Jes' poster project helped me put my finger on it. Everywhere you turn there's news about the obesity epidemic. Everyone wants to stamp out obesity. The First Lady has launched a war on childhood obesity... the magazines in the checkout lane preach it, your employers insurance company is working on it... it's everywhere.
I regularly find myself, a fat woman, at work and my co-workers around me are having discussions about obesity and what we can do, as a girl serving organization, about it. And I sit there, fat... and silent... trying to figure out how I feel about it.
It may sound like semantics, but here's my issue. If we were sitting around discussing how to teach girls to love moving their bodies in a way that feels good to them, or teaching them to listen to their bodies signals about satiation and feeding their body in a nutritionally sound way... I could engage and get behind that. But, my team mates, who I know love and respect me, are talking about eliminating obesity. I am obese. Despite my best intellectual efforts, that translates for me into 'You are unacceptable. We must figure out a way to keep little girls from growing up to be like you.' There it is.
Now, the paradox for me is that if I could wave a magic wand and not be fat, I would absolutely do it. I would wave that same magic wand over children everywhere and make them all not fat as well. Yes, in our society... I too would like to keep little girls from growing up to be like me. I'm often ashamed, I'm insecure far more often that any woman should be. I have times that I look in the mirror and nasty thoughts immediately flood my mind. But, try as I might, ever since I regained the 117 pounds I had previously 'lost', my magic wand is busted. I'm fresh out of magic.
I'm here to tell you we're fighting the wrong war folks. If we teach our little girls (and ourselves) to love their bodies unconditionally, if we teach our children that all bodies are to be celebrated, and cared for... we won't have eating disorders, we won't have the self-loathing that permeates our society. If we preach health at every size and take on the food industry we might be able to take back our media and our country.
The war our country is fighting is obesity, and the enemy is fat people everywhere. The war we should be fighting is about hatred. The enemy we should be fighting against is big agriculture and it's the media. Big agriculture brings us food that isn't good for our bodies that is far cheaper than healthy food that is. It engineers food in ways that make it all but irresistible. The media teaches us to be insecure in our bodies, to fear being fat and to hate those who have the audacity to take up more space in the world than they should. And it teaches us that fat people are to blame for our skyrocketing insurance costs. Conventional wisdom is that the obesity crisis is to blame for rising numbers of people affected by disease. The scientists at health at every size have some pretty solid research about the effects of weight cycling on our bodies... effects like hypertension, diabetes... If you're interested, you should read the book. I'll leave that part of the war to the scientists who are smarter than I am.
So, you'll find me here in my little corner of the world, working in a largely female organization, in fact the worlds largest girl serving organization... fighting the good fight day after day. Recently a wonderful woman I know told me that my journey toward body acceptance inspired her to tuck her shirt in (something she hadn't done in years) and have a hard conversation with a girl (struggling with self image) about how and why the girls body is as beautiful as any other. That my friends feels like a little victory in a very big war. Let's all stop hating our bodies shall we?