I’ve never been fat.
I mean, in high school I looked like a jiggly, hourglass-y butterball, but I’ve always been blessed with a “socially acceptable” size and shape for a woman. When I took up fitness and got lean and toned, you could even say that I had the “ideal” shape and size, although obviously it depends on who you’re asking. (I’m only 5’3 after all.)
My point here is that as a cis-gender female with a socially accepted– even highly praised– body type and size, sometimes people send me messages to say things like:
“ummmm do you really think you know what it’s like to hate your body?”
I’ve even had it suggested to me on many occasions that I’m not the “right person” to be out there teaching women how to love their bodies.
Once, a woman flat out told me to stop “appropriating” the body positivity movement, and another time a woman asked if I felt like I “deserved” to share my story, since my body has always been “perfect.”
Now, here’s the thing. I would NEVER pretend to know what it’s like to be a fat woman, any more than I would pretend to know what it’s like to be a man, or to be perfect. If you don’t resonate with my story I’m 100% ok with that, and I recognize that people with different stories– such as men, trans women, women of color, or fat women– might not resonate with my story.
But do I “deserve” to share my story? Do I know what it’s like to hate my own body? Am I the “right person” to be out there teaching women how to love their bodies?
My answer to all these questions is an unfliching YES.
Because body image doesn’t discriminate. Body image has nothing to do with what you look like.
And most of all, because despite the way the script has been flipped in the body-positive community, I STILL refuse to allow my worth to be determined by how I look.
In a bizarro-world backlash movement in my world, only women who have been discriminated against enough for how they look seem to be hailed as “worthy” of sharing their stories.
But I don’t buy that.
Each marginalized segment of humanity faces their own struggles, and the context for their obstacles are different, and often much more damaging and difficult, than my own.
I deserve to share my story, and my struggles. And so do you, if you want to.
I know what it’s like to struggle to love myself, and to feel shame and anger and hatred about my body, even though society has always said my body was fine. Because that shit comes from inside, not the outside– just like self-love and acceptance does.
I’m the “right person” to teach you how to love yourself if (and only if) you resonate with me, my writing, my teachings, and my story. If not, there are hundreds of kick-ass inspirational women out there who might be able to rock your world on this front. Maybe they’re fat. Maybe they’re trans. Maybe they’re differently-abled. Maybe they just put things a different way that makes you go “OMG YES!”
All of that is awesome, and I encourage every single person to search far and wide for the sources of teaching that resonate on a personal, visceral level.
But don’t ever tell me that one person’s story is less valid than another’s.
Don’t you dare make the mistake of thinking you get to choose who is “worthy” and who isn’t.
Don’t get caught up in how good it feels to flip the script, and lose sight of the truth:
Everyone is inherently worthy, and their worth has nothing to do with how they look. Everyone’s experiences, pain, and struggles are always valid.
Anyone can struggle with body image, and no matter what that person looks like, they deserve to seek help and be supported in their healing.
Pain and fear are not a competition to see whose was “worst.” Trauma and suffering absolutely do not need to be “bad enough” to deserve compassion and healing.
Maybe, like me, your body is “fine,” according to society. Maybe it’s not. Maybe you have a history of extraordinary pain and suffering, or maybe you’ve been pretty privileged and you feel guilty for struggling at all.
Either way, please trust me sister: you and your experiences are valid.
You are worthy of suffering, and also worthy of seeking healing to get past it.
You are worthy, period.
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