Cultural Appropriations · Rants For Thought

The Burnout On Fighting Fatphobia

Yesterday, I was having lunch upstairs at work when my coworker started talking about the latest Victoria Secret models.

“I saw them at Fashion Week,” he said. “They’re just so beautiful. Like I think I’ve just never seen more beautiful women.”

I chewed thoughtfully for a moment and said, “They are pretty, but I think they’re a bit thin.” It was an honest opinion. They are beautiful, but to me, they’re too thin. There’s nothing wrong with their weight, but personally, I can’t relate to them, nor do I feel a pull to buy their product. I’m not thin and the lingerie they wear is never going to fit or look good on me.

He fixed me with a look of slight disdain. “I guess that depends on what you consider ‘too thin’ to be.” His eyes travelled to what I was eating, which was buffalo chicken fingers and fries, my “treat” for the week. His lip curled and he shrugged.

“I think they look gorgeous and healthy.”

I chose not to pursue the conversation, but it got me thinking. This week alone, I’ve had several confrontations on the subject of weight and beauty, both online and offline. Nearly all of them ended up with me feeling frustrated, disgusting, fat and worthless. Fighting fatphobia is really hard, and I’m aware I sound whiny, but it’s hard to be confronted daily with the ideal of thin = beauty. It’s hard to be looked up and down and silently judged for the weight I’m at.

I’ve spoken to a lot of my fellow “fatphobia warriors” and the general unspoken consensus seems to be that if you’re fighting fatphobia, you should never feel like your own body is worthless. It’s sort of a “traitor to the cause” to feel worthless or ugly. And I see why – you can’t stand up for something if you don’t believe it yourself. And in my heart, I do believe that I’m beautiful. I believe my body shape is as valid as a thin person’s body shape. I believe you can be healthy at every size.

However, I get burned out. I come home and undress to take a shower and stare at myself critically in the mirror. I wish my stomach was flatter. I wish the persistent wobbly fat on my arms would go away. It never seems to, no matter how many push ups or arm exercises I do. I wish my face was thinner, that my eyes looked bigger. And then I get lost in a shame spiral of not feeling good enough. Of seeing ugliness instead of beauty.

When you hear a consistent message, which in this case, is that fat people are ugly, unhealthy, lazy, and an inconvenience to society, you can’t help but internalize it. And then I feel ashamed that I would even give this message any airtime in my own life. Because it’s not true. I know I’m none of those things.

I’m not going to stop fighting for fat people to be considered worthy in society. I’m not going to stop thinking of myself as beautiful, or striving to see my own beauty. I want the children I influence to know that they’re beautiful, however they look. I want society to stop judging and to start feeling compassion. I want people to stop being Othered because they don’t fit the mold of what society feels is beautiful.

We aren’t worthless because we weigh more than the “average”. We aren’t necessarily lazy or self-indulgent because we’re fat. And there’s beauty there. As much as I hate my arms or my stomach, I love the beauty of my clear skin and shining hair. I love that every fat woman I know shines with beauty, because it’s not about weight. It’s about how you see yourself.

And I can say this over and over, and hope you agree with me. But the person I’m trying to convince shouldn’t be you.

The person I’m trying to convince should be me.

Guess I’m still fighting fatphobia, even though my armour is pierced and my battle scars hurt. That’s the nature of the beast.

You are worth it. I am worth it. That’s all we need to know – and that’s the front we need to present to eventually change society’s mind.

I don't know who she is, but I think she's inspiring!
I don’t know who she is, but I think she’s inspiring!

16 thoughts on “The Burnout On Fighting Fatphobia

  1. It is so hard to resist the insidious influence of media portrayals. I constantly judge myself for my weight, which is ridiculous on so many levels – not least because I am an average and healthy weight for my height. But I see pictures of models and walk past leggy, razor-cheekboned girls in the street and feel like a whale. The irony is that I would be furious with anyone who spoke about someone the way I think about myself. It is very hard to love yourself even if you know intellectually that you are worth it. And for what it’s worth, I agree with both you and your coworker. Those Victoria Secret models are beautiful, but they are a bit thin.

    1. Exactly. I think society forces a lot of women (and men, but to a lesser extent) to feel worthless. It’s annoying and unfair. Everyone is beautiful. Thank you for commenting πŸ™‚

  2. And I’m sure that seemed a bit ass-holeish because I just promoted my blog on your bog. That’s honestly not what I mean. It was my way of saying–YES. I get this! So much so that I’ve written about it, too.

  3. I know that not all fat people are healthy, just as all skinny people are not necessarily healthy, but I am to the point where I am ready to get a t-shirt with printed with my latest blood test results (which are perfect — they are actually perfect) and my blood pressure history (also perfect). I am one of the cheapest people on earth when it comes to healthcare. I know I am fortunate, and I know that much of it is genetic, but I am so sick of people automatically assuming that because I am heavy, that I am diabetic and have high blood pressure, and am clearly a burden on society. I’m not. I swear sometimes I would sign a release to prove it.

    1. That’s what gets me. I am a healthy fat person and I know many healthy fat people who are active and energetic. Fat =/= unhealthy for many, many people! And thank you for stopping by πŸ™‚

  4. I absolutely loved this. I think that society today tells all women (and yes men, but at least most of them rarely care) that they aren’t good enough, no matter how they look. And I also believe that, no matter how a person appears to other people, they will always look at themselves in the mirror and dislike most of the things that they see staring back at them. It’s such a shame that most women can’t even look at themselves and say, “I love my shiny hair,” like you can.
    We should all strive to love everything about ourselves, even the things that take some time for us to love, or the things that we dislike and no one else notices. I think that we’re all beautiful and perfect. Sometimes you just need someone else to say, “My god, your hair is so shiny,” to make you smile a little. Positives don’t cancel out negatives, but they help deal with them.
    Most importantly, we should all stop worrying so much about how we look. Society tells us that we MUST care; it’s just so sad. It’s to the point now where tabloids are hounding on pregnant women for *gasp* having a stomach! What sort of sickness is that? If we all concerned ourselves a bit more with the sort of people we were, strived to be better, pushed ourselves to treat people well, or to just be…good, decent people…wouldn’t we all be happier?

  5. you should stop worrying about being beautiful. when i have low self esteem i remove my mirrors and try to forget that i exist: simply living without thinking of myself. it is a very happy way to be. if you are beautiful it does not matter. if you are not beautiful it does not matter. you cant even see your own face so it does not matter what your own face looks like?

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