I have been hearing a lot of commentary around campus about other people’s bodies lately, particularly comments about fat people. Statements like, “That guy should really lose some weight,” or, “She should not be wearing that. She’s fat,” are becoming increasingly common, so I would just like to share my own experiences with fat-shaming and my journey to self-love. I apologize if my thoughts are a bit jumbled and disorganized. I’m a bit jumbled and disorganized, and my journey has been a bit jumbled and disorganized, but I promise that what I have to say is worth your attention.
I want to make this clear: If you shame fat people or view the word “fat” as an insult, it is something you have been tricked into. Fat hatred is a money-making industry. It’s not about health. It’s about getting you to hate yourself enough to try and buy self-love. Those who are fit are most certainly not always skinny. Those who are unhealthy are most certainly not always fat. Companies like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig care far more about you buying their products than about you being healthy or loving yourself, so to heck with them! To them, you are a profit, not a person.
I want you to take a moment and think about how tragic it is that a person can be conditioned to hate themselves because their beautiful body is not “beautiful” by our society’s flawed definition. It takes a lot of energy to hate yourself. Trust me. You stop having dreams and pursuing goals because you are tricked into believing that your life isn’t worth anything if you’re fat. You start telling yourself that you’ll be happy when you’re skinny, and you forget to be happy now.
This conditioning starts at a very young age. When you’re a fat kid, you soon learn that you’re different, and in our society, difference is deviant. When the skinny kids call you “fat,” what they’re really trying to say is that you’re unlovable, undeserving, ugly, broken, lazy, and wrong. Fat becomes so much more than a word to describe your body. It becomes the label you fear the most, the adjective that breaks your heart.
When you’re a fat kid, you allow yourself to get stepped on because you think you deserve it. You become the butt of the joke, and you learn to laugh at yourself in the worst sort of way. People often see this as a benefit of being the fat kid, but I cannot. Sure, it’s great to have a sense of humor about myself, but that sense of humor was not always as healthy as it is now. I would have much rather learned to love myself at an early age than to view my body as a punchline.
Instead of learning to love myself, I learned to feel shame. I saw how my body made others uncomfortable, so I hid. I wore very loose clothing, afraid that a roll of fat would offend someone or make them think less of me. I defined myself as “the funny girl” but never as “the pretty one.” I never let myself have a crush on a boy because I knew no one could ever have a crush on me. My body was my worst enemy, and I could not escape it.
Fortunately, I was able to find some confidence somewhere along the way. My self-image is drastically different from what it used to be. I care greatly for myself. My body is incredible, and I don’t need to justify it to anyone. If anyone is uncomfortable with my body, that’s their sad problem. I still struggle from time to time, but I strive daily towards self-love.
Unfortunately, I know self-love is not the reality for many people. I also know that being fat is not the only thing that we struggle with. Whatever you may find intolerable about your body— whether it be your weight, your height, your hair, your smile— you need to know that I think it’s beautiful. It’s beyond cheesy and cliché for me to say this, but it needs to be said! Your body is incredible. It’s the vessel for your mind, your heart, and your spirit, but beyond that, it’s your body. YOURS! So, please, please, please, I beg of you, embrace it.
So, the next time you feel the need to put down another’s appearance, don’t. It’s a waste of your time and your energy, and it truly does say more about you than it does them (Again, I know, cliché, but so true!). Instead, use that energy to love yourself because once you love yourself, you become free to fully love others. And quite frankly, it makes life a far lovelier thing.
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