I know I’m writing this a little late, but the Internet recently went a little mad over Youtube personality Nicole Arbour’s video Dear Fat People.
I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while, and now I have the perfect excuse. Hopefully I can pull this off with more finesse.
I have some pretty strong feelings about this fat vs. skinny nonsense. I’m not talking about fitness yet — I’ll get to that later. Right now, I’m talking about the fat people who body shame skinny people, and the skinny people who body shame fat people, and the ridiculous obsession with being skinny.
In the first place, body shaming is not a helpful thing. It doesn’t get anyone anywhere, and it doesn’t motivate anyone to be healthy. Stop telling skinny girls to eat a sandwich, and stop calling fat girls whales. All right? I used to be unhealthy and fat. Then, I starved myself, and I became unhealthy and skinny. At one point in junior high, I was eating 800 calories a day. I went from double-digit pants sizes to a size 8, and I was ecstatic. But all my friends and family were worried about my health. When I was a freshman in high school at a 4th of July picnic with my friends, they kept an eye on me and pretty much hassled me about not eating any food. At one point, my mom wouldn’t let me leave her sight after eating because she thought I might be bulimic.
If I didn’t have people like that who cared about me, I might be dead right now. Eating 800 calories a day is not okay.
I wasn’t even eating healthy things, either. I didn’t look at vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, or anything like that. When I looked at the nutrition facts, my eyes went straight to calories. As long as it was delicious and I didn’t go over 800, I was happy. That is a shitty way to live.
Back then, I was obsessed with being skinny, not healthy. If I were motivated to be healthy instead, things would have gone a lot more smoothly for me. It wasn’t until I was 18, a freshman in college, that I began working out and eating right. When you treat your body well, you feel good. I love the way my body feels after a good work out. I’ve cut a lot of junk from my diet, and I’m very keen on fruits and veggies. When I was younger, I was all meat and potatoes, but now? I’m disappointed if I’m eating a meal that does not involve vegetables or fruits in some way (unless it’s pizza. I fucking love pizza. I would eat cheese pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if it wouldn’t kill me). I’m also a vegetarian now. I’ve been so for over a year and don’t plan on ever going back to meat. While I highly recommend it, you don’t necessarily have to cut out all meat to be healthy.
And contrary to popular belief, it is possible to eat well without having to purchase $6 salads. If you do a bit of research, eating well doesn’t have to empty your pockets.
I dance ballroom. I got to Planet Fitness. I buy most of my food from the organic aisle. I FEEL GOOD. And you know what? I look good, too. When I say that, I don’t mean “I look skinny” — I mean I look HEALTHY. I gained a little muscle. My skin, hair, and teeth are all healthy.
Healthy comes in many shapes and sizes. And don’t trust the Body Mass Index (BMI). It doesn’t account for “muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition, and racial and sex differences.”
Right now, I’m about a size 4 or a 6, depending on the clothes and the store because women’s sizes are stupid, but my ass is kind of big. It’s gotten a lot smaller since I started dancing, but it’s not as small as I would like. Sometimes it makes me sad. Sometimes my stomach isn’t as flat as I would want it to be, and I feel fat. But you know what? I get over it pretty quickly, because I’m a god damn dancer. I’m a lean mean dancing machine. My legs are amazing. I even obtained some upper body strength — something I never thought I’d achieve because I used to be such a weakling. (Seriously. I could only lift 40 pounds at one point.) And I’m healthy. I find clothes that look good on me and call it a day.
Whether you’re chubby, skinny, fat, toned, or what-have-you, your body is a well-tuned machine. And you only get one. Be good to it, and it will be good to you.
Do something active that you enjoy. This is for everyone. Moving around is good for the soul. (Real talk: I have depression. And while I have meds for it, I also know that getting up and being active also helps. Sometimes I need a kick in the pants to get up and go, but when I do, I feel worlds better.) Build some muscle, get your blood flowing, do some stretches, lose some fat, build your endurance, or some combination of the above. Try something new! Sports, dance, martial arts, yoga, hitting the gym, Zumba, working out to Youtube videos in the comfort of your own home…. Join a fencing club! If you’re having fun, you’re more likely to stick with it.
