Category Archives: come to jesus

It starts so early

Yes, I haven’t blogged since April of 2012. Let’s just call that out and then move on. Hoping to change it, but can’t promise anything because my life has been work work work since then, and I don’t see that changing for a little bit.

I have a friend who is a nanny. She is an awesome nanny. I couldn’t come close to being as awesome at it as she is. She looks after four kiddos, all girls. The oldest girl is starting to get shit from her dad about being fat. SHE IS EIGHT. And she looked in the mirror the other day and asked my friend, “Do I look fat?” When my friend told me this, my heart just broke. Broke. This sweet little peanut hears from her dad that she isn’t wonderful the way she is. She hears that there is something inherently wrong with her and that she needs to actively try and change that thing every day. What the ever loving fresh hell. I know most folks have probably read the studies (or read about the studies) , and we don’t need to be reminded, but we can’t ignore the fact that girls as young as THREE worry about being fat. When their biggest worry should be whether they’ll have enough time to color that day. Or build tree forts. Or run in sprinklers. Whatever kids do these days. Probably Facebook and snapchat?

I think part of what tore me up when I heard the story was just how familiar the story was. My own Dad asking me, “are you sure you want that second [fill in the blank]?” as he looked at me with disapproving eyes. “Let’s just run another 1/2 mile!” as we were out for a jog. I’m not saying my Dad didn’t love me. I think he loved me (and loves me still) so much that he just cannot shut up. That may sound twisted, and yes, it is. But understanding that has helped me to recognize that problems he has with my weight are just that. HIS problems.

He came for a visit a little over a week ago specifically to talk to me about things that were bothering him over the holiday break when I was home. I knew what he wanted to talk about; it was pretty clear most of the time I was home that he was a bit uncomfortable and that he wanted to say something but just couldn’t. I wasn’t particularly excited about re-hashing our problems/his concerns with my weight (we’ve had the talk before), but it turned out to be one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. And I think it was mostly due to the fact that I was 100% honest with him, which meant being vulnerable. For so long, I have refused to show him even a hint of vulnerability, for fear it would mean that “he won” (whatever that means). If I voiced my concern over my knee aches, or told him that I was hoping to move my body more this year, it would prove that he knew what was best for me all of those years. So giving that fear up was, for me, one of the toughest and most amazing things I’ve done in this fat activism journey. I’m hopeful that my pops is coming along for the journey as well.

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the talk.

tonight I had The Fat Talk with my folks. we’ve discussed my weight and health my entire life, generally with some combination of tears, anger, frustration, and sadness. i should preface this with the statement that my parents love me so very much and they are my favorite people in the world. they are two of the most compassionate, loving, selfless, and all around fan-fucking-tastic people I’ve ever known. however, they, like the rest of us, live in a sizist society, so until I began to explore FA, our conversations about my weight and health (the two always came together) were really hard for me. They are both in the medical field and I was raised to put a lot of trust in medicine. so when they told me I was at a higher risk for diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, you name it, because of my weight, i trusted them. And I was a kid with some shitty self-esteem at times (who wasn’t?). i didn’t feel pretty enough or thin enough and they wanted nothing more in the world than to make it better for me. i won’t get into the specifics about what used to be said when i was younger, but suffice to say that we didn’t and still don’t often talk about my weight because it is a big ol fatty fat mcFat elephant in the room. Best to just move along and not force awful conversations if we don’t have to.

but with this blog and my work with FA, i’ve become much more comfortable having these difficult conversations. so we talked tonight. They told me about how they are concerned I am lonely and unhappy. They talked about how they wanted me to lose weight as a young person (and now) because they thought I would have a better chance at finding love. And they told me about their concerns for my health – my increased risk for diabetes and so on. And then I got to share my feelings with them; I got to educate them on FA. I promised them I’m not faking my happiness just to get them to shut up. Sure, i’m lonely sometimes. but so are skinny people! And if I wanted a damn boyfriend, i could have one. all sorts of fat people have partners. I just haven’t found one that is as awesome as me yet. I was able to stay grounded and tell them that while I want to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into my diet and to move more each week, it’s possible that i may never lose another pound in my lifetime. I think this was a huge shock to them, because they still hold out hope that one day I will decide to lose 40 pounds and then my life will be better. But it’s important for them to hear that my life is great now and that I can be healthy AND fat (and have been for most of my life). As for the health stuff, this is where it gets a bit tricky. We discussed HAES a bit and they agreed with my statement that health indicators change for the better with a good diet and moderate exercise, regardless of a person’s weight (Dr. Dean Edell is my mom’s hero and he has said as much). But when we get really down into the specifics about an increased risk for diabetes and such, I can feel myself slipping back into my kid-self, unsure of the medical language, not well-versed in the ins and outs of discussing peer-reviewed articles, etc. They know medicine, they’ve been in the field for 30+ years. I don’t feel comfortable (or educated) enough just yet to jump further into the “being fat doesn’t necessarily put you at a higher risk for [fill in the blank].” so i’m able to set boundaries – we won’t talk about this aspect of FA until I feel more prepared. And we may just need to agree to disagree.

