Fat Phobia: An Easy Target

I am loving my 40s! Mostly because I understand myself and how I interact with others more clearly than ever before in my life. I AM AN EMPATH. I have learned that if I am not very intentional, I can be easily swayed by the feelings and opinions of others. I am the girl who sits and listens to the guy selling solar panels because I want him to feel like he did a good job! This complete stranger’s self-worth matters to me, and I certainly don’t want to hurt his feelings. It is only by the Grace of God that I don’t currently own solar panels. My boundaries can be, well, rather porous. Empathy is a superpower, but it can also be kryptonite. A counselor once shared with me that the place where empathy and reality intersect, will always be life’s greatest challenge for me as an individual. I know this to be true.

Fat Phobia has been a buzz phrase I have had to really sit with. I have wanted to write about it a number of times, but stopped myself because I wasn’t ENTIRELY sure if my opinions on the matter were my own, or simply a reflection of other people’s opinions. Today, I am ready to share my thoughts.

The Boston Medical Center defines Fat Phobia as “the implicit and explicit bias of overweight individuals that is rooted in a sense of blame and presumed moral failing “. Eeeeesh…… “Presumed moral failing” is the phrase that sticks with me. Thin equals good, fat equals bad. Thin equals health, fat equals sick. Thin equals winning at life and a display of discipline. Fat equals failure and laziness. We aren’t “getting it done”.

Plus size content creators and social media influencers get a lot of negative feedback from the fitness community about “promoting obesity”, and it hurts my heart. The body type is NOT the promotion. We’ve missed the message. The message is that, as a person who exists in a larger body, you have the right to dance, enjoy fashion, go on travel adventures, etc. Body acceptance and fitness goals are not mutually exclusive. Fat people are worthy of fully existing in their body today, as is. We are worthy of doing life and sharing our passions without the accusation of promoting obesity. I don’t think anybody is trying to sell the myriad of medical issues that accompany obesity.

I am diagnosed with insulin resistance and metabolic disorder, and as a parent who has passed on those genetics, I have often been faced with judgement from family, friends, and medical professionals. While that judgement feels like such a burden at times, the heaviest weight I carry is how I judge myself as a mom, my most important calling. It was only recently that I realized that my intense (and perfectly normal) desire to protect my child’s health and my fear of being judged for being a fat parent had become unnecessarily intertwined. It took some time, and perhaps writing this post, to realize that I can actively protect my health and my child’s health via health and fitness initiatives while letting go of fat phobia. My message to her will always be, “we eat good food and we move our body to love ourselves to health not to change a fat body.” If the goal is to change a fat body, I would challenge you, dear reader, to dig a little deeper for your why. Is it bad to have fitness goals because we want to change our looks. No. There is no need to fabricate morally superior goals here. As long as in your heart you realize that your CURRENT body is an equally worthy vessel to do life in and that your worth doesn’t rise and fall with that dang scale, then you do you boo. So many times in my life I have been told something to the tune of, “Melanie you are beautiful, you are smart, successful, kind, loving, BUT…..(insert fat phobic comment)” There has always been a “but”. Today, we are going to backspace that sucker right off the page. To my child, you are chosen, creative, driven, beautiful, smart, successful, kind, and loving. PERIOD…No buts.