Fat Positivity Requires Me To Be Positive About Every Kind of Body

by Katie Cloyd
Originally Published: 
Samantha Hurley/Burst

I’ve been fat my entire life. Literally. The whole entire thing. If you’re in a fat body like me, we probably have some things in common. I’d love to chat with you today because I think there are a few things fat people should probably consider when we talk about bodies and self-acceptance. I think we can do a little better.

I hated my size for most of the first 30 years of my life. Honestly, I still have my days where the voices in my head tell me I’m not good enough. But over the last few years, I’ve come to see my body totally differently than ever before. I’m happy now. My body size is just not important to me anymore. I care more about my health and happiness than some kind of bullshit ideal size or shape.

A big part of getting here was confronting my own internalized fat biases. It was an uncomfortable idea. It hurt me to realize how much I detested fat bodies. But I admitted it anyway, dealt with it, and did intentional work to change my mindset about weight and size.

I would venture to say most of us are dragging around some ideas about fat people and our bodies that really need to be dealt with. Like, now.

It’s not our fault. We have lived in the disaster of diet and “wellness” culture for so long.

But it’s still our responsibility to be better.

Maybe you are clinging to some idea about the hierarchy of fat body acceptability, believing smaller fat people with fairly even proportions are inherently more attractive than larger, rounder fat people simply by virtue of being closer to the cultural ideal. Do you have unwritten and unspoken limits for how big a person can get and still be considered beautiful, sexy, and acceptable?

Do you think you can tell someone’s health just by looking at them? If a person was very large but reported that they received a clean bill of health from their physician, would you high five them while raising an internal eyebrow?

Those are just a few examples of size biases that might still be clanging around in your brain, effing with your chances to see yourself and other people as whole and well and beautiful.

It’s time to let them go.

We have to end the obsession with thinness as a prerequisite for health and beauty, and we also have to reject the idea of health as the gold standard for worth. If we can only validate and respect people who are healthy, we aren’t honoring bodies of any size. Health is not attainable for everyone. Some people of every size are sick and will always be sick. They still deserve a place in the conversation about self-love, body acceptance, and living peacefully in your skin.

I can’t imagine a world where I will ever go back to seeing some bodies as inherently better than others. It was such a heavy state of mind. I am grateful for the way I see things today. It is a more peaceful place to live. I feel better now that I can honestly say that I don’t think my body is inferior to thin bodies.

Everyone has the right to live happily in whatever body they have.

If we, as fat people, see any woman for the shape and size of her body exclusively, we are no better than the media messages that do that same shit to us day in and day out.

Let’s be honest, though. Living comfortably in your body is easier for some people. Saying it isn’t verges on absurd. There are certain kinds of bodies — usually cis, white, thin, and athletic — that are validated everywhere they go. I get why it feels frustrating sometimes to include people with that specific kind of privilege in the body positivity conversation. It is important to acknowledge that many bodies are validated by virtue of existing. Because that’s a fact.

Sometimes, to stay the course and see myself as amazing, I need to have conversations where fat bodies are the singular focus. I think that’s okay. People who have walked similar difficult roads need and deserve spaces where our experiences reign supreme. We need a time and place to be the norm instead of the exception. Sometimes, in fat positive spaces, it’s appropriate to celebrate fat bodies exclusively without mentioning that it’s okay to be thin, too. We need that.

But there’s solidarity, then there’s toxicity. Fat babes, we have to be careful we aren’t choosing to be catty and toxic, pretending it’s healthy community.

If we, as fat people, see any woman for the shape and size of her body exclusively, we are no better than the media messages that do that same shit to us day in and day out.

Yes, it’s important to declare, “Hey, fat people deserve to exist happily, too!” Too often, we are excluded and undervalued. It’s not okay. We have every right to feel like Horton’s Whos once in a while, chanting, “We are here! We are here!” The world isn’t always nice to us, and we are totally allowed to be done with that bullshit.

But while we endeavor to be comfy in our fat bodies, we need to be able to say, “Come over here, thin girl. We see your struggle, too. You can sit with us.”

Our message isn’t diminished if we include people in thin bodies in the conversations sometimes. Everyone needs a little help feeling comfortable and at peace in the vessel that carries them through the world.

Finding that peace looks different for everyone. I had to change my mind, but some people have to change their bodies. Some people will never find peace with their body if they leave it as-is. If someone knows that they must make a change to their body to live in comfort, there is no choice involved for me. I’m going to support them a million percent.

You need to change your size to find peace? Rock on, friend. Don’t hurt yourself, and don’t buy the lie that you’re not enough today and every day — no matter what that scale or that clothing size says. Nourish your body with foods that contain all the things a human body needs. Move in a way that feels good to you, and watch your body change so you can feel the peace I finally feel. I’m not here for diet culture, but I’m here for YOU.

I’m in for personal transformative growth, whether than means changing your size, adjusting your body to reflect your gender, sculpting your muscles to appear stronger, or any other thing a person might need to do to feel at home in their body.

Fat people are the perfect group to lead the charge on speaking the hell up about bullshit body expectations and unrealistic depictions of size and beauty. We fight against it so much. We are experts.

But we shouldn’t only declare, “Our fat bodies are fine!”

We really should add, “Because all bodies are fine!”

And we need to believe it.

All bodies. Fat bodies. Thin bodies. “Perfect” Hollywood bodies. Post-baby bodies. Trans bodies. Shrinking bodies. Expanding bodies. Healthy bodies. Chronically ill bodies. All of them. All the bodies.

We need to find space to celebrate and validate every kind of human body or our body positivity isn’t very positive at all…and wouldn’t that mean it’s kind of for nothing?

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