I didn’t realize I was fat until I was out of college. My pre-teen and teen years were spent battling illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome, which meant that most of my active brain power was spent trying desperately to envision myself as something more than a permanently sick person. At the age where most girls were worrying about body image, I was worrying about whether I’d be able to move the next day. The irony of all of this is that being ill gave me the body that lots of people argue I should want to get back to. You can see it in pictures my parents have up when I go home. Slim, ribs barely visible through my t-shirts and looking extremely uncomfortable.
College brought a long prayed for remission period which seems to have continued as I’ve aged, but also the first opportunity to think about myself beyond the sick/not sick person divide. It was the first time I’d encountered the idea that I might have been fat and something even more strange: that lots of other people didn’t like fat people just because they were fat. Even worse, I realized that I came from a family of people who were in the fat shaming camp. I comfortably settled in around a 12/14 size and immediately saw the tension mount during winter breaks and family reunions. All of the sudden, I was the “other” that people around me didn’t know how to deal with.
The Militant Baker puts it better than I can when she describes #smashthescale on her blog, so I’m going to quote her at length before I continue:
“Smashing the Scale isn’t about anger, but instead the joy of calling society on the carpet and telling it how it is. And Smashing the Scale isn’t about being perfect at loving yourself, but rather about making a personal commitment to starting your self love journey. Smashing the Scale is much bigger than it sounds, it’s the most empowering thing you can do. Try doing it for you.
It’s so needed in this fascist, conventional beauty obsessed world we live in.” – The Militant Baker
There’s lots of body positive stuff out there on the internet and much of it is fueled by years of anger and mistreatment. I found it hard to sit down and write this piece without relieving every time a family member had asked me to sit on a plastic chair instead of the nice chairs “so I wouldn’t break them” or every time someone I cared about told me I looked pregnant all the time or that all of my problems would be magically solved by losing 50 pounds. It’s easy to build up several solid layers of anger when you think about unpacking your fat girl experience, but those layers are also what can prevent you from moving beyond it. This week, Jes is asking us to try and set aside the anger and the guilt about not being what others want and to #smashthescale just for ourselves. Instead of thinking of yourself as fat or skinny, try going beyond body type. Are you a caring personal with a finely tuned sense of social responsibility? Can you make a badass cheesecake? Do you write, draw or paint? Are you a secret poet or musician? When you smash the scale, what are the important parts that float to the surface?
Here’s the truth that we should all start 2014 with: We are more than our weight and more than our bodies. Forcing people to acknowledge who you are beyond these arbitrary and narrow categories is an act of revolution that can reverberate down to our daughters and nieces as they grow up. #smashthescale this year and let who you really are shine.
Tell me in the comments who you are beyond your body and please join all of us this week in #smashthescale, whether on social media or just in your mind.