I’m Fat… Now What?

Just be you!

Just be you!

And so, dear reader, now we know the truth… I’m fat, maybe you’re fat, maybe people know know are fat.

And  if you read my post yesterday, you’ll know that I think it’s not a moral failing or something terrible and shameful.  It certainly isn’t the worst thing you can be, or even in the top 10.

Today, I’d like to talk about how to deal with being fat in a world where stick figure slimness is touted as the preferred way of being beautiful.

First of all, I want to stress this: there is no perfect or right shape.  “Fat” gets a lot of airtime, but skinny ladies have just as much body insecurity as us curvy ladies.  I hear a lot of overweight women take swipes at their thin counterparts, as if we need to put down skinniness as a way to somehow legitimatize our own body shape.

Please, don’t do that.

We’re all in this superficial world together.  I’m only talking about being fat because that’s what I personally know, but most of what I’m going to write can apply to anyone, of any shape.  And remember, ladies, men have body insecurity too for the same reasons we do.

So, how do we all handle living in a superficial world?  Here’s a few things that work for me.

1.  Realize that weight is just a number.  It’s a cliche, but cliches become overused because they’re often true.  This is a number that’s essentially meaningless.  Don’t define yourself based on a number, not age, weight, number of Facebook friends, or number of times you’ve won Words With Friends.  If you want to define yourself, define yourself by things that matter, and in my opinion, those are the things that can’t be measured by numbers: hopefulness, love, joy, depth of friendships, to name just a few.

2.  Develop selective hearing.  One of my favorite cartoonists, Danielle Corsetto, has a comic on this.  Essentially, why should I care about what random people think?  There are people out there who have watched Jersey Shore.  Like, voluntarily.  And enjoyed it.  Same goes for 16 and Pregnant, Alaskan Bush People, Jackass, etc.  So, if I disagree with people’s opinions on TV and mock their exquisitely bad taste, why oh why am I going to care about their opinions on body type?  Or anything else, for that matter.

3.  Be confident!  Confidence really does make a huge difference.  Dress for your body type and personality and call attention to your best features.  I’d love to be one of those women who looks effortlessly stylish in casual clothes, but that’s just not me.  I’m a Converse and torn jeans kind of girl, and I can rock that like no one’s business.  I have great eyes, so I wear eyeliner and eyeshadow.  Confidence really is more attractive than a particular body type.  Stand with your head up and shoulders back.  Look people in the eye and smile.  There aren’t enough smiles in the world.

4.  Figure out what really defines you as a person.  For me, I define myself by my kindness, optimism, writing, and wit.  I have other good points, but those are the ones I think are most prominent, and those seem to be the ones that my friends appreciate most about me.  When you focus on the good points about yourself, you’ll feel better about yourself overall, and superficial things will become less important.

5.  Stop labeling things as “good” or “bad.”  This goes for food, body types, type of day you’re having.  When we label things, then we have expectations about them, often unrealistic expectations.  Chocolate cake is not a moral decision.  It’s not bad to eat it.  It might make you feel bad if you eat too much, but the chocolate cake is not an existential dilemma.  Thinness or fatness is not a good thing or a bad thing.  In the 17th Century, bigger was better, at least when it came to women.  Times change, trends shift.  Don’t base your self-worth on something so fleeting as public opinion.

6.  Just be you.  Seriously.  Jennifer Lawrence says things that would probably earn ridicule in other actresses, but because she owns it and says it with confidence, people love her.  Sure, some people bash her, but she is one of those actresses who is loved by a whole lot of people.  There are many people who will appreciate you for you.  That’s how you find your tribe.  I found my tribe because my people are irreverent and socially awkward.  How did I find them?  By being me.  If I tried to pretend to be something I’m not, I may never have found them.  My tribe doesn’t care about my weight because they value me for things other than my appearance.

Being Yourself Quotes (3)


Wait. Why Am I Supposed to Care About That Again?

