Some wishes DO come true!

Somewhere, over the rainbow....

Somewhere, over the rainbow....

When I first found the Fatosphere back in October of last year, I wasn’t looking for a place full of righteous indignation.  I wasn’t looking to become an activist.  No, my initial reaction was much more self-centered than that.

I just wanted to like myself.

I had spent so long absolutely abhorring myself that I was exhausted with it.  I was just so tired of looking in the mirror and saying those hateful things to myself.  Some part of my brain knew that this wasn’t a healthy way of thinking, but the rest of my brain said “but we don’t know any other way to think!” When I found the Fatosphere, and saw that it was filled with people of all shapes and sizes saying that being fat was actually okay, and that liking myself as I was wasn’t a crazy thought, I seriously thought I’d found my lifeline.

Here were people that were saying that I didn’t have to lose weight to become an acceptable human being – even to myself.  I didn’t have to hate everything about myself simply because I didn’t fit some unrealistic, unattainable (for 99.999999% of the world’s population) “ideal.”  I had the right to expect to be treated with respect and dignity just because I exist.  Because I am a human being.  I am a whole person, with strengths and weakness, with thoughts and feelings.  I just happen to also be fat.  That fatness is only a physical characteristic – it is not now, never has been nor ever will be the sum total of what it is that is “me.”

But all I wanted was to be able to say “I like myself.”  And mean it.

Very slowly at first, I started to feel better about myself.  But choosing to immerse myself in the on-line presence of people like me was bound to do that.

Then the rollercoaster that is my life took a downward spiral for a little while, and I didn’t even touch my computer for 4 months.  Not even to check my email.

Then in the spring, something in my head just snapped and part of my brain said to me: “you KNOW what you need to do.  You need to get back in the Fatosphere and back into blogging.  You’ll feel so much better about yourself if you do.”

And I did.  Part of me felt apprehensive – I’d suddenly dropped off the face of the Fatosphere for months and here I was, about to jump right back in with both feet.  How was I going to face the inevitable questions* about why I just disappeared like that?  But I knew that I had to just let come what may, because for my own mental health, I needed to get back into it.

Around the same time, I joined the Fatshionista community on LiveJournal.  Posting pictures of myself took a lot of courage, but it was so good for me.  Again with the mental health.  Seeing all these women – of all ranges of fat; from what I would think of as “totally NOT fat” to the higher end of the fat spectrum – and realizing that they were ALL beautiful, all in their own way, went a long way in re-programming my brain to think “well, if they’re all beautiful, why can’t I be, too?”

And there’s the crux of the matter.  “Why can’t I be beautiful, too?” Short answer: I can be.  And so can you, and you, and you.

Long answer: beauty, in the sense that I’m talking about it, is an intangible thing.  There is no set formula for what is beautiful and what isn’t.  As opposed to physical attractiveness, most people can’t pinpoint down to the slightest detail what beauty means to them.  One person might find nature beautiful, while another might find something like architecture beautiful.  Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder – because each person’s particular likes and dislikes are all different.

People are supposed to be different.  Different colors, different heights, and yes, different weights. The mere fact that I happen to weigh more than what society tries to force me to think is “acceptable” does not negate the fact that I have my own unique beauty.  And again, so do you and you and you.  You over there?  Yeah, you too.

In the last few months, since I jumped back into the Fatosphere with both feet, I have come a longer way in accepting and liking myself than I had in the 32 years before that.  Let me repeat that:

I have learned more about accepting and liking myself in less than five months than in thirty-two years of existence on this planet. (Nearly half of which have been spent in some sort of counseling.)

I have finally gotten to the point where I like myself the majority of the time.  No, I haven’t found self-esteem nirvana, but I have come so far in such a short time that I’m still finding it odd.  I find it odd when I look in the mirror and I don’t immediately put myself down for some flaw or another.  (I still have flaws, of course, I just don’t feel the need to put myself down because of them.)  I look in the mirror and I finally see me – not some warped, hate-filled version of me that has never been accurate.  And me?  Isn’t so bad, really.

Other people have noticed it, too.  My rise in self-esteem has been one of the major factors of my marriage becoming what my husband and I both want it to be.  I finally started to see myself the way my husband always has, and it has brought us closer in ways counseling (which we tried once) never did.  Nothing has ever worked like my learning to like myself.

