I had the pleasure of working with ‘L’ on a project that has taken me way too long, honestly embarrassingly long to get up. But we are here now, and ‘L’ has a story to tell that you should all pay attention to.
What does fat liberation mean?
Fat liberation means that I will not be silenced, and I will not be pushed to the margins any longer. I have spent four-and-a-half decades in a bigger body, and that isn’t going to change. I have been on every diet you can think of, and I have had an eating disorder as a result of the focus on weight, versus health. You cannot tell whether or not someone is healthy, just by looking at them. That is a scientific fact.Some people may believe that fat automatically equates to being unhealthy, and I am here to say that it isn’t necessarily so! Health professionals, and the dominant medical paradigm will make us believe this to be true, but I will say this: correlation does not equal causation. Every single ailment that shows up in fat bodies, also shows up in thin bodies and everywhere in between. I have plenty of thinner friends who eat all sorts of foods that society deems “bad”, and they are not fat. I have plenty of friends who are fat and vegan, and they are still fat! I will also say that there are no “bad” or “good” foods, because moralizing food turns into moralizing the person who is eating the food. We also eat for all sorts of reasons outside of nutrition–joy, pleasure, a birthday, an anniversary, a death–social reasons to eat matter in a society that is a social society.
Fat liberation means that I believe all bodies are good bodies, regardless of size. I believe we all belong! But, here I am, faced with this decision to showcase myself–my big fat body–for all of you to see. I use the word fat as a means of celebration, and liberation– because the word fat has been used against me, since I was born. Fat is just a description, like “the sky is blue or “she is short”. It no longer has a negative affect on me! That took years of therapy and hard work, but here I am to say–hey, I have a body, and it isn’t “perfect” and I am ok with that!
I have been subject to more mockery than anyone should have to face. I even skipped school in elementary school, and in High School because of the mockery and the pain. I have been subject to being either desexualized or fetishized–and both of those have been at the hands of men who did not treat me as a full human. There have been countless other ways in which I have been shamed in my body.
And, if we want to talk about weight loss–the fact is, shaming does not work! The science actually states that people who are in larger bodies, and who are shamed about it, have POORER health outcomes. It is the fact that we are ridiculed for being fat in the first place that causes our health to decline. Think about that for a moment. We are a social species that depends on others to survive. Think about human history: Hunter and Gatherers needed one another to survive. If someone was thrown out of society, they would eventually die on their own. This is what our society does to fat people–we are told it is our fault, when there is a mountain of scientific evidence to the contrary.
Linda Bacon, who is the author of Body Respect states that somewhere between 5-25% of our health outcome is about behavior change, and that the rest of that 75% is due to multiple factors–like living in a society that hates fat people, genetics, environment, food scarcity, ever being on at least one diet, etc. If you would like to learn more about this, I highly recommend you pick up her book!
I am here to say that I am beautiful, I am sexy, my body matters, and that I will no longer apologize for the body that I live in. I am worth as much as anyone else, and I have intrinsic value as a human being. I will not be reduced to my size. I will not allow people to hurt me any longer.
I did this photo shoot with Anthony, as a way to reclaim myself. Are there images that I don’t particularly “like”? Sure! Is it because I think fat is bad? No! Is it because I have internalized all of the negativity over four-and-a-half decades? Yes! Is it because fat is seen as less-than and something to be “fixed”? Yes!
And, here’s the truth…
I do not need to be fixed.
I am perfect exactly as I am.
If I lived in a society that loved me for me, regardless of size, I might not hold on to so much shame. The fact is, I have been shamed. I have been mooed and oinked at. I have been silenced. I have been told that I am unfuckable, or undatable. I am not taken seriously in job interviews. I will be expected to make less of a living wage than people in average or thin bodies. I have and will be subject to all of these things, because our society hates fat people. What our society hates even more, is a fat person who is learning to love and accept herself exactly as she is.
I will not be controlled.
I will not be boxed in.
I will not allow this any longer.
I know that people have their own self-hatred and they project it on to me. I know this, because I have a Master’s degree in psychology. I know the ways in which we collectively ostracize people who are different. We need to examine our own “preferences” for people, and body size. We need to look at that through the lens of a fat-hating society.
One more thing I will say is…
In a society that is food abundant, thinness is revered. In a society that is food scarce, fatness is revered.
I did this photo shoot for myself, and my own body love and empowerment, but I also did this for all of the fat girls who have been ashamed to undress in front of their partner or to make love with the lights on. I believe we can all heal from the shame that has been placed on us, if we look at why those things happen in the first place–with compassion, love and empathy.
I believe in being empathetic to those who have hurt me. I understand that they have their own body struggles too, most likely. They hate on themselves, and they pass that hate on to others. Body terrorism is real!
I have learned what is mine to own, and what is other people’s “stuff”. This is how I have learned to survive in a world that continues to tell me that I am wrong for the body that I have. My truth says that I am not wrong, and I am just as worthy as anyone else to exist.
If you struggle with body image, there are people to help! I would suggest that you contact a therapist who is Health At Every Size informed. If you need resources, I can certainly provide them for you. No one should suffer in their own pain and misery about their body. Your body is beautiful, and I don’t even need to see it to believe that. Other people’s voices get stuck in our heads, and I have decided that I will no longer let anyone else take up residency inside my thoughts and feelings when it comes to my body. I am thankful for what it can do! It is my vehicle to get through life. I love this body, because it’s the only one that I believe I will ever get.
Be kind, because you never know what someone else is struggling with. We all have our demons, but mine have been set free!