My Fat Manifesto

22 AUGUST 2007
I am fat. You might have noticed that.

I have always been some variation on fat. As a child I was chubby, as a teen just a tiny bit curvier than my peers, as a young mother of two I was very fat.

I figure that, barring any dire health crises, I will be fat to the end of my life.

For many years, I shared in our culture's lipophobia. I put off my life "until I can wear a size...?" I loathed the way I looked and carried myself as one huge, lumpen apology. Because I loathed the way I looked, I tended to hide and avoid making a spectacle of myself by taking part in physical activities. That wasn't hard, it hurt to move around anyway; I was always hungry because I ate very little, in an attempt to lose some weight, but my weight never seemed to go go anywhere but up.

Then, around 1983 or 1984, I encountered the concept that maybe it was OK to be fat. Maybe it was OK not to put off my life "until I can get into a size...?". I became a fat activist. I determined that it was OK to take care of myself, even if I could never be socially acceptably thin.

I was, for a while, pretty loud about it, to the extent that a few of my friends were convinced and the rest got tired enough of the tirade to keep their opinions to themselves.

As time passed and I aged, people seemed to feel less need to express an opinion about my aesthetic value, so while my opinions on fat activism didn't change I found I had less need to launch into one of my lectures. I went on doing what I do, but I didn't have cause to talk about it much.

Then very recently, a charming friend of recent acquaintance innocently "stepped on my activist toes". It was with only the sweetest of intentions, and I wasn't offended so much as startled. How, I wondered, could anyone have missed that I am quite content in my fatness?

Oh yeah ... because anyone who has met me more recently probably doesn't have any idea of my thoughts on fat acceptance and health at any size.

Now, it's time for an FYI. This is not aimed at anyone in particular, but it is something anyone who knows or would like to know me ought to know.

So, as I was saying, I am fat. Outrageously, unrepentantly obese. But no, I don't need help with that, thank you. It's not a problem.

Yes, I do care about my health. I care a great deal -- I have a four year old, and I'd like to dance at his daughter's wedding! That is one of many reasons I refuse to fall for the lipophobic nonsense that is our culture's "fear du jour".

I eat well -- we eat almost no processed foods unless we process them ourselves. That means that our bread and crackers start with organic wheat berries that we grind ourselves and our milk and cheese are raw and un-homogenized. We makes our soups from raw vegetables, dried beans, and a rich bone broth that puts the canned stuff to shame. In the summer and autumn, we eat a lot of fresh produce and we preserve a lot of the summer's bounty for use through the rest of the year. We choose foods from local sources, grown for maximum nutrition whenever we can find them. We lead an active lifestyle (I walk as much as 3 miles a day).

Living this lifestyle and variations on it for many years has not made me thin. I think we can assume it's not going to.

Going hungry never made me thin, either. I ate an average of 900 calories a day for several years, at a time when I was walking up to 17 miles a day. I never got below a size 16 and my BMI never got lower than 29. (Just below obese, in case you're keeping track.) But of course, when food became available again, I rapidly gained weight -- up to a BMI of 62! Isn't that always the way? Well, it is for me anyway. Nope, no more hunger for me -- ever.

So, I eat well, I move for the sheer joy of moving that comes from radiant good health, and I refuse to be hungry. I refuse to be afraid. I am fat, and if there is a problem with that, it is in the minds of those who have nothing better to do than to watch my waistline.

Believe it or not, I appreciate the concern. I live as healthily as I can, and I am content that I am doing everything I can for my health. I cannot abide the notion that fat is intrinsically unhealthy. Some of the ways that some people get fat may be unhealthy, but mostly 'fat' is an aesthetic judgement wearing a dark cloak of [im]morality. But thanks anyway for your concern.