Fillyjonk’s post about perspective in the face of what seems nightmarish really got me to thinking about, among many things (such as who the frick came up with the idea of a man’s head full of 3 rows of razor sharp teeth on a lion’s body), the sorts of less all-encompassing, but no less real, fears that even long-term proponents of FA have about their bodies and the daily struggles to “unlearn what they have learned” from lifetimes of cultural brainwashing regarding fat, health and beauty.
What sort of fears or apprehensions am I referring to? Think of what sorts of things your mind focused on most as you first began to even let the idea of accepting a fat body (yours or others) as not a moral reflection of a person’s character. Think of the ideas that ended up swimming around in the waters of your mind when you first reached out to imagine that you could put down that lightly dressing-coated diet fork and begin to eat “intuitively”. Reflect upon the night-chill inspiring fears that may have begun to overwhelm your mind when you first really and truly entertained the idea that you might be allowed to accept yourself as you already ARE rather than waiting until you became something ELSE. Those are the fears I’m addressing. That bone-aching deep-seated set of practically stone-wall ingrained terrors that if you “let go” of preconceived notions of beauty and health something awful might happen and you could be dragged down into the depths of horror right along with it, screaming the entire time, “I never should have believed I could love myself for who I am…..” These are the sorts of “nightmares” I think a lot of us (even those many years into accepting their own fat bodies and/or fat in general as a simple tissue) still face on a day to day basis.
Whether it is envisioned as a little taunting demon in the back of your mind egging you into panic over how much control you might lose (and weight you might gain) if you allow yourself to really and truly eat ANYTHING you want; or whether it is just a panicky feeling that you might NEVER stop getting fatter if you ever let go and didn’t exercise in a manner you hate every day; these sorts of fears are real and likely common.
You know what? Everyone has fears. Some of us fear sentient spiders the size of cars while others of us feel trepidation at the thought of trying to re-learn everything we’ve ever known about food and health and beauty by trying to allow our bodies to dictate their desires and attempting to listen. And some of us can even feel all of that all at the same time (*Raises Hand*).
No matter what manner of tricky little fear mechanisms your mind is throwing in the way of self-acceptance, remember that it is OKAY to be afraid! You don’t HAVE to be some sort of superhero of mental control who never has a flicker of doubt or worry pass through her mind. In fact, not many of us COULD ever go through life without worrying about something, anything. And making the sorts of changes that a lot of Fat Acceptance proposes (doing exercise you like, learning to listen to your body and eat what you intuitively need, loving yourself as you are) are incredibly frightening!
There are many obstacles to overcome as you start to consider that you could maybe one day accept yourself for who (and what size/shape) you are. Those obstacles are enormous and loom ahead, ever ready to drag you back to the safety and comfort of society-approved dieting and body-hatred. Learning to love yourself in the body you already have takes scaling huge mental walls (forged by generations of society forever espousing that you are NEVER good enough) and making terrifying leaps of faith (like “Fat CAN be beautiful” or even “My body is acceptable as it is”). It is not easy to feel courageous as you tear down self-hatred, as you work to find peace with your own beliefs about health and what it means to you as an individual.
So here is my battle cry, mentally roared in defiance whilst in the face of fearful apprehensions: “Yes, there will be moments that are absolutely terrifying to me. There may be times when the entire concept of self-acceptance, never mind fat-acceptance, shakes me to the core and makes me want to crawl into a deep chasm but I will not go! I refuse to let my fears (How large will I get if I stop dieting forever? Can I really eat ALL the ruffle chips in the world if I let myself eat anything I want? What if I don’t fit into size whatever jeans anymore? How can I be sure that this is healthy for ME? Can spiders actually become sentient and large enough to eat me?) hinder my ability to learn to love myself for the amazing woman that I ALREADY am.”
What is your self-acceptance battle cry?