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.
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.