I have a confession to make. Once I learned to accept my burgeoning self, my rotundness, and once I learned to really, really like my curves, I realized something shocking as I sat thinking about a friend of mine (who, by the way, is impossibly thin and beautiful). What did I realize? That I’m just as judgmental about thinness as everyone else is about fatness. I’ll explain.
I have often had the thoughts that thin people are sickly, weak, and more prone to illness. I look at them and immediately, at that split-second-brain-warp-speed, think that about them. It’s true. I’ve thought that about nearly every thin person I’ve ever seen. Even the ones who are fit and use any excuse they can to show off their ridiculously toned abdomens in half-t-shirts or stretchy, brightly colored yoga-wear. Yep, in my book, thin has almost always meant sickly.
Well, this used to be my opinion until I caught myself thinking it one day and yelled “Ah-HAA!” loudly in the quiet room. Stunned, I sat there examining the thought that had just shot up from some dark fathom inside of me to hang there in my mind like a jagged little soot-colored shard of glass. Hoh-my-God! I think that thin people are sickly just like other people think that fat people are sickly. Hoh-my-God! I am doing the exact same thing: judging other people solely by their appearance!
But, it goes deeper than just judging appearance. (Doesn’t it always?)
We hold certain beliefs about the world that are from a primal, deep, and almost reptilian place, a place that is core to us, an area that is very difficult to access, but when accessed and analyzed, can yield great personal transformation. So, my idea that thin = sick is from that place, that reptilian, dna, core-belief center inside. How do I know that it’s a core belief? Because I have thought it at least a gazillion times. Stay with me.
Most of the people in my family are fat. I grew up around fairly fat people all of my life. And, when my family members weren’t fat, they were dieting or starving themselves into a temporary thinness (myself included) that was quickly supplanted by even more fat than when they started. So, I knew fat. I understood it. I looked at it, drew some comfort from it (as a young child) and then as a teenager, secretly loathed it and vowed that I would never ever end up like them. Which, of course, I did.
Fat was the norm, even though I knew that my family members were different and laughed at and despised and judged. Continually. But, fat, for me, was familiar. Safe. So, over time, I gravitated to the idea that thin was bad and fat was good. I mean, look at it: Fat is succulent and hearty. It’s rosy-cheeked and sturdy. It can carry two pails of milk from the barn and re-roof the house before lunch. Fat is fun. It jiggles, wiggles, and makes you laugh. It’s happy. Thin just looked painful to me. Thin looked like it was going to snap in half (at any second). Thin always conjured up images of bones angrily poking from beneath papery, ashy skin.
I walked around for years thinking this about other people and in most cases, it probably wasn’t true. Sure, some of the thin people I saw were sickly, but not all. Some of the fat people were sick because of their obesity, but not all.
As we know, the thought is always about the thinker. The thought is always the mechanism that creates the thinker’s reality. Core beliefs are formed by people observing circumstance, experiencing the results of their choices, and thinking certain thoughts over and over and over. These beliefs then form the place from which we make our inner (and outer) world.
But, these beliefs should always be questioned. They should be examined and teased apart and regarded from all angles. They should be asked: “Are you true?” “Are you real?” “How do you serve me?” “From where do you come?” “Why are you here?” “What have you given me?” And, in some cases, “When are you leaving?”
Thin is sometimes sickly but not always. Fat is sometimes burdensome, but not always. Thin is normal to some and easy for some, but not all. Fat is healthy for many, many people, but not everyone. Fitness is enjoyed by the fat and thin alike. Despite media reports, not every fat person is sick and not every thin person is automatically better off than a fat person.
So, what I learned from this experience is that trying to eradicate judgement is impossible, but it’s a good idea to catch up with oneself, think about the day, ponder the kinds of thoughts you have been having about yourself and others, dig around, look at your beliefs, weigh the prejudices and judgments that you hold, seek to understand the source of these things, and see if what you are holding onto still serves you.
- How equating being fat with being out of shape hurts thin people too (fitisafeministissue.wordpress.com)
- The Burnout On Fighting Fatphobia (elizabethahawksworth.com)
- Health, fat, and privilege (thequirkydiva.wordpress.com)