bottom line is, my parents have been married for 31 wonderful years. they love each other with a kind of love that is pretty rare these days. they want the same things for me and they fear that because i’m fat, i’ll never get them. ALL of their concern stems from love for me, I get that. and i don’t begrudge my dad’s seeming inability to get past the fact that it’s possible i may never lose a single pound again. he was raised in a large family where women were regularly called out on their “weight issues.” he is in medicine. to him, it’s fairly straight forward. lose weight and have a better chance at happiness, because the world is rougher for fat folks. so i won’t fault him for his thoughts. what i will fault him for, however, is a refusal to start to try and see the world in a different manner now that he’s talked. and i trust and love him – he will work on it.

fat people are happy. fat people live normal lives. in fact, we DARE to be happy and live normal lives when many of us are told on a daily basis through subtle (and hit-you-over-the-head) ways that we don’t deserve to be or do either. and right now what i’m most happy about is having parents who want only the best for me and who can truly listen to me and try to see the world through my eyes just a little bit.

who is this for?

Recently, a friend asked me who this blog is written for. Is it for me – a sort of semi-public journal – or is it a way to educate and inform my loved ones about general fat acceptance principles and how I live my life trying to use them? It wasn’t asked in any sort of “well what the hell is this thing, explain yourself!” kind of way. It came about because I expressed frustration at the fact that none of my family or friends would talk to me about my posts. it was starting to feel like the people I love didn’t want to go on this journey with me.

In the beginning, blogging was only about me, and i said as much. When I started, I told about 5 people that this blog existed and explicitly asked most of them not to comment. I was nervous enough hitting “publish” after I wrote my first entry that the thought of everyone I know reading it scared the fresh hell out of me. I wasn’t ready to begin having these conversations on a day to day basis. This was a place to dump my “big thoughts” and then move on for a few weeks.

But things started to shift. I started to feel sad, and a little frustrated, and maybe a little angry.

I would post something that felt incredibly raw and scary and…nothing. No comments, no discussion out in the real world. Don’t people know how hard this is for me? don’t they want to love and support my self-acceptance work? where the hell is everyone? And then I had this conversation with my friend, and I really started to think about why i do this, who i do it for, and how I can be more intentional about it all.

I don’t have my close group of friends here yet and I’ve been feeling a need to reach out to have the kinds of conversations you have with your best girl friends. Instead of having them with my actual friends, however, i’ve turned to this medium. This is easier when you don’t have the time to chat with your besties on the phone into the wee hours of the night. So I’ve started to think of this whole blogging thing as a bit of a conversation, but it’s felt one-sided.

Then I had a few thoughts. One – I told almost no one about this blog and I certainly never brought up my posts with those who did know. How are people supposed to magically know that I’m ready to talk about it? I wasn’t being fair in my frustration. Two – I’ve never been good at asking for what I want/need. to answer my friend’s question, this blog is both. It is a place for me to write down my thoughts and do some self-reflection and it is also a place that others can come to learn about the broader fat acceptance movement and my journey in it. And I’m ready to have these conversations on a day to day basis. And third – this is about me. This is my work, so I don’t feel the need to force it upon anyone else.

So I’m asking for what I want/need, and I’m also stating what I don’t want/need. I don’t need all ya’ll to start commenting away, especially if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. I mean, I certainly love it and if you want to, rock the hell on. I don’t even need you to read this is you don’t want. Self-acceptance around body image is some hard fucking work, and reading about others journeys can be triggering, so if reading what i post doesn’t feel right or good to you, then I would never want you to do so. What I am letting you know is that you can talk to me “offline” about this stuff if you feel so inclined. I’m ready.