Monday, August 20, 2012

Killing My Fantasy

We are being very introspective today.

(By "we", I mean myself and Mr. Tree. Not the royal "we", that would be just silly.)

We have cuddled, and commiserated, and consulted. And I think I have come to some conclusions about why everything has just seemed so goddamn hard lately.


A few years ago, when I was at my lowest point with hating myself and my body, I discovered a corner of the Internet where people are trying to change society's attitude towards overweight people. There is a movement called "fat acceptance", which in essence maintains that fat does not always equal unhealthy, or ugly, or worthless, and that our culture needs to overhaul the way we look at and treat the obese. Fat acceptance tells you that you don't have to diet, you don't have to change, you just need to accept who you are and live a healthy life.

This idea was exactly what I needed at that moment in time. I needed to be told that I wasn't less of a person because I couldn't control my weight, that losing pounds was not necessary to be happy, that the good things (and bad things) about me will be there regardless of my size. I needed to be given permission to forego the diets, the disordered eating, the forced exercise, and just be.

(Of course, I am now clearly ignoring one of the basic premises of the movement, which is that you don't need to lose weight. I decided, for me, this was a journey I needed to embark upon for my own health and sanity, but I still do believe in the ideals. It was only once I accepted myself as I was that I could change.)

In my exploration of "fat activism", I spent a good two months at one of my many temp jobs reading the Shapely Prose archives. Kate Harding's writing spoke to me on a level I can't even describe. Witty, honest and thoughtful, sometimes I felt as if she had crawled inside my brain, dug out my thoughts, then jumped into a time machine to write blog posts 3 years prior.

Which brings me to my introspection.

One of my favorite posts by Ms. Harding is "The Fantasy of Being Thin". In this essay, she explores a mentality I think a lot of us are familiar with: the idea that once we lose the weight, all the other things amiss in our lives will fall into place. We'll be thinner, yes, more beautiful, and also smarter, braver, wittier, calmer, happier. We'll be the person we always wanted to be, the person stuck inside us under layers of fat cells and shame.

I think this is my current problem.

I've lost 50 pounds, arrived at the original goal I set for myself back on January 1st. For all intents and purposes, I've found success, and I am "thin".

And recently I have found myself overwhelmed with the lackluster truths of my existence. I'm different, on the outside at least, but everything else is the same. I am not happier.

I was still subscribing to the fantasy of being thin.

And I need to get over it.

I don't think I was consciously expecting some sort of magical improvement of my quality of my life. It's not that simple. I wasn't sitting around thinking, "When I lose weight, someone random person on the street will offer me an amazing job because of my bubbling charisma, I'll fall in love with a ripped, zenned out dude who catches my eye in yoga, and I will always be happy and peaceful and able to resist the McDonald's on Wilshire."

Those things still might happen. But they won't happen because I'm thinner, or prettier. They'll happen because I will make them happen. They'll happen because I'll find a spark inside me, some sort of drive, because I'll grow as a person through my actions. They'll happen because I love myself more, because I'm more confident. And that confidence will come from the knowledge that I'm taking care of myself, not from the fact that I look better in a pair of yoga pants.

I'm still lazy, and a reluctant cook, and kind of shy, and somewhat awkward. Being thinner doesn't mean I'm not a TV addict, or a gossip, or a little-white-liar. I'm not more outgoing, nor more brave. If I want to change these things, I have to commit to doing it, just like I've committed to my weight loss.

I'm the only one who can make me happy.

So, yes, we're being introspective today. And also very wordy.


  1. Thank you for this. Seriously.. I've been thinking some of the same thoughts and you worded them perfectly.

  2. Great post....I've been guilty of this way of thinking far too much!