Whenever I scroll through Instagram/Facebook, I see women who are plus sized advocating body acceptance. These women are trailblazing in their respective fields, be it modelling, entrepreneurship, acting or fashion. They look amazing and glorious embracing their rolls, very much alike Greek goddesses. In the comment section, you either see adoration for their courage or criticisms that they are promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. I have always been conflicted about this because I relate to this on a very personal level. You see, I am FAT. Not slightly chubby or plump. Just plain FAT. I don’t ever feel like a goddess, it is a wonder if I feel human on certain days.
So, I don’t suffer from thin privilege. I have firsthand experienced taunts of strangers and people I know making fat jokes, having difficulties finding clothes that fits well and is in fashion, and endless advises from people who are extremely worried that I will never land a husband. I understand being left out and judged. So, it is safe to say that being fat had surely dented my self-confidence. I am my harshest critic because I don’t fit that small sized outfit. So, when I see all these ladies looking empowered in a body I can identify with, I find it empowering. However, I am beginning to realise that the fat acceptance movement is also turning into one that celebrates being fat. I think we need to take a pause, and understand what we mean by body positivity.
Body positivity is about being happy with yourself at any size or condition, which is not a pass to promote obesity or pretend that some of us don’t face any health risk by being overweight. It is about understanding that a fat person can be healthy and a thin person can be unhealthy and that our bodies are made differently. It is about understanding that a healthy body can come in different sizes but health is still paramount. Only with health can we enjoy what the world has to offer.
So, in my honest opinion, fat acceptance is not about resigning to being a certain size and stagnate improvement. It is about acknowledging the body we are gifted with and to ensure it is being taken care of, be it in the form of nourishment, exercise and self-care. We should not have to project that being fat is healthy or it is even a deliberate choice by many. Let’s not project an image that being unhealthy is alright. For many, panting when going up a flight of stairs is not the best life, increased risk of getting diseases is not the version of a best life, not being able to play with their kids due to lethargy is not the best life. I am aware that this can happen to thin people too, but it is important to recognise that the risk is higher when you are overweight and lead an unhealthy lifestyle.
For those who are not fat, who don’t understand the struggles, it is you who needs schooling. When you see someone who is unlike yourself and perhaps is struggling, you show empathy. You acknowledge that you do not know their journey enough to conclude whether their fatness is warranted. You leave them to their choices unless you understand their struggles because diseases, depression, food addiction could also cause obesity, not just pure laziness. So, the onus is on you to be empathetic and ensure everyone feels included in the mainstream society. A fat person should not have to demand fair inclusion in the society with some hashtags. It is granted because basic manners dictate that we do not make anyone feel small, or insignificant.
Look, being fat or thin is just an outlook. It should not define anyone’s worth as human. There is more to a person than their external shell. Their ability to love, empathize and persevere through struggles is what determines their beauty. We should view others, and ourselves through the beauty of their spirit (I am trying). Maybe then, we would become better at recognizing that people don’t need any more judgement, just a hell lot of love.