I want to talk about the f-word again.
Now, here’s the thing. I’ve been fat, and I’ve been thin. Believe me, people DO treat you differently when you’re heavy, unless you’re a very, very strong self-advocate, which I am not. There’s an assumption that you are not too smart, or you wouldn’t be overweight; that you’re unattractive, and unworthy of affection. There’s a distinct lack of respect, and it’s very wearing on one’s self-esteem. It’s a very unpleasant place to be, particularly for an introvert. After a while, you start to believe it.
I’m on the fence, however, about “fat activism”. I follow a lot of feminist blogs, health-at-every-size blogs, fat activism blogs, and fashion blogs.
I almost feel like I can’t talk about my health goals and still be a good feminist.
NO, we should not be judged on our bodies. However, is my goal to be fit, strong, and physically and emotionally healthy something I can’t talk about in a feminist environment?
I’m not judging anyone’s body. We’re all who we are, we’re all wonderful and worthy of love. I don’t know your life, and I don’t know your journey, and I have no right to judge anyone.
On the other hand, I don’t feel anyone has the right to judge me, either – not the patriarchy for being an atypical shape and size, nor feminists for taking charge of my health.
My goal has never been to be a supermodel. I have never had the least urge to change my body for anyone else’s benefit.
However, I have chosen to change it for myself. I have lowered my cholesterol and my blood pressure; quit smoking; upped the nutritional quality of the food I eat; increased my lean muscle mass; increased my cardiovascular health; increased my endorphins and lost my need for anti-depressant medication. As a result of all these changes, I am also thinner, and I find people treat me differently as a result, and not just men, either, but women too.
The health profession treated me differently too. I had unnecessary bladder surgery – it was assumed that my weight was the source of my problems. No one bothered to check to see if there was anything else going on, like, gee, huge fibroid tumours pressing on my bladder. When I finally had my hysterectomy as a result, the doctor provided inadequate followup care, and simply kept repeating “you are too fat”. I wound up with a massive infection, a ventral hernia, and horrible scars as a result, which further chipped away at my self-esteem.
Finally, the surgeon who did my hernia repair treated me like a person, not like a “fat person”. Instead of fat-shaming me, he offered me facts. He explained risks and outcomes. Most importantly, though, he said to me “you’re young and you’re motivated, and you can absolutely do this”. So I did.
So, I will probably live longer as a result. I am strong, and optimistic, and happy. I’m confident and in charge of my own life. I’m independant and opinionated, and it’s very hard to stare me down or shame me, now. I will fight back.
In conclusions – fat IS a feminist issue. But let’s not swing the pendulum back in the other direction. Being fit and strong does not make me a bad feminist, nor did being fat make me a bad feminist. We are what we are, and we all have the right to make our own health choices, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect at any size.