An intense, uncomfortable, and awkward post about fat things
At the beginning of the week, I read this great post by the amazing and awesome and wonderful Lindy West, about being fat at the gym. It made me really emotional for some reason, and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about why.
While it’s true that the gym is a horribly judgmental place to begin with, there are a lot of uncomfortable truths about being fat you just don’t know unless you are or have been fat. And sometimes it’s hard to express to people that have never been fat what it feels like to be fat. I’ve decided to try, anyway.
Please bear in mind that these are based only on my own experience and my own (sometimes unhealthy) mind. One thing I have learned, or rather, become conscious of, is that I did not get to be at my highest weight, 200lbs (on a 5’1 small-ish frame) by accident. I did it because I thought it would make me invisible and give me something to hide behind but what really happened is that I didn’t become invisible. I was still visible. Just in different ways. The ways fat people are visible. The ways fat people are judged. So fat? Is not a security blanket. Even though I really desperately wanted it to be.
- Sometimes I want to tell people (not all people, just some people): just because you read somewhere that counting calories is one of the many symptoms of disordered eating does not mean that my doing it to lose weight is an eating disorder or unhealthy, so back up off me, bro. First of all, it’s fucking science. The calories in need to be less than the calories out to lose weight and how the hell am I supposed to know I’m doing that right if I’m not counting? Second, I am counting, I am not restricting my calorie intake to 1000 calories a day or whatever, which actually is a symptom of disordered eating. I make sure I get a lot more calories a day than the recommended minimum for a woman my age and weight. Third, and most important, have you seen any of the food pictures I post all over the place? I basically eat whatever I want, mostly in moderation, and still lose weight (kinda slowly), and I can do it because I count my fucking calories and make it like a little nutrition puzzle.
- Sometimes I want to tell people (not all people, just some people): stop looking at my food (unless I’m Instagraming it at you). At this point, people in Australia know that I am in the midst of a weight loss path thingy and I have some good days and some tumble-off-the-wagon-horribly days but it doesn’t always have to be looked at or talked about. It’s a long process and I try to stick to it but looking at my food and talking about how good or bad I’m being makes me think about food too much.
- Sometimes I want to tell people (not all people, just some people): for the love of all that is good and holy in this world, stop trying to help me find someone. Do you know why I haven’t found someone? Because this is (really) what it sounds like in my head: “Well, there are two categories. Fat and not fat. And for whatever reason—society, the media, body image issues of other people I’m close to, my unmitigated asshole of an ex-boyfriend—I’ve been taught that fat is unattractive, and not fat is attractive. So until I am not fat, I am also not attractive. So what is the point of being attracted to this person, because this person could never possibly find me attractive, so really, what’s the point?” It’s not like I’m never attracted to anyone, it’s kind of just like I don’t think about it because those people are usually not attracted to me so I don’t dwell on it. It’s almost like being asexual, only a lot more sad. I promise you I am working on the mental baggage, but that is what it sounds like in my head right now. And if this is what it’s like in my head you’ll probably agree I should not be finding someone for a while.
- Sometimes I want to tell people (not all people, just some people): do not follow the above up with “well you just need to find the kind of person who loves your body and you’re all set.” This is fucked up. I need to find someone else, someone else, whose opinion of me will decide my own opinion of me? The only person who gets to decide my opinion of me is me. It’s my opinion that needs to be fixed. Which again, I am working on.
- I know people mean well. I really, really do. But unless you’ve ever been overweight, or ever been looked at like you’re overweight, you just don’t know. And really the best thing to do, I think, to support someone is be sensitive to the weight stuff (for example, “LET’S GO SHOPPING AT ZARA!” is not sensitive because nothing in there fits anyone who wears more than like a Size 6). Also it’s really hard to listen to people who are at a healthy weight or thin talking about how they need to lose weight. It really fucking is. Going out and chatting about not weight is awesomely supportive. This is why I love spending so much time with hockey fan friends. We just talk about hockey, and I don’t have to be Crazy Body Image Issue Girl for a few hours. It’s awesome.
- I also know, and I really do, that I’ve come a long way and have a lot to be proud of. I’ve figured out, with the help of therapy, why I gained the weight in the first place. I have an awesome plan, and awesome people who help me with this plan. I have lost bunches and bunches of weight and I still have a lot to go but I feel good about it. The mental baggage takes longer but I’m getting there.
- I know a lot of the above makes me seem really fucked up. But the truth is this is kind of a lonely experience and maybe, I really don’t know, but maybe, there are other people out there experiencing stuff like this and I think we should be able to honestly vent our frustrations about body image issues so it doesn’t feel so lonely. So I’m being honest and it’s scary but if people want to think I’m crazy then I guess that’s their problem but if people want to vent or commiserate or anything then I am here and you can also email me if you don’t feel okay doing it publicly.