Monday, September 13, 2010
Brief Thoughts On Size Acceptance
I recently decided that I want to complete the Insanity workout. You've probably seen at some point when you woke up way too early and didn't know what to watch. It looks, well, insane-- and I love stuff like that. I very much enjoy taking instruction in the realm of fitness and I love to push myself to see just what my body is capable of. One of the best aspects of a workout, for me, is that aspect of competition with myself and with others. When I first saw Shaun T's commercials for Insanity, I was intrigued-- could I do it? I'm not in the greatest shape I've ever been in, but I'm always up for a challenge (and I do know what my actual limits are). The other day, I got ahold of the DVDs. I don't know when I'm actually going to do it, seeing as I live in a dorm with little space and a roommate, but I'm going to get around to it eventually.
My boyfriend and I were discussing Insanity when something interesting came up.
"What if you get really skinny?" he said. "Won't that undermine all the size acceptance stuff you write about?"
This is actually something I've thought about before. What if I were to change my daily routine in a way that made me thinner? Would it be a betrayal of my readers? If I lose weight, does that mean I don't think all sizes are beautiful anymore? Was all my self-love for naught?
I know this is a controversial comparison, but saying you can't be thin and believe in fat acceptance is like saying that you can't be White and believe in civil rights. Or that you can't be a man who believes in women's rights. Or that you can't think disabled people deserve equal rights if you don't have a disability yourself.
Look: the fair, equal treatment of all humans-- no matter if they look like you or not-- is a human issue. Compassion is human.
The very real truth is that larger people are demonized in today's media and thus face very real challenges in their everyday lives that go beyond mean comments and stares. Fat people face discrimination in the workplace not only at the hiring level but in their salaries. Medical professionals give them less care because they find them "awkward, unattractive, ugly, and noncompliant". There's also some evidence that the mental anguish that comes from these prejudices can manifest itself as deadly stress.
Whether we believe that weight is a choice (usually no) or that being fat is unhealthy (not necessarily) is inconsequential when it comes to a little thing we call human rights. If a person does choose to be fat, does that mean they should be discriminated against? If being fat is a health issue should they be discriminated against (we certainly wouldn't say someone with cancer has fewer rights)? And I certainly don't think just because a person isn't attractive to everyone means they're less worthy of equality.
The idea of size acceptance isn't the idea that fat is "right," but the idea that it is right to treat each other as equals. That's something that everyone should get behind, whether the issue at hand is size, color, sexuality, or anything else that makes one person unique from another. Fighting for the acceptance of others is something that we all can and should take part in, and we can do so every single day by just being nice and pointing a finger when we see injustice.
I also believe that people are capable of changing themselves from a place of love rather than hate. I am confident enough in my body and love it enough for what it is that I want to act in its best interest. Exercising, eating (mostly) healthful foods, sleeping, relaxing, stimulating myself mentally, and simply taking the time to enjoy things I love are in my best interest. Whether those things change my outer appearance right now is inconsequential: as long as I'm healthy and happy, my weight is a moot point. Frankly, no one's business but my own. Sorry, don't care, I'm beautiful how I am and I don't need to hold myself to anyone else's standards. It's sometimes a struggle to feel this way-- I'll never deny that-- but I work hard at accepting and loving myself every single day. To paraphrase something I heard Lesley of Fatshionista say once, acceptance isn't a mountain you climb and reach the top. You are always climbing. You have to keep climbing. Sometimes you don't want to, but the effort is worth it.
Will I be able to stop climbing if I were to be thin? No. You don't solve self-esteem issues by losing weight. I truly believe I will have to work just as hard at climbing that hill at a socially acceptable size as I do now as a fat person. And as a woman who has been both of those things in my life, I know it's true.
I want to use my writing to be a voice of size acceptance. I want to use the pain I've gone through to reach out to the billions of others that have shared it. I want to help make this world a place where the number on the scale can't hold you back-- and I know for a fact that I can do that at any size.