Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Lessons From The Fat-O-Sphere changed my life

A few weeks ago I was visiting a friend, helping with a yard sale. We ended up talking most of the day about various topics, but at some point diets and fat came up (don't they always when two fat women are talking?). I can't remember exactly what was said although I'm fairly certain it was something about counting calories and how it never seems to work, and she told me she had something I needed to read. Lessons From The Fat-O-Sphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby. I flipped through it and ended up forgetting it when I left.

A few days later my friend brought it over. Well alright alright.. I guess I'll read it. I was sure it was some stupid frou frou 'love your body, you're a goddess' crap.. which is great when I'm feeling euphoric and manic and decide that I'm the best fucking thing since sliced bread, but overall it's never held. So I read.

And man did I get pissed.

Seriously- this book is the type of book that, if you're like me, will piss you off at every new chapter. Everything in it goes against everything you know and have been taught. Then comes the sadness as you start to feel your hope of eventual thinness is being taken away from you by the cold, hard truth- backed up with plenty of studies and expert opinions. Then more anger at your body for being so stupid as to not be naturally thin like all those girls you know who can never seem to gain weight no matter what they eat. Then, finally, acceptance. If you can get through to that last part, I promise it's worth it.

Before I read this book I hated myself- and I had since I first gained weight around 7 or 8 years old. And why wouldn't I? Everyone told me I should and hey, they all hated me too so it made sense. Obviously I was just doing something wrong even when I was doing everything right. When I was a teenager I used to cut myself.. I used to cut the parts of my body that I hated. Once my brother found out he told all his friends at school that I was trying to cut the fat off. So then they could laugh at me for being fat and being a freak. In high school I began developing eating disorders. Throwing up, starving, diet pills, over eating, binge eating, and everything in between. I obsessed over my weight- tried every diet, went to gyms.. it never worked but hey, that just made me hate myself more for not doing it right.

At 25, married, and with a four year old son I still didn't have control over it. I began counting calories and the more I counted the less I ate until I was consuming about 300 calories a day. If I went over 500 I internally and mentally freaked out. I wouldn't let my husband touch my stomach, or any other part of me that I deemed too flabby or fatty.I hated having my photo taken and always hated going out where there were people because I felt they were staring at my fat and judging me. Maybe they are.. I've just learned not to care.

So what happened when I read the book and let it sink in? I started by posting video and full body photos (not taken at the myspace angle that most fat people use to visually shed 50 lbs), I began looking for fat positive photographers which led me to a site called Model Mayhem (I have two shoots booked this week already), I began wearing clothes proudly and even wear one of my shirts that has no back without layering and, most importantly, I stopped dieting. I realized that even when I'm not dieting and counting calories I still don't pig out and consumes thousands of calories in a day- so what was I so worried about? I've gotten involved in the fat-o-sphere and even helped start a new sub reddit on reddit.com. I'm much happier and, though I  haven't completely accepted my body and I still have plenty of hangups, I'm on a great road.

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