When did you come out as fat? Sounds strange, right? But unlike people who come out in the LGBT-Q community, it is no secret that you are fat. When should you come out and tell everyone that you are fat, that you accept this state of being and that you love your body no matter how many fat rolls you’ve acquired? There is no time like the present.
In my practice, my clients feel bad when their friends use body-shaming comments about fat people. I tell them a dialogue needs to take place with friends and loved ones to say this talk is not acceptable. My “fatness” should not be a crime or something to look down upon. It just is!
Shame and self-loathing can be overcome. When one begins to look at their body as beautiful and change their own inner hate scripts, then one starts the process to self-acceptance. Shaming oneself is not the answer.
Don’t be a victim
No one should ever be insulted or critiqued based on their body shape, size, or choices, but where’s the line between choosing to be victimized by others’ hateful comments versus refusing to feel “shamed” in the face of others’ hate? How do we, as a society, balance the need for hateful body-focused statements to be made unacceptable in our culture while also teaching people they still have some personal responsibility for their own feelings and responses when hate is directed toward them? It is so common to judge someone based on his or her weight. We will say, “maybe they are fat because they are weak or lazy.” We add this moral judgment to it and it’s absurd.
The diet culture of the 1970’s and today
In the 1970’s, Oral Roberts University started a fat loss program. Oral Robers wanted to teach a Whole Man philosophy that included mind, body, and soul. In the fall of 1974, every student needed to get a point for every aerobic activity in which they participated. If they did not achieve success, the students would have to go home and lose the weight before they could return the following semester. Students were now judged by their percentage of body fat, not by how they treated each other. And keep in mind this was a Christian University! By the mid 70’s, diet plans were ubiquitous. Again, claims were made that fatness was a moral failure, which is simply not true.
But these fad diets that have existed for so long simply do not work! Fewer than 1 out of 100 people loose the weight and keep it off. So how come doctors constantly prescribe the holy trinity of obesity treatments: medication, dieting, and exercise? They know yo-yo dieting is linked to a variety of illnesses including heart disease, insulin resistance, higher blood pressure, and, ironically, long term weight gain. Does obesity cause ill health, both, or neither? Does weight loss actually lead to a longer, happier life?
Change the conversation
Let’s start a new dialogue. A dialogue in which we do not judge someone based on their size, weight, shape, or degree of fatness. The terms, overweight and underweight can be hurtful. It implies that there is a correct weight for those individuals.
Let’s stop using hate speech about others’ bodies and respect people because of their body and not despite it.