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Working to heal my own fatphobia.

CW: Discussion of disordered eating, weighing, fatphobia, healthism.

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I weighed myself yesterday and I really wish I hadn’t. To be clear, I am a cishet, white, straight bodied, neurotypical, female without any disabilities.

I do not experience any intersectional discrimination of any kind. I’m about as privileged as they come and I would need to gain a significant amount of weight to begin being discriminated against for it and even then, fat white women do not experience the same level of health and social discrimination as fat black women and women of colour. (Without even bringing additional intersections in)

I haven’t spoken about this area of my work and personal stuff much on this blog because it’s a new blog, but anyone who has worked with me or followed my previous work in the past 4 or so years will know I’m a huge advocate of mindful eating, intuitive eating, health at every size and health justice. I am also super honest about my own life long struggles with food relationships as a straight bodied person.

The distinction of talking about stuff as a straight bodied person is important.

As someone in a privileged position its easy to centre ourselves and do damage to the political movement of body positivity. That movement aims towards liberation of fat bodies and I have never experienced any of the discrimination, hate or pain that fat people experience every day.

Straight bodied people experiencing fatphobia and fat people experiencing discrimination and oppression because of that fatphobia are two different things and they can co- exist without fat liberation being pushed to the side or co opted by the people already holding the privilege. We just need to recognise the difference and the parts we play.

A fantastic article that helps explain this is below, written by the wonderful Aubrey Gordon

What you call internalised fatphobia might be internalised dominance

I’m trained in mindful and intuitive eating, I research non stop, I read all the books and take part in wonderful learning circles as often as I can.

And I do that because I am myself healing from the damage of diet culture and healthism and that shit is simply abhorrent.

Its not only horrendously damaging to people existing (and thriving) in large bodies (Fatphobia and healthism literally kills and it often comes from the profession who swore an oath to do no harm) but its also damaging for every single person regardless of your body size, weight or shape.

-Diet culture is the reason your daughter or son thinks they should eat less bananas because they make you fat (total bull)

-Diet culture is the reason that food has a voice pleading with you to eat it/not eat it, even though it can’t actually speak.

-Diet culture is the reason that when I ask you to imagine a successful, healthy, powerful, strong and confident woman, that she likely shows up as a white, slim, toned, seemingly cisgender woman in a business suit. And holy crap is there a lot to unpack in that alone.

-Diet culture is the reason that we see food as an enemy to wage war against

-And the reason we wage war against ourselves and each other for how we look.

-Diet culture is the reason that frankly legendary women showing healthy bodies who aren’t skinny, on the cover of cosmo can cause epic uproar.

P.S. Go try a yoga session with Jessamyn Stanley and then try to tell me that she can’t do or teach yoga (and dont forget to PAY her for the privilege)

P.P.S. Or if you are looking for a yoga teacher in the UK, book in with Aisha Nash who is an Anti Diet, trauma informed yoga teacher who specialises in teaching yoga from a non fitness perspective. Crazy right? Whats the point in yoga if it’s not to make you thin and ‘healthy’ (that’s the diet culture and fatphobia talking, learn to recognise it)

When I first began to heal my relationship with food I gained weight. If your inner voice is shouting ‘well clearly you weren’t healing anything then’ please know that is diet culture talking and I had exactly the same kinds of conversations in my own head too. I get it.

I knew from my training and research that its normal for the body to adjust up and down when we start to give it the love and respect it (and food) deserves and that your body is supposed to change.

I know it and I also struggle with it.

Recently I unsubscribed to a yoga teacher who I used to enjoy watching and practicing via. She’s a wonderful teacher but as someone healing from Orthorexia type behaviours and experiences, Ive found myself more and more uncomfortable in my own skin and food choices as I watch.

In one 30 minute session following her, I found thoughts popping in about ‘better food choices’ ‘increasing yoga to daily goals not weekly’ and a litany of others all relating back to making myself smaller in body which would surely make the yoga worth it right? (This is the opposite of what she advocates, but she’s also an extremely slim white woman with yoga clothes that sit ‘right’ in all the ‘right’ places)

I recognised the situation, unsubscribed and went in search of yoga teachers who are trauma informed, weight inclusive, might be fat and/or HAES advocates. I found some wonderful teachers. They were all out there and my practice has felt free and beautiful again.

So, back to the weighing incident. Recently my favourite comfy jeans have been less comfy and I’ve found myself avoiding the wonderful skinny jeans I bought a while back because they cut into my waist when I sit down.

You know what this means?

It means I need new jeans.

But I also know this means I have probably gained some weight. The fact that my first thought is that I need new jeans instead of ‘I need to lose weight’ to fit in the current ones is amazing. But that second thought is still pervasive.

So I weighed myself and then I cried.

I’m now the heaviest I have been all my life and I cried about it because with that increase on the scales comes real fear. Because no matter the work, being fat is bad.

And with that fear comes a tirade of thoughts that are a struggle to deal with and yet, even with this weight gain, I am still what any doctor would call a ‘healthy weight’. I will not experience any stigma, discrimination, oppression at the weight that I am.

The fear comes because I am fatphobic. I fear becoming larger in body because I know what happens to the people who are larger in their bodies.

I fear my privileges being taken away.

I’m not worried about my health. It’s improved year on year since I began healing the disordered eating. Its ironic how the very health diets that aim to make you healthier, ends up damaging you isn’t it?

Admitting being fatphobic and fearing a loss of privilege doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me an honest person about what is really going on.

Because its from there that I can do the work.

Doing that work looks like buying books from the very people I have an internalised fear right now, of becoming. Normalising listening to the voices of those who are oppressed instead of continuing to contribute to the oppression.

It looks like paying to work with those people, attending their workshops and classes and courses (when it’s appropriate for a straight bodied person to attend. Never assume you get to take up space in a movement not about you.)

It comes from calling out myself and others in the wellness, fitness and health space.

It comes from unfollowing and blocking social media of those who hold the privilege and are using the HAES/Body positivity/Anti diet for their own financial benefit.

It comes from following the experts on it. Ie: the very people it was created for and also the straight bodied people who use their privilege to speak out on the issue instead (and who also often sign post to people who need to be at the front of the movement)

And it also looks like being gentle and kind to myself about the whole thing.

Acknowledging I experience fatphobia and being honest with my self about how and why that shows up for me is super important, and I can do that work too.

I just don’t have to continually centre myself in the body positive movement to do it.

I mean, I have totally centred myself in this blog and I recognise that. Story telling around my own life and experiences is what I do and this is where I do that so I’m still trying to work out how to talk about stuff in a different way when needed.

Some wonderful books that I highly recommend are below, if you get them from my bookshop it contribute towards supporting independent bookshops. I get a small commission for this, which I put towards more books for myself or, find the titles on the link and go buy the books from the authors themselves.

Both options are wonderful.

Body Positivity, HAES, Fat liberation, Body Respect book recommendations


Massive love as always and hopefully some food for thought.

Nici

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