Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Coming Out as a Fat Lady

Call it what you will - fat lady, big girl, round, rubenesque, Big Beautiful Woman, the list goes one. I have been called many names in my life - some uttered with kindness, and some with utter cruelty. Well, today I am laying claim to my body, and taking back the names.  I am reveling in my fatness, my rubenesque form, my bigness and my beauty.  Today, I am living fully in my body - exactly as it is - and encouraging everyone else to do so as well! 

This absolutely feels like an "outing" to me. I am saying, in public no less, that I feel good about my body, exactly as it is, even though there is alot of shaming and blaming out there to make me, and many, many other women, feel like our bodies are damaged goods.  I can tell you that it takes alot of courage, which I am also claiming to have in this very public moment, to go against the cultural grain and accept your body!

Let's face it:  "fat" in our culture equals "bad." Except that I am not bad. I am a relatively likable, happy woman with a full life!  I have a devoted husband who loves me and thinks I'm beautiful. I have happy children and fabulous friends. I am typically really healthy, which, by the way, has been very confusing for me. If I eat well and exercise, I'm supposed to be skinny, right? I was promised that healthy=skinny, and skinny=happy.  So what's up with me?

I was skinny once in my life, for about a year. It was the worst year of my life. I got so much positive feedback - how wonderful that I looked so great! My grandmother would have been so proud. I got attention from men. I could wear any kind of clothing I wanted. Doctors were nice to me. But I was totally obsessed with my weight and food.  I lived in fear of being fat again, and lived with a constant, grinding hunger - physical, spiritual, and emotional. My bones felt tired. I ran miles and miles every day, and freaked out if I couldn't get in enough exercise. I was living on sprouted grain bread and carrot sticks. I stopped menstruating. I wouldn't share my grapes with my preschooler because I had measured them, goddamnit, and they were mine! I spanked my older son (which I never do, and absolutely abhor). My friends could hardly stand being with me, and I could hardly stand being with me.  I was a cranky, crazy bitch. Is that supposed to be happy? Is that supposed to be healthy? Give me a break.

So, eventually, when I couldn't keep it together anymore, I entered the labyrinth of recovery. It has been a long road, but here I am, still trekking. Fat, but happy. And healthy. And getting to a place of relatively stable wellness.

At this point, lots of psychotherapy, schooling, and personal work are coming together. Of course, it is a continuing journey, but I am ready to go public with it.

I am a Fat Lady.

There it is - my "outing." I am not a fat girl trying to get thin. I refuse to apologize for being my own version of healthy any longer. I am not going to subject myself to any more torture (even in my own head) in order to fit the cultural ideal of what a beautiful (or even acceptable) woman is. I refuse to harbor shame around my body, and I refuse to have my worth as a person dictated by my size. I am claiming my right to respect, love, and care in my life. Everyone deserves this.

The reality is that one's size has nothing to do with the state of one's healthy. Amazed? Me, too! It is true that we can be Healthy at Every Size. There is a growing community of HAES supporters.  HAES is based on science, not on diet-industry-funded pseudo science. It turns out that I am not actually faulty, damaged, or otherwise junk. What a relief!

So, this blog is about my journey of self-acceptance, at whatever size I naturally am. It is about supporting other women to claim their right to happy, healthy lives, whatever their weight. It is about standing up to hate, in all its forms. It is about healing from shame on a personal and a political level. It is about me, trying to make a bit of a difference in the world.

6 comments:

Pauli said...

Awesome start to your blog Rachel. I love you the way you are today. Thanks for sharing and caring for yourself!

Heather said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it! You are freakin' fabulous and sumptuous and abundant and grounded and substantial and a Woman To Be Reckoned With. You are Wahine Toa -- strong woman! Thank you for this blog -- I will walk tall with love in my heart for the rest of the day!
Blessings on your journey, and thank you for taking us along for the ride.

Nichole Poorna Murray-Swank said...

I am impressed by your courage!

Rebekah19 said...

Love your blog. Thank you for sharing and giving courage to all of us to love the body we find ourselves in. I am not fat, but that does not mean I love my body. I struggle with body image too. And I love the thought that it's not really how I look but how I feel that matters. Here's to being healthy and feeling love and loved no matter what our body looks like.

Rebekah19 said...

Love your blog. Thank you for sharing and giving courage to all of us to love the body we find ourselves in. I am not fat, but that does not mean I love my body. I struggle with body image too. And I love the thought that it's not really how I look but how I feel that matters. Here's to being healthy and feeling love and loved no matter what our body looks like.

Rachel said...

Rebekah, Thanks for your comment! It is all about loving and nurturing yourself in the body you have - whatever size it is! So many women of different sizes and shapes struggle with body image, and struggle with loving themselves. You are right - we all deserve to love and be loved no matter what we look like!