Body Confidence Week


Last week a bunch of entitled men made a thing on Twitter called Fat Shaming Week (some women also joined in) whereby they made loads of disgusting remarks about fat people, and if challenged, they would send an individual a bunch of abuse. You can read about what happened to Vicky here.

(But note, do not research the website she mentioned unless you are strong enough to deal with unchallenged misogyny and rampant fat hatred. I haven't looked myself because I'm not feeling too great mentally right now.)

Anyway, that's as much credence as I want to give those people, because I don't wish to give hateful people any time out of my day.

In response to this week of 'shaming' others for their body, Body Confidence Week has arisen (post about fat shaming week and the idea of Body Confidence Week here but warning again, there are examples of fat hatred within the post.) Quite a few people in the fat community have written about it, far more eloquently than I'm about to, perhaps, but I'd still like to have my say.

I'd like you to imagine your body - and all other bodies - exist in a vacuum in which there's no morality attached to that body - it just is. There are no good nor bad bodies - bodies just exist. In this state of just being, a body does tasks, thousands and thousands of them, both consciously and of its own accord, and for the most part it does them well. If we are able bodied and have all our limbs in place we already have great privilege that many in the world do not have, and our bodies are great. If our body isn't sick or diseased we also have great privilege, and our bodies are great, because they do a series of amazing things. If our bodies are sick and disabled (like mine) or they are missing limbs or in any other way thought of as being 'incomplete' by the outside world they are still great, because there are still multitudes of things going on in our bodies which still work. Bodies - in their own right - are amazing. They help us feel, see, hear, touch and be touched, smell, breathe, eat, go places, meet people, have fun, birth children, have sex, laugh, cry, and a million other things. 

How do we bring morality into something so wondrous?
Perhaps the question should be how dare we bring morality into something so wondrous?

All those things I've mentioned above can be done to some respect in every body, depending on our abilities and disabilities. Now you have in mind what complex and beautiful processes every body undertakes, let's remind ourselves that people naturally come in all shapes, heights, sizes and colours. NATURALLY. There is no one size fits all in humanity. Some people are naturally small and slight, like Japanese people, for example. Some people are naturally tall and broad, like Germans or Swedes. Do you realise how ridiculous it would be if we policed one another's bodies on the subject of height and added morality into it? What if suddenly short people were called lazy, smelly and unfit? Wouldn't that be grossly unfair and more to the point, ridiculous? We will all, I'm sure, accept that people come in all kinds of heights and that's perfectly natural and accepted.

Why then is it so hard to understand and accept that some people naturally carry more adipose tissue than others? Obviously you can't go on a height diet, so those two examples don't strictly correlate. I'm using it as an example to show how ridiculous it is that we police people for one NATURAL physical characteristic, but not another.

You can't tell from looking at someone what they eat, or how much, or how much exercise they do. You can't tell if they got to be that way because of endocrine or thyroid dysfunction, illness or disability, eating disorder, or if they've been fat all their lives and have a family who have been fat all their lives because that's the way they're built. You can't tell whether a person is 'good' or 'bad' by looking at their body and moreover you have no right to try. You can't tell by looking whether a person is as fit as a flea, or whose health is endangered, and quite frankly, if you do wonder such things, shouldn't you get a life? Haven't you got anything more productive to do with your time?

You can't just say 'Calories in, calories out' because that is bullshit. What works for one person won't work for another, and this is where a lot of morally outraged slim people go wrong. Just because what they do works for them, they expect it to for everyone else and it doesn't work like that. Our physiology is extraordinarily complicated and we are not all the same. The same work doesn't mean the same results, and that's before we even consider that some people are not physically able to do the 'work' to lose weight. Moreover, no one has an obligation to be a certain weight or size, nor does anyone 'owe' society their good health. We are each in control of our own lives, and our own health, and we live with the consequences of our actions, as adults. We don't owe it to anyone to be sexually attractive for their benefit. It's somehow expected of us, especially as women, and it's bollocks.

Some reading, dear readers?

Here the 'fat is unhealthy' myth is debunked.
Here for size acceptance in humourous graphics
Here for smart answers to stupid questions
Here for how to handle haters

Basically Ragen is awesome and if you're not already following her blog, you need to be. If you're fat,  I guarantee she'll make you feel better about yourself, even if you already feel magnificent.

OK. Let me tell you some of the reasons why I love myself.

I have the love of a good man who loves me for me and my body. My friends and family love me for me. My body, this thing most of the world sees as wrong, has enabled me to live 39 years on this earth and do some beautiful things, some questionable things and some oh-my-God-girl-what-were-you-thinking?! things. It is more than a home for my soul. We've been through some tough shit, my body and I. In it I have conceived two babies, who both took a wrong turn admittedly, but when the last one camped out in my fallopian tube (which was already scarred from the previous ectopic pregnancy) and it burst and I nearly died.....well, I didn't. I recovered. I was amazed at how much shit was thrown at me and I survived. In many ways it seems like I'm under siege with the Fibromyalgia and CFS/ME, but I survive. I used to see my body as the enemy putting me through these things, but now I see it that we're going through this shit together, body and soul. I refuse to be broken down to my parts and separated from this body which society deems as worthless. I AM NOT WORTHLESS AND NEITHER ARE YOU. I refuse to be judged on my shell when what's inside is worth so, so much more, and I pity those who can't see past the size of my arse (which I happen to love) to the beauty that lays within. There's beauty that lays inside and outside all of us, and many can't see it, blinkered as they are. They're to be pitied. They're missing out.

I don't love myself DESPITE my body. I love myself as a whole. I love myself in defiance to those who don't. I love myself.

Do you?

If the answer is no, how can I help you do that? Because let me tell you, once you do, you're fucking unstoppable. Happiness is there, and it means standing up to those who expect you to hate yourself. You don't have to change A SINGLE THING about yourself, only your attitude toward yourself. When enough of us do that, a change will come. They say obesity is on the rise. That means we're going to be the majority soon. Do we speak up for ourselves now and ongoing, or allow society to continue to ostracise us? Do we carry out acts of fat activism*, or hide away in the shadows?

Tell me - if no one else hated your body - would you hate it too? If no one had judgements about different sizes of body, would you? Or do you think that if it weren't expected of you to be ashamed of yourself that you'd hold your head up high?

How do YOU feel about your body? (This goes out to people of all sizes.)

*Fat activism as be as simple as fatting it up in public - being visible, wearing all the colours, holding your head high. Or writing blogs, or sharing your fat outfits far and wide. If you don't have your own blog or aren't comfortable putting photos of yourself on your blog, Tumblr is a great way to start, even if you only watch from the sidelines at first. The body positive community there (and I mean positivity for ALL bodies - fat, thin, disabled, black, white, brown, trans*) is amazing. Fat activism can be as simple as trying to re-educate family and friends when they make disparaging comments about their own bodies, your body, anyone else's body. Fat activism can be reading well so you can point people to articles which may change their narrow viewpoints. Fat activism can mean expecting to be treated with respect in a healthcare environment and complaining when you are not afforded that basic human decency. Fat activism is in not hating slim or athletic bodies, but acknowledging we are all different and that is amazing.

Thanks for reading, and as ever I want to know your thoughts. This is a very emotive subject, and I hope we're all here from a place of love. I will delete shitty fat-shaming comments.

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