IMG_2836Sometimes I don’t feel entirely like a member of the human race.  There are so many things that other people get their panties in a twist about that just perplex me.  I wonder, “Am I supposed to care about that?”  Some people see me as cold or uncaring, but it’s not that (at least I don’t think so); I’m just not going to waste my valuable energy caring about something that doesn’t affect me directly.  I’m not talking about Important Things, like homelessness or world hunger.  While those don’t affect me directly, I do care about those things.  No, I’m talking about little things, like weight and skin color and sexual orientation and what kind of job you have and what you drive and how you dress and how pretty or attractive you are and whether or not you’re socially awkward and…  There are so many issues I read about that just perplex me.

I’m a fan of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass, but a friend of mine recently posted, “How is it okay to teach our daughters it’s okay to be plus sized?”  I was taken aback.  I’m plus sized and I wasn’t aware that I “wasn’t okay.”  Sure, I’d like to lose some weight, but it’s not the grand passion of my life.  Before I move losing weight to the top of the list, I’d like to have a book published, travel to Ireland, take more pictures, visit with friends, read all 100 books on my Classics list, visit my husband’s family in Poland, play with my dogs, take a cruise, unpack my house, have a party, visit my uncle in Virginia, adopt another shelter dog, get more exercise, party with my neighbors, watch the next Star Wars movies, go to the library, try new places to eat, see the Congress Street Bridge Bats, learn my way around Texas without my GPS, to name a few things.  I mean, I eat right and get exercise.  In order to be thin, I feel like I’d have to dedicate my life to it.  And I’m not willing to do that.  If you care about that stuff, I’m not trying to put you down.  Different interests are what makes the world go round… I just don’t think you should do it because you’re “supposed to.”

This is the article that made me start thinking about all this.  It’s all about a girl who “isn’t fat” but “isn’t skinny,” and how she wonders all the time what others think of her.  She wonders if people think she’s fat and she’s afraid to eat in front of other people so they don’t think she’s fat.  I think that sounds exhausting.  I mean, who cares?  If you don’t like me because I’m overweight, that’s your problem.  I’m one of the most interesting, loyal, funny, kind, witty, optimistic people you’ll ever meet, and if all you see is my weight, then it’s your loss.

You know all those attributes I mentioned above like skin color and sexual orientation and job status and attractiveness?  Yeah, the same goes for all that stuff too.  I don’t care about any of those things.  I care about: Can you play the most awful combination of cards in Cards Against Humanity?  Will you go hiking with me?  Do you like Star Wars?  Will you text me just to keep up contact?  Will you take silly pictures with me?  Will you go to a haunted house with me?  Will you read what I’ve written, even if you’re not a reader, because you want to support and encourage me?  Do you like my dogs?  Will you make me laugh?  More importantly, will you get my jokes?  (You don’t have to laugh at them; just getting the reference is enough.)  Can I call you when I’m down and know I won’t be judged?

I see Facebook posts about the drama everyone seems to have in their lives, and I just don’t have that kind of drama.  I have to wonder if it has something to do with me choosing friends for who they are, and not all that surface stuff.  I’ll never compete with my girlfriends and silently compare who’s prettier or who looks better.  I’ll never judge you because you have stains on your clothes or you went back for a 3rd piece of pie.  I don’t care what color your skin is or who you love.

We pay money for these things that I say don’t matter, to lose a few pounds or for a clearer complexion.  For the “right” clothing.  We worry about what we say, not to be kinder or gentler, but to make sure that it’s politically correct, that it won’t offend.

Does it seem odd that I’m okay with offending people, yet I want to be kinder?  I’m okay with offending you if I say something about an issue that you take personally.  My solution: it wasn’t about you; don’t take it personally.  Yet on a one to one basis, I’d like to encourage you and won’t judge you.  Even if you don’t agree with me.  I can disagree with you and still think you’re an okay person.  Unless you advocate hurting puppies.  Then, I’m going to judge… sorry.

