In the past, I’ve been on the weight loss train. Several years ago, I lost over 50lbs and was in great physical shape. I’d worked out regularly, gained a pattern of disordered eating, and became a huge asshole.
That’s right. I became a huge asshole.
Losing weight is hard. It takes a lot of food and activity micromanagement. I had to plan and monitor every food choice and that habit spilled out over into my relationships. I became hyper critical of my and other people’s choices. I criticized our meals. I criticized our exercise habits. I became the food and exercise police and I was fucking annoying.
I constantly under-ate and over-exercised. I treated food like a punishment and exercise like air. If the activity didn’t burn calories, I wasn’t interested. And, after about a year of pushing and punishing myself, I started to burn out. I would cry at the thought of eating. I would hate myself if I didn’t walk enough that day. I constantly injured myself exercising and wouldn’t give my body enough rest to heal. I had an unrelated health issue that hospitalized me for a week and my biggest concern wasn’t that I’d almost died, it was that I hadn’t exercised in days and I was scared I’d gain weight.
I was more scared that I’d gain weight than I was for my life.
That was my wake up call. I spent the next two years learning how to ignore all the weight loss talk. I learned how to eat with less shame (it’s still an issue). I had to learn when my body was hungry because I’d stopped listening. And I had to learn to accept my body, fat and all, and to love it as it is.
But when I was on the weight loss train, I was so fucking pushy and judgmental…and I felt like I had to be, as food was constantly being pushed at me. I don’t have the same relationship with food that others have. I’ve been ashamed of my need to eat since elementary school, when I learned that I weighed more than a lot of my classmates. I wasn’t fat at the time, but I was bigger and I realized that I was supposed to be ashamed of that. I started being less active because I got teased.
To this day people express amazement at any indication that I am or have been physically active. It’s such a fucked up way to live, being scared to eat in public, feeling ashamed at buying anything that may not be seen as healthy. Having people pan your body in disbelief when you talk about working out. Feeling apologetic for not working out. I’m over it. So very over it.
I’ve gained all my weight back and I try not to be angry at myself for it. I’m not nearly as active as I used to be and that’s not actually a bad thing when I was constantly injured and pushing my body past its limits because “pain is gain.” I’ve decided that while there are activities I want to have the strength and endurance to do, my appearance is my lowest priority. That’s also a hard one because I cosplay, and how you look is a large part of people liking your costume. Not to mention that people are constantly talking about dieting and fitting into their costumes. I find that talk toxic, but I’m learning to better navigate those interactions. I embrace the fat cosplayer title because fuck it. I’m fat. I cosplay. So what?
It’s hard, though. I look at old pictures and miss that look. I miss being on the lower end of the plus size spectrum. I miss having a defined waist. I miss the smaller arms and smaller back rolls. And the worst part is that even then, I didn’t appreciate how I looked. I was still not the “after” picture I sought.
Just talking about this reminds me of my hatred of eating, a hatred that makes absolutely zero sense as we need to eat to live. I feel myself struggle against self-hatred and verbal flagellation I want to deliver for failing to hit my weight loss goals. It’s a never-ending cycle of abuse, one that I don’t want to practice anymore. I was smaller and I still hated myself. I was still unhappy. And I was hungry as hell, which didn’t help one bit. The only thing weight loss provided, other than a raging case of obnoxious dieting asshole syndrome was thin privilege (yes, thin privilege is a fucking thing. Work it out).
And the men…if your thing is getting the attention of men, I found that more talked to me when I was fat and not giving a fuck than when I was smaller and looking for attention. Men like who they like and there are men who are into you no matter what size you are. And some will treat you like shit no matter what you look like. It’s like a goddamn prize for some of them to treat women like shit. Ugh.
Anyway, being fat isn’t a big deal. At least, it shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people really invested in making it into a big deal and it’s really hard to ignore all the negative messaging we receive about how fat is bad. It’s taken me years to reach this point, and it’s still a struggle not to diet, love myself, and believe that I am as worth as anyone else. My weight and size do not define me and even if they did, it doesn’t make me bad. Fat is just a descriptor, not a definer.
Fat is a part of who I am, not all of who I am and while I don’t love my fat, I don’t hate it either. What I hate is how people try to convince me that my fat diminishes me in some way. It doesn’t. The only thing that tries to diminish me is other people’s fucked up attitudes about it. Why does my fat bother you? Why do you care? Don't like how I look? Stop looking. It’s that simple.
When it comes to talking about fat, I put up my shields. I’m just not interested in the hate/pity/fuckery fest that is discussions about weight and fat. I used to be there but now I’m not and I fight like hell to stay out of there. It’s a dangerous place – a place I don’t think ANYONE needs to visit, much less inhabit. I am fantastic, regardless of how fat I am. We all are.
Ragan Chastain is a fat activist blogger who consistently challenges the way fat is discussed and promotes the rights for all bodies. I recommend checking out her blog, although sometimes it can be triggering. She pulls in a ton of resources for discussing the barriers that fat people face in life, medical care, and acceptance.
She promotes the Health at Every Size approach to life. This post, “11 Reasons Why I Focus on Health And Not Weight” contains a lot of good reasons that HAES is a much more reasonable approach to weight and bodies that weight loss.