At Any Size

It's coming on January, and we all know what that means.

Diets.  Whole 30s.  Clean eating.  Keto.  Fad diets.  Food guilt.  Inferiority.

And for people like me... just guilt.  Guilt at existing the way we do.  Invisibility.  And the invasive thought that I should not be who I am.

I have one co-worker who just joined the gym after contemplating it for months.  I have distinct memories of walking out of the office last January and Snapchatting my best friend "Everyone in the office is eating salads for lunch.  I'm going to Starbucks to get a sugar bomb.  And some carbs."  Followed by a deep, fat-belly belly laugh.

I was able to laugh that day, but the truth is that being fat and unapologetic about it can get especially hard at certain times of year.  I try to love myself, to remember that people come in all shapes and sizes, and that it doesn't make me less of a person that this is the shape my body takes.  When my body becomes the unacceptable before in marketing campaign after marketing campaign, it's hard not to feel pretty awful about existing.  When I see commercials where people literally shed an image that looks like me and become half of who they were, it's hard to remember that I have never been happier when I have been thinner.  I have just weighed less.

I know that in a week or two, I will be sitting at my desk at work, silently listening as my co-workers, all in better shape than I am, ranging from stick-thin to mid-straight-size range, talk about their diets, their carbs, their workouts, how much weight they want to lose.  "If I could just get rid of 10 pounds" or "I'd be happy if..."  I don't know if they think about me during these conversations, as I silently sit, glancing down at the roundness of my belly, internalizing how I feel like I'm doing something wrong by not jumping on the weight-loss-resolution bandwagon.

You need to change.  You are not good enough.  Try again this year, and this time make it stick.  This endless, repeated cycle of self-deprecation, self-hatred, and resolutions is crazy-making to me.  Year after year, I watch it, and it's heartbreaking in its own way when I think about the amount of time and heartache that could be saved if people were able to just learn to love themselves. 

There is not anything inherently wrong with wanting to eat more nutritious, nourishing food or exercise, or keep your body in good shape.  But the pervasive diet culture that we live in goes into overdrive in January every year, and it's damaging in so many ways.  Even if I wanted to lose weight, I wouldn't make a New Year's resolution.  Because, let's be honest, while it's great to get excited about the calendar changing over, New Year's resolutions are just like diet culture.  Fleeting.

People "try hard" for a little while, then feel like shit when they fail, but the reality is that diets aren't healthy or sustainable.  People recovering from eating disorders are surrounded by triggering "inspirational" quotes and memes and social media posts and articles and tips.  People who are not between sizes 0 and 10, regardless of their health or physical fitness, are even more constantly being told that they are not okay with anybody.  How am I supposed to exist in anything resembling a mentally healthy way when I am being told constantly that I the opposite of desirable, beautiful, normal, acceptable?

Concentrating on what makes you feel well and happy all the time and NOT doing it because of a number on a scale is so much healthier, but that's not the world we live in.  We are not inundated with memes about intuitive eating or healthy-at-any-size or body positivity.  On a day-to-day basis my experience as a fat woman ranges from mostly bearable to occasionally great.  In January, though?  The stats go way down.

So, friends.  I hope you'll understand that if your Facebook or Instagram feed turns into a stream of pictures of salads and gym equipment, requests for Keto or Whole 30 recipes, daily updates on weigh ins, and tips on how to shed those pounds, I'll have to use that handy snooze feature or click the unfollow button.  I know it isn't always easy, but I hope you'll understand that when you're posting about how proud you are that you only ate however many calories today, or about how your cleanse went, or about how much better you are now or how your looks and body have improved, that those things can be really hard for some of the people you care about to read.  When you place such an emphasis on the fact that your body before (which was still half the size of mine) was fat/gross/bad/not okay, you are telling me that I am twice as unacceptable.

Instead, I'm going to try to spend January focusing on my intentions for the year and beyond, on writing, and family, and making art.  I'll be clicking over to my favorite body-positive, fat-positive, lovelies like @fatgirlflow, @glitterandlazers, and @iamdaniadriana.  I'll look at myself in the mirror a little longer and wear my favorite clothes and finally start reading Landwhale by Jes Baker.  I will do my best to remember that life can be beautiful at any time of year, at any size.