Grace and Spark

Her body’s got a hundred stories like that

I’ve been talking a lot on Facebook lately about my attempts to get my weight down over the last 10 weeks or so. I wrote this post there earlier, but I’m using a somewhat modified version here to get this blog started. I think this post touches on a lot of things this blog will cover, at least from a health perspective. There will also, later, be talk of school and art and writing and cats.

For now, though, I want to talk about how trying to lose weight and loving your body are not mutually exclusive. I have been so excited because I might have found a program, Weight Watchers, that I can stick with. I’m about 10 weeks in, and while I’ve lost some weight, my insulin usage has been cut in half and my resting heart rate is down significantly and that’s a bigger deal for me. My reasons for trying to lose weight are mostly (though not entirely, of course) related to health, so the idea that there might be a time in the future I won’t have to give myself two shots of insulin a day? Magical.

The thing is, despite the progress, I am not a better person than I was when I started Weight Watchers. I say this because I don’t want anyone to think I’ve gotten caught up in the pervasive, dangerous, “thin at any cost, including your physical and mental health,” diet culture that pervades our society. I am still not a fan of the idea of, “I’m just one stomach flu away from my goal weight!” mentality that exists in far more of the population than some might think. I am not doing this because I feel I somehow owe it to society to be thinner. My being fat for the last two decades of my life was not a moral failure. If I decided today that Weight Watchers wasn’t for me, or that I would rather have ice cream than decreased insulin usage, that would not make me a bad person.

We live in a time and place where, “Have you lost weight?” is considered a compliment. This is not to slight the hard work that goes into weight loss. I understand, having done this before, with varying degrees of success, that losing weight is hard work. Being more active is hard work. Controlling binge eating and compulsive eating is hard work. But, the idea that simply appearing to take up less space makes us a better person is a very dangerous idea. I’m not 100% sure what makes someone a good person, but I’m pretty sure most people would rank “trustworthiness” and “doesn’t pee on the toilet seat” higher than “doesn’t take up too much space.” I hope so.

Be fat. Be thin. Be somewhere in between. Eat ice cream and vegetables and occasionally forget to eat lunch and sometimes eat breakfast for dinner. Eat food you like, eat food that makes your body feel good, eat food that makes your soul feel good. If that food is boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or tofu, or a massive piece of cake, or an entire bag of Lays – all of those choices are okay and they’re your choices to make. If you are making the choices that make you happiest, then you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Don’t let a society that demonizes the word “fat” tell you that eating ice cream makes you a bad person.

This is not meant to imply that trying to lose weight is bad – clearly, I’m in support of the idea if that’s what you’re support of for yourself. I’m personally trying to lose weight. But, I think it’s so incredibly important that  people realize being fat or being thin does not tie into your worth as a person. You are wonderful and beautiful and valuable just as you are, right now.

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