“Maybe There’s No Such Thing As A Healthy Diet?” My Foray Into The Fat Acceptance Movement.

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It’s not too often that I come out and say it, especially in my writing, unless you count some poems. But I happen to be a chubby bunny.

Is that too cutesy? Should I come out and say I’m fat? But that will cause all kinds of debate, right? Because people tend to have exaggerated images of ‘fat’ people. Pics or the fat description didn’t happen! I will say that I am under 5 foot, which means that extra weight sticks to me in a very obvious way, and that I could probably stand to lose 30-40 pounds.

I like the term “chubby bunny” because, bluntly, it makes me feel cute in a way that I can understand. And it means I don’t have to confront all of that “fat” stuff. I can hide in plain sight. I have had plenty of well-meaning friends and family tell me I’m not “fat”, I could just stand to lose…a significant amount of weight?

And that is because fat is looked at as a feeling more so than a physical body type or current physical state. No one ever says “I feel stocky” or “I feel athletic.” They are stocky. They are an athlete and their body reflects that. So, when you say you “feel fat”, you are trying to signify not only that you feel bloated but that you feel gross, out of it, unproductive, unhealthy…

But this obviously doesn’t describe all fat/chubby/heavy people. Just like not all thin people exercise often, eat healthy 24/7, or are little machines that simply need to be reminded to eat a sandwich once in a while. All bodies are complex and deserve compassion, for sure. Way more compassion than quick comments of “Don’t eat that, fatty!” and “For God’s sake, put some meat on those bones!” could ever allow for.

But to be honest, I’ve only ever been in my body. And I’ve always been a little uncomfortable in it. Even looking back at my younger self, I remember constantly feeling like the fat friend, like I wasn’t tiny enough, like I could never be tiny enough. I was the heavyset friend at worst, average at best. Or at least it seemed that way-funny how our perception truly does cloud and create our reality.

So, when I ran (just kidding, fat people don’t run) into the world of This Is Thin Privilege (T.I.T.P), a Tumblr blog dedicated to fat people problems, I dived in with a sense of relief. Finally, a group of people who understood what it was like to be picked last in gym, for a date, for positive attention. A group who understood in specific, agonizing detail the issues I described at the beginning.

This was a group who essentially was always at least a 2 digit number in dress size. Not only that, but they managed to put into words how it felt to be fat in a “fat vs. thin” world. I felt validated. I honestly felt — as much as it makes me feel strange now — relieved to be visible. I even submitted once or twice, and each time the submission got a like or reblog, I felt high. These people had words like “fatshion”, “not your good fatty”, and fat activism. They weren’t afraid of the word fat! Add that to their love of curves and bellies and thighs that touched and I felt like I had found acceptance.

I do still truly believe in these ideals — and I believe in certain movements such as Health At Every Size (H.A.E.S) that are heavily promoted. However, what H.A.E.S is supposed to promote is the idea that everyone can be at the weight their body falls at when you are treating it in the healthiest way possible. It might be lower, or higher, but it is natural. There is the idea, too, that fat people are inherently unhealthy. The truth is, its hard to know about someone’s health unless you are their doctor and have read their entire file.

One common thing I started noticing were posts that read similar to “My doctor told me to lose weight for my asthma. But I explained that my inhaler hadn’t been working properly. This was the only problem. Why did I get unsolicited advice?” and responses from the community that would say the doctor was fat-phobic, not understanding, that plenty of inhalers are faulty. And I realized that the poster would get the same high I did, but for much more serious reasons and in a potentially harmful way. After all, enough weight and/or a poor diet can make your body work harder than it should and cause all kinds of medical issues…right?

But the more I read…the more I found myself trying to justify it. Maybe there were a lot of unreasonable accommodations/unreliable products out there for people? Maybe there is no such thing as a healthy diet? Another thing that started to alter my views were accounts claiming that losing weight and keeping it all off is impossible. Instead of seeing this as defeatist, I took it to heart. I mean, I’ve tried lots of diets…and there were tons of people in the community saying “I eat 800 calories a day and run 10 miles to work and I am still 350 pounds. There are naturally thin people, why not naturally fat?” Maybe they were right, maybe this was not something I should compete in.

But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I still have. That I am uncomfortable with my size. That I am not proud of certain things, like not using my gym membership to the fullest or taking the bus to places I could easily walk. That I haven’t been taking the time to plan my meals and really think about what I’m doing. It seemed that once I had the idea that I couldn’t lose weight, and it was all for naught, my drive to try seemed to diminish too. And as I felt it dwindle away, I wasn’t sure what to do. I haven’t gained weight since I moved here to Chicago 6 months ago, but I certainly haven’t shed the pounds that I was hoping to. Again, I was stuck-I had forgotten how to determine if this was a self-made situation or if everything I read online was true (in a more complex way, ha.)

Then a friend of mine told me that she was going on a diet because she wanted to lose 20 pounds that she had put on due to stress and certain medication changes. She said it so simply. Just, “I want to lose this weight and I’m going to. I had to buy new clothes that fit. I didn’t like that”.

What? No moral agonizing over how she is beautiful anyway? No long-winded rant (sorry) about how exercise doesn’t work and not everyone can afford to eat top-quality all the time? No feeling guilty for treating yourself healthily without having to think of the politics involved every time you did something?

I started to remember a time where taking care of yourself was assumed, where the entire world wasn’t one big trigger warning on the Internet. I started to remember ME, the girl who dressed in tie-dye for most of middle school without so much as a middle finger raised to anyone who tried to talk me out of it.

I remembered that I can take care of myself, that I shouldn’t allow an online community who has taken their kind and thoughtful ideals to the extremes of recommending that people stop listening to all medical professionals and that it simply “doesn’t matter” how healthy someone is or isn’t. It does matter. One of the arguments I saw often was that fat people are given the “health concern” talk when they might not have any weight-related issues. I now think this is really society’s attitude towards most problematic behavior they witness…For the most part, I let others do as they will, but I’d be lying if I said I never told a smoker that they were harming themselves, or told a friend that they’d be better off without that next drink. And, honestly, for many like myself- it can be rewarding to have a poor behavior mentioned, because then the bubble of “secrecy” bursts.

So, with that, I am exiting for a bit from the body positive and fat positive movement. I have to focus on concrete action — with myself. And if that means eating a Greek yogurt and orange for breakfast and a salad for lunch like I did today, with the goal of, yeah, dropping a few clothing sizes, I should be allowed to without feeling guilty that I am letting down a group.

I wish everyone nothing but positive feelings about how they look at themselves — but its time for me to feel like the healthy person I want to be positive about, too. TC mark

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