I want this blog to be positive.
It's just that from time to time it will be necessary for me to go off on a rant - because one of my many daily conundrums is living as a fat woman in a fat-hating society. So this category, "The Body Politic", will provide a space for these (angry) musings. If you can't handle a bit of rage and disappointment - please stop reading right now.
I know that every fat human being has his or her private collection of dreadful experiences to look back on and the last thing I want to do here is to claim that my experiences were/are more hurtful than those of other people. I realise that I come from a rather privileged, white middle-class background and had many opportunities, educational and otherwise, other people do not possess - but in a way this adds to my ambivalent feelings on the subject. Until I became interested (and involved) in self acceptance I never thought that I was allowed to complain.
Since then I have looked back a lot and thought about much of my past behaviour. I have always acted as if my fatness (and my height) was something I had to apologise for and I still catch myself compensating by being extra nice and extra helpful. Don't get me wrong, I still am a bit of a harmony addict and usually I like myself nice and helpful - but from time to time I'm definitely going over the top and the reasons for this behaviour worry me.
I have always been taller than all the other girls my age and from very early on I have been fatter, too. The preparation of food and food in general are very important in my family. My Mom used to cook super healthy - sweets became something of a forbidden pleasure. Being greedy I have suffered from food envy a long time now and I used to go through the pantry searching for cookies or chocolate - making sure that I didn't have to share them with anybody else. Food has served various purposes for me but I definitely used it to make myself feel better and to reward myself - the forbiddenness of it all only added to the thrill.
Hunting for food, the concealment and the shame about my behaviour made me feel to be a disappointment to my family and to myself. Consequently I tried to discipline my greed (but also my natural hunger) by starving myself. I have inflicted this punishment on myself for decades, trying to be a better daughter, a better girl, a better human being. So from at least 12 years onward I spent my school days alternally binge-eating and denying myself any food at all.
I am quite lazy but used to participate in a lot of sports – among them sports that tend to be especially concerned with body weight: ballet and horseback riding. Due to my height and fatness I did experience a lot of discrimination from various riding and ballet teachers and their collective pupils. My eating disorder flourished under these circumstances, as you can well imagine.
As my mother still goes on a diet each year despite the newest scientific data, I was further pressured into dieting in my teens. My younger brother used to be extremely open about his disgust for and his views on the sexual undesirability of fat women. Even today I have to argue with my father about my choice to enjoy food and stay fat.
In my early and late twenties I had lots of fat friends but nobody around me served as an example for self or even fat acceptance. They all had their own body issues and suffered from self hate – even most of my really thin friends thought themselves too fat and practised extremely unhealthy eating regimes.
I tried to lose weight with similar restrictions, exercising until my body hurt and I was persuaded more than ever to believe my body to be worthless and undesirable. And then – in 2008 – I moved into my first own flat – no parents, no siblings, no flatmates! – and decided not to weigh myself anymore. To turn my interest in food into an asset.
Since then I started to bake and cook in earnest, started to make and buy clothes that actually look and feel good on me and are not just tries to hide and thus to lie about the shape of my body. Food for me is now mostly associated with sensuality, training my cooking skills, something that can be thoroughly and justly enjoyed (of course I get the odd wobble from time to time, the shame reflex is just too well trained).
Discovering the fantastic blogs concerned with fat acceptance, fat politics and self love that are all over the internet now was an important step to confirm to myself that there are a lot of similar stories out there and that I really want those experiences to stop.
I have started re-designing my life – on some days it is really hard on me and there are so many times I wish I had the chuzpe to confront everyone that thinks it is acceptable to insult and judge me without knowing me or to tell people I usually think of as good friends that I really don’t want to hear all about their weight loss and how much less they feel like a freak because of it. I am fat and greedy – and I take full responsibility.
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