Loving My Body

I keep meaning to post about  fat, health, dieting, and weight-loss, a set of topics collectively lumped together as fat acceptance in my mind. The thing that’s holding me back from posting is that it’s hard to know where to start. I have learned so much about fat in the last year that it’s a little mind-boggling. The implications of what I’ve learned are staggering, and I really just want to jump in with the conclusions: Weight does not equal health! Diets don’t work! Weight is inheritable! Exercise doesn’t make you thinner! Being fat isn’t bad for you! Being discriminated against is another story entirely…

But it would probably make a little more sense if I started out in some reasonable, readable fashion, rather than with shouted bullet points. So I ponder how to get started and end up starting nowhere.

I’m going to start today. Instead of starting with the science, I’ll start at the personal. By going through a pregnancy, I’ve had a lot of changes and a lot of thoughts about my body in the last year, so talking about fat acceptance with my own fat body is a good place to start.

For the first 30 years of my life, I hated my body. For most of my childhood I had a skinny body that I thought was fat, and during adulthood I had a fat body that I hated for being fat. What a stupid tragedy, and I’m sure many of you can identify. A few years ago, I realized that I actually like the look of my body and all that self-hatred came from imagining what other people must think of me. I came to a really powerful understanding with myself – I could never diet again, never exercise when I didn’t want to, never treat food like an enemy, never feel ashamed or embarrassed about my body, never make excuses for my body, never again do any of that shit, and in exchange, all I had to do was look like me. And I do. And I love it. Poof! All that body hatred melted away, and what a relief!

Sometime after that, I discovered fat acceptance online and some really great blogs that helped reinforce my permission to myself to just be myself. I also started down the research rabbit hole that challenged everything I’d ever believed about weight and the relationship between weight and health. All of that will end up in other posts, but for now let me just say that I felt quite validated to have gotten off the body-hate train on my own – it turns out there are a gazillion reasons to stop dieting and stop hating yourself.

When pregnancy came along, I started to look like a different me, of course. And that was great, too! Here’s what I had to say about my belly at week 19:

My belly at 33 weeks pregnant.

I really like rubbing, playing with, measuring, and cradling my growing belly. While I touch my belly lovingly as if there were a treasured child in there, I don’t have a sense that there is. I’m not really interacting with a baby, because I have no connection to what’s going on in there as an actual baby. Maybe I will when I can feel movement, but so far, it doesn’t really feel like anything inside. And yet I’m paying all this attention to my belly. And I realized that what I was feeling and protecting and enjoying is actually just my belly, which is kind of cool. I’m loving and connecting with a body part of mine, with an aspect of myself, falling in love with myself,and that’s really special all on its own! I can’t wait to get bigger!

It was very special to me to feel connected to and honoring of a single body part of mine. It was a neat experience that so many women don’t get to have because they spend their pregnancy self-conscious about their changing bodies. Here’s what I said in my post Big Bare Beautiful Baby Belly:

While I’ve spent a lot of my life really concerned about my size, unhappy with my body, and desperate to change it, over the last two or three years I’ve completely gotten over that. I’m really glad that I made that mental shift prior to getting pregnant. So many women, fat or otherwise, feel insecure about their growing pregnant bodies, and I’m glad that hasn’t been a factor for me. I did have a long period of time in the 2nd trimester where I was afraid I wasn’t getting big enough. I was having trouble eating enough calories with the carb restrictions, and I wasn’t gaining much weight. But, my fundal height is right on target, and I know I’m just the right size. I’m glad to have never worried about my body being too big. In fact, I can’t wait to see how big it gets! Honestly, I think my growing belly is so cool! I touch it and look at it all the time.

I continued to adore my body right up until Dylan’s birth. What happened to my body next, though, has been a challenge. I’ll tell you about it in my next post.

Continue reading: Because It’s My Body.