I’m a person who makes New Year’s resolutions, and for as long as I can remember one of them has been to lose weight… or some variation on the theme (once, I said something like “Change my body and my feelings about my body until I am happy with it.” – halfheartedly trying to get at body acceptance, but throwing in a need to improve my body before it really became acceptable).
This year, rather than resolutions, I’ve given myself themes. I’m going to try to act on these, embrace them, learn about them, enjoy them, and see what it does to me over the course of the year. And you’ll see, this blog is really about bringing them all together.
Theme 1: Feminism. I have always been a feminist and I’ve never been afraid to say it. This year I’ve been galvanized, both by some of the writers I’ll mention in a moment, but also, to be perfectly honest, by Hillary Clinton’s run for President.
Her candidacy gives us an opportunity to push feminism to the center of American political discourse. I don’t only mean “women’s issues”. I also mean a discussion of feminism itself. What is the status of feminism, when a woman can be a major contender for the presidency – but when the attractiveness of her clothing is a subject for discussion in a televised debate between presidential candidates? Is Ms. Clinton a strong enough candidate to overcome not only the inevitable attacks on her performance and background – but also on her gender and capabilities?
For me, I’m taking this year to read up on some modern feminist writing (if you have any suggestions, please send them my way!). I want to challenge myself, and push myself to take action rather than just interest.
Theme 2: Fat acceptance. Having been introduced to fat acceptance by the lovely and talented Kate Harding, on recommendation from the lovely and talented Jeff Fecke, I’m on board. Intellectually, at least. Emotionally… well, that will take a little bit longer, and this blog is a part of the process.
For anyone interested in the subject, I highly recommend Kate’s blog, Shapely Prose. In the short time I’ve been reading it (since November of last year, I think?), it has begun to change the way I think and feel about my body, and lord, has that been a long time coming. She’s a lot more knowledgeable about these issues than I am, but here’s what fat acceptance means to me:
1) I – and everyone else – deserve dignity, respect, and love, even though I am fat. Nobody else has any right to my body – not to object to it, comment on it, or require things of it.
2) I should eat right and exercise, not because it will make me thin (and it probably won’t; after all, it never has) but because it will make me healthier. And if I’m doing those things, and I don’t get thinner, that doesn’t make me a failure.
3) My life is what I’m living right now – not what will happen once I’m “thin enough.” I can date NOW, I can have cute clothes NOW, I can buy a new mattress NOW (no, seriously, I’ve been telling myself that I can have a new mattress once I weigh less – don’t want to make it sag under my fat ass, right?)
I recently read Kate’s post noticing that most of the fat acceptance bloggers are in committed relationships. She suggested that it wasn’t a coincidence, that it’s easier to remember that you’re beautiful and desirable, and that your body is fine just how it is, when there’s someone to remind you of that.
This brings me to themes 3 and 4:
Theme 3: Dating. I’m single. I’ve been single for years. I’m very happy living my independent life. I love to be alone (to read, to write, to think), and I have a lot of great friends and family who live nearby and keep me perfectly entertained. If I never find myself partnered, I will still be content.
But I don’t quite believe myself when I say that I’m single because I love being alone so much. I think I’m putting up a defense – even to myself. The reason I don’t date is not that I don’t want to meet someone, but because I don’t believe that I can meet someone who will love me, be attracted to me, forgive me for my fatness.
So this year I’m going to date. I’m going to flirt with boys. I’m going to post an ad on a dating site, with real pictures of the real me – not artfully concealing my size. I’m going to get my hair cut and buy some cute clothes and make a go of it. So – if you’re a dude who likes big women, or know someone who does (and, you know, is smart/nice/funny/someone you’d introduce to your sister) drop me a line!
Theme 4: Writing. I’ve always loved writing, and I never thought it was something I could do for a living. That’s still true – I don’t make my living as a writer, and I probably never will – but I’m reclaiming that part of who I am.
So this is one part feminist rant, one part fat acceptance philosophizing, one part dating diary and one part journal practice. I’ll see where it leads me.