I just read a great post about what “health” means. Some people protest the idea in our culture that “certain bodies are beautiful, acceptable, and desirable while others aren’t.” Why would you protest that? That’s what beauty is. It’s exclusive and/or temporary (Ex: a cherry blossom). More to the point, beauty is individual. Someone is beautiful because you can see something special about them.
As a figure model, I pose for artists and painters. The artists love to have someone with a little extra on their figures because it makes for a more interesting drawing. No human figure is the same, and that’s beautiful. The human figure is beautiful, especially when seen through the eyes of someone who looks to see and create beauty.
The Greek saying “sound body, sound mind” brought us a lot of great statues. The ideal of the male body wasn’t just about looking good, it was a symbol of the beauty of his thoughts. Obesity is wearing an out of control psychological problem on your sleeve. It’s an over-share.
Doctors and bosses judge fatness because it looks like laziness and stupidity: those avoidable health problems linked to obesity cost money. Looking at people who are sick or fat is disturbing because it reminds us of our mortality and weakness.
I like feeling my body move, the muscles stretch and flex. I love how the wind and sweat feel on my skin, and how it feels to play a sport well. People who say they exercise “for their health” and not for fun make me sad. I picture florescent lights, a treadmill, a TV droning in the background. That is not healthy.
I also don’t believe in lying to people that you care about their health and that’s why you want them to lose weight. Because you can be fat and healthy (able to run around for a while without being winded). They know you’re lying, weight is personal, and they would make the choice to lose weight if they were ready. Fat is hiding. Guilt and shame have no place in something so personal as our bodies.
I’ve gained a little bit of weight, about 5-10 pounds. My boyfriend said that before I looked too skinny, but being skinny felt better to me. Now I don’t feel as free to move around. The heaviness of my belly presses on my epigastrium, and when I bike, the tops of my legs bump into it. I feel trapped. This is why I don’t understand “fat acceptance.” Being fat is accepting oppression and restriction, accepting it into your own body. Why push for acceptance of oppression?
Guilt and shame bring excuses. Whenever defenders of fat talk about ‘hereditary factors’ or ‘medical issues’ or ‘metabolism’ or other reasons why an individual is fat, I scoff heartily. There are more fat people now than there were 40 years ago. That is not because a crap ton of new medical issues or hereditary factors have appeared, or that everyone’s metabolism ran out of steam at the same time. Gaining weight is done by consuming more energy units than you burn. This is really not a mystery.
I believe in pursuit of self knowledge and identity. But “fat” is not an identity. It’s an escape.