Be the fatty that you dreamed you’d be when thinner

Showing off a new medieval shift and corset outfit

This life? It rocks my world, thanks.

Right now I AM the fatty I dreamed so long of being. My quality of life is amazing and only seems to improve with each and every day that I do not think to reduce my size in the vain hope of growing my happiness.

In my life I have dreamed of the life I could have as a thinner, smaller woman.  The life, in my mind, that my fat body was preventing me from having.  I dreamed of all the many ways that drastically altering my own body would somehow also drastically improve every chance at glory that I ever possibly imagined I could have.  I dreamed of being a wonderful dancer, of being a fabulous musician, of having so much confidence that my mere smile could bring people comfort.  And yet it was not until I stopped fighting my poor body’s natural inclination to remain large that I ever managed to succeed at any of those.  And yet, succeed I did in beginning to lead a life of immense quality; thanks to learning to treat myself with respect and caring, something which much of the rest of the world is all to eager to deny me.

I was really moved in the last few days by both a post over at Fat Heffalump and the post that spurred it by Bri at Fat Lot of Good.  Both ponder the idea, studied by one Dr Haomiao Jia from Columbia University, New York who claims the obesity’s  ‘burden’ on quality and quantity of life has more than doubled in just 15 years. This belief that somehow being fat means you are inherently less happy and therefore living a lower quality of life that you would be if you were, say, flying high and mighty in the “normal” BMI range is so fraught with assumptions and, as Bri points out, the science of “estimation”:

The dead give away as to the level of credibility that should be endowed upon Dr Jia’s research is this little gem…

Each year, the respondent sample size varied, from a low of about 100,000 to a high of more than 400,000, and included adults from across the country. Jia and Lubetkin estimated the effect of obesity on quality and quantity of life

They estimated.

Estimation is not science people. Estimation is not cold hard fact. Estimation is not causation. Sorry Dr Jia but estimation just isn’t good enough. So you can take your brilliant idea that my weight affects my quality of life and you can jam it. I have the best quality of life I have ever had in my 36 (almost 37) years and that is largely because I have come a long way on the path to self acceptance – no thanks to researchers like you.

Exactly!  Estimation is not science, no matter how much it confirms your own bias regarding the research you’re doing!!

What I really felt summed up my thoughts well on the topic was Fat Heffalump’s bit on WHY someone fat might experience the sort of lower quality life that researchers seemed bent on assigning to all of us non-normal BMI havers:

Being fat doesn’t make your quality of life lower.  The things that make your quality of life lower are being dismissed by doctors as needing to lose weight when you have allergies, or a sore throat, or anything else completely unrelated to the size and shape of your body.  It’s when you’re ridiculed on the street by douchebags who think that your effect on their penis is the only value you hold.  It’s when you cannot buy reasonably priced, fashionable, well-made clothing because the clothing industry believes you are not worth catering to.  It’s when complete strangers start giving you unsolicited advice on how to change your body to suit their standards of acceptability.  It’s when the media and marketing tell you that you are lazy, dirty, smelly, disgusting, gross, stupid, unhealthy and so on simply because of the size and shape of your body.  It’s when you’re constantly made to feel like you are worthless because you do not conform to an arbitrary measure of what is normal or acceptable. (From this post, bolding is mine)

Indeed. The best way to make people stop experiencing a lower quality of life, is to stop TREATING them like lower creatures!  If the world would stop acting like anyone over some arbitrary size is unworthy of basic human respect, perhaps then people over that size could more easily (without the sorts of battles that the few of us trying to find our paths of self acceptance here in the FA and other acceptance circles have to fight every moment) find it possible to get and feel respect and respected.

I think perhaps some of these journalism warning labels should be provided when such articles arise in the future.  I especially like this one: “Medical claims in this article have not been confirmed by peer-reviewed research.”  It would fit nicely onto any article of a nature which asserts a Normative Truth based up estimations, guesswork, and confirmation bias interpretations of results.

So to the media I would love to say:  Stop making judgments on my life and its purported quality based upon my appearance!  I am not a statistic.  We are not the pathetic creatures you would like us to be so that your little model of the Sad Fatty could continue to bump up weight loss company profits.

tossing pizza dough in the air

Look at that! Tossing my own pizza dough! In a sleeveless shirt no less! Ha-Wooo!

You want the truth?  I am happy.  I am active.  I love, I eat, I breathe, and move and dance and play and smile and laugh and learn and LIVE! I am more the person now that I dreamed of being than I ever was when dieting or even when AT a smaller size; and this is at the fattest size/shape I’ve ever had. And I am the rule, NOT the exception. There is no need to constantly defend your fat self (or your pets’ fat selves) with declarations like “yes, but I also eat right and exercise a lot!!”  No!  No one has to defend their size or shape or ANYTHING about their bodies to anyone else.  BE that positive portrayal of a person that you already are!

