I was burning with rage.
And it was only 10am in an innocent lifecycle nutrition class. Our teacher showed us a great TED talk about accepting ourselves and our bodies an any size, but particularly as “curvy”. This great woman was standing there, openly declaring herself FAT and sharing all of the judgements, death threats, abuse, and leers she had received just from her body size. She had been openly laughed at for her size, to her face.
This talk really struck a chord in me. I’ve always been taller than other girls, and even most guys, I’m around. I’ve never fit into that “box” that society wants all women to shrink themselves into. Hearing Kelli Jean Drinkwater put a voice to all of the reasons that the diet industry thrives the way it does infuriated me. She put to voice the prejudice and shame that comes from our society about the size and shape of our bodies. Whether people tell it to our face or whether it shows up as that annoying self critic that tells us we aren’t good enough, we definitely can’t deny that “fat phobia” exists around us.
Why was I so angry, then? Because comments were made in my class that were directly based from this fat phobia that Kelli was protesting! I was angry that people in our day and age, with so many strides for equal rights of race and gender and and sexual orientation happening, minds were closed to accepting our own freaking body size! I wanted to say that you never know where people are coming from, what their priorities in life are (like mental health and relationships) and how they want to feel and be treated on a daily basis. Regardless, we all deserve acceptance for who we are.
Now I do understand that some people might call this and Kelli’s activism “glorifying obesity” and promoting unhealthy behaviors. I understand that there is a fine line between loving yourself and staying stuck in an unhealthy, stagnant mindset. But let me challenge this–isn’t it about time that we promoted some body acceptance and mental health “at the expense” of appearance? Isn’t it about time that we gave ourselves permission to just be how we are? Especially if that means not looking the way the diet industry tells us we should look. Believe it or not, the image of perfect fitness most often lies outside of what would be considered “healthy”.
Who knows what this lady’s goals are? Maybe she tried to lose weight before but was met with this exact wall of uninviting shame and judgement. Maybe she decided that her mental health took priority over her physical health because, after all, who would be able to do something that took so much effort while the people they interact with turned its back instead of giving support? How can we write off her health just by looking and judging her? I don’t blame anyone would wouldn’t want to rejoin this “thin is better” mindset after she left that party years ago? Who would want to join that after experiencing open-minded, supportive, and liberating feeling of accepting yourself?
So I challenge you to be honest with yourself. Do you experience judgements about body size? Do you notice yourself making quick assumptions about people that may not be true or have any accurate assumptions? How apt are you to make a snap judgement about someone’s body–both about yourself and others? I challenge you to look past body size and appearance to see what really makes you feel uncomfortable, underneath the skin.
I must admit, I am not perfect either. I have to keep myself in check, too, and awareness is the first step to getting past any judgements. I mean, you can’t work to improve something you don’t know exists. Food for thought: I find that the degree to which I am judging others usually reflects the degree to which I am judging myself.
Remember, you are perfect as you are now and always worthy of love.
//picture from Kelli Jean Drinkwater’s site//