It’s New Year’s Day…
And I know what that means.
A new leaf. Resolutions. Diet plans and advertisements.
Social media feeds filling up with inspirational messages – Facebook with memes, Pinterest with an explosion of recipes designed to “blast the fat” and “melt away the pounds” and “give you the body you always wanted!” Clothing designed to “minimize” and “disguise”.
I am a fat woman. I’m 5’6″ and I have no idea what I weigh. Clothing labels tell me I wear a size 22.
And every single New Year’s Day, I sift through this barrage telling me that I shouldn’t be me…and I can’t help but see it as part of the larger (pun intended) assault on people who identify as female.
I mean…look at the very terms! I – a complex woman, creative, determined, nurturing, a survivor, a wife of almost 20 years, a loving mom, a designer, a hard worker – to the diet industry I am none of those.
I am an object to be “blasted” and “melted” and “disguised” and “minimized”.
By now, we’re all aware that models are photoshopped, airbrushed, contorted, and distorted – what our society upholds as beauty isn’t real or attainable, even by the people whose bodies are used as the base to project this standard to us.
- But knowing that it’s a fantasy doesn’t stop society from pushing the goal of it on women.
- Knowing it’s a fantasy doesn’t stop terrible human beings from giving me disapproving looks or comments when I shop for food, or eat in public.
- Knowing it’s a fantasy doesn’t stop terrible human beings like the person who told me, point blank, that my husband found her more attractive than me, because she was skinny and I was fat.
- Knowing it’s a fantasy doesn’t stop well-meaning people from offering me tips on the latest diet, or their more awful counterpart, the fat-shamer.
Through most of my adult life, I’ve dealt with the assumption that I don’t understand the relationship between food and weight – or that if I’m smart enough to grasp that concept, I must simply be lazy and not willing to work to lose weight.
Neither of those things are true – I’m not stupid/ignorant of what causes weight gain, nor am I lazy.
I eat as healthily as possible – kosher, organic when I can, growing a garden during the brief summers, cooking from scratch most of the time to accommodate various allergies, not frying most foods, using good oils when oil must be used, eating reasonable portions – the same food that has my husband and son both extremely fit and healthy.
So I generally try very hard to ignore those comments and assumptions. After all, they say much more about the person making the assumptions (and tactlessly or cruelly sharing them with me) than they say about me.
I’m only human, though, and sometimes it gets to me. Sometimes a comment will be one too many, and I’ll snap.
That’s when the person gets an earful about the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis that have tag-teamed to wreak havoc on my body; the fact that both of those contribute to weight gain while making weight loss seem impossible; the fact that just moving through my day with a smile in spite of the insomnia, sleep apnea when I do sleep, the weird non-hunger where I forget to eat for meals at a time, being nice even to people who criticize my right to exist in the state I do in spite of the exhaustion and discomfort make me feel kind of like a superhero, thank you very much.
I always regret doing that, though, because then I get a pass. I usually hear some variation of “Oh, you can’t help it, then!” which doesn’t really address the pertinent issue at all, which is…
Each woman has the right to exist, unmolested, in exactly whatever body she wishes to exist in. A woman is the only one who can determine what body she inhabits. No one outside her body gets to determine that for her.
- That means the skinny woman (because it’s her right to choose her own path)
- That means the woman who uses surgery to change her body (because it’s her right to choose her own path)
- That means the fat woman who chooses to try to modify her body, whether by losing weight or by disguising it with how she dresses (because it’s her right to choose her own path)
- That means the fat woman who identifies as fat with no desire to change (because it’s her right to choose her own path)
So this New Year’s Day, here are my resolutions:
- This year will not be spent counting calories or fats or carbs.
- This year will not be spent wishing I were in a different body, hunkering down under the onslaught of those who view women as objects to be molded and marketed to.
- This year will not be spent being critical of my sister women, whether skinny or “average” or fat.
- This year will not be spent trying to minimize or hide who I am.
- This year will not be wasted in futile attempts to modify myself to fit anyone else’s preferred body for me.
It’s New Year’s Day.
And I will not diet.