I was listening to the radio the other day and there was a guest speaking about a Fat Acceptance Movement. She spoke about how diets don’t work, how society judges fat people (she rejects the term ‘overweight’) as lazy and disgusting, and how people are afraid of and feel terrible if they’re not sporting a rock-hard body.
Although I didn’t agree with everything she said, there was one point that resonated with me: it was her mantra to stop fighting your body and start accepting it. This reminded me of a workout video I own that stars a supermodel and her trainer, both of which have amazing, gravity-defying, I-didn’t-know-a-stomach-could-have-that-many-packs bodies. However in the beginning the model states, “I’m never going to have a body like [my trainer] and she’s never going to have a body like mine all I know is…I’m working towards [my] personal best.” I thought about this and then looked at my daughter.
As this segment on the radio continued, I watched as she joyfully bounced around the living room, shaking her lovely baby lumps so proudly for me to see and I asked myself, ‘Where do we go wrong?’ As women, when do we flip the switch and all of a sudden start wishing our behinds were smaller, thighs tighter, chests perkier? I was reading through an old journal I was keeping during the summer interim into grade 9 and in one entry I talk about how “my diet will start tomorrow.” I was 13 and completely normal, what was I thinking?!
Fast-forward a few years to my pregnancy body—I was big and I’m not talking belly big, I’m talking eating-too-many-fries big: I grew all over. After I delivered I didn’t feel fat. However not being able to fit into my jeans was a huge wakeup call because I remembered that before I got pregnant, when I could fit into my jeans, I had thought I was fat and now, post-partum, all I wanted was to be thin enough to fit into those same jeans again. All of a sudden my unfair and imbalanced perceptions of fat and thin through the years began to run through my mind and I finally, after many years of battle, called a truce with myself. I promised myself that from that moment on I wasn’t going to call myself fat anymore and if for no other reason, I intend to uphold this promise for my daughter’s sake.
Are there days when we’re all going to feel fat? Of course, we’re only human. However to be able to shake my head now and realize that it is those thoughts that are unhealthy and not the skin I can pinch here and there is a liberation I hope to pass down to my little girl. Because let’s face it, there’s a whole industry just waiting for her to open her eyes so that they can over-saturate her with unattainable images of young women airbrushed to perfection. My armor against this? Well, I can cut off my cable and end my subscriptions to beauty magazines. But if I personally don’t stop buying into the propaganda then my daughter will see this, feel this and sadly, emulate this. And she deserves better than that because she’s worth it.
Lena Hassan lives in Ottowa, Canada. She is mother to one little girl.