During my teenage years, I knew I wasn’t thin enough. I had curves, but I was not athletic or particularly active, so my rounded belly, curvaceous hips, and thick thighs stood out to me. I suffered from irritable bowel syndrome as a teen and, although regularly sick, I never felt like my body “benefited” from being ill. It seemed only fair that, if I had to be sick and avoid certain foods, I should at least be thin. And, full disclosure, I would have traded some of my health for thinness if it’d worked. If you’d asked me, I would deny that being fat was “bad,” but I’d clearly bought into the idea that fat bodies can’t.
My Secret Fear
My secret fear in aging was becoming fat. I knew what fat bodies couldn’t do: Be beautiful, be sexy, exercise without looking foolish, wear a bikini, don stylish clothing, gain respect, hike, climb, swim, ride, play, or be taken seriously-not fully and equally. Even though I loved many fat and overweight people who were beautiful, fun, active, and more, I still bought into the idea that fat bodies can’t.
Today, I’m 41 and fat. I still want to erase the word “fat” and put “overweight” because I feel like connotation matters. I’ve spent years learning to live in my changing body; one that’s experienced pregnancy, childbirth, c-sections, miscarriages, moving, depression, marriage, sex, weight loss, breastfeeding, weight gain, exercising, concussions, surgery, periods of inactivity, travel, and more. My body is good and enough to live a rich, challenging, stimulating, love-filled life.While I still struggle with that voice in my head telling me I’d be worth more thin, I am learning that fat bodies can.
It’s amazing that it’s taken so long to learn this. I hiked a mountain and my husband proposed to me at 25: I was overweight then. I’ve spent countless hours chasing toddlers, swimming, swinging, walking Europe, earning a Master’s Degree, starting a new career teaching, and walking up and down stairs; all while being overweight. My life has shown me this: fat bodies can.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve taken up biking. We’re lucky to have a gorgeous, scenic bike trail near our home that is used by amateurs and more serious cyclists. This spring, I declared that I wanted to ride every day. My husband took up the challenge–an initial idea to ride 6 miles round trip became a 13 mile ride every morning. And riding is hard. Exhilarating. Exhausting. Energizing. Fun. I get to talk with my best friend every morning and push my body to keep going and challenging itself. I pass by all kinds of people with all types of bodies–older, younger, flabby, fit, curvy, trim, and everything in between–and they all look free and amazing on a bike. I can–and should–bike just as I am, without shame or worry about how I look doing it. Fat bodies can.
The Weight of Your Weight
If you’re feeling the weight of your weight, it can prevent you from being active or thinking you are capable. The weight of other’s judgment and expectations is also incredibly heavy. I’ve tried different workouts and always felt sweaty, awkward, and self-conscious. During the past few years, I lost 20 hard-earned lbs on Keto, then put 30 back on. But I am not defined by those pounds. I will not be more love-able, like-able, or worth more if I drop weight. I may do so for my health and my body may change as I change, or maybe it won’t. Either way, I can.
Fat Bodies Can
I started making a list of what my body can do and I hope you’ll create your own and add positive things to the comments. If you’re tempted to comment about what fat bodies can’t, just don’t.
Fat Bodies Can
Wear stylish clothes and be trendsetters
Exercise – walk, run, hike, swim, jump, bike, etc.
Be taken seriously
Take up space without guilt
Be in charge
Fat bodies can.