Lately, I’ve been wondering why I can’t get over fatphobia. I’ve gotten over so much bad programming in my life, I would have thought I could have gotten over that toxic set of ideas as well, but it seems I just can’t. Ideas of fatphobia just seem to own my brain. Skinny is good; fat is bad. Skinny is lovable; fat is unlovable. Skinny is beautiful; fat is ugly. And so on and so on. My own fatphobia is shocking to me. But if I realize I don’t want to be this way, why can’t I get over fatphobia?
I’m Fat and Fatphobic
One thing you might have noticed about me is that I’m fat. I wish this weren’t the case, but obviously, it is. I’ve been fat forever and, admittedly, have become more fat over the pandemic. I really dislike it. I dislike being fat, and I dislike being more fat. But, as a person who deals in reality, I have to at least be able to admit to it.
And while I wish I was one of those fat-positive people, I just don’t feel that way about myself.
My Fatphobia Is About Me
I’d lie to make something clear here: I’m not fatphobic in general; I’m really just fatphobic when it comes to me. I absolutely respect other people, their bodies, and their beauty, but I just can’t seem to apply that to myself. When I look in the mirror, one of two things happens: either I block out most of my body and just look at my smile, or my eyes and think I look okay, or I see all of me and find myself hideous. Neither is really a great option.
I could blame my internalized fatphobia on society, my upbringing, or other factors, but in the end, I’m not sure that matters. It’s there, and I wish it weren’t. Period.
Getting Rid of Fatphobia Seems Impossible
I’ve been trying to get rid of my internalized fatphobia since before that was a word. Yes, sometimes I’ve given into fatphobia and restricted my food intake to ridiculously small amounts (and, sadly, people were very impressed), but I really try not to do that sort of thing. Instead, I just try to work on myself. I just try to work on what my brain is saying. I just try to work on what I do with what my brain is saying. When successful, that type of change is considerably more persistent than a superficial body alteration (which is why I’m not generally pro-plastic surgery, by the way).
But no matter how much I’ve worked at it, I still see hideous Natasha in the mirror.
Now, I admit, seeing hideousness in the mirror is something that depression can make you do, regardless as to how you actually look. Moreover, I’ve found that depression uses other negative thought processes (like fatphobia) to make you feel worse about yourself. It’s like depression is glue, and it picks up all the negative thought patterns and sticks them into your brain. So, while for me, internalized fatphobia has been a longstanding issue, it’s not so prevalent when I’m not depressed.
And let’s not forget, while depression can cause the worsening, or even appearance of fatphobia, pronounced and severe fatphobia can also add to depression. It’s a brutal cycle that injures you repeatedly.
What Helps Getting Over Fatphobia?
I’m not an expert on getting over fatphobia, obviously, but I have found a few things that make me feel less bad about myself and how I look.
- I avoid images of models and the uber-thin. They just reinforce the fatphobia in my brain.
- I follow body-positive accounts on Instagram. These account are by people who are not skinny. (See below for suggestions.)
- I shop for clothing brands that are size-inclusive. Nothing makes a person feel worse than seeing clothing when none of it comes in your size.
- I try to soak up compliments. Instead of pushing compliments away, which is a habit for many people, I try to soak them up. I try to hold onto them. I try to commit them to memory so I can call them up when I’m feeling at my worst.
- I enjoy my body how I can. It’s a fact that my body is quite broken due to bipolar disorder and other chronic illnesses. This does not help how one sees one’s own body. But I try to find ways to enjoy it how I can in spite of that. (Orgasms, anyone?)
- I enjoy time with other people who enjoy my body. While I admit to fatphobia, I know that not everyone falls into that trap. Some people find my body beautiful and sexy. I try to see myself throught their eyes.
- I don’t let other people’s opinions of me affect how I see myself. Yes, I’ve been told I’m fat and ugly online. (YouTube is brutal.)
- I try to remember I am not my body. You know how you are not your illness? Well, you are not your body either. Bodies are changable and fleeting. You are not.
- I fake it until I make it. I walk with a confidence that I may not quite possess — yet.
Clearly, none of the above had fixed my fatphobia just yet. However, I do have moments of clarity now, thanks to these things.
So, if you’re feeling fatphobic — internally or otherwise — try the above. And if you’re working through fatphobia or if you’ve successfully beaten it, please share your tips below.
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