I Did Something I’ve Never Done Before

Recently I did something brand-new (for me, anyway). Was it sky diving? Swimming with sharks? Parasailing? Nope. Something much more mundane and less dramatic, yet no less thrilling.

I got rid of too-small clothes.

There have been many times in my life I have held onto clothing for “when I get smaller.” I hold on to this clothing intentionally, thinking they will motivate me to live healthier and lose weight.

However, as much as that line of thinking might seem logical, that’s not the way it ever works for me. Instead of acting as inspiration for good, the too-small clothes keep me dwelling on the past and the future, not the present. I think about when last they fit me, I dream about the things I will do and accomplish when I lose the weight and can wear them again. Far from keeping me accountable in the present, they provide a way for me to escape from my current circumstances and not make necessary changes. In fact, there is research showing people often feel just as good imagining positive change as they do after they have actually made the changes for themselves. While this might provide a temporary nice feeling and positive mood, it can seriously sabotage your goals.

The more I looked at those clothes hanging there, the more they seemed to be mocking me. The more my depression, anxiety, and self-loathing grew. Bagging them to be given away, I noticed I didn’t even like a lot of those clothes anymore. My style had shifted over the years without my realizing it. I looked at what resulted from certain spontaneous clothing purchases and simply shook my head. My style is much more classic and minimalistic now.

I know that I am not alone and that many people (especially women) hold on to clothes the way I did, dreaming of “some day.” But I would challenge them to let go and experience how freeing it is. I now live in reality, fully accepting and acknowledgng my body as it currently is, even while committing to make changes going forward.

Fat Person’s Thoughts on the Body Acceptance and Health at Every Size Movements

The Body Acceptance Movement purports to be a movement about loving your body in its present state, flaws and all. The face of this movement used to be people with disabilities, deformities, scarring, skin conditions, and the like. It was an empowering movement that emphasized looks don’t matter; health and self-care do.

The Fat Acceptance or Health at Every Size Movement was founded as a reaction toward the extremely thin figures that started becoming popular in the 1960’s on television and in magazines and that eventually made its way to Main Street, negatively affecting women’s mental health due to insecurity over their own bodies. Nowadays, when people hear body acceptance, the first thing that typically comes to mind are fat people.

In recent years, as the rate of obesity in the U.S. has skyrocketed, the movement has centered moreso around accepting extreme levels of fatness, and the movement itself seems to have grown in popularity and acceptance. This movement asserts that fat and obesity have nothing to do with how healthy a person is, so a fat person should accept being fat and shouldn’t feel the need to lose weight– that the only reason anyone would ever lose weight is to fit in with and please others, which are regarded as non-legitimate reasons.

Unfortunately, this view conflicts with science to a massive (pun unintended) degree. Almost every disease and condition that affects human beings is worsened due to obesity, if not directly caused by it. Since 2013, obesity itself has been considered a disease. And yet, while we don’t ridicule or bully people who have other diseases such as type 2 diabetes or cancer, we also don’t preach that they should be “accepted”, either. Instead, we promote the funding of cancer research, as well as lifestyle changes being instituted by individuals to reverse their diabetes.

I agree that it’s important to love and appreciate your body at whatever state you find it in currently. But self-love will inevitably result in giving it what it needs in terms of exercise and nutrition, not routinely overeating, and not accepting or settling for an obese body. Similarly, a parent who loves their child will make sure to wake them up in the morning, educate them, feed them healthy food, and limit their technology use, not because it makes the child happy but because it is what the child needs. As well, positive psychology has taught us that using positive motivations to change (for instance, losing weight to be able to participate in sports) is more effective than using negative motivations (feeling worthless after being bullied about your weight). If you don’t love and value your body to start with, you won’t care enough to take care of it. There’s nothing refreshing, glorious, positive, or inspiring about a body that is so large normal daily activities such as bending, walking, and climbing stairs are painful. Neither is there about the possibility of high blood pressure, strokes, or death resulting from carrying excessive weight.

I would really love to hear other’s opinions about this topic, especially other fat people’s. Do you think the Fat Acceptance Movement is a long time in coming due to all of the prejudice we have faced historically? Or do you agree that the movement is misinformed and dangerous?