I recently read a blog post that has become quite popular and was shared by a friend on Facebook, and I agreed with it wholeheartedly. The post, which you can read here, was written by a gentleman who lost 160 lbs after battling emotional eating and food addiction. He could not love himself at that weight, and he recognized that his addiction to food would kill him. He also addresses modern views on body image, that we should love ourselves no matter our size.
“There are a lot of platitudes about weight. One of them is that you should love yourself no matter your size. I’m here to say that’s bullshit. Being fat sucks. I love myself way more now than I ever have.”
Of course, there has been some backlash from those who feel that a person’s size is one of the least important things about them and that each human being is beautiful in his or her own way. I would never tell another person that they’re fat or hideous or shameful. I never would. Fat is definitely not the worst thing a person can be. J.K. Rowling said it best when she said, “Is ‘fat’ the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain, boring, or cruel? Not to me.”
On the subject of a human being’s WORTH rather than his or her appearance or health, yes, I agree with J.K. Rowling; however, from the exact same point of view as Alex Gray, the gentleman who overcame his addiction to food and lost 160 lbs, I know exactly what he means. He’s not including those who remain overweight due to hormone imbalances or medical issues. He’s not calling out those who really, truly accept themselves and would rather be a bit overweight than to monitor every ounce of food they ingest. He’s not talking to those who eat normally, recognize hunger signals, and lead active lives but remain a bit chubby. Alex is talking to those who can help themselves, want to help themselves, are not happy with themselves, and who need a kick in the pants to get started. He’s talking to the people who know they have a problem and make excuses to continue living an unhealthy lifestyle even though they’d be happier if they could learn to control their impulses to constantly gorge. He’s talking to the person he used to be.
“I’m talking to anyone who, like me, was consciously unrelenting in his or her pursuit of gluttony, and steadfast in balking at physical activity. I’m talking to people who have the audacity to lean on well-intentioned phrases like “love yourself at any weight” as a way to excuse their slothful lifestyle. For those who can do something about their size, and simply refuse to, trust me: Life is so much better on the other side.”
He’s talking to the person I used to be, the person who had fears about daily life and constant worries about every little thing that becomes more complicated simply due to size. Alex says,
“Rather, my dreams were simple: To buy off the rack and no longer perspire on a girl’s blouse when in close proximity; to feel at ease on furniture, and in plane seats, and theater chairs; to view staircases less as hostile threats and more like, well, steps; to stand in line for a roller coaster, or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, without fretting; to have sex; to like myself; not to kick the bucket prematurely.”
How happy was I when I finally realized I could cross my legs without struggle or sit in a theater chair without my legs being squeezed in on both sides? How happy was I to finally buy my first pair of jeans from the standard sizes available in the store rather than ordering online for extended waistbands? How thrilled was I to find out that I no longer had to worry about my legs or arms touching the person next to me in the plane and that I no longer had to extend the seat belt to its full circumference to be safe on my flight? How elated was I when I donated blood and got my results back to find out that my blood pressure and cholesterol were normal?!
So, yeah, I was that person. I was the girl who said that size is just a number but cried in dressing rooms. I was the girl who was afraid to eat in public in lunchrooms and cafeterias because I was sure that no one thought I should be allowed to eat. I was the girl who told myself I could choose to eat whatever I wanted and then watched entire pints of ice cream and bags of chocolates disappear without feeling any sense of fullness. I was empty. I was the girl who skinny-shamed small girls and said, “big is beautiful.” But I didn’t feel it. I didn’t believe it. And I thought I was the biggest piece of shit person on the face of the planet because -I- was not happy with myself. My opinion was the only one that mattered, and it was the most destructive and negative opinion that could ever have existed.
I’m not saying that being skinny is happiness, because it’s not. I still have depression, anxiety, body hang-ups, fears, and bad self-esteem about other things. Happiness is finding your strength, and I found it while losing weight. The more I whittled down the fat away from my body, the closer I got to being the real, confident, witty, enthusiastic, optimistic, and unbreakable me that I knew was inside of me. It has been as much of a mental journey as a physical one.
I say that, depending on where you’re coming from, both J.K. Rowling and Alex are right. Does my size reflect my worth as a person? Absolutely not. Does my new lifestyle increase my sense of self-worth and help me to realize my worth as a person? Absolutely. I think that this is the point Alex is trying to make, and I’m proud of him for stating that opinion without being ashamed or without sugar coating it. America has enough euphemisms as it is. Let’s be honest about health and lifestyle choices. We can’t afford to waste life feeling shitty.