I want to touch on something that’s been bothering me about the new fat acceptance movement (and I say new because I and others have been talking about this shit since the 90s): conformity. Some people seem to think that being honest about their feelings regarding their body is a no-no. Part of accepting yourself is accepting all of yourself, including the negative feelings about your body that may pop up. Examining and deconstructing these feelings is important. You don’t have to give them credence, but you also don’t have to pretend like they don’t exist. Shaming someone for being honest isn’t fat acceptance and it isn’t body positivity. Every one of us has been programmed to hate our bodies, thin and fat. It’s the basis for a whole lot of industries. Not everyone is going to be able to deprogram at the same rate, and they shouldn’t have to. Just recognizing that you’re being programmed is a huge step. And those that have reached the nirvana of total body acceptance don’t need to be preaching down to those that might not be at that point. Some people may never completely love every part of their body and we have to be able to accept that, but love ourselves as a whole instead of focusing on individual parts.

I’m not just saying this as a fat that has issues with parts of my body. I’m also not going to lie and say I don’t. But I don’t spend my days thinking of all the ways I want to change my body, and I don’t actively desire to lose weight or actively work towards losing weight any more. I can look in the mirror and not have an issue with seeing my body as it is. I also have days where I may be less than enthused about the state of my thighs, or my arms, or just the way I look in an outfit. This is normal. I’m not lock step with the fat acceptance movement and honestly, in this sense I don’t want to be because that would be inauthentic for me. If you never have an issue with anything regarding your appearance please stand up. I’m really happy for you and I’m glad you’re able to reach that state of fat nirvana. But I think there are a lot of other fats out there who may not always be all roses and smiles about their bodies and are too scared/ashamed to admit it out loud for fear of ostracization. Call me a hypocrite, call me what you want, but I’m not dishonest. And I’m tired of feeling like I have to sugarcoat or qualify everything I say that could be interpreted as being less than loving to my body. It’s my body, dammit.

I know the argument that if you’re negative about your body, you’re being negative about someone else’s body who looks just like you and honestly, I think that’s horseshit. Personal body image is very much separate from how you view other people, at least for me it is and I think it is for a lot of other fat people. It’s about self confidence, self image and your comfort level with living as yourself. Note the “self” in all those words. I previously wrote about my feelings regarding my arms. Just because I occasionally have issues with them doesn’t mean that if I saw a woman who had arms just like mine, I’d think they were unappealing. When I have “bad arm days” it’s not like I am disgusted by them. I’m just dissatisfied for a period of time, and then I keep it moving. I don’t think this means that I can’t be fat positive or body positive or whatever. It just means that I’m a human female raised in a world that devalues human female bodies, and I’m having a “low self esteemy” day.

Of course that doesn’t mean I can’t work towards total body acceptance and that eventually I might get there. This is essential for everyone to work on, no matter what your body type or size. I’m not going to beat myself up over it, however. And I’m not going to tolerate people acting like I’m a bad fat for having those feelings and expressing them. That last part is important, I think, because a great many fat people on the path to self acceptance have these feelings and when they don’t get expressed they fester and grow, and impede your journey. I’ve been working on this since I was 18 years old. 12 years. You’d think I’d be at that fat nirvana by now, but I’m not, and I’m giving myself permission to be here.

My negative feelings take up space, space that people don’t want to be taken up, but I’m sorry, I’m not going to pretend like they don’t. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to use this blog as a platform for complaining about my body. I just really wanted to address this because I’m not a walking-on-eggshells type of person. I’m honest and direct. So if you see posts on here that aren’t just blanket “wear whatever you want, whether it fits or not” statements, you can ignore them, you can use them, or you can complain about them in the comments. I’m recognizing that there are some people out there who may want to look a certain way, without hating on themselves or losing weight, and are interested in ideas on how to deal with their particular clothing issue. Okay? Sometimes things really just don’t fit. “Make it work” doesn’t always work. Accept it and move on. And remember that if you carry yourself like you love yourself and you know you’re fabulous, other people will believe you, no matter what shape size body type etc. you are. Confidence is your best accessory, so when you have those bad days just fake it ’til you make it. That’s all I do.

Thanks for listening.

13 thoughts on “Total body conditioning

  1. badhedgehog says:

    Yesyesyes, very much so!

    There are probably always going to be days when you (one) put something on and look in the mirror and just think "ooh, no, not that sweater, not these jeans, not with this belly, not today, no."

    You're bang-on to point out that your feelings about bits of your body are your feelings and as such, part of you. Very good way to put it. I think there does tend to be a trend in movements towards harsh self-policing, probably because it's easier than actually doing the thinking and actually doing the acceptance.

    • There are probably always going to be days when you (one) put something on and look in the mirror and just think “ooh, no, not that sweater, not these jeans, not with this belly, not today, no.”

      Exactly. Everyone has bad ____ days. It doesn't mean you should get your FA card revoked. Similarly, I wear my hair natural without a relaxer, and some days I just really wish I had naturally straight hair. Doesn't mean I hate being black. I just hate the idea that to be part of a movement you have to be "on message" like, 24/7.

  2. First off, lemme say I'm glad I found your blog. I totally remember you from s-o/lj (& creepily enuff, even IRC a long ass time ago). You were a biggg influence on me in terms of feminism and body politics. So thank you thank you for that.

    SECONDLY, thank you for this!!! Honestly I haven't even finished reading it all the way through (I will in a sec), but you have put in to words things I have been trying to say for years. My body has changed massively over the past 10 years or so (from fat to sort of fat to super thin to sort of fat again), and being honest about my struggles with disordered eating and body image has only got me ostracized within the FA groups I was trying to seek support in. Now a days I tread lightly around the issue because I'm not into alienating myself and triggering other people, but I still don't fully feel like I have a right to a voice (partially due to the fact that I'm "not that fat" and enjoy a certain degree of thin priv). Sadly, t's even effected my ability to approach fitness & nutrition from a body positive framework.

    Ok, I'm going to finish reading now! But I just wanted to make sure I took the time to give you kudos.

  3. I'm happy I decided to go through your archives. This isn't just important for my FA journey but just life in general. I tend to supress any thought that is "illogical" or "wrong" instead of letting myself think it then dismiss, discuss or accomodate it. Thanks!

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