Or: I should have stayed Fat. CW: eating disorders, weight discrimination, health problems.
A few years ago I was still a fat person. In the context of the diverse world of bodies and fatness, I’ve been small to medium fat for most of my adult life. I’m not sure about precise weight because I don’t get weighed and have not for many years, I will say that for my body and my brain, my happy place was about a size 18–20. I felt very good in my body at that size, I was fairly healthy for me. It was great.
Before I continue, a few things you should know about my opinions about bodies and health.
- Fatness is not the only arbiter of health.
- “Health” is not an either or situation. It is not a moral position. And the idea that there is some single arbitrary standard of what is “healthy” is abusive, harmful and antithetical to really being concerned about the health of other humans.
- No I won’t “debate” with you about other bodies, my body or your body. Do you boo.
- Fatness is not the axis of evil.
- The BMI is pure bullshit and is meaningless unless you are a white male farmer but, even then it changes so frequently it doesn’t matter. It is terrible and people who use it as any sort of facts should feel bad.
Okay let us proceed.
For background about my position on this, let’s talk about how my body functions. I have a set of health challenges that I was either born with or that I have had since I was a child. Because of my struggles with how my body works, I feel like I have a very deep perspective on how my individual body works and the myriad of ways in which other bodies work.
When I started trying really desperately to get medical treatment for some of my issues when I was about 15, the answer was frequently lose weight. At that age, I was not actually fat. I was quite fit and a little chubby. However, when the doctor said to lose weight, I engaged fully.
I have had issues with disordered eating since childhood but, that was the first time I engaged in very serious caloric restriction and purging via exercise purposefully. Looking back, I realize that this was the first time my eating disorder(s) were fully supported by the medical professionals who were supposed to help me be healthy. I told my doctor how I was losing weight and was encouraged to continue.
Some adult, encouraged a teenager in the middle of puberty, with an active school schedule, I think I was also a cheerleader (I can’t recall if it was that year or no), who was complaining of having knees that swelled to the point that I would have a hard time walking sometimes to keep up the hours (at that age it was 3–5 hours of some type of exercise in the middle of the night, depending on how much I’d eaten), of work.
I say this to lay a foundation of how my health would be treated for years to come. There have been many periods of my disordered eating and behaviors coming and going, every time even when things were bad, medical professionals congratulated me on losing weight. Even when, my hair was falling out and I very seriously thought I was going to die, my doctor said, you are doing so good, you lost so much weight.
That was said, as I sat in tears, shaking and freezing in the exam room after saying, that I felt like I needed help because I didn’t want to die.
Let’s pause here for a moment. I am going to say, across the board that congratulating or encouraging anything that someone says they are afraid is killing them, is bad. Full stop.
Now, fast forward to my late 20s. I was pretty fat for my body and had some of the worst infections in my head I’ve ever had. I have suffered a lot of ear and sinus problems my whole life. Lots of antibiotics, Ear, Nose Throat docs, fevers, etc etc. Anyone who has ever had these problems knows what I’m talking about. Being that I had a lot of experience, I was able to tell the doctor exactly what was happening.
I sat there, fat and nauseated listening to this doctor go over my symptoms, tell me I had infections in both ears and in my sinuses, then instead of just prescribing the antibiotics I desperately needed, she launched into a long lecture about how I’d “feel better” if I just learned how to lose weight. My history was in my file. Most of my other general metabolic health stuff was okay. My BP was a bit elevated because of the infection raging in my skull but, overall I was in fact, doing well.
I felt so ill, I told her again that I was going to faint or throw up and she said, to reduce my BMI.
Logically, I could not immediately do so of course and I’ve never heard that weight loss would cure an ear infection. I wanted to use my words but, instead as she was telling me that vegetables exist, I threw up all over her, the exam room and everything. Right as I was starting to hurl, the nurse had popped her head in to ask if I needed an anti-nausea pill.
It was a gross lesson. After things were cleaned up, I apologized to her and we talked about how inappropriate her lecture had been given the circumstances.
Okay, so let’s fast forward more to right now. I am about as thin as I am comfortable being. I’m a chonky lil size 12 or so. I happen to know my weight because I was in the ER a while back due to another massive sinus infection that made my face swell up (hot take: weight loss didn’t make me less prone to that) and I weigh about 150 pounds.
Of the many health problems I personally have, and the things my body doesn’t do well, losing weight cured none of them.
And y’all, I’m fucking bitter as fuck.
I used to write a lot about fat acceptance. I have said for many years that when we reduce health to these narrow, aesthetic and moral things, if you look thin you’re great, if you are “doing something” about your fatness you’re kinda maybe a “good” person, if you are “healthy” you are “good”. None of these things correlate with the actuality of how human bodies work.
When we promote aesthetics over reality and decide that there is only One Twoo Health and One Twoo Way and One Twoo method to being human, we are a diverse bunch of bags of shit and frankly, I am totally disinterested in trying to pretend all of our bodies can and should work the same way. Let’s not do that.
Some folks will ask, Y R U MAD FAT ASS?
- If it is true that weight loss is a cure all why the fuck do I feel this way?
- If my weight was why I’ve been in pain for most of my life? Why even at my thinnest weight, was I still in the same pain?
- I’m mad because these are things I’ve heard my whole life, the encouragement from medical professionals to “keep it up” in the context of me losing weight, almost killed me once.
- WHY the fuck are we still doing this?
I was told so often, so fervently that if I just lost the weight I’d be fine.
I’m not fine.
My weight loss in the last four or so years, happened without me wanting it. I’ve accepted that this is the state my body wants to be in and that’s okay. Some of my health stuff is okay, my tendency towards having lower blood pressure has evened out, I haven’t fainted from my blood pressure bottoming out in years. I’m learning to deal with my hypoglycemia in a more healthy way that isn’t just me being mad about it and browning out.
That’s great. I’ve also been able to more fully integrate HAES and intuitive eating into my life. Those are wonderful things.
What isn’t great is that I held out some hope that the weight loss my body decided it wanted, would do the promised things. It has not. Some of the things have gotten worse and I’m bitter as fuck about it.
I am still pretty well steeped in fat acceptance. My ass ain’t fat no more but my soul is if you get me.
And I am mad as hell.