October 2, 2013 by jeliwobble
One of the blogs I follow is Dances With Fat; Ragen is a ‘fat activist’ who is very much of the opinion that fat is only unhealthy if you, as a person, are unhealthy with it. She has a point. The research also suggests that being in the ‘overweight’ category of the BMI* chart is healthier for your body, and has a lower impact on your mortality, than being in any other category.
Being obviously fat, though, seems to be despicable. Ragen talks about going for a run, in one of her recent blogs, and being randomly shouted at for doing so, even though she was *running*. She has a large amount of ‘internet haters’ who seem to delight in making fun of her for being a dancer and trying to stay fit, despite carrying her fair size.
There seems to be a tendency to assume that a fat person got that way because they sat on their arse all day watching daytime television, eating orange, cheese corn snacks and drinking full fat cola. Kind of like racial profiling for the obese. Any fat person deigning to leave the house and get fit without first losing weight, therefore, is opening themselves up to ridicule in the form of shrieks of ‘Oi, fatty, whachoodoin running?’ followed by gales of laughter.
Ragen doesn’t really care what people think of her weight; she’s happy and aiming for a healthy lifestyle. What she cares about is what they infer about her character from her weight. That a. she’s supposed to be lazy and away from the public eye, b. she can’t be doing healthful things like holding down a job or dancing, as well as c. being fat means she must also be wanting to be thin, and d. in order to be thin, she needs to be shamed into losing weight.
Of course, all those things are pure unadulterated judgemental tosh, but the shaming and the ridicule goes on and on until, unless you have a strong presence of mind, you believe it and become all-consumed by it.
It makes me think about my own personal struggle with weight and my epiphany. About 15 years ago, or thereabouts, I suddenly realised that it’s not about the weight. People don’t like me because I’m thin or fat. WHO I am is NOT defined by my size, and nor should it be. To be constantly worried by my weight, to be continually thinking about food, to be focussed entirely on dieting, will prevent me being the best person I can possibly be as my whole being is taken up with selfish thoughts about my body and other people’s judgement of it. In doing so, I am as much a narcissist as the thin person who is obsessed with clothes and make-up.
Once I realised that, the rest of it fell into place. Yes, of course I want to be healthy and I do think about what I put into my body (and sometimes I’m over-grateful for the loss of a pound 😉 ), but this is more part of a holistic approach to life, to live it as well as I can, in the healthiest way I can. I want to create interesting and healthful food for my family, that is nutrient rich and tasty, rather than any outward ‘diet and exercise regime’. I walk/hike because it’s fun and it gets me and the kids out of the house. I swim because it’s a skill I want to pass on to our children. I do yoga because it makes me feel good and, when I feel good, I am a better person to be around. Everything I do is geared to being the best person I can possibly be.
Because it’s not what I look like, it’s who I am that matters.