The first time I felt inferior about my body, I was eight. I noticed there was something different about me and the girls that I was seeing on screen. There was a disconnect. I felt different, and not in that special way. I felt different and all I wanted was for that feeling to go away. So I started to diet, on and off until about I was 18.
A decade of disordered eating later, I still struggle with my body image. I am much more confident with my body and much further along on the journey of self-love than I was back then, but I still fall and have to pick myself up by the bootstraps. These missteps occur when I think about the respect and admiration I would gain from (mostly) thinner peers when they realized I was on a “health” journey and that I was losing weight. No one understood that my body was eating itself from the inside out. I have to remind myself that I was miserable and fainting, and sick. I have to remind myself that I was sick.
In order to feel inferior, there has to be a superior. And that superior is thinness. We live in a society that values thinness and conventional attractiveness above all else. So what happens when fat girls who don’t fall into the categories of thinness or “conventional attractiveness” love themselves?
We are met with laughs, jokes, and trolling. We are told that no one would love us and that we should be thinking about our health. We are told that we are undeserving of a fulfilling life. And yes, most of this comes from men. But this also comes from women.
Women who are thin. Women who have never been fat. Women who used to be fat but are now thin and their lives are so-much-better. Women who never shut the fuck up about their diets and how today is their “cheat day”. They can’t wrap their brains around the fact that a woman who looks like me doesn’t live in agony every single day.
The idea that a fat girl can love herself unapologetically makes these women mad for one reason and one reason alone: body superiority.
Body superiority is the idea that by having a thinner or more conventional body, you are worth more. You should be valued more. Your life should be better. When fat girls love themselves fiercely and without compromise, this takes away the merit of having a thinner body. You no longer hold the power.
The idea of fat shaming and fatphobia is all rooted in this idea that by having a thinner body, you deserve more opportunities. We saw this earlier this year when Tess Holiday was on a magazine cover! Thin women everywhere were preaching “but what about her health”? But I don’t remember them asking for blood tests from any other celebrity.
When you are complicit in your self-hatred, you project it onto others. There are people whose worst fear is having a body like mine. That’s their worst fear. Not dying. Not losing the ones they love. Becoming fat. And it’s because they know what society does to fat people. They participate in it. They enable it. And they don’t do anything to stop it, because it would stop their “perfect” body from meaning something. It would stop their thin body from being a trophy of greatness.
I live a free life. I’m not crying over the doughnut that I ate. I’m not spending my free time at the gym. I’m not doing anything like that, because that’s not healthy for me. I am not agonizing over the taco I ate for dinner. Food doesn’t have a morality and food guilt is something that was created to fuel the multi-billion dollar diet industry. In order to fight diet culture in my own life, I had to love myself passionately and unapologetically.
This body of mine does so much. She gets me from point A to point B. She allows me to have a voice. She can love and laugh and feel so many things. She has great hot-takes sometimes. I am living in a body that I love because she allows me to live. I love her because I don’t get another body. This was the body that the universe gave to me.
I don’t have time to spend hating my body. There are so many things I want to do, and hating my body isn’t on that list. Here are some wake up calls: diet culture thrives on you hating fatness, food doesn’t have morality, cheat days aren’t real, your number on the scale tells you nothing about your character, you are not a good or bad person because of what jean size you are, fashion sizes are fake and are inconsistent.
Love yourselves, love each other, and let’s tear down diet culture, k?
EDIT: this is the accompanying video that inspired this article, so if you want to watch this video, here it is!