I think Fat Heffalump put it wonderfully:

We are the positive portrayals of fat people that we wish to see more of. They’re not going to come from the mainstream media and marketing for some time yet, and when they do, it will have been damn hard work to get them there.  So we have to fill that void as best we can ourselves. To promote ourselves and our Fat Acceptance peers as much as possible. (From this post, emphasis mine)

So you know what?  To the media who continues to support and re-iterate without thought the work of folks like Dr. Jia and all their ilk:  Suck it.  That’s right: suck it!  Just because you WANT to find results proving that my life’s quality and quantity is lacking and quickly likely to diminish does NOT make it so! You know that “Obesity Paradox” which keeps showing how living a life not in fear of food or loathing the idea of exercising just for the sake of shrinking; it ISN’T paradoxical, okay?

We are the rule, not the exception.  And if my happiness and healthiness and manner of enjoying this life without feeling that I need to alter my body makes you uncomfortable, all the better!  I WANT you to squirm with your unconfirmed beliefs as my life, that I live so well, flies in the face of all your worst fears.  I am finally being the person that I dreamed I could be only as a thinner person. It just turns out that this person happens to be as fat as I am now.  So, I’m Being Fat At You, okay?  And I will CONTINUE being fat at you, doing my own small part to carve a niche in this world where Fat does not automatically equal Unloved, Unrespected, Undreamed of.  And I’ll be loving every high-quality fatty minute of it.

cane dance in red bellydance outfit

20 thoughts on “Be the fatty that you dreamed you’d be when thinner

  1. Wonderful post, April. Rock on, all of us fearless, funny, fantastic, fierce, fighting fat people know who that our worth as human beings & the value of what we bring to the world cannot be weighed on a scale! If these fat-hating idiots (who, of course, are being PAID to find negative results for fat people) would try to grasp that the negative effects on us & our quality of life do not come from the fat on our bodies, but from the fat between the ears of virtually all of the ‘experts’ & at least 95% of the public, then we would all…people of ALL sizes & shapes…be much happier, healthier, & more fully, abundantly alive.

  2. It’s so weird, April, that I discovered your blog (and others of its ilk) after I came to the shocking realisation that I’ve spent a good 25 years of my life internally berating myself because of my size. 25 years is a long time to live a half-life, hating my body so much that I went to great lengths to hide it and to make excuses as to why I wouldn’t go swimming with my friends or go shopping for clothes. It’s also a long time to deny myself anything life has to offer, including food, and for putting the opinions of others ahead of my own so much that I don’t even know what I think of myself anymore.

    It’s only after having my little girl this past February that I realised I should ease up on the self-flagellation a bit. I had her against astronomical odds, with doctors telling me the whole way, Because your BMI is so high, THIS will happen…and because of this, THAT will happen. Basically, you are overweight…how dare you try and have a child?? They kept expecting me to develop all these problems, but I didn’t, and in fact, the things I had working against me were all genetic factors, having NOTHING to do with my weight (but oh, how they tried to twist it round to that…) and were in place long before the scale became an issue.

    I figure at 39 I’ve got enough proof that I’m healthy and able to do anything I set my mind to, as I’ve proven over the last decade by living as an ex-pat in England and Germany, travelling Europe, and climbing to the top of every monument and landmark I wanted to, and having not one but two miracle children. My son (7) nearly burst into tears when I muttered something the other day about being too fat, and said, “But Mummy…you’re beautiful! How can you be fat when you’re so beautiful??”

    Whatever it is I am, it’s not what I thought I was. And it’s pretty damned exciting and terrifying.

    • Siress your story is so touching!!! And it is so sad that this world is so damned turned around about fat and its now intricately tied-in relation to all those negative connotations that people can say “How can you be fat when you’re so beautiful”! The two aren’t mutually exclusive and I wait for the day when that idea is more of the common reality! I might be waiting a LONG time but until then I will continue to shine on in my happy fat glory 😉

      Like Patsy says: “Rock on, all of us fearless, funny, fantastic, fierce, fighting fat people know who that our worth as human beings & the value of what we bring to the world cannot be weighed on a scale!” Huzzah to that!

  3. Excellent advice to us and;

    So you can take your brilliant idea that my weight affects my quality of life and you can jam it.

    Excellent and very timely advice to Dr. Jia, which I sincerely hope he takes, and if he needs any ASSistance, well……

    • Wriggles I sincerely would wish that Bri’s words are heard (read?) and actually taken to heart by those like Jia but sincerely have my doubts about it happening. However, there is always that tiniest glimmering nugget of hope in there!

  4. And, Siress, I Hope that you can help your son understand that fat & beautiful are not mutually exclusive. They can & do often go together; you are indeed fat & you are indeed beautiful & there is nothing wrong AT ALL with being fat!

