In the 37 years I have been inhabiting it, my body has done some stuff. It has taken me on many camping trips, it has gestated, birthed and nourished two babies, it has given of itself and enjoyed the attentions of lovers, it has walked 24 km/14 miles in one go, it has thrown tiles from the roof of a garage to the ground, it has packed and unpacked belongings during at least 10 instances of moving house. My body has danced all night long, been tattooed, been pierced, it has swum in the aqua blue of the South Pacific Ocean, it has taken aerobics classes, been a gym member, belly danced, cycled for miles, swum laps of the pool, participated in water aerobics, explored new places, sunk into the sand on the beach, danced naked in the rain, jumped rope, played netball, dressed up, dressed down, carried a camera around constantly, lugged books around a library 8 hours a day several days a week, nursed my mother when she was dying, snuggled up to my children, hugged my friends, allowed me to type and thus correspond with people online, housed my brain which has provided me with so much. My body has done all these things.
Ironically as I did most of those things I have listed, I still hated my body. I hated the size of it. I hated the rolls of fat and the stretchmarked skin. I hated my extra chin, the side handles on my lower belly after I had my last child, my burgeoning butt and my breasts that were too large to buy bras for in my locale (thank the gods for online bra shopping!). I hated my thighs that chaffed in the summer, I hated my fingers that swell in the wet season. I hated my upper arms that practically blew in the breeze when I lifted them up. I hated it all.
And then I came to a realisation that everything I wanted to do in my life, I am able to do. And I am able to do it with this body. The same fat, stretchmarked, saggy, burgeoning body that I spent so many years hating on, actually enabled me to do all the things I want to do in my life. All my major goals and ambitions, the same ones I had when I was thin for a relatively short period in my teens, all those aspirations can be achieved in the very body I possess today. I don’t need to lose weight to do the things I want to do. I don’t have to be thin to get my PhD. I don’t have to be thin to be a good photographer. I don’t have to lose weight to finish writing my novel. Loving my family is not dependent on being thin. My size has no bearing on practicing my spiritual path. I am more than able to read, write, camp, love and live while inhabiting this body. Who would have thought?!
So to all those people (and all those diet companies) who say losing weight means starting to live, I demur. I am living now, right now. In this fat body that you all despise and beg for me to cast aside. There is life in a fat body and there can be rewarding, productive, happy, love filled, exciting, inspiring life lived by fat people. We do it all the time. Perhaps you, oh diet companies, pompous medicos, narrow minded health professionals, rigid academics and general fat haters, perhaps all of you should cast aside your assumptions and see the reality that lies beyond your ‘healthy living plans’ and ‘lifestyle changes’, not to mention your pills and your stomach bands. I know you won’t because then you would be out of a buck, would lose your research grants and would have to find someone new to oppress but you really should.
Open up your minds… and damn, you’re free. *
* to paraphrase Jason Mraz