Is This Fatphobia?
Content warning: This post talks about weight, body image, and disordered eating.
I weighed myself today. I haven't done this too often in the past year- maybe once or twice a quarter. Sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes as a postpartum point of reference, and sometimes just to chastise myself. It’s been almost 14 months since I’ve given birth and I'm 7 or 8ish pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. I guarantee you, the moment I "break even" (is that even a thing?), I will have to reconcile not looking the same as I did in October of 2020 despite being the same weight. Instead of a “bounce back”, I’m bouncing into something new.
Let me start from the top.
I grew up in a fatphobic household although no one was using this language back then. My father was a professional boxer and my mom ran and lifted weights. No one in my house ever dieted or restricted calories. This was the 90s, after all! Our home was as stocked with hamburger helper, ramen noodles (aka oodles of noodles or oodles n' noodles), and spaghetti-o’s as everyone else’s. We focused on being strong and looking strong. We ran fast, we had visible abs, and we were super active as a family. That was my foundation of movement and some of my favorite childhood memories.
You could be a lot of things in my family, but if you were fat...yikes.
It meant you lacked self-control or you were lazy. Whatever the scenario, it was your fault. No one ever talked about access and equity in healthcare, food deserts and poverty, mental health, trauma, discrimination, distrust of doctors…none of it. And the fat kids at school? Child abuse. Their parents should know better. Their parents should do better.
I’m cringing as I type, but the only way out is through.
A few housekeeping items:
We are conditioned to favor smaller bodies.
We think we know enough about bodies based on google searches and carousel posts on Instagram.
We feel entitled to judge, diagnose, and discuss other people’s bodies.
These harmful biases and thoughts perpetuate and exacerbate discrimination against folks in larger bodies because the truth is: we have no idea how or why someone looks the way they do, we cannot tell the status of their health by looking at them, and none of it is our business unless they make it so.
It takes a long time to unlearn and relearn. It's a lot of work to look at your inner ugly. It takes immense grace to investigate the ways in which your privilege and ableism harms others, and courage to actively change it. It's only then that we can think about becoming allies to communities that have been discriminated against, disenfranchised, and silenced.
In college, my body started changing. Between dining hall food, lack of exercise, and smoking cigarettes- I was gaining weight and I didn't feel good. I decided not to continue running track, and without teammates or coaches to push me, I felt a lack of accountability. Now I know that I could have spent 30-60 minutes in the gym 3-4 days a week and over time, I would have been fine! But that’s not how diet culture works, right? TV, magazines, celebrities… the messaging is: lose the weight, and do it quickly!
Not: be consistent.
Not: here are some resources to support you.
Not: the standard of beauty is unrealistic and racist anyway, so don’t even bother.
I tried to lose weight by restricting, starving, purging, shakes, elimination diets, laxatives, teas, "cleanses", working out really hard one day then taking too many days off.
Girl, it was a whole mess.
By the time I became a fitness instructor, I realized I could re-brand my fatphobia and call it health.
Buying gluten-free groceries knowing damn well I don't have celiac disease.
Eating my burger without the bun because "I didn't need the carbs", knowing damn well a burger with a bun is one of my favorite foods. And actually, I did need the carbs.
Not eat bananas because they're too sugary. (I have to laugh at how stupid this is)
Only drinking clear liquor with soda because... calories.
Buying juice cleanses systems to "detox".
I mean, honestly, I could go on and on.
I'm not saying any of the above behaviors are automatically disordered. But I will say that I know they are disordered for me because there was no joy.
I removed things I enjoyed out of fear of of gaining weight because I know how evil we are to people in larger bodies.
Many of the people who will read this have only ever known me as a fitness instructor, so they unknowingly had a front row seat to some of my most unhealthy and disordered habits. And therein lies one of my issues with the fitness industry. We have the ability to change lives, yet we are also perpetrators of shortcuts and misinformation, and we're notorious for operating outside of our scope of practice.
Many fitness instructors, fitness influencers, wellness coaches, holistic coaches, health coaches, life coaches, personal trainers, and your mom, are not qualified to talk about:
What you should eat
When you should eat
How to detoxify your liver
Your menstrual cycle
Many instructors look the way we do because:
Wellness is our job
Undereating & overtraining
Access to fresh food
Supportive community: partners, parents, etc.
If you are looking to make some changes to help you feel better from the inside out, some people who may be able to help you:
Registered dietitian (different from a nutritionist)
Mental health professional
Primary care physician or specialist
These lists are not exhaustive. And I'm not putting everyone in a box, but generally speaking, you have to be careful with snake oil, ok? Your body is beautifully complicated and unique. Don’t oversimplify its processes. Don’t treat it like trash by trying to force it to be smaller.
I'm learning and undoing, and I'm bringing you all with me.
Get in losers, we’re becoming better people.
Please tell me you get the above reference? #geriatricmillenial
What’s happening this week:
Reading: Finishing the last chapter of Speak, and for book club, I finished You Made A Fool of Death With Your Beauty.
Watching: Acapulco on Apple TV
Last Purchase: Check out Post 21 for some awesome gifts. I made a reel last week with what I purchased for Z.