  5. The thing is, he doesn’t think I’m fat at all…that’s where I was going with that! 🙂 He just sees me a beautiful.

    And part of this “realisation” process alerted me to the notion that my mum was a big woman who struggled with her weight all her life to the point of tears so many times. She had so many other issues, however, and I realised that my opinion of her had nothing to do with her size but with her actions and choices. And the fact we never really got on. Now that she’s a mentally ill shut-in, I can see how being big and unhappy really played into it. Hindsight is amazing.

    • Siress I think being unhappy with who you are (generic “you”) is the underlying cause of so many bouts of depression worldwide and wonder why more attention is put towards eradicating all of the massive attempts to make people feel so insecure rather than promoting any particular body ideal. It is so maddening!

  6. I just wanted to let you know what an inspiration you are to me. I am recovering from a four-year battle with anorexia, during which I suffered major health problems, weakened my body and very nearly died. This entire time I received compliments about how “healthy” I looked and how “in shape” I was.

    I am now truly healthy, vibrantly happy and fully participating in life again at my body’s natural weight, a number that I’m guessing (I no longer weigh myself) would be considered slightly “overweight.” I can once more run marathons and play vigorously with my young child. I no longer receive compliments about my body. (With the shining exception of my loving husband, who recognized my illness and helped me get well).

    It makes me sick to read pseudo-scientific studies about the health problems associated with being “overweight.” For me, reading your blog and others like it has been like a daily inocculation against the negative messages society constantly sends me about my body. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or like I’m slipping into damaging patterns again, spending some time reading the fatosphere always helps to remind me how healthy, happy and beautiful I am right now, just as I am. Thank you!

    • Mae thank you so much for sharing your story and such encouraging words about what I, and many others, try to do in our spaces! I hope in time this message of acceptance DOES spread far and wide and nourish a different mindset; one in which those negative social messages about bodies are extinct. *hugs*

  7. Gods, that makes me sick to think of you, Mae, in the throws of a serious illness, being told, “Wow, you look great…so fit!!” Is this pale, emaciated, lackluster look of ill health the accepted norm of beauty now!?

    I gotta tell you…for a while I did a stint as a talent scout and learned what “the industry” looks for as their ideal model. Part of the reason I left the job was because it meant rewarding people for their unhealthy looks. In fact, if you ever saw a runway model standing in front of you at eye level, your first thought would be, “What the hell is wrong with her?? She’s emaciated and out of proportion!” They have to be, to be up on the runway. The requirements for that line of work are so stringent that a tiny, tiny percentage of the population meets them…yet they are the ones people most admire and who are pinned up on the walls of little girls’ bedrooms.

    I’m really, really afraid of what messages my new little girl will be getting when she’s old enough. I’m going to have to keep pitching the flying balls of crap right back over the net and tell her what no one ever told me, that her very existence (and the fact that she shouldn’t even be here in the first place) gives her a rare beauty that can protect her from societal onslaughts…and make her strong enough to shake apart the world if she wants.

  8. This is an awesome post! And this is something I work towards everyday, the challenge is when my physical body makes me uncomfortable and I can’t do things I want as a result, that’s what makes me wish my body was smaller. For example, getting lots of chaffing in the summertime. So I’m less concerned with what people say about my weight I just want to feel more comfortable in my own body.

    • Trenia I know that others have posted before on products to use to prevent chaffing in the summer; ChubRub comes to mind. As to being uncomfortable in the body you have, I know that for me (your results may vary of course) wearing clothing that FITS properly was a huge step towards eliminating the discomfort I felt. Another big step was in re-framing my own mental context regarding my RIGHT to exist in the body I already have in this world rather than needing to adjust it in order to “fit in” to the world mentally. Again, that is what I’ve been doing and isn’t to say that sometimes I don’t wistfully fall into that “Fantasy of Being Thin” mindset from time to time. But I’ve found that even though I am nearly 100 pounds heavier in weight now I am the most comfortable and capable that I’ve ever been. Something that only serves to reinforce my thought that it never really WAS about my body’s size or shape; but about my attitude towards it and towards other people’s reactions to it which mattered most….perhaps there’s a post in there somewhere! 🙂

  9. Oh what a wonderful, wonderful post. And for me to be quoted by you in this post is just such an honour. Thank you, I’m really touched that you would be in any way inspired by anything I have written.

    I love your photographs by the way, especially the belly dancing one. I want that bra top!

    I am so glad that I have found your blog (yay for pingbacks huh?), you are now added to my reader!

  10. Came here via Fat Heffalump. I don’t have much to add except that a) you rock and b) I hardly ever, ever see pictures of bare-bellied women whose bellies look like mine and I don’t even think that consciously about it but oh my god does it matter! I feel awesome now. Positive representations of fat people are so very powerful. Yay!

    • YAY for positive fat belly power 🙂 I’m so happy to inspire Spilt Milk!!! 😀 Should have more awesome photos and videos when we do our recital in October!

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