Fat people are not allowed to go to Burning Man, they can’t be seen at weddings nor dance in Ibiza or swim in the ocean or be seen on the ski slopes.
My fatism has followed me around since I donned a tutu in ballet classes when I was six and dancing in the centre of the church hall with all the other ballerinas dancing around me. I was convinced I was the chosen one, the special one, the one that was better than the others only to discover they were dancing differently because they were learning the dance for the ballet exams and I was not.
Why? Because my teacher thought I was not good enough to pass an exam when seriously, who gives six year olds exams anyway?
I went from the chosen one to the outcast and I blamed the same body I thought had given me that special place, only this time it wasn’t because I was more graceful it was because I was fat or so I told myself.
I never did ballet again after that and my life was permeated with body blame compounded by media and advertising air brushed images and the messages that came with them that I would see as a young girl, adolescent female and adult woman in the world around me. When the messages became too loud I simply ate. Sugar. A lot. Mind numbing dopamine inducing coma enhancing sugar.
I still see those same messages today forty plus years later where much to my chagrin, I am still, on some days, living in my own fatist world. It would appear I am waiting for thin.
Waiting till I am thin before going to Burning Man, waiting till I am thin before returning to television, waiting till I am thin before my life starts and accept not decline wedding and party and travel invitations, despite being thin time and time again. I have written books about body image, produced a documentary on the same, I have spent decades in good honest therapy that has seen me turn my life from seriously borderline to one I want to live.
Yet still I buy into what others think of me (when really it just reveals what I think of myself) when I dare to accept an invitation. What if they think I am fat, best I spend a mortgage payment on a new dress, hand over credit card cash to blow dry my hair and paint my nails to distract from the pre-menopausal tyre that has settled around my middle.
So I end up broke AND fat. Which is just where I thought I deserved to be because only thin people are rich and when I get thin I will be rolling in money which will make me as uncomfortable as being thin has always done. Because thin women incite the envy of other women, thin women get all the men and get all the gaze and get all the sex.
Yet those who seek forced and controlled thinness are often too busy trying to be thin to be really present in this world. Life, fat or thin, isn’t life if you are not in it. How can you connect when you project into the future what you will look like when you are thin and reach back into the past to lament the times that you were and lost it?
When I see an overweight woman living her truth in her own body I applaud and wish I had the same courage. Melissa McCarthy, Kathy Bates, Oprah and Hilary Clinton all fill me with glee for their courage which is just as ridiculous as thinking I can’t go to Burning Man because someone might see my thighs (when really everyone at Burning Man is too busy thinking of their own time and thighs to worry about mine).
Why do bigger people need courage to live their life in the open? It shouldn’t even be an issue. I don’t judge my ‘more than size zero’ friends or strangers for going to Burning Man, skiing or hitting the dance floors of Ibiza, my fatism only extends to myself and sadly I am not alone.
Fifty three percent of thirteen year old American girls are unhappy with their bodies and seventy eight percent feel the same at seventeen. Over eight million people in the USA have an eating disorder of some kind from anorexia to bulimia and binge eating disorder, ninety percent of them are women and forty percent of nine and ten year olds in the USA have dieted to try to lose weight.
If we all stop obsessing and drop down into our absolute truth, that gut feeling, the one that isn’t the story inside our heads or the constant chatter from the outside world, then we know what really matters. For me it is my huge heart, my humour, my vulnerability, my power to bring people together, the feeling of honest connection and this is all done regardless of what the scales say, thin or fat. Surely that is something of value.
Plus it’s here now. In this moment. No scale can measure it and I don’t have to wait for it. It really is one size fits all because it doesn’t rely on the size of my arse to know it’s already worthy.
So, what are you waiting for?
This blog has been published on The Huffington Post.