Do you ever do some soul searching and discover something unpleasant? Like don’t want to touch that with a ten foot pole unpleasant? Recently I’ve been digging deeper into intuitive eating, positive body image, and, ultimately my own biases. I continue to unfollow pages that only serve American traditional beauty, usually white women in small bodies. I’m doing an inventory of my history with body shame and the shame that comes with eating the “bad” foods. In doing so, I unearthed a hard nugget of awful truth: my inner fat phobic. That was hard for me to say in my head, much less type it for anyone to see.
I grew up defending my mother from horrible insults with which she was accosted whenever we went to a pool, swam at a lake, or did anything in the Texas heat, really. I distinctly remember teenage boys being especially cruel, loudly cruel, about her body in public spaces. She never defended herself. She never talked about it. She would lower her gaze and we would exit the situation as soon as possible. I remember getting so angry I could have committed acts of violence. These things happened in public spaces. With other humans around. Who couldn’t not notice what was happening. No one defended her. None of the people in the mostly thin, fit bodies around us said a word. They just stared. No one said anything because they were silently agreeing with the assholes.
As I’m getting older, I’m becoming more and more like my mother every day. I look in the mirror, I see my mother at the pool trying to escape public verbal attacks. I see my friend in 5th grade getting endlessly taunted for her body size. I see 9 year old me getting bullied for my size. And I hate it. That fat phobia imprinted on my heart and soul. I have internalized the hate and the prejudice which, as you may imagine, has lead to self-hate. This is what I’m working against on my intuitive eating/body positivity sojourn: my own unconscious buy in to the small bodies are better rhetoric we see everywhere in our society. How are we expected to overcome that to truly love ourselves? I know I’m supposed to notice and not judge, but damn if I don’t feel even worse about myself now that I’m aware of my internal fat phobic. I’m not yet sure how to reconcile the dichotomy between my fierce body positivity and my internal fat phobe. Maybe it’s okay that these two exist simultaneously within me. How could they not after a lifetime of mixed messages about weight?
Sometimes self care looks nothing like a bubble bath. Sometimes it’s finding the rotten fruit in the garden of our conscious soul and relieving the plant of its burden.
Cheers to painful growth,