Our fear of FAT!
I recently wrote a post on Facebook, asking why people thought we are so scared of being 'fat'.
I believe this is the thought behind our eating behaviours. Not the only reason of course, but definitely part of the reason.
I know it was something I feared when I dieted for years, to help me 'fit in', because I thought everything would be fine if only I could lose the weight. In my head, that was what was holding me back from the awesome life I thought I could be having.
And then, when I finally realised I couldn't stick to a diet, (I just couldn't- because I ate to manage stress and feeling bad about myself), I started to overeat instead. I did this pretty much every day, apart from the days where I was trying to get my life back in CONTROL. So naturally, I put on weight and then I felt even worse about myself. I guess I felt trapped, but also I hated myself for what I was doing and I DIDN’T GET IT.
All pretty painful stuff; What you might call a vicious circle, and it was vicious.
So, back to our fear of fat and our personal fear of BEING FAT.
I had a lot of feedback after my post about this, which was awesome (and brave) and here are some of the things people mentioned:
“I don’t like the way I look when I am fat,” (most popular remark by far).
“Being fat is a sign I’m not in control.”
“I’m appalled by my naked body.”
All of which I can identify with because I’ve thought them too.
So the big question is WHY do we feel like this?
One reason is we don’t see larger bodies represented in our magazines, on our TV screens or on our social media feeds. If you pick up a glossy magazine (I don’t bother anymore BTW) do any of those magazines have larger women in them? Nope. They have the airbrushed, no flaws, full on creation of a ‘perfect’ woman in them. But, THEY AREN’T REAL.
And also, if you do see a larger body on TV it won’t be represented in a good way - hardly ever. Think, programmes based on ‘helping’ the fat person to lose weight by changing their lifestyle/giving up sugar/going to a boot-camp etc.
If we never see any larger people on our screens, and those we do see, need “fixing”, we aren’t going to feel good about ourselves if we look that way. Unless, we decide to start questioning the things we are told!!
Has it ever occurred to you that it’s actually OK to not be a size 12 or smaller? Just because we don’t see it on TV doesn’t mean it’s not OK.
What’s the purpose of advertising, for example?
Yes, you guessed it, selling us things i.e. making money for big corporations. The whole point of advertising is to make us feel bad about ourselves and CREATE a problem that needs fixing, like, cellulite, like our weight, like our skin. I saw this today when I was watching TV in the gym. The advert suggested we “make today a good skin day”, because if we buy their skin blemish reducing product that would make us (the people with skin blemishes) happy. Same with weight loss! The idea goes that we need to lose weight (why?) by using their products (clever!) and then we will be happy. Not actually true, yet we believe this stuff.
Do we really believe that is all there is to happiness?!
There is also the fact that being ‘overweight’ has been turned into the worst crime ever, by the medical profession. “The obesity epidemic”. The fact that ‘XXX amount of money is drained from the NHS by larger people’. Trouble is, I’m not so sure the evidence is unbiased (because it’s not) and let’s remember the medics involved are also a product of our fat phobic society and just don’t question the validity of the essential (but forgotten) truth that WE ARE ALL SUPPOSED TO BE DIFFERENT.
Where does it say we should all look the same, weigh the same and all be a particular weight to be “acceptable” in society? Nowhere. It’s just what we have been conditioned to believe.
If fat wasn’t a bad thing, and we saw putting on weight, or having more fat than say, some other people, as not a big deal, I wonder if it would drive our eating behaviours in the same way?
I know this is a hypothetical argument in a sense, because that isn’t the society we live in - but go with me anyway.
Imagine if being larger than some people was OK. That it didn’t matter. That you were as OK about it as you felt when you were smaller. How would that be?
If you think about it, it’s the thoughts you have about yourself that cause the negative feelings. If you think “no one will ever love me at this size” you feel sad and lost and you won’t be walking around beaming from ear to ear, but if you think “I’m funny, I have a great personality and I’m gorgeous,” I bet you’ll feel a whole lot better!!
So, my suggestions to you, if you want some help with this:
- Start to question the narrative. Take with a (big) pinch of salt the notion that we must all be slender. Start to think, what assumptions are behind the statements you hear everywhere? Realise YOU ARE OK. If you start to question our cultural assumptions, you will start to feel better about yourself.
- Stop following social media that makes you feel bad, and start to cultivate some body positive messages.
- Start talking to yourself with compassion and appreciation.
If you start with these steps, you will begin the journey of changing your mindset, and I bet your eating behaviour will change as well!