i turned 35 this year, and i’ve been trying to be more of an adult by doing things like getting a physical, updating my glasses prescription, getting all my dental issues fixed, paying my student loans, opening a savings account, & upgrading my car insurance.
part of this growing up thing was to consider my physical health, and i tell you, i was not healthy. my numbers were a mess, and i was in a lot of physical pain.
I have been very much impacted by the Health At Every Size movement, from involvement in the Fatshionista community on LiveJournal, and reading lots of blogs & books, and having lots of honest conversation with other fat folks. And I came to realize that I was not healthy– I was not active, I was in a lot of pain, and I was approaching some dangerous ground with regard to diabetes. So I made a decision to do some work on my health–I have joined a gym and changed my eating habits, and I’m happy to report that I’m feeling a lot better, and even though I’ve lost 55 lbs, I’m still fat. Even if I lose another 100 lbs, my BMI will fall in the overweight category. (I know, BMI is bullshit. Just saying.)
For me, there’s a lot of fear about judgment around this issue– will I be a BAD FAT ACTIVIST if I choose to lose any weight? I think the answer to that question can be a hearty yes, and it can be a no. I think it depends a lot about HOW you go about doing things, WHY you do things, and what you say to folks in conversation if you choose to be public about your decisions like I do.
I was at a diversity conference this week and attended a session called Sizeism: The Final Frontier of Inclusion. (I want to say that I don’t believe that sizeism is the final frontier of inclusion–more on that later.*) At one point in time, the fat presenter used the word fat, but gave the disclaimer that she HATES that word, and I couldn’t let the statement stand in the room full of people who were obviously interested in the topic, so I spoke up.
“I don’t hate that word– it’s just a descriptor, like describing me as white. I don’t let it hold any judgment for me.”
I think that part of being an activist is recognizing that talking about things can be triggering for folks. I don’t post weekly status updates on fb or tweet about my weight, and I don’t appreciate seeing those posts when other people do it. I think that information is cool to share on an individual level with the people in my life who are invested and interested, but why throw it out there for those who it may impact negatively? It’s easy to talk about numbers because they show us what has changed– it’s a lot harder for me to explain how I have increased energy, my knee pain continues to decrease, and I’m sleeping better. I can’t give you a percentage of how those things are improved, but I could measure my waist and tell you what’s changed. Don’t worry– I won’t. It is just as important for me to note that I believe the changes in the way I feel to not only be related to weight loss, but also very much related to the vitamins I take, the food I eat, and the exercising that I do. These things are all tied up together, very much impacted by the fact that I found a doctor who did not encourage me to have bariatric surgery, but rather found a good vitamin for me and encouraged me on the path I am on. Feeling shame from doctors had kept me from even getting a physical in over a decade.
When people first started making comments about noticing that my body has changed, I felt uncomfortable. If my health is private, how do I assert that to people without coming across as a total jerk? I haven’t figured that out yet. How do I continue to work for fat acceptance and inclusion as someone who has noticeably lost weight? I was not a healthy person at the size I was in August 2012 when I decided to change my eating habits & start moving my body, so I felt that my credibility was suspect when promoting the ideas of HAES because I wasn’t living them myself.
*I say that i don’t believe sizeism is the final frontier of inclusion because I believe in the intersectionality of oppression. I don’t think that we will ever CURE racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, sizeism, etc because power and control will continue to operate as oppressive forces in our culture, and while dimensions of difference may change and shift over time, there will always be difference and there will always be privilege, and there will always be oppression. I don’t believe in a hierarchy of oppression, and I don’t think of different oppressions like a list to check off one by one as they are solved.
There are so many things to think and say about this giant body (pun intended) of thought, action, and activism but for now I’ll just share this article I read today: