The calm before the storm?

Tuesday, Lindsay wrote about the lack of oomph in the Fatosphere lately:

Whatever the case… things have been slow lately. The fatosphere isn’t nearly as busy as it used to be. Or maybe it’s just that i’m not seeing it – it’s happening somewhere where i’m not.

I’d noticed the same thing.  That’s partly why I’ve been so quiet myself lately: nothing has come up that has spoken to me enough to write about it.  Or, in some cases, I’d want to write about it if I were the first one to come up with it, but because somebody else already said everything I’d want to say, I didn’t see the point of simply echoing someone else’s post.

I got to thinking about what Linsday said at the end of her post, about wondering if it’s “time to move on.”  I’d had fleeting thoughts along a similar vein lately.  But the more I thought about it, the more I think it’s a bad idea.

People have been fighting for acceptance and rights for fat people for longer than I’ve been alive.  Undoubtedly, in that time, there has had to have been calm periods, periods when you’ve ranted and raved about every topic imaginable, and you’ve done everything there is for you to do, and you’re kind of stuck.  It’s a logistical impossiblility to think that’s never happened before.

What did people do then?  Did they think to themselves, “okay, I’ve done my bit, everything’s going to be fine now?”  Somehow I doubt it.  We wouldn’t have organizations like NAAFA (imperfect as it is) if they did.

We aren’t going to change society’s view and treatment of us overnight.  It’s just not going to happen.  I understand that, and I can live with that knowing that I’m not alone in wanting to be treated with respect.  Knowing that there are others out there fighting the same fight I am, day after day, helps.  And having the Fatosphere – even in the “slow” times like now – so that I can get online and “feed off others’ energy” so to speak, helps immensely.

And I can’t help but think that this is just the calm before the storm.  I can’t help but think that if we get comfortable and complacent, that something is going to happen that’s going to knock us down on our collective asses.  I would much rather face it prepared, armed, and feeling like I’m one soldier in an entire army of people willing to fight.

Even if there isn’t all that much to talk about right now.

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Being Part of the Team

I’ve been thinking about this since Friday night, when I realized I was on the fatosphere feed.

It was kind of funny… fatfu had emailed me to let me know that she had added me, and said to let her know if I didn’t want to be on it.  Of course I have absolutely NO problem with being on it, but I didn’t check my email until AFTER my post had already showed up on the feed.  I was all…. wha?  Wait… um… that’s MY post!  How did MY post get on the feed? Oh my god!  I’m on the feed! (My daughter was in the room and thought it friggin’ hilarious.)  I kind of freaked out for a minute there.  Not a bad freak-out, mind you… but a freak-out all the same.  Once I calmed down a bit, that’s when it occurred to me that there might be something waiting for me in my inbox, and sure ’nuff… there it was.

Now I’m going to show y’all just how much of a dork I am.  I found it exciting that I’ve been added to the feed.  After all, there are many people that I admire and like whose posts make it on the feed.  Being lumped into the same group as these men and women that I enjoy reading, that make me think, and have made such a big impact on my life in the last 8 months?  How is this a bad thing?

But then I started to really think about what this means.  Because while there’s no specific team leader, no specific set of goals that absolutely everyone is striving for (that’s not to say that nobody has specific goals, just that there’s no universal set that everyone in the fatosphere have voted and agreed upon), I still view it as a “team effort.”  Everyone involved in the fatosphere (and quite a few not directly involved in it) are striving for the same generalized concepts.  Helping people to see that they don’t have to let their weight/size direct their life, and to get the public-at-large to view us as people first, fat people second.

And see, that’s what has made such a big impact on my life, personally.  Finding the fatosphere snapped me out of The Fantasy of Being Thin.  It helped me to see that accepting myself the way I am isn’t such a crazy idea after all.  (I was really struggling with this one, and now I see that it was the globalized and internalized fear of fat that was stopping me.  I had come right to the point of “giving up” [on dieting], but for some reason I felt like I was supposed to want to keep dieting.  Like it was some moral imperative that I continue to fight my body to try to make it a smaller size, regardless of whether or not I was successful.)  And once I stopped, stepped back, and really took a good look at my life and my family, I realized that I wasn’t such a freak after all.  At least half – if not more – of my family members (on both my mother’s and father’s sides together) are “overweight.”  Quite a few of them have been larger than me, and some smaller.  I’m pretty much right in the middle of the weight range, for my fat family members.  And, let’s face it: if that “Calories In/Calories Out” shit really were true, universally, then I would probably be about a size 4 by now.  All those times I complained about the fact that my underweight husband eats more than I do, and does less than I do, and stays skinny being unfair… I was right.  When you look at it that way, that is.  But it’s just more proof that my genetics have waaaaaaaaaaaay more to do with my size than my lifestyle does.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has come down that road.  I’m not the only one to ever faithfully diet only to have absolutely no “progress” whatsoever.  I’m not the only one who looked back on her life and realized that if this shit that people kept shoving down her throat were true, she’d be thin and “acceptable” by now.  I’m not the only one who was tired of hating herself because she couldn’t conform to some irrational ideal, and wanted to be able to like herself, if not love herself.  It feels like it, sometimes, but I know I’m not the only one to have gone through all of that.

And it was finding the fatosphere that turned it all around for me.  It was here that I learned that learning to love myself – even though I was (and probably always will be) fat – was a good thing.  The people involved here really have made more difference in my life than 10+ years in therapy ever did.  And it’s not just me – finding these people has made a difference in the way I interact with people, and it’s even given my marriage a new lease of life.  I never realized that starting to feel good about myself would make such a huge impact on my life as a whole.  I can’t even put into words how thoroughly amazed I am at how much difference it has made.

And now, when another person starts going down that same road I did, and stumbles upon the Fatosphere, I’m going to get to be part of that.  I’m going to have the privilege of being part of a team of people that will show that person that s/he can be happy, without losing weight.  They can let go of their fantasy of being thin, and their life won’t end.  It’ll only get better.  I get to be part of the team that educates these fat people, and makes them realize that they have been treated unfairly and they don’t have to take it.  They will learn the truth about all this so-called “science” regarding the “obesity epidemic” (and don’t get me started on the whole “epidemic” shit – you can’t CATCH fat, for fuck’s sake!).  And they will start viewing themselves and the people around them in a new light.  And slowly, day by day, that weight they’ve been carrying upon their shoulders – the weight of the internalized fat-hatred and fear – will lessen.  It won’t completely go away until society finally gets its head out of its collective ass and accept that, yes, people are supposed to come in all shapes and sizes.  Just like skin color, there is supposed to be variety in the human race.  Until that happens, though, that weight will never completely go away.

But I get to be part of helping people along a path of self-acceptance, and eventually, acceptance of all people, fat AND thin.

And that?  That’s exciting.  And humbling.  But most of all, it’s an honor.