"People say... "
Don't you hear this like ALL the time?
I do... and it irritates the heck out of me.
"You know... they say that horizontal stripes make you look fat."
"You know... people say you aren't allowed to wear white pants after labor day..."
Seriously. Who are these people? Why do THEY get to dictate what we can or cannot do and/or wear? Why the hell do we listen to "them"? I've been thinking about this sort of stuff a lot lately. As anyone who knows me personally already is aware, I'm a plus size girl. Hold the phones, I dare say... I'm fat. OMG did I actually say that? Hell yes, I absolutely did!
Here's the thing about it though... the only person who ever calls me fat... is me. Sure sure, there was the rude kid in school who said something out of the way, but that was in middle school, and since I'm 27 now that's sort of way in the past. Nobody at a clothing store is ever like HEY YOU, I know that comes in your size but its horizontal stripes, and that's not something fat girls should wear! The only person who ever tells me things like that is me.
I never really thought about the messages that I told myself until I started grad school. In the counseling field we talk a lot about schema and self talk and all that other cognitive stuff. Anyway, for whatever reason (which I sort of know... but don't want to blast people who helped shaped my thought processes... its not really anyone's fault per se... we just don't realize how messages 'stick') I always corrected myself about things I could do/not do, wear/not wear, think/not think because i was fat.
(side note: FAT is NOT a bad word. Its not an insult. Its just an adjective. Its not insulting to say a girl is a redhead or a guy is black. Its not bad, its just what it.... same with the word fat. So yeah, I call myself that. I also call myself southern, smart, redhead, preppy, white (pale really haha) etc and none of that makes people think I hate my body... neither should fat. Its just how I am... and I don't mind that damn it!)
Ugh... chased a rabbit. Terrible habit. Back to what I was saying... Nobody ever comes up to me and says I can't do something because of my size. I lived with limitations for a LONG time that I thought were from the outside... but now I'm really beginning to see that they are self-imposed. I thought I couldn't get a boy to like me in high school, so I didn't date. NEVER did one of my girlfriends tell me I couldn't get a date, I told myself that... and I didn't try. NEVER has someone told me that I shouldn't wear shorts or a tank top or whatever else, but for a long time I told myself that "people say that." Nobody ever said that I shouldn't have long hair, I just had it in my head that I couldn't pull it off because I was a 'big girl' (thats what called myself back when I was scared of/embarrassed by the word fat.) Seriously, all these ridiculous messages came from INSIDE MY HEAD!?
There was a time when I would have DIED if I had to call myself fat, much less write about it where someone might read it. This would have been a DEEP DARK SECRET that i was keeping from everyone. Then one day I realized... people already know. Ummm duh. People look at me every day, and they can obviously tell that I'm not a size 6. Secondly, it didn't seem to really bother anyone... except me. When I went out for ice cream with my friends, nobody was like "hey fat girl, drop that cone!" I, however, was certain that everyone was looking at me. (How self-centered was I?!) Seriously, who thinks everyone is looking at them when there are delicious deserts around?! I was living life with a set of rules that SUCKED! These rules were self-imposed. I wasn't 'allowed' to live fully because I was fat?! Excuse my bluntness, but thats bull shit. I DONT have to wear things to 'cover up'. I don't have to avoid eating in public. I don't have to pretend I want to be super skinny (I don't btw being fat is part of being me... I own it!), I don't have to lose weight to have a relationship (seriously, my bf is a total hottie!), and I DO NOT have to have a less fulfilling life just because I'm an awesome, fabulous FAT GIRL.
I'm gonna post more about fat acceptance, loving your body, and positive self-talk in the coming days, but for now I leave you with a positive thought below... I'd love to hear your (kind) thoughts about body image! If you don't have something nice to say... well you know!