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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Importance of (Not) Being Fat

I try not to take posts on here too lightly. I'm sure no-one wants to be reading constant poems about ~how I yearn for death~ as well as cat pictures. I only post when I have something to say, or something specific has reached a threshold for discussion. Tonight, I'm writing about body image. Well, that's a lie. I'm writing about weight, about body figures and "being fat".

For the majority of my teenage years, I was a stick. I was so thin I was getting ill. I didn't notice or care about my weight until I was weighed at the doctors when I was 14. At that point, when weighed, I came out with a BMI of 15. I went to that doctors appointment wondering why I was feeling so weak and faint all the time; I came away with a new sense of pride over how extremely skinny I was. I know that doesn't sound logical to an adult reading this (or the one currently writing this), but as a teenage girl, being the skinniest person you know is something to be so happy about. Over time, I was met with both awe and concern over my weight. I was stuck in a very confusing situation where one group of people were complimenting me and another were bringing up negatives about my weight. I had always had issues with my looks, and though these issues developed further in my teenage years, my weight was never a priority for something I'd change about myself. Of course, I made constant reference to it ("Oh I need this food more, look how skinny I am!" or "I'm trying to gain weight") but realistically, I was fine with it aside from the comments I was getting from concerned friends and family.

Things change over time. In the past few years, my conditions have changed. I have started treatments and medications that, while having mostly positive effects on your mental well-being, also affect your physical appearance. Basically, I have gained a ton of weight. I am now twice the weight I was at the age of 14. 14 was 7 years ago, so that is expected, but to go from being seriously underweight to being overweight is a tough thing to adjust to. I try not to think too much on it: I am trying to get better. In my mind, getting better entails accepting myself for how I am. Currently I am on medications I am not sure I would still be here without; but they're making me overweight! Oh no! That's obviously the most important thing in life, not the whole "wanting to die" thing. Sigh.

People don't seem to get this message. To others, it is so simple: you are unhappy with how you look, change how you look. I am focused on the mental, they are focused on the physical. Even those that do understand the mental aspect try to force me to deal with it. With my body issues: weight gain, scars, stretch marks, whatever else. I can only handle so much at once. I do not want to discuss how much weight I've gained or how to get rid of it. Nor do I want to discuss scar treatment or anything else for treating my physical appearance. How about you direct me to some treatment for the thoughts inside my head? Is there any quick fix for that? Please, you're so willing to offer advice, give me some advice on that.

The worst thing about it all is "reassurance" about my weight. "Look Rachael, Lady Gaga is happy with her weight! You should be too!" Where to start with this one. I'm not sure I even can, it makes me so very angry. I am not Lady Gaga. I am not a celebrity. I'm not even close. I don't get paid to look good. I don't pay to look good. I don't get my ass cheeks photoshopped in Vogue. Nor do I get cosmetic surgery and claim to be happy with myself. You can get off your skinny high horse and stop trying to "reassure" me. I don't need your reassurance. I need your fucking silence. Do not talk to me like I should believe a word coming out of your mouth while you turn around and continue idolising the feminine ideal being shoved down all our throats. I do not need a word you say.

I'll tell you what else I don't need. The constant supply of celebrities discussing weight issues on airbrushed magazine covers, crying about how they're no longer a US size 2. Boo hoo, I feel so sorry for you on the front of that magazine. I feel like we have so much in common and look how you've made it through! Maybe if I feel happier about myself and listen to all your music about taking coke on a regular basis, I can be beautiful too. The juxtaposition of these two extremes is getting beyond ridiculous to any self respecting woman and now we also have men thinking they have it figured out, trying to relate us to the unrelated. The prime example being the aforementioned Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga at her fattest is still skinnier than I am and will ever be again. I can't relate to her in any way, so don't try to relate us. It doesn't make me feel any better about myself and in fact, bringing her up as being fat only highlights just what you think about me.

The reason for this post? Just a gentle reminder that there are more important things to think about, despite what you may say. Comments, reassurance, celebrity culture, none of it is relevant to how I view myself, except perhaps trying to reinforce my insecurities. In future, if you want me to feel okay about myself, just don't bring it up.