Imagine, just for a moment, that we lived in a world that did not judge people based on their size.
We feel shame about our size because we are told to feel shame our size. We have felt the fat vibe our entire life. People being embarrassed by us, avoiding us, belittling us, not taking us seriously, breaking-up with us, and a whole list of other things, because of our weight.
Growing up I had a best girlfriend in grade school, and we did everything together. She was often teased because she did not say the pledge of allegiance and was not allowed to participate in our classroom holiday parties. I always stood up for her, I defended her. She was different, and she was my friend.
We ran, swam, skated, played board games, and everything else that best friends did, but it all came to a screeching halt as soon as we hit Jr. high and high school. A few weeks into our first year at Jr. high, she declared that our friendship was over, and that was that.
Yes, I was self-conscious of my weight, but I knew that I wasn’t morbidly obese. My weight didn’t keep me from doing any of the things a normal young person would do.
However, she didn’t see it that way. We were in 8th grade science class, and the teacher randomly partnered us up for a project. I was so excited, maybe we could connect again. She, on the other hand, panicked and begged the teacher to change her partner, in front of the entire class. She could not, no… she refused to work with me.
I was so confused, why the change in friendship, and why such an intense reaction to the point that we couldn’t even do an assignment together? Not to mention the public, and humiliating melt down in front of the class – with all eyes on me!
I finally asked her why she hated me so much. She told me that she didn’t hate me but her sister, who was a year older than us, told her that she could not be friends with me because I was fat. I would impact her social status. She was instructed to completely avoid me. I was not to be talked to, sat by or glanced at, it would be best if she pretended not to know me. She told me that the entire school thought I should be ashamed of myself, and that I should probably change schools.
As you might imagine, this incident zapped any shred of self-worth I had. I was already ashamed of my weight, but now I believed an entire school was so mortified by my fatness, that they wished I wasn’t even a fellow student.
How can we stop feeling shameful about our bodies when the world tells us we should feel horrible about ourselves?
I was miserable trying to conform to the Rogers Jr. High weight standard. I was also miserable trying to conform to Leuzinger High School’s weight standard. And by the way, the same misery applied to college, university, work, social groups, church organizations, gyms, neighborhoods, the list goes on.
I tried diet after diet, and I’d lose weight, gain weight, lose it again, and then gain even more back. It was frustrating, exhausting, and I felt like a total loser. Why wouldn’t these diets work for me? What was wrong with me?
Finally one day, a good friend of mine introduced me to an awesome book, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.
I highly recommend you read, or download the audio book – it is worth your time. However, if you want the synopsis, here are a few things I learned from reading the book, and actively practice every day:
- I thank and appreciate my body. My body is totally amazing, and has stood up to some awful things that I have done to it. I do not curse or shame my body, I love it as a special gift, and acknowledge its beauty and uniqueness. My body is imperfectly perfect just the way it is.
- I pay attention to the food that makes my body feel good, and give myself more of that food, instead of the things I know make me feel tired, bloated, sick and headachy.
- Restricting the foods I love only leads me to want them more. I completely avoid the diet-binge cycle by no longer dieting.
- I eat exactly what I want to eat.
- I eat when I’m hungry, and stop eating when I’m full.
- I do not live and die by the scale. In fact, I have stopped weighing myself and pay attention to non-scale victories like the way my clothes fit, my energy, sleep and my strength.
- I move and exercise my body, but it has nothing to do with losing weight, it is all about taking care of the body I love.
Only you can take your sanity, self-worth, self-acceptance and self-love back. You are amazing, no matter what size you are. How much you weigh does not make you the awesome person that you are. Resist the mean messages of the fatphobic media, and others who are ignorant, full of hate, and their own personal shame about themselves.
Please believe this: You are good enough just as you are. Hugs!