There are terms tossed about in the media recently: “fat acceptance,” “fat and fabulous,” “fat-shaming.” I am a woman of size. Fat. I don’t follow up that word with a sparkly adjective because it isn’t warranted. Why? Firstly, “fat” is a word offensive only to the people who decide it is offensive, which I don’t. I find it merely descriptive. Secondly, “fat shaming” is a recent social construct/concept to which I don’t subscribe.
Shame only works on a willing recipient.
I don’t need anyone’s approval to be who I am and look the way I look. No one does. I’m not being snarky by saying that– we just don’t need it, though it is nice to have. In its absence, I don’t personally walk about bemoaning my body mass index, nor how I am received because of it, nor am I heralding my size as a moving part of my proposed fabulosity. I have other things on my mind. At least, I do until I am reminded by a fellow plus-sizer that I should redirect my attention to making society more tolerable of my fat.
If there are opportunities in life that I have missed based on some nefarious, behind-the-scenes fat bias, I am happy to miss them. There are plenty of others in spaces and places where I’d likely better belong if my dress size counts me out.
The spotlight is often placed on the same people of size who inadvertently helped plug the spotlight in. They spend as much time taking a stand for “fat acceptance” as their healthier counterparts do in the gym. The subject continues to abound with every support group, blog, article and reality show lauding “fat and fabulousness”; magazines with near-naked women flaunting their curves as a big “F-YOU” to their purported haters. Those women are all beautiful, but isn’t the energy wasted? Who is the target audience? Why does anyone care?
Here’s where I am really going to tell you the truth. Someone on the team has to.
There are some average-weighters who have concerns that may be worth a listen. A lady in coach may find the duration of a flight challenging when my thigh spread creeps over to her side of the seating. A fellow employee may be concerned when your fifth trip to the cardiologist drives his healthcare premiums up. These seem like valid concerns. Plus-sized folks are conditioned to avoid these topics, and any conversation related to their own wellness.
Not everyone who is fat suffers from diabetes, heart and blood pressure problems. I don’t. But I will without a change. A high BMI indisputably causes medical melee on a body. In spite of what we hear repeatedly by naysayers, if you are obese, you are not healthy.
Another zinger: Most of us in the fat-body club are here because we choose to be here. We don’t make good food choices; we don’t move our bodies the way we could. The majority of us make excuses to the tune of: “I have tried every diet… They don’t work!” and “I have a thyroid problem.” Some have issues that cause weight gain, for sure. Disabilities and medications can significantly cause the pounds to quickly pile on, like prescribed corticosteroids and antidepressants. Even then, though, weight gain can be effectively managed with life adjustments. The majority of us don’t suffer from those, if we are being honest, or didn’t, until our bodies buckled under the proverbial weight.
A person who educates himself in the science of nutrition, who eats whole (unprocessed, unrefined) foods consistently and proportionately, with regular cardio/fat-burning exercise, is not likely going to be or remain fat. It is conceptually that simple. I know all of this. I know what I’m supposed to be doing. I am not currently doing it. I chose this for now, so this is where I am.
I recently watched a girl on a new reality show (based on her size) exuberantly espouse her love for her “fat and fabulous” body and its position in her life. Two scenes and 10 minutes later, she was sobbing, suffering because of her weight in dating, fashion, strangers’ comments, and her parents’ wishes for her to become healthy. Funny, isn’t it, how we can turn genuine concern and love into “you don’t accept me”? They do accept us, so much that they want to keep us alive longer, not bawling in front of a T.V. camera on a show centered on the least interesting part of ourselves like that girl who spends her life trying to persuade everyone that she is fat and fabulous. She’s the one who seems to need to believe it, not everyone else.
She is not fabulous because she is fat. Neither am I. Neither are you.
You are fabulous because you’re an amazing mother or friend. You’re the guy who made someone giggle, or who shared his last dollar. You’re fabulous for being that third grade teacher a student will remember as the most impactful when she is 35, who may even try to visit you in your retirement home years. You’re fabulous because you’re silly and fun, or reflective and wise. You’re fabulous because you rocked those 5″ sequined stripper heels on a night out with the girls. You’re fabulous because you’re 50, but your spirit is 19.
If you’re not a total schmuck, you’re fabulous because you’re you. You have elements that truly embody (no pun intended) your unique spirit.
“Fat-shaming” is a media trend on an annoying upswing, fueled by fat people who keep it alive like a stoked fire. This is not a crusade in which we should want to be included. We’re losing the points we’re trying to nail down under the guise of self-love and acceptance. The world can’t give that to us. We take that for our ourselves. When we do, the right ones will follow along.
THAT’S what’s fabulous.
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