I hope I’m not alone in recognizing the ridiculousness of that statement. “You’re not skinny, you’re beautiful!” I would certainly hope no one would say that. And yet, fat women get, “You’re not fat, you’re beautiful!” ALL. THE. TIME.
I have a female friend who is fat. That’s not an insult, it just is. She knows she is, we’ve talked about weight before and her dissatisfaction with her weight. She’s not under any delusions that she is actually a thin person.
Last night, she sent me a message asking me to help her come up with a name for a new blog she wants to start. She has decided to lose weight and wants to chronicle the journey. I was excited for her. Not because she wants to lose weight, but because she has decided to do something for herself, for the right reasons, and in a healthy way. And she wants to invite others along for that journey.
I do not believe that fat/overweight/obese people are culturally or socially obligated to lose weight. I have come across the notion that they are, however, many a time. I do not believe that anyone is obligated to lose weight for anyone other than themself. If they want to lose weight (in a healthy way for healthy reasons), more power to them! If they are content at their weight and with their lifestyle, again, awesome! We don’t actually get to choose who has the right to be happy with who they are, contrary to what so many seem to think.
So, in the past, while my friend would express body dissatisfaction, she also was not motivated to make the changes to alter that (whether by adopting self-acceptance or by attempting to lose weight). (Please note, I’m not trying to imply that either option is easy or simple.) Again, unlike many think, you cannot cause someone to be motivated when they aren’t. You can encourage, you can inform, you can teach, but you cannot make another become motivated. Shaming won’t do it. Threatening won’t do it. One can only find motivation within oneself.
Now that my friend has found that motivation for herself, I was keen to encourage her in any way that I can. However, I’m terrible with naming things. I offered a few feeble suggestions, but we both acknowledged my shortcoming in this area, with a giggle.
Today, I asked her if she had decided on a name yet. She hadn’t. We had this conversation:
Her: No… What about Chasing Freedom…? Or Fat Girl No More? Haha
Me: I like the first better. The second might get you more followers. It’s much clearer what the point of the blog is.
Her: Haha true. But whenever I call myself “Fat girl”, even though it is NOT an insult to myself, my friends get mad. Haha So maybe not.
Me: I hate when people respond with things like, “You’re not fat, you’re gorgeous!” First of all, why can one not be both? And second, if I’m legitimately fat, why is it an insult to call myself fat, unless I’m doing so in a disparaging way?
Seriously, why can’t you be both beautiful AND fat? Why do people act like they are mutually exclusive? You can be thin and beautiful, but apparently you can only be fat OR beautiful. And if you are actually, legitimately fat, it’s SO FRUSTRATING to have someone tell you you’re not fat. I’ve been there. It would be like me telling a woman, “You’re not a woman, you’re beautiful!” You don’t need to deny one fact about an individual in order to tell someone they are beautiful.
So please, stop telling people, “You’re not fat, you’re beautiful!”
You’re not helping.