Sedentary lifestyles aren’t good for anyone, whether you’re skinny, fat, or anywhere in between. The human body wasn’t made to sit around. Even if you’re watching T.V., do some squats or something during commercials.
And don’t exclude mental wellness! 🙂 What you think about yourself and the way you look at things makes all the difference. First of all, no matter what you look like, don’t ever let anyone make you feel “less than” based purely on your body shape. If you start exercising to lose weight so boys will think you’re pretty, chances are, that motivation is not going to last. Things like that also often lead to unhelpful methods like yo-yo dieting.
If you exercise because you fucking want to. Because you want to feel good. Because you want to be healthy. Then it’s more likely to work out. For some people, it makes them feel more confident. I can attest to that. I feel worlds more confident than when I was younger.
Now, at some point, I need to talk about the “thigh gap” phenomenon — might as well insert it here.
WHO. THE FUCK. CARES. whether you have one or not? Girls who are naturally skinny with wide hip bones will have a thigh gap. It’s normal for them. Some skinny girls don’t have one. Not all fit girls have one, either. It is not a deciding factor of beauty. Shaming girls because they do or don’t have one is pretty stupid. And if you don’t have one naturally, you won’t ever have one — not while you’re healthy — and it can only be achieved by starving yourself. And then you’ll be malnourished, and your muscle will waste away.
Also, guys don’t care about thigh gaps — they really don’t. You have one? Cool. You don’t? Cool. Seriously, that is the last thing on any guy’s mind.
(Side Note: While searching for images for this, I stumbled upon Thinspo. Oh my god…. That is seriously the scariest shit. If I had seen those images when I was between the ages of 12 and 17? Damn. I would have spiraled down a really, really dark path. Type “thigh gap thinspo” into Google images to see what I mean. Those people are seriously disturbed.)
And, here’s where my unpopular opinion comes in.
I don’t think the fat acceptance movement is wholly a good thing. Loving ourselves is a start, yes. But we already have the media saying, “Skinny is Pretty,” which is not a good thing. From that sprouted the attitude of, “Well why do I have to be skinny to be pretty? Fat’s pretty, too!” And so now we’re back at the beginning of this post.
“Fat girls are pretty. Fuck skinny bitches” versus “Skinny is the beauty standard. Therefore fat = ugly.”
Both sides seriously need to stop that. Like, right now. “Fat acceptance” should be “self-acceptance.” I know that’s what some people mean when they say it, but the phrase “fat-acceptance” insinuates that we should just overlook the health issues that come with it. I feel that for some people, it means to be complicit to the possible harm you’re doing to your body. But look at the plus-sized girl on the cover of Women’s Running magazine. That’s what I would call “self-acceptance.”
Little known fact, some of the same health issues an anorexic body suffers also apply to obese bodies, such as heart problems. We shouldn’t be encouraging people to be skinny or fat. We should be encouraging them to be healthy.
Yes, healthy is pretty, but healthy also keeps your body functioning the way it should.
I’m not saying anything new or revolutionary. I just felt like contributing my opinion to the conversation. Anyway, you can’t judge someone’s health by simply looking at them (again, look at the running girl), but you know your own habits. That’s why you should be healthy for you. At the same time, saying, “HEY YOU. BE HEALTHY” alone isn’t going to help. It mostly depends on you. It’s a struggle. But you can do it. You’re worth it. You’re worthy of living an awesome life. But I know it’s hard sometimes.
Especially if you have an eating disorder. You are not alone. I had an eating disorder… If you do, please get help. Whether it’s binging, purging, starving — please. get. help. If you need, call these hotlines.
It took me eleven years to get where I am now, to love and accept myself, and to treat my body the way it deserves to be treated.
You are strong. You can do the thing. ❤