Friends have noticed it.  I’m so much happier now than I ever was before.  In my life.

Even strangers notice it.  How else would you explain the fact that I’m suddenly getting hit on left and right?  I can’t remember the last time somebody hit on me before I started feeling better about myself.  Now, it’s every time I go out.  It’s surreal.  I almost feel like I must be in someone else’s body, because these things just don’t happen to me.  So I just take it as a tangible sign that this internal change must be visible externally, in some way or another.

I started out this journey just searching for a way to like myself.  What I found was so much more than that.  But that one wish, that I wished so very hard and very long for?

It came true.

Well how do you like them apples?

* – I don’t want it to sound like I’ve got some huge massive ego and the whole Fatosphere was going to be sitting around wondering “where did nuckingfutz go?”  However, I had been so active – commenting on pretty much everybody’s blogs, practically every post – that I was sure somebody would have noticed my absence and would ask about it.

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7 Responses

  1. I wondered where you went, and if you’d be back, but I figured you’d talk about it when you were ready. Life (and the attitudes we end up with because of life) has a way of derailing us from the things we like to do, want to do, or need to do. But if it’s really important to us, we usually end up back on track and sometimes, we’re even a little wiser.
    So, yeah, I’m glad you’re back, and I’m glad that you’re in a better place for you. FA is pretty awesome, that’s for sure.

  2. I am so happy to hear this. It makes me feel immeasurably glad that I’m part of something — a community, a movement, a philosophy — that helps people actually feel better about themselves.

    That’s the stuff they’ve been trying to bottle and sell for centuries.

  3. Yes.
    YesYesYesYesYes.

    “Seeing all these women – of all ranges of fat… and realizing that they were ALL beautiful, all in their own way, went a long way in re-programming my brain to think “well, if they’re all beautiful, why can’t I be, too?”

    And there’s the crux of the matter. “Why can’t I be beautiful, too?” Short answer: I can be. And so can you, and you, and you.”

    Yes.

  4. Great post. Good for you!!!

    *high five*

  5. Hi! May I quote some of the entry in a paper I’m writing: Fat Bias, Fat Acceptance, and Health at Every Size: A Counselor’s Guide to the Fatosphere”? Basically, it’s an introduction to the fatosphere for counselors, along with some background on fat bias and HAES. The point of the paper (which will initially be for the American Counseling Association conference in March 2009, and then hopefully in a counseling journal after that) is more or less what you said here, “I have learned more about accepting and liking myself in less than five months than in thirty-two years of existence on this planet. (Nearly half of which have been spent in some sort of counseling.)” I just really think MOST counselors need to stop pathologizing fat and trying to “fix” their fat clients, and instead help them find a place where they can learn all the fatosphere has to teach…

    Let me know!

    Thanks,
    Stella

    Author’s Note: I sent you an email to the address supplied here. Let me know if you don’t get it, okay? 🙂

  6. I for one am over the moon that you’re back. I am so new that I didn’t know you from before, but now that I’m here, yours was one of the voices that I found fairly early on, and really connected with, and have come to find a kind of friendship in, if you don’t mind my saying so even though we only “know” each other online, and not really that well (at least, not yet).

    I never properly thanked you for adding me to your blogroll actually, so I’d like to take the opportunity to do that now. Thank you for having that kind of confidence in someone who hasn’t been around these parts long enough to make a difference yet, to carve a place so to speak. That’s the wonder of the kind of acceptance I’ve found here, I don’t need to prove myself because all that I am, I already am. If that makes sense. But I don’t know that anywhere else. Just here, with folks like you.

    So bless your heart (and your keyboarding fingers) a million times for being here and sharing your journey with people like me. I’m so glad for you that you’re here, and for what it has done for you. And (selfish time?) I’m so glad for me that you’re here and this is doing so much for you, because you’re showing me, paving the way for me! I wouldn’t have been brave enough to find this path all by myself! You, YOU personally, have helped me a lot!

    YAY! JOY SPIRAL!

    *hugs*
    ~Sugar

  7. Woo! You were one of the folks who took the time out to read my blog before I got the guts to put it on the feed. I missed you, but I figured when you were ready to come back and talk about it you would.

    It’s good to see how much you’ve grown. Here’s to much more success!

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