongst our circles, maybe we can start the ball rolling, You’re young yet, and if you can really start to attach to the idea, and plant the idea in others, and let others in on your struggle, then perhaps we can work to change the culture. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. In fact, you’re in the largest demographic possible – people that would like to stop feeling like shit about themselves. Give yourself time, and give yourself forgiveness for not being some Jungian Superperson, able to shake off decades of toxic social influence just because some idiot dude wearing guyliner wrote a blog post 😀

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