On Acceptance

Fat acceptance is about accepting my body, even though it’s fat.  It doesn’t mean that everyone else is automatically OK with my body.

me, stretching

I know a lot of people don’t accept my fat. Some of them are quite comfortable telling me that it’s not OK for me to be fat.   Sometimes that bothers me.  But more often it doesn’t.

See, I learned something about myself when I majored in computer science in college.

  • I had women outside my major telling it was a mistake, because computers are “icky” and “a guy thing”.
  • I had people at church telling me that it was a mistake, because “that’s a demanding career and when you get married your husband is going to want you to focus on him”.
  • I was urged to get a degree in early childhood education and work with children as preparation for marriage.

I wasn’t married at the time, mind; I wasn’t even dating.  But I was being told to abandon a field I found fascinating and fun to pursue a field I was already tired of, and, oh yes, urged to ensure I would make a lot less money. Why?

So I would do what was expected of me as a woman.
So I would be feminine.

This stressed me out at the time.  I wasn’t happy about it.  But part of what gave me the strength to be a “bad”, “unfeminine” woman was that I already was one.  I was fat. I had broad shoulders and at 5’8″ I hulked over a lot of guys.   I already wasn’t going to fit into the usual feminine mold.   So why shouldn’t I pursue a field I thought was fun and exciting?

Because I was fat, I learned I could survive being different.
Because I was fat, I put less value on being “normal”.
Because I was fat, I became less afraid.

I was also lucky that it was the late 1980s; legally I had doors open to me that might have been closed before.  I did find friends.  My parents did let me live at home and helped me to borrow money for tuition.  I was lucky to get a job right out of school, to do well, and to make friends there.  My career opened more doors to me: within 5 years I was making more than my parents combined.

I also met my first lovers through my work.  Some relationships were what people consider “normal”, some weren’t, but again, I learned from them.   And, again, I didn’t feel I had to constrain myself to fit into the mold marked “normal”, much less “feminine”.

Accepting myself taught me to look beyond what was expected of me as a woman and find what I wanted.  Accepting myself let me get on with my life — and to live my life.

Yes, I would like for the broader culture to be more accepting of fat people — for one thing, it would reduce the negative affects of weight bias and weight-related stress.  But that pales, to me, beside fat people accepting themselves.

28 thoughts on “On Acceptance

  1. I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me as normal. I’ve always been nerdy, queer, eccentric and just plain different.

    But I’ve always tried to BE more normal. But, if I’m never going to not be geeky, queer, and different, why should I worry so much about what people think about my weight?

    You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

  2. Because I was fat……

    Indeed.

    What has been so strange for me is that this is how I used to feel, to an extent, even though I was trying to lose weight.

    What’s taken longer, is for the source of that acceptance of difference to come from a place of self acceptance, rather than the experience of being different.

  3. I have probably had longer to work on this than many people around the web, I am sure, both because I am past 60 years old & also because I was born with cerebral palsy, so I have always been ‘different’ & have never, partly because of my own being & partly because of growing up in a poor, abusive alcoholic family, really had a concept of what ‘normal’ is supposed to be. I did spend a large part of my life fighting to ‘overcome my limitations’ & trying to be more like others, but the only person I can be is myself, & that is finally okay with me. I LIKE being different, I like being a ‘weirdo/nerd/freak’, if that indeed is what I am, & I especially like the idea that each one of us is a unique individual. I certainly wish that , when the world at large yaps about ‘celebrating diversity’, they would broaden the definition to include ALL of us, including the fat, the old, the disabled, etc.

  4. Pingback: Quick Link: On Acceptance by living400lbs « Fatties United!

  5. Woo! Love this!

    I can so relate. I’ve come to the point where I’m actually happy that I’m fat for the same reasons you mentioned. Life improved so much when I stopped thinking I had to be like everybody else.

  6. Accepting yourself for me means freedom from all the inhibitions and worries that appear if you let fear control your life.

    I can kind of understand this back when I was a teenager, but a grown man should not have to worry about what shirt that he wears for fear that it exposes his chest or love handles.

    William

  7. Excellent post and so very true! Being fat has allowed me to pursue a life I might not have had a been thin. When you’re already not part of the mainstream it’s easier to take risks sometimes. I’m very happy with the life I have now.

  8. Thank you for this post. I am at a time in my life where I’m struggling, and your words have been very helpful to me.

  9. Because I was fat, I learned I could survive being different.
    Because I was fat, I put less value on being “normal”.
    Because I was fat, I became less afraid.

    This. This. THIS.

  10. What a shift in perspective. I often think about what things I might be missing because I’m fat (even now, after all this work towards self-acceptance). This really makes me turn that on its head and think about all the experience of moving through life as a fat person has given me. It has given me a sensitivity and empathy towards others who live with many kinds of differences and generally helped me to see past the cultural bias that pervades our society against people who are different. All of my struggles with my weight have informed who I am today so I wouldn’t change any of that experience now. I’m just glad that I’ve reached a point where I’ve let go of the struggle and can enjoy living.

  11. Delurking to tell you I love your blog. I was a smaller fat until I had my kids and now I am a size 26. Getting fatter actually helped me find my voice and come to terms with myself. I fell better now than I did when I was a 20 or 22. Did I mention I love your blog? :)

  12. What did Janis Joplin sing? Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose? Trite, I know. But true. When you already know you don’t meet one set of their expectations, it’s easier to start tossing the others out the window as well. Because it’s not like they’re suddenly going to accept you if you don’t.

    Thank you for this post.

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