“I’m the one who decides who I am”.
–Sleater-Kinney, Burn, Don’t Freeze
What image pops into your head when you hear the phrase “the fat police”? For most of us, it’s the self-appointed, holier-than-thou, already thin body police, the kinds of folks who think it’s their business to stick their nose in your weight. The ones who say stuff like “You really should consider dropping a few pounds. You’d feel a lot better” or “I don’t know how you live like that”. Or the other kind, who are flat out rude and say stuff like “You’ve got such a pretty face – it’s too bad you’re so damn fat”. (I actually had an aunt say that to me once -word for word- when I was 16. First time I’d ever met her in my whole life. Her comment ensured I went out of my way to never see her again. What makes people think it’s okay to say that sort of thing to anyone, ever?)
Then there’s the other kind of body police. The ones that are usually fat themselves. They tell you the goals you’ve chosen for yourself as an adult are inappropriate. That that you have no business changing. When they learn that you want to lose weight/get fit, they’ll say stuff like, “you can learn to love your body the way it is now” or “I’m sorry you hate your body”.
I don’t hate my body. I want to improve my body. I’m going to do that by being a healthy weight for my height. I’m going to do that by eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
Then they’ll get pissy that you’re not willing to stay the same. They project their own body insecurities on you by saying things like, “If you really loved your body, you’d honor it for the way it is now”. Which is their way of saying, “I feel threatened by your plans to better yourself, so I’m going to try and discourage you in a vain attempt to cajole you into staying a similar size to me, so I can continue to feel okay about my own obesity issues.”
I had a friend in college who fell under the “already fat” fat police category. She was very vocal about her support of the pro-fat movement. Sometimes it seemed like her identifying as pro-fat movement made up 99% of her identity, as it was all she could talk about most of the time. Her lack of respect for my views, my opinion and my right to decide what was best for me was astounding. She assumed because I was fat too that I’d automatically agree with her. She was so pushy, so insensitive and so insistent that I “obviously hated myself” and “needed to come around to [her] way of thinking” that it ultimately destroyed our friendship. The problem wasn’t that she was pro-fat movement – it was that she continually showed no respect for my choices.
Weight, much like religion or politics will always be a very personal thing – having someone else shove their views down your throat repeatedly does nothing to bring you around to their way of thinking. I am fine with people who are pro-fat movement. I don’t have an issue with them. What I do have an issue with is when they tell me that how I live is wrong or what I want to do with my body and my life is wrong. I don’t come over to your house and tell you that you need to go to spin class tomorrow morning “for your own good” – don’t be so arrogant as to think you have the right to tell me I should stop trying to better myself because you’re threatened by it.
It’s always a very personal decision any time you decide to alter your body in some way. Whether it’s through weight loss, weight gain, surgery, or even deciding to bleach your teeth or color your hair. I mention weight gain for good reason: one of my best friends is 6’7″ and skinny as a rake. No matter what he does, he can’t put on weight. He has an extremely fast metabolism and dietary allergies. Sometimes he despairs of gaining enough to be a “normal weight” (his words) in the same way I sometimes despair of losing weight. It goes both ways, and we need to be sensitive to other people, whether their issue is losing or gaining.
Remember, dear readers: It’s your body, your decision. No one has the right to dictate to you what they think is best for yourself, your body and your life. Don’t let anyone discourage you from reaching your goals in life.