TW: discussion of fat-phobia
This feels too personal to share. Maybe I shouldn’t. But who would I be if my motto wasn’t “if it feels too personal to share, I’m on the right track”? Usually I’m eager to share to maybe help someone feel less alone in this weird, messy existence. I suppose this feels like it hits an especially tender place in my heart.
As you may know, if you follow me on Instagram, I am a Hufflepuff through and through. Loyalty and friendship reign supreme for Hufflepuffs. So when I recently called out a friend for posting something that was harmful to people in larger bodies, I immediately regretted it. It’s easy for me to call out someone for homophobic, racist, ageist, sexist and transphobic comments, but trying to force someone to understand health at every size and intuitive eating makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m usually not the person to shove anything down anyone’s throats. It’s not usually my style. This is uncharted territory for me.
For some background, I was labeled the “fat kid” for a few years when I was in school. I was bullied for anything and everything about my body. I learned to hate it. I hated every damn inch of my body for years. My best friend was gorgeous and thin and people always, ALWAYS compared us. What I didn’t understand then is the diet industry — worth billions of dollars — only makes money when we feel like we are not enough without dieting. It’s the only product for which you blame yourself if it doesn’t work. Which it doesn’t (how many diets have you been on that have worked long-term? Yeah, ditto).
Now, I name companies that benefit from me hating my body when I start following that old narrative which no longer serves me. I know in my soul that my weight is not my worth, that my appearance is not my worth. I am so much more than that — we are so much more than that. I weigh the most I ever have in my life, and I am the most peaceful I have ever been. I love my body, my piece of the universe, my collection of dust.
So when I saw this post that very toxic and critical of bodies, it made me sad. More than that, it hurt my heart for me, for my family members and friends in larger bodies, for anyone who was relentlessly bullied because they look/are different. For anyone who feels their value is equated with thinness and prettiness. The post asked would you rather be fat and rich or thin and poor. The answers to this question were horrendous. I read it and thought, if someone else like me out there sees this, it could cause irreparable harm to them and their mental health. I’ve been there. I’ve been in the dark depths of what I considered at the time as the prison of my larger-than-society-accepts body.
After I sent the message, my friend responded saying something to the effect of they maybe should have said 400 pounds or something really unhealthy. I couldn’t think of how to reply all week. I understand that this person is in the military, and in the military, everyone has to be battle ready which means they have to be fit enough to fight. I get that. I also know that for me, a civilian, it’s different. I decided to respond with a quick, “Okay, love you, friend!” because I understand not everyone is on the intuitive eating, radical body positivity train. I mean, just a few years ago, I wasn’t either.
The real reason I’m writing this is because of what happened next: someone messaged me on Instagram, someone I don’t know. The message read that this person saw the comment and it was very hurtful to them as well. They thanked me for sending the message. This person saw it amongst the egregious comments. I accomplished my goal of writing online in such a way that makes people feel less alone. And that was worth the angst (and potential loss of a friendship) that sending the message caused me, ten times over.