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Common Size-Acceptance Myths

I’m a fat girl. After many years, I’ve broken the cycle of hating myself for it, dieting, gaining the weight back, and then hating myself even more for it. Certainly, I still have body-image issues, but it’s more of an occasional outbreak rather than a feedback loop.

OH NO! SHE'S COMING RIGHT FOR US!

OH NO! SHE’S COMING RIGHT FOR US!

These days, I just try to focus less on my dimensions and more on my overall health and happiness. So far, it’s serving me well.

I’ve also taken to reassuring other fatties that they don’t have to hate themselves, and that they can wear bright colors, horizontal stripes, shorts, tank tops and whatever else if that’s what they like to wear. There’s a culture of shame around being overweight in which fat people, and especially fat women, are expected to display guilt about their weight, and I try to dispel it wherever I can.

This makes me part of the size-acceptance movement, and boy-howdy that makes people angry. I’m not really sure why. I’m just fat. I’m not, like, being fat at anyone. Mostly I just know how much it sucks to hate myself, and I like to try to help other people not feel that way.

But then, there are a lot of weird misconceptions about size-acceptance. Now, I can only really speak for my own experience, so I’m going to respond to each myth as if it is directed to me, personally, to give folks a look at what size-acceptance means to me. However, that I exist still helps to demonstrate that these common assumptions about size-acceptance are, in fact, only assumptions.

 

“You think anyone who isn’t attracted to you is a bigot.”

Nope. If you don’t find me attractive, that’s all good. There are certain things I don’t find aesthetically attractive either. Generally, I am not physically attracted to really muscular men. Just not my thing.

But there is a big difference between “I am not physically attracted to fat people” and “No one could possibly be attracted to a fat person for real”. This is a message repeated to fat people both directly and through media distortions. I wasted entirely too much time in my life believing it, even when evidence to the contrary was literally right in my face.

The truth there is a very wide range of people who will still be attracted to you. Some people are just straight-up physically attracted to fat people. Some people are _only_ attracted to fat people. Some people aren’t particularly attracted to fat figures, but still find themselves attracted to fat people based on sets of other traits.

So, no, I don’t expect everybody to be physically attracted to everybody else out of fairness. What I expect is for people to not assume their preference is a universal standard.

 

“You just don’t want to be held accountable for your unhealthy lifestyle.”

Not true. The thing is, I only want to be held accountable by people with credible knowledge of my health. I’m currently being treated for poly-cystic ovary syndrome (which causes insulin resistance and weight gain), chronic acute asthma (which means I can’t always keep to an exercise routine, and I have to take steroidal medications that promote weight gain), and generalized anxiety disorder (one of the symptoms of which is a binge-eating disorder). My doctors and my therapist keep tabs on my activity levels, my nutrition, my blood work, and yes, my weight fluctuations. They are in a far better position to discuss my health with me than, well, pretty much anyone else.

 

“You just want everyone to believe that being overweight is always genetic/hormonal.”

No, I acknowledge that isn’t the case. Some people are definitely overweight because they overeat on unhealthy foods and get little exercise. What I want is for people to acknowledge the following:

1.) As the Fat Nutritionist puts it, “Your weight is morally neutral”. Body size is not an indicator of how good a person is, how useful a person is, or how worthy the person is of respect.
2.) Even if you insist on placing a moral value on a person’s body size, you really can’t determine which ones are fat for medical reasons from the ones who are fat from lack of effort just by their physical appearance (a common example: People who complain about fat people using the mobility scooters provided for disabled patrons at stores, because apparently you can’t be both fat and “legitimately” disabled for… reasons.)

“You just don’t want to do what needs to be done to lose the weight.”

Okay, I’ll cop to this one, but I’d argue that it’s acceptable for me to make that decision. Though even as a teenager with a bodyfat percentage around 18%, I was never “skinny”, I could conceivably get back to a weight that people looking at only my body would deem “healthy”. However, the time, effort, and resources required to get there would be disproportionate to the rewards for doing so.

You see, it’s not a matter of will-power or motivation; it’s largely a matter of time-management. Under the ideal circumstances, I’m working full-time and operating my sideline art/graphic design business. I have to grocery shop and do housework like everyone else, and get a reasonable amount of sleep to allow myself ot function. In addition to that, I like to spend time with friends and romantic partners (despite part of the myth being that fat people don’t get to have social lives). Sometimes, I need down-time alone to unwind and recharge. There have been times in my life where my schedule meant I could have either a social life or a regular exercise routine. I chose the social life every time, because life is too short not to.

“You only care about fat-shaming, not skinny-shaming.”

False. Telling a skinny person to “Just eat a sandwich, already” is every bit as malicious and obnoxious as telling a fat person to “spend some time on the treadmill”. Body-shaming is body-shaming, and it’s stupid at best and damaging at worst. However, again, I can only actually speak for my own experiences.

 

See! When I put it that way, the whole thing doesn’t sound so bad, does it? In the end, the size-acceptance issue is just one more way to follow Wheaton’s Law. It’s just that simple.

3 Responses to Common Size-Acceptance Myths

  • Wow, brave post! I don’t know if I can join the fat girl club. I was really surprised when looking at my health records, I weighed 173 lbs (I’m 5’4″ btw) back in 2008. That was after I had suffered major injuries in a car accident and basically laid around (except for physical therapy…which was excruciating) for 10 months. Today, I weigh 142 lbs. A lot of people compliment me and say, “Wow, you’ve lost so much weight…you’re so little now.” People may be surprised when I don’t take these comments as compliments. Maybe I should…except that I know the real reason why I’m so “small”. Last year, I lost almost 20 lbs due to a complicated miscarriage that ended in a late miscarriage. For almost 4 grueling months, I struggled with morning sickness and dehydration. Earlier this year, I became pregnant again. The complications were not as bad, but I was still plagued by digestive and appetite issues. Sadly I lost that baby as well.

    In my experience being pregnant boosts my metabolism through the roof. I loose weight in my 1st trimester…I guess due to my body being so “busy”. However I never get far along enough to start putting on weight…neither do my babies (they’re always born too early). I would never wish this mode of weight loss on my worst enemy!

    Ironically my boyfriend is very self concious because he is too thin. We don’t know why for sure (I personally think he has undiagnosed thyroid issues) because he eats all the time. However he looks like he’s starving (you can see his ribs and hip bones). He’s also 6’4″. He won’t wear shorts, sleeveless shirts…or even go swimming because he doesn’t like how his body looks. It’s interesting because when I first met him, I took note of how thin he was, but I got over it within 24 hours (it doesn’t bother me at all)!

    • I’m so sorry to hear about the miscarriages, Shona. :(

      That said, yeah, I’ve known other people who lost weight for unhappy reasons (prolonged illnesses, cancer treatments, eating disorders) who find it hard to deal with people complimenting them on their weight loss. It’s hard for people to understand that losing weight is not always a positive.

      And it’s not a matter of joining the fat girl club. It’s more the “this is my body and you don’t get to make me feel bad about it” club.

  • ….a complicated miscarriage

    I meant ‘pregnancy’….geez :-)

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