This post has been in draft for a very long time. I haven’t posted much over the past year, but I hope this addition to the Me and My Scales series will kick-start it off again. This builds on my philosophy that fat and size acceptance are an ongoing journey, not a destination.
I did not one day hear the Fat Acceptance Word and shriek: “Glory!” I was not saved.
I did not go forth and diet no more. Not immediately.
It was a long process, and in some ways I think I will always be working on it all, despite having reached a point of equilibrium, self-care and confidence (with a goodly portion of FUCK YOU to the fat haters).
But for a long time, I still weighed myself. I still rated my value according to the number on the scale. Yes, even though I let myself eat what I wanted. And after so many years of restriction and self denial, what I wanted was food and lots of it. And I still felt the need to binge – to consume vast quantities of ‘forbidden’ food in secret – although the binges became less frequent and a smaller amount of food over time. To the point that I have not binged in years, incidentally.
(No, I’m not claiming ‘good fatty’ status – just stating that for me food restriction, AKA dieting, was one end of a wildly tottering seesaw with binging on the other end. Allowing my eating to self-regulate eventually allowed the seesaw to balance.)
Clearly, this wasn’t self care, but strangely, I feel it was a part of my path being able to care for myself.
I really don’t know how to describe the ‘in between years’ when intellectually I understood that my body did not deserve my hatred, but I hadn’t come to the point where loving my body was natural to me.
But, at some point, the scales disappeared.
I am not sure when, exactly. You would think I’d have a suitably dramatic memory of tossing the scales out the window, or running them over, or some similar angry, defiant act. But I don’t.
Nevertheless, I was somewhat anxious when my partner John commenced home dialysis a few years ago and I had to allow a pair of scales into the house (so he can work out how much fluid is removed each night – ‘dry’ weight vs his pre-dialysis weight).
They sat ominously in the corner of the bathroom: THE SCALES OF DOOM.
I worried that I would be tempted (or perhaps ‘compelled’ is the word?) to re-enter an obsession with a kilo lost or a kilo gained, that I would be on the whole diet merry-go-around again.
But, after about 15 or so years of actively not dieting, and instinctive eating, I found that I was sufficiently at ease with my size and weight to look in the mirror and enjoy my shape, not for its potential if I lose a few kilos, but as it is now.
But I still have ‘bad’ days of course. Doesn’t everyone?
Accepting one’s body as it exists today is a challenge, particularly if one is DEATHFAT.
I remember one particular ‘bad’ day a few years ago relating to the production of one of my partner’s art works. We were sourcing most of the costumes for a 70s tableau from a costume hire studio – and all they had to fit my size were hideous mumus and caftans. I was reduced to humilated tears. It worked out fine in the end – I ended up wearing a black corset over one of the groovier caftans and it looked great – but the humiliation and SHAME OF BEING FAT burned deep that day, even though I declared myself ‘pro-size acceptance’ and had for some time.
That’s part of what I mean about size acceptance and fat acceptance being a journey. We have an idealised goal in mind, but we are human. We have doubts and failings and slips and stumbles. My weight has gone up and down during this time, but that is a natural thing which doesn’t bother me either way. I haven’t been on a scale in a long time, and could only guess at what I weigh (approx 115kg +/- 5kg). At the moment, I am on a downward cycle (My jeans from last year completely slip over my hips), but that is not through any conscious decision to lose weight. I don’t feel like I am depriving myself of anything – quite the opposite in fact! However I am sure that at some point, I will be on a gaining cycle again.
We are battling against anti-fat propaganda and pressure to be thin. In fact, I believe it goes further; it’s a pressure on women in general to be aware of the *beholder* (you know “beauty is in the eye of…”, etc.) That is, we judge ourselves (and are judged) by external things – how we dress, our make up, whether our hair is professionally coifed or tousled, our size – things that are basically superficial.
The realisation that we can base our self-esteem on things other than our appearance is a big one, but very, very hard. I don’t think anyone can perfectly achieve size acceptance 100% of the time, but being aware that it is a path we can choose is a really important first step.