Today is International No Diet Day. I wasn't sure what I wanted to say, here, about it just yet. And then I read this post by Medicinal Marzipan, which made me cry - and made me think. I can see so much of myself and my experiences in her words.
We are surrounded by a societal standard that makes it crystal clear that if we have bodies that are "different", that we are unacceptable and must change ourselves to fit the stereotype. It's the square peg, round hole problem on an international scale. We certainly don't expect that people to conform to a single eye colour (quick, get colour contacts, the societal 'norm' is brown eyes! not blue! brown!). We don't expect people to be the same height (how would you fix that anyway? stilts? surgery to remove pieces of bone to make you shorter?). We, as a society, accept that some people will have dark hair and some light - and we even (mostly) get radical hair (Pink, Purple, Mohawks - whatever - it's just a form of "self-expression") and tattoos. We are a society that is clearly perfectly capable of understanding and sometimes appreciating nonconformity. But this just doesn't seem to extend to body shape and fatness, or differently abled bodies.
Our society assumes that fat as a "problem" that must be fixed. Those of us who are fat are subject to either scorn and ridicule or, at best, people trying to "help" you "fix" your "problem". It is rarely assumed that we are healthy. It is rarely assumed that we could be content in our bodies or accept ourselves as we are. Yet, if we were simply blue eyed instead of brown, few people would feel it was appropriate or helpful (or anything but rude!) to give us their opiion on our eye colour or try to convince us that it was in our best interest to change it.
What it seems to come down to, in my opinion, is fear. If you haven't BEEN the fat kid being teased or bullied, you have SEEN a fat kid being teased or bullied. No one wants to be teased or bullied. From childhood, we carry this "fear". We want to escape our time "being" that outsider. Or we want to avoid "becoming" that outsider. And yet, it never seems to occur to us that if we, as a society, could shift our perceptions and accompanying behaviours - being fat wouldn't have to automatically mean being an outsider in the first place. And then we would have nothing to be afraid of. Because here's the problem: We're passing on this fear to our children. And they will pass it on to their children. And so on. We're breeding fear and there is not nearly enough awareness that this is the REAL problem.
Imagine how would the world, and your life, be different if...
~ No one had ever told you that you weren't good enough because something about your body was different?
~ You were taught as a child to eat when you were hungry, until you felt satisfied (regardless of the time of day or what was "planned" for meals) - instead of told to finish what was on your plate or eat "just one more bite" of mashed potatoes or told you must wait until dinner so you don't 'ruin your appetite'?
~ You had never experienced (or seen) someone being made fun of, or bullied for being fat?
~ You understood that when your body feels sluggish and slows down, it is conserving energy and what you need is to pay closer attention when you're hungry to what your body needs, and get more sleep - not beat yourself up for being "lazy"?
~ Your doctor had told you that being fat is not a death sentence, that being fat doesn't mean you will automatically get diabetes and develop high blood pressure - that fat people can actually live very long, healthy lives?
~ You knew that when you are hyper and have lots of energy, and can't seem to sit still, that your body is telling you to move more because it has more energy than it needs in that given moment?
~ Someone had told you, when you were very young, that what your body LOOKS like is not an indicator of what your body FEELS like, or how healthy you are or aren't, or how valuable you are as a human being?
~ You could look in a mirror and see and accept yourself exactly as you are, beause no one has ever told you that you're not good enough because you don't look like them?
~ You felt confident wearing clothes that fit properly because there's no reason to think that the curve of your belly, or the extra softness in your waist or hips were unattractive and must be hidden behind baggy clothes?
~ You felt just as valuable, loveable, and worthy as everyone else - and found that walking through the world with your head held high, ready to meet anyone's gaze - was the easiest and most natural thing in the world?
How would the world, and your life, be different if you knew - and had always known - that you are just as worthy of love, respect, kindness, consideration, and happiness as anyone else - no matter what you look like?
Take these questions into your day. Pay it forward. Give a little extra kindness to other people who aren't like you. And give a whole lot of extra kindness to yourself. You deserve it. You are worthy of it.
YOU are beautiful ... right now... in this moment... exactly as you are.