This week, a woman almost broke the internet when she declared “I’m much happier being fat.”
In our society, such a thing is hardly allowable. FAT IS BAD. FAT IS UNHEALTHY. FAT IS DANGEROUS. So we’re told, all day, every day. How dare anyone ever suggest it’s ok?!
People were up in arms. Fat shamers, internet commenters, angry humans of all kinds. Many made the claim that Joni Edelman’s statement about her body champions obesity. It doesn’t, and those people have missed the point entirely. Frankly this idea that anyone is going around “championing obesity” is absurd.
The truth is, this reaction is about something bigger, something so much deeper.
It’s about the lie; the lie we’ve been told our entire lives: thinness = happiness. And that’s not the only whopper we’re fed. There’s wealth = happiness, success = happiness, beauty = happiness. All equally false.
In her article, Joni says what most of us should already know: “My being thin did not make me happy.”
The problem is, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we collectively continue to believe these lies. We believe them to the point where we develop eating disorders and body dysmorphia and a self-loathing that runs deeper than the damn Grand Canyon (I should know, I’m intimately familiar with all of the above).
OF COURSE morbid obesity limits your options in life. It limits your enjoyment and your opportunities and puts you at risk for a lot of health problems. No one is saying that’s a good thing. No one will EVER say that’s a good thing. But YOU GUYS, that’s not the point here. We can’t shame the fat away. Shame has been going strong for many decades, and people aren’t getting thinner. Instead, they’re getting heavier. Not because of a lack of self-discipline or a lack of effort, but because of a lack of love.
Sure, the Standard American Diet and sedentary lifestyles and other factors play a role, but at the core of our mistreatment of our bodies is a lack of self-worth.
The diet industry makes BILLIONS off of people’s self-loathing. They know diets don’t work and will never work, they know that weight is almost always a deeper issue, but they keep selling pills and cleanses and regimes and making us hate ourselves so we spend spend spend. If women suddenly decided to accept themselves as they are, a lot of people would lose a lot of $$$.
In our culture, we use numbers on the scale as a scapegoat. But this issue is really about self-worth and happiness — qualities everyone deserves, at 90 pounds or 350.
No matter how hard we try, we’ll never hate ourselves into thinness. Or happiness. But we’re told we can, because self-loathing sells, and happiness doesn’t.
Being thin or overweight isn’t a factor for a happy life. Accepting ourselves as we are IS.
There’s this widespread misconception that acceptance of any situation is akin to giving up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Acceptance is the first step towards change. REAL change. POSITIVE change. Not temporary change driven by misery and self-punishment.
Only when we accept ourselves, flaws and all, can we become our best selves. And being our best selves looks different for everyone. Bodies are just one piece of the puzzle. There’s nothing wrong with being fat, or skinny, or anywhere in between. Not inherently. As individuals, we’re the only ones who can decide at what weight we’re healthy and comfortable. It’s a personal choice that looks different on each of us. AND THAT’S TOTALLY OK.
Of course we want a nation of healthier people. We don’t want to see so much chronic disease and so many unhealthy choices and hospitals full of patients dying from preventable conditions. But self-love is the first step. If we taught people self love instead of self loathing, health and happiness would follow right along. This, I know (as does any eating disorder counselor or therapist or shrink).
This is why I’m all for seeing different sizes and shapes and body types. This is why I champion a woman like Lori, and applaud her courage and honesty — because people should be made to feel ok exactly as they are. It’s what we all deserve.
People talk about skinny shaming and fat shaming and I say, can’t we just stop ALL the shaming?! Can’t we just let people be whatever it is that they are? Including ourselves? Can’t we just embrace self-compassion and acceptance and love?
Life is too short to spend hating the body you’ve been blessed with. And it’s WAY too short to spend hating anyone else’s. That’s why I’m all for fat, thin and everything in between. It’s all ok. We’re all ok. I swear.