When someone dies, no one ever says, “Gosh, she was so thin and always wore the latest styles,” or “He had the best muscles, and I admired his dedication to making money.”  We remember people for how they made us feel.  I had a friend at Wal-mart, a young man with Cerebral Palsy who walked with crutches and died in a tragic accident.  You know what I remember about him?  He was funny, always happy, and he never said “I can’t do that.”

My personal goal is to always try to be kinder to everyone.  Anyone who knows me knows that this is both easy and difficult for me.  As an introvert, I’d prefer not to be bothered.  But as a member of the human race, I have to constantly remind myself that others may believe that my characteristic standoffishness is personal, and so I need to smile and say a kind word, even if it leads to a conversation I didn’t want to have.  Why?  As a member of the human race, I take my responsibility to make the world a kinder place very seriously.

My suggestion for everyone is to try to be just a little kinder than you were yesterday, to others, but more importantly, to yourself.  How will you make the world a kinder, more accepting place today?

Goodbye Fat Shaming

Recently, there have been a lot of songs and videos coming out about natural beauty.  There’s also been a push toward acceptance of larger body types.  Part of what concerns me though, is that the discussion seems polarizing.  When we say that bigger is okay, we don’t just say it’s okay, but better.

Like this!

Like this!

This is the kind of thing I see on Facebook all the time.  It takes the shaming from the fat girls and transfers it to the bony girls.  I had a friend in high school who was super skinny, and the truth is, she was just built that way.  I don’t know if her body knows how to build fat.  But she was a pretty girl, and more importantly, one of the kindest, most interesting people I’ve ever met.  When I think of her, I don’t think about her body type first, because it’s not the most interesting or important thing about her.  The same way that my extra weight isn’t the most interesting or important thing about me.

I did an experiment in my group.  We were talking about body type and how weight gain can lead to relapse on drugs.  I asked the group members what comes to mind when they think of me.  They said things like “kind,” “smart,” “teacher,” etc.  Then I asked, “Does anyone care about my weight?  When you thought about that, did the fact that I’m fat come first?”  The room fell dead silent.  One of the people in my group whispered, “I never thought about it that way.”  We place so much weight (pun intended) on body type, but not on what’s really important.

In All About That Base, Meghan Trainor declares “Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”  Here’s the thing.  Skinny isn’t better.  “Curvy” isn’t better.  They both just are.  I’m overweight, and I’ve pretty much always been.  But I was also pretty gorgeous at one point, and looking back, I’ve realized that I should have celebrated my body type instead of envying my skinnier friends.  When I look in the mirror now, I try to see the things I like about me instead of picking out the flaws.  I need to lose a few (dozen) pounds now as I am way too overweight, but I’m never going to “thin.”  My BMI is never going to be in the range it’s “supposed” to be.  I have hips and a large chest, and I’m okay with that.  I focus on eating fruits and vegetables, hiking, and playing with my dogs.  That’s what healthy is for me.  I’d like to lose weight more for health reasons than aesthetic ones (mostly).

For you skinny ladies out there: your shape is your shape too, and you shouldn’t have to be ashamed of being naturally thin or athletic.  You don’t need a diet (you’re not fat) and you don’t need to put on weight (unless your doctor said so, in which case then do what your doctor says.)  You look great the way you are.  All different body types make the world an interesting and beautiful place.  We need to celebrate our differences, not say that one is better or worse.  Sure, some people find one type more attractive than the other, but one person likes chocolate, another person likes vanilla, and a third person likes Rocky Road.  My point being that my love of mint chocolate chip doesn’t mean that cherry vanilla is bad; it’s just not my thing.

Focus on improving your mind and your character.  Be giving and loving.  We like looking at gift wrap and bows, but at the end of the day, no one cares about that.  You’re a gift, and it doesn’t matter what you’re wrapped in… it really is what’s on the inside that counts.