Friday, July 06, 2007

Am I a Hypocrite?

I'm pretty sure that, yeah, I qualify as a hypocrite.

I read these amazing, kick-ass blogs by people like Kate Harding, The Rotund, and mo pie at Big Fat Deal (to name just a few), and they make me want to run down the street waving a fat acceptance banner. I want to spread the word that you can be fat and healthy. And beautiful, and smart, and kind, and powerful.

Hell, I jumped on the blog bandwagon so that I could talk more about fat and health and beauty.

But I'm a hypocrite, because I catch myself thinking, "Oh, if/when I do xyz, I'll lose weight....", probably 50 times a day.

You see, losing weight has been my number one life goal for probably 25 years of my 36 years on the planet. (Which is so fucking sad to see the numbers just staring back at me like that — a quarter of a century in which the size of my body has trumped every other concern, bar none.) I know that I'm far from the only person who can say that. I realize that the fat-hating that has been inculcated in me doesn't make me unique.

I started dieting when I was 11 or 12, because I was tall for my age and therefore larger than the other girls in my class. I wasn't fat. I wasn't even overweight by the weight/height charts of the 1980s. But I had the misfortune of reaching my maximum height by the time I was 13 or 14, which made me a beast next to my classmates who weren't finished growing.

I started dieting when I was 11 or 12 because my mom was a model before she met my dad, and she never "lost" her model's figure. She worked absurdly hard to keep that slender frame, actually, and put a very high value on attaining and maintaining thinness.

Of course, I'm built like my dad, rather than like my mom — she's 5' 9", flat-chested, and not prone to building muscle, even with hard work. I, on the other hand, am 5' 6", have always had a generous bosom, and I build muscle literally within days. She and I are built completely differently.

The problem is, her frame is the one our society values. So telling myself that I was just built differently didn't really help my outlook. I figured I'd just have to try as hard as I could to be as thin as my build would allow. (And, when I couldn't lose weight past a certain point even when I fasted, I can see now that that was all my body would allow.) And my mom encouraged my pursuit of weight-loss, instead of promoting body acceptance. But then, how could she promote accepting a heavy body, when all her energies went into preventing her own body from gaining even an ounce?

(I have friends who talk about their overweight mothers, and I wonder what it would have been like to grow up with a female role model whose physical shape was one that wasn't literally impossible for me to achieve. How different would I be now?)

This is the part of the post where someone will tell me I'm blaming my fat on my mother. And I did do that, for a long time. Face it, parents lay down the psychological foundation — good AND bad — for their children. Growing up with a mother who valued thinness did affect how I viewed — and still view — my never-thin body.

But I'm an adult, and I'm responsible for my own well-being now, both psychological and physical. My mom may have laid the foundation, but (to continue the metaphor), I can build something new over it. Or, hell, I can just move somewhere else, where I can lay my own damn foundation. It's not a perfect metaphor, but I think my point is clear: I don't blame anyone for my fat these days.

....except I still blame me. Which brings me back to the subject of this post, which is that I feel like a hypocrite for promoting fat acceptance when I still think about things in terms of weight loss or gain. When I think that, if only I weren't so lazy, if I walked on the treadmill for an hour a day, I'd lose weight.

Yeah, that's blaming myself. And demonstrates a mindset that preaches fat acceptance while still hoping to lose weight. Blaming AND hypocrisy.

But I want to get to a point where I accept my fat self exactly as I am, and stop viewing things in terms of how they'll impact my weight. I watched Joy Nash's amazing Fat Rant for the first time tonight, and I so so SO want to be that self-assured and self-accepting.

I'm not there yet. Not even close. But I'm trying very hard to get there. And I hope that counts for something.


The Rotund said...

It ABSOLUTELY counts for something. Quite honestly, this whole fat acceptance thing is a journey and there probably WILL come a day when you don't frame everything in terms of weight loss automatically but it might take you a little while to get there. Recognizing what you are doing? Is SO important. Recognizing what you are doing (i.e., I'll do x when I lose y pounds) and then doing something different (i.e., I am going to do y ANYWAY) is the next step!

Anonymous said...

I too, have recently been pondering the hypocrisy of loving my body as is while in the midst of changing it. I don't have an answer for this.
I admit that I continue to lose weight and I can't deny that society has probably (likely) had some affect on that choice, but I am so glad there are FA blogs like yours (and shapely prose, where I found a comment of yours) out there to help me accept and love myself now, in spite of any weight loss, certainly not because of it.
Keep blogging, I look forward to future posts!

Teppy said...

It ABSOLUTELY counts for something.

Thank you! That means a lot to me.

Keep blogging, I look forward to future posts!

Thanks, briana — I fully intend to keep nattering on for as long as I have something to say!