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Archive for the ‘fear of fat’ Category

It’s a hot day at the end of the school year.  92 degrees feels even more oppressive given the humidty and “urban heating” of our public school. I am dressed in a t-shirt, black sweatpants and sneakers. I am 11 years old, and know for sure I am too fat to wear shorts.

I walk to my seat in the back of the classroom and sit next to my only three friends in the class, V., A. and S. They are all wearing shorts. V. immediately stares at me like I’ve grown a second head.

“Why on earth are you wearing sweatpants today? It’s 90 degrees out!”

“I’m too fat to wear shorts.” I say, my head down, eyes memorizing the floor.

V. Tells my I’m crazy to wear sweat pants on such a hot day, especially when the whole class is going outside for the end of the year party. A. and S. quickly agree with her. I look at my bookbag and mumble that I brought a change of shorts with me for after school, I just don’t feel comfortable wearing them here. V. eggs me on until I run into the bathroom to change.

The morning goes by quickly and at noon we are released from the room and out into the school yard for the fair. I feel exposed, and enormous. I’m positive everyone in the school yard is focused on me and my thunder thighs, which carry my womanly 160 pound body from game to game.

Only somehow nobody notices. Nobody cares. I wore shorts on a hot day and the world hasn’t come to an end. And I felt physically comfortable instead of hot and sweaty.

I’ve been a number of different sizes since that day (both higher and lower than 160 pounds), but have never again felt the need to hide my body the way I did that morning.

I will always be grateful to my best friend V. for pushing me out of my comfort zone and into a comfortable pair of shorts on that hot summer day.

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The majority of my experience with negative body-image, be it my own body-image challenges or talking to others who have problems with their body-image, relate to fear of being or becoming fat. While I understand that feelings about one’s weight/size is of course only one topic within the subject of body-image, it is a topic I am passionate about and plan to explore in more detail over the next few blog entries. (But please know that in the future I will also be exploring other body-image topics that are not related to feelings about weight or size).

One of the bloggers I follow here at wordpress, Raegen at danceswithfat, wrote an amazing post about how fat and the fear of it affect most people in our culture today regardless of whether they are actually fat.

A huge, grateful THANK YOU to Raegen for so clearly summing up the thoughts that have been swimming around in my head. At this moment in time I am fat, but weight/size/fear of fat isn’t an issue that only affects the body-images of fat women. My female friends are all a variety of different sizes, all thinner than me, and 95% of them either:  hate their bodies in some way, are trying to lose weight and/or are terrified of becoming fat. I’ve also been in a position of losing a signficant amount of weight, keeping it off for almost 5 years, all the while fearing regaining the weight and becoming fat again. I know me and my group of friends does not a sample size make, but I challenge you to look around your own circle of friends and see if you don’t  notice similarities yourself.

I will be back on Wednesday to talk more about weight stigma as part of the weight stigma blog carnival. I have lots more to say on this topic and look forward to engaging in honest discussion with others who also care about this issue.

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