First of all, I am going to state that I LOVE the body positive and fat activism community. Seeing so many dietitians and health professionals stand for Health at Every Size excites me. Learning about fat phobia and diet culture has made a huge difference in my recovery.
You may feel differently right now. Yet if you allow yourself to sit back, shut up, and listen to what they have to say you can gain amazing knowledge from these people.
I was recently listening to Christy Harrison’s Food Psych Podcast (episode #99). In the episode Christy interviewed Lindy West who spoke to on two topics that truly hit home for me in my recovery. The epiphanies I experienced while listening to Lindy were profound in the following way:
If we take away stigma related to weight, so many lives will go from being imprisoned by shame, fear, and ignorance to becoming enlightened, fulfilled, and full of joy.
Here are two important things Lindy West and other body positive activists have taught me.
1. Trying to fit society’s standards will make you miserable
Lindy acknowledged that when she was living in diet culture and trying to fit its standards, she was miserable. She realized if that’s what it takes to be a “satisfactory weight”, then she didn’t want that life.
Whether you’ve had an eating disorder or not, your thought on food and weight have been shaped by culture. All humans are cultural consumers of diet trends, unrealistic expectations, and constant exposure to the “right way” to look. Most of this is due to due to the media’s lack of fact-based nutritional and health education.
Before realizing this, I was never truly living. I was only surviving in a hell hole that I allowed society to help me create for my life. Restricting food, over exercising, and limiting my existence to a small space that was deemed appropriate was not fully living.
The media promised me that a smaller body would bring me happiness and love. Yet that small space I was existing in was actually joyless, anxious, self-damaging and sad.
And I felt that way while living in a thin, society-accepted body. I can only imagine how a person living in a fat body feels.
At one point of my recovery, it hit me – I deserved more. More food, more choices, more self-love, more connection, and more joy. That’s when I decided to truly fight for the eating disorder voice to be silenced.
2. Immerse yourself in what you fear
Like most people, I have been taught by society to fear fat. Fat in foods, fat on people… all fat is scary, bad, and undesirable. That is what I, and many others, have been taught.
When I was deep in my disorder, I ran across a this hashtag on Instagram: #weightgainiscool.
I was appalled! How would weight gain EVER be considered cool?
Well, after finally facing my deluded brain, getting treatment, and gaining said cool weight, I revisited the hashtag and began to dig it. All my clicking and searching led me through countless pages of women embracing their weight and imperfections. I found women who were truly celebrating what it is to be a non-traditional, marginalized, gorgeous woman.
As I studied these majestic beings of the body positive movement such as Lindy West (@thelindywest), Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda), Danielle Galvin (@chooselifewarrior), Amanda Gist (@amandagist), Imogen (@the_feeding_of _the _fox), and Danielle Brooks (@daniebb3), something began to shift in me.
The fears that had been instilled in me by those around me, the media, and society in general, slowly began to melt away. I felt liberated, cheated, excited, scared, joyful, and lost all at the same time. I was excited to have a new found freedom in my thinking.
At the same time, I was angry that these bodies are so widely unaccepted. I was scared because anything new is scary to me a first. Yet, I was still so joyful.
I felt joy because this realization opened my eyes to what truly matters in the world- people. Not their bodies, but the actual people.
Why does it matter?
And now the kicker. I know that I am a thin, white, privileged woman. Because of that I have never faced discrimination for living in a fat, disabled body, or marginalized body.
Even so, I know this is true…
Learning to love, respect, fight for, lift up, normalize, bring together, and take a stand with and for ALL bodies, is a MUST.
With my privilege in this world, I want to help others see the beauty and value that weight diversity will bring to all human being – not just to those who suffer.
As for me, I want to say thank you to the body positive community. Thank you for teaching me to let go of societal standards and embrace myself and others for who we are.
And for goodness sake, follow these amazing women and so many more! Don’t take my word for it- allow them to show you the way to freedom.
Also, a huge thank you to Meaghan Kacmarcik (@sundaesforthesoul). Thank you for being such an amazing example of a thin ally to the body positive movement. You inspire me daily!
Another beautiful and poignant post, Brooke. Your words fill my journal and heart with hope. I carry them with me throughout the day. I also love Meaghan’s posts! Both of you are wonderful. I have so much respect for you as you faced the demons of this illness, putting in the hard work to find true life again, and for sharing your journey with others so they see all the grand possibilities of life.
You are a beautiful soul. I feel honored to be in your thoughts- but you are the real heroine. Keep fighting. It is worth the joy.