So this week has been hard. It tickles me a little that a hard week for me now is trying not to diet, rather than trying to stick to a diet. Yay! What a good problem to have! I am calling it progress!
What has made this week difficult is confusion. I woke up this morning with the Dave Matthews version of "Typical Situation" by Suzanne Vega stuck in my head. The Lyrics go like this:
It's a typical situation in these typical times
Too many choices
Its a typical situation in these typical times
Too many choices
Everybody's happy everybody's free
Keep the big door open, everyone will come around
Why are you different, why are you that way
If you don't get in line we'll lock you away
I don't think it's an accident that this is the song I woke up, to for several reasons.
First, when I am tired or anxious or somehow feeling vulnerable, I start to feel like there are too many choices. I get confused. I start wishing someone would hand me a prescription for "feel better," which is exactly what the weight loss industry offers. The promises of the pro-diet folks are that we will be free and happy, if only we would follow their rules. Too bad it is doesn't work, and actually makes most people feel worse.
Second, I am "different" because I am not taking this "prescription" for happy and free. I am not skinny, and I am not hurting myself trying to get skinny. For me, dieting, and the body-shaming language that goes with it, are the opposite of happy and free. I think that knowing this, and talking about it, makes me a threat to the status quo. Thank goodness, I don't think I am literally going to get locked away, but I do feel locked out sometimes. I feel locked out of conversations about health and well-being, because people assume that I don't know anything about it because I am not skinny. I don't have the moral high-ground of being thin, and so I don't get to have a say. If people do know that I believe in loving and being proud of one's body, fat or thin, then I get a sortof pat on the head, a paternalistic tolerance - like I'm kindof deranged, but likeable, so people will nod and smile until I leave the room, or until I go too far. Then they start saying things like, "Yeah, but you don't mean really accepting fat people. That would be crazy."
But that really is what I mean. I mean radically accepting, and even celebrating, all of our shapes, in their glorious and brilliant variety.
It is really hard to feel like a lonely voice in a sea of bad shit about bodies. I think that is partly why this week has been so difficult. When I get tired, I do start feeling like maybe They are right - maybe I am bad, maybe I am crazy, maybe I don't deserve a full life. Maybe I should take the body shame back on, so that I can fit in again. There are just too many choices, maybe I just missed the right "plan" for me.
Noticing these thoughts disturbs me. These thoughts make me really uncomfortable, and they should, because they are just not true. When I start thinking this way, I read, and study, and reconnect to what I know. And then I remember why I am different. And this energizes me, because I want to actually be happy and free.
What keeps me going, and what makes me want to shout "different" from the rooftops, is that I know that those so-called choices are no choices at all. I know that those choices are actually crazy, as in believing something that isn't true. The truth is that the health problems commonly associated with fat are actually associated with dieting. The truth is that fat actually helps people live longer, and helps them to survive a cardiac event. And, the truth is that there are actually health benefits to being fat, including protection from "infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.” ! Fat does not automatically mean unhealthy. There are healthy fat people and unhealthy fat people, just like there are healthy thin people and unhealthy thin people. Neither is better, and neither is "wrong." They just are, like eye color, or shoe size.
Knowing this helps me to remove the fog of confusion, and remember that I am OK. I can keep trudging on, even in the face of my own anxiety, and in the face of a body-phobic culture. I don't have to fall off the wagon, and go back to that dark place of shame and body hatred and restriction that never paid off. I can make my wagon bigger with information, and support, and courage, so that I don't have to fall off the wagon anymore.