This is my body (over there—see it?). I have lived in this body my whole life. I have wanted to change this body my whole life. I have never wanted anything as much as I have wanted a new body. I am aware every day that other people find my body disgusting. I always thought that some day—when I finally stop failing—I will become smaller, and when I become smaller literally everything will get better (I’ve heard It Gets Better)! My life can begin! I will get the clothes that I want, the job that I want, the love that I want. It will be great! Think how great it will be to buy some pants or whatever at J. Crew. Oh, man. Pants. Instead, my body stays the same.
There is not a fat person on earth who hasn’t lived this way. Clearly this is a TERRIBLE WAY TO EXIST. Also, strangely enough, it did not cause me to become thin. So I do not believe any of it anymore, because fuck it very much.
This is my body. It is MINE. I am not ashamed of it in any way. Read full post at Lindy West’ blog here.
Lindy’s post moved me, which is why I reposted it here.
My story is a little different than Lindy’s.
I was not fat my whole life. In fact, for a long time my weight fluctuated between 42-46kg. I remember the first time I stepped on the scale and the number 50 came up, I looked away in disgust.
I am short, tiny in fact. Only a little over 5ft tall. So 50kg was a lot of weight for me to carry around.
How did I become fat?
Simple. I ate. A LOT OF SNACKS. That was my undoing and it still is. My boss went for a holiday in Australia and brought me back 2 dozens Lay Crisps and Doritos as souvenirs (then we didn’t have these brands in Malaysia). My desk drawer in the office was stuffed with cookies, chocolate drinks, CHOCOLATES, crisps of all kinds – you name it. I work long hours and miss a lot of meals, so snacking was my crutch. And it went on and on for years.
The next thing I know… the number on the scale went up to 55, 58, 62, 64….
I wasn’t alarmed. I kept thinking, I’ll enjoy myself now and take care of it later. I saw an episode of Oprah about women who changed their lives – there was this Asian lady who started exercising at 40 and she had an amazing body. I thought to myself, if she could do it, so can I. The problem was, I was waiting to get to 40 when I was only 27!
Did I seriously think that I could go on for 13 years with coffee and cakes as sustenance and then put on a leotard and start exercising at 40? I did.
Last year I had a serious health scare. After years and years of abusing my body, it broke. I use the word abuse, because that is what I did to it. Given a choice of having to rely on pharmaceutical magic for the rest of my life or changing the way I live, I decided to choose the latter.
This is where I really feel what Lindy was talking about in her post.
Being fat is not an internal struggle, and it does not define me as a person. It didn’t mean I was unhealthy or have poor self-image. It didn’t mean I love myself any less.
Changing one’s body is not about shame, or trying harder, or self-control, or dieting or making “choices”. And Lindy is right – for some people it works, for some it never does. Trying to shame me into losing weight because “Oh Ijah you would look so much better if you lose a few kilos,” only made me annoyed and determined to keep the weight just to show you that I’d look good in any weight.
These negative reinforcements, or reverse psychology, or backhanded compliments (Wah, you look so prosperous, life is very good is it? or You look so “healthy” now) – all these are poison. I already know I am fat. Making a joke about it, or bringing attention to it as if I didn’t know it already is not helping.
Fat is not a suit that I can shed so that the “real” me can emerge. I am the same person no matter what is my weight.
Last year I ran a lot so my body changed. I lost some and then I gained some. I have put on 10kg since but I don’t look as fat anymore.
What really helped me to stay on the running track was the encouragement – when people tell me “Well done“, or ask me if they can run with me, or call me and ask my advice on what shoes to buy. It makes me want to run more often, not to skip it so much, it makes me want to find the time to be able to run (and still eat cake).
I don’t run much these days but I am trying to get back to that place where running is a habit. Yes the additional 10kg alarms me but most of all I want to run because I miss it. Like how I feel when I don’t play video games or the guitar or eat cupcakes for a long time. I miss it.
And I take that as a good sign, no matter what the scale says.