Please do not feed the diet monster

It’s only been two years since I started trying to break out of the whole mainstream fatphobic diet mentality thing, and I already have far, far more good days than bad. I learned to love my body and my self no matter what size or shape, I can recognise damaging talk when I hear it, I will never go on another diet as long as I live.

But earlier this week I made a mistake. I had a meeting after work, and traffic was bad so I only had a few minutes at home to change out of my work clothes. I threw on some jeans and a hoodie and ran out the door.

Fifteen minutes later, when I knew I would make the meeting on time and had calmed down enough to notice, I realised that my jeans didn’t fit. At all. What should have been boot cut was now super skinny, I couldn’t bend my knees fully, and even when I was standing the waistband dug into my stomach.

I was stuck in those jeans for 5 hours. Aside from the physical discomfort, I noticed some thoughts sneaking in as the night went on. Thoughts like

This is just because of the injury. Once I start exercising again I’ll get smaller.

If I use my kettlebells, that’ll have an effect faster.

These used to fit me, how did I let myself get so much bigger?

And hundreds of variations on that theme.

I had forgotten how ingrained fatphobia was. Here I was thinking I had beaten it, but less than an hour in some tight trousers was enough to push me a huge step backwards and get me planning and plotting to make myself smaller.

What’s even worse is that the effect didn’t go away when I took the jeans off. It’s days later now and I’ve got my first salsa class since before my injury; I know I’m bigger than last time most of the salsa scene saw me, and I’m afraid of what they will think of me. There’s a small part of me that is actually seriously considering not going.

All this because of ONE PAIR OF FREAKING JEANS!

Of course I’m going to salsa. That nasty voice in my head is still trying to stop me, but I’ve had two years practice at throwing my shoulders back, lifting my chin and doing it anyway. And then the second I have enough free time, I’m going through every item of clothing I own and getting rid of anything and everything that doesn’t fit me. If I then need to go and buy bigger clothes, so be it. Clothing sizes are just numbers and not one of them is better than another.

My body is perfectly fine exactly as it is. My body (and my mind) deserves clothes that fit well and that make me feel fabulous, not like a sausage about to burst its skin.

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Sometimes it’s hard

I leave my flat to walk to work. On the way some builders wolf-whistle me, then call me a bitch and a whore when I don’t respond.

I stop to buy coffee and a man steps in front of me in the queue, talking loudly into his phone. He doesn’t even acknowledge me.

I get to work and head to my desk past the guy who thinks he’s being nice, but only ever compliments me on my outfit, and only ever when I’m wearing a dress.

A man tries to explain a report to me that I have been running longer than he has been with the company. After telling him three times that I know what I’m doing I end up snapping at him, and he jokes to a colleague that it must be that time of the month.

There is training out on site; I step from the car and the first man I see asks if I’m a secretary. The training takes twice as long as planned, because they interrupt constantly to ask questions that would be answered if they would just listen until I finish speaking.

Back to the office and I take out my afternoon snack. A manager leans over and loudly asks, “are you still eating??” When I refuse to dignify that with an answer, he also mutters about my time of the month.

Finally time to go home. On the way, a randomer stops me and tells me to smile, I would look so pretty if I smiled. When I answer “you bloody smile” and walk off, he calls me names, screaming them down the street until I turn the corner out of his line of sight. If I’m lucky. If he doesn’t grab me, hit me, stab me, shoot me, rape me for not doing as I’m told.

A group of teenage boys are hanging round at the end of my street. They spread out across the pavement when they see me, thinking they can stop me. I have had more than enough so I just keep walking, banging against their shoulders, pushing through. They call me a whore, slut, cunt. They follow me home.  Tomorrow I’ll have to come home a different way.

I barely even noticed the billboards and adverts I saw all day long, using skinny, half-naked women to sell anything and everything from beer to clothes to holidays to burgers.

 

No, I am not imagining it. No, I am not making it up. No, I am not being over-sensitive.

If I had actually been on my period every time my feelings have been dismissed as PMS, I would have bled to death years ago.

If I had a pound for every time a man has assumed the right to command my facial expression, I would no longer have to work.

If I added up all the extra distance I have walked in my life to avoid males who make me feel unsafe, it would reach to Crewe and back. Several times.

Yes, you’re damn right I’m a feminist. Yes, we still need feminism. Because yes, we still have such a long, long way to go.

What do you see?

gob

I’m not going to post a link to this video, it’s had far too much air time already, but you know the one I’m talking about.

Many, many people have responded to it, probably far better than I’m about to. But I have to post, because while watching the video I saw something I wasn’t expecting.

Obviously I see her fat shaming (you can’t say something doesn’t exist and then go on to do that thing for 5 solid minutes. Seriously.), her shallow judgement and bigotry, and the complete ignorance of scientific studies about fat as it relates to health. Standard.

But underneath all that is something less obvious. Something I’ve never noticed before because I’ve always been so focused on the vitriol.

I see the reason fat acceptance and body positivity are for everyone. I see how we have so demonised fatness that just being thin is not enough any more. I see people like her filling their lives with hate and spite and negativity and shame, because somehow that’s a better alternative to being associated in any way with fat.

I see fear.

And we’re all supposed to join in with this?

You’re telling me that I have to starve my body into eating itself smaller, kicking it along with strenuous exercise whether I like it or not, to force it into a shape it was never meant to be (only around 5% of the population naturally have that ‘ideal’ body type). Then when I finally get there I not only have to keep up the ridiculous effort to stay there, I also have to give out nastiness to anyone bigger than me?

Sorry (not sorry) but I’ve got better things to do with my life. Like being happy.

Which is why the fat acceptance movement is important for everyone, not just fat people.

Imagine a world where people can eat whatever they feel like eating, wear whatever they feel like wearing, do whatever they feel like doing, safe in the knowledge that nobody will tell them they can’t because of the way they look. Nobody would tell skinny people to just go and eat a cheeseburger, or fat people to just eat a salad. Fat people wouldn’t need to be afraid of videos being made about them, because skinny people wouldn’t feel the need to make them.

It’s not about ‘promoting obesity’ (I can’t get over how stupid an argument that is), it’s about destroying judgement and fear. And that is for every body.