Right after I posted my last entry—in which I refer to my body fat (not “my body as fat”, mind you, but the actual measurable fat on my body)—I got a PR email asking me to take part in Fat Talk Free week.

I also got one comment from someone who feels I shouldn’t talk about trying to reduce fat, presumably because the implication is that if I don’t like the fat on my own body, I also have opinions about the fat on other people’s bodies.

Now, I’m not addressing the issue because of one comment, but because I’m truly interested in where we draw the lines in the whole body image/health conversation.

A few times now I’ve been accused of buying into a “thin = best” mindset and thus contributing to the mountains of disorder-triggering crap out there that’s designed to create an unrealistic ideal and make women feel bad about themselves. People love to point me to Kate Harding’s website, which I guess is supposed to make me understand that talking about my own interest in losing weight or getting in better shape is anti-feminist and also hateful towards people who are the same size as me or larger.

Which is . . . bullshit.

For one thing, if I say I want to lose fat from my body and you also have some fat on your body? I am not saying that I think you too should lose that fat. I totally get how it’s easy to feel defensive about it, because I often have a helpless knee-jerk reaction when people who talk about parenting choices that are different from mine. It’s easy for me to fall into the trap of believing that the mom who co-sleeps thinks less of me for putting my kid in a crib, but unless co-sleeping mom is a judgmental douche, the only relevant fact is that co-sleeping is the right personal choice for her. Even though she wouldn’t choose to put her kid in a crib, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t support my choice to do so.

I may not choose to be the same size as you. It doesn’t mean I care what size you are.

Fat has become such a loaded word that it seems some people feel you have to be a certain size to even be allowed to use it. Well, guess what? We all have fat. We have essential fat and storage fat and our fat stores energy and it cushions and insulates our bodies and it peeps out from the tops of our jeans sometimes. When I talk about wanting to reduce fat, I’m not sitting in a corner sobbing over pictures of rail-thin supermodels saying “I’m soooooooooooo faaaaat!” and I’m not saying I think you’re fat and I’m not saying fat people suck. I’m saying I want to reduce my own personal fat.

Why do I want to reduce fat? Some people might say I’m perfectly healthy and should just be happy with myself. Aside from the obvious point of that decision not belonging to anyone but me, I think there’s a difference between unhealthy, unhappy drain-circling with regards to body image, and a concentrated effort on taking steps to improve one’s health.

For me, being healthy is not just about fitting in my jeans, it’s about how I feel when I’m eating the right foods and working to make my body lean and strong. It’s about the increased energy, the self confidence, the mood elevation, the new levels of patience, the feeling of being on top of my life in so many good ways.

And, you know, it’s about fitting in my jeans TOO. I like the way I look when I’m not eating crap food. I like being able to wear the clothes I own and not having to buy new ones. I like maintaining, not gaining.

Over the last couple months I’ve watched my eating slide off the rails, and I’ve seen the effects it’s had on my body and my state of mind. I don’t like it. I’m working to fix it.

It’s about me. Yeah, I’m using the F word, but I just don’t see how what I’m saying is a negative thing to read. I want to lose fat and get back to the shape I was in before I spent several weeks eating Doritos, is there really something wrong with that? Is it politically incorrect to stop eating Doritos?

What are your thoughts on talking about fitness and weight loss while still supporting the cause against chronic body image dissatisfaction? The last thing I want to is make anyone feel bad about themselves when I’m talking about what I’m doing to make myself feel better, but . . . I don’t know, I’m not sure I’m willing to own that repercussion.


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14 years ago

Well, since you asked… :)

I am a regular reader who is also in recovery from anorexia. I get a little tense while reading about fat/weight loss, etc. anywhere, and especially here, on your blog, where I think you are such a beautiful and intelligent woman and hope so much that you don’t attach your worth to your weight.

I just advocate a focus on health, not size. I found this quote today, which pretty well sums up what I mean:

Body confidence: The belief that you are your most beautiful when you are healthy–both in body and mind. A feeling that results when you give up the mission to mold and shape yourself and make a commitment to take care of yourself. Body confidence breeds positive body image–it enables us to see ourselves through a meaningful lens, not a superficial one.

Finally, as my three keys to nutrition/health are balance, variety, and moderation, I would definitely encourage you to NOT stop eating Doritos- at least not altogether!!! :)

14 years ago

Linda, didn’t mean to make you cry! Just want you to know that in my eyes, YOU ROCK! I totally get you and the things you aim for and say, so keep on doing what you’re doing because you totally lead my way! (hey, that rhymes!)

To answer your question on Gather, I have journaled every single day for the past 6 months and it made a huge difference for me. I not only log what I eat, but I also log the calories! It makes me crazy sometimes, but it works wonders!!

And Runner Girl – I totally agree with everything you said 110%.

14 years ago

Really? Is there something so wrong with eating carrots instead of doritos?

14 years ago

From a chubby girl’s point of view, I am 100% not offended by your talk of weight loss. I do have to get in shape, but your blog doesn’t make me feel guilty for not being in shape, or make me feel like you think I’m a loser for not being your size. What it does do is inspire me to take charge of my life, in more ways than just my weight.

You talk about your physical goals in a way that makes them seem so attainable. I think what you have done for yourself is amazing. It makes me so happy to read about every goal you meet because every time you succeed, it makes me think that I can too. And not in a “oh man, if even Sundry can do it, I’m sure I can” way, but in a “Wow, she is a normal person that has done astounding things. Wait a minute, *I’m* a normal person too. Maybe I can do something astounding too” kind of way.

It’s not a competition here. You don’t make people feel bad about who they are. You are a positive influence on us all. You motivate us with your struggles and with your determination. Please don’t stop writing about your health goals. You’re good for us.


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