I am just going to get this out of the way – I am not at my ideal BMI. I have to shop in the Plus section of the stores most of the time. Ok, I’ll just go ahead and say it. I am … Fat. (Ouch, that was hard.)
But that is no excuse for how I have treated you, thin women.
Weight is not a competition. There is no “WIN” in comparing myself to you.
More importantly, it is not your fault that I am fat. I apologize for all the times that I have said horrible things to you because you are thin.
I never noticed this phenomenon until I caught myself saying it to a woman I had only met an hour or so earlier. There she was at the photo shoot, slender and with the most perfect abs I have ever seen, telling me how she had a 14 month old baby. I simply had to ask, “Oh, please tell me that you work out all the time!?”
I saw her cringe a little. She was almost apologetic as she told me no, she was just built that way. She had not worked out after the baby.
That was the moment that it happened. I felt the thickness of the words about to tumble out of my mouth. I managed to catch them in time, but the silence was awkward. It was obvious that I was about to say something. She looked puzzled.
I looked at the ground for a moment, and then I looked her in the eye.
“I just have to apologize, because what I almost said? It was that I hate you. That is not right. You don’t deserve that.”
She looked back at me, “It is ok. Thank you. You would be shocked at some of the things people say to me.”
As she told me some of those things, we both stood there and cried together.
I should have been shocked, but I wasn’t because I’m sure I have said them at some point as well to a thin woman. Completely oblivious to the pain I was causing her in hearing them. It was all about my pain, my shame of hating myself and my own body.
“Oh, you’re cold? Well … maybe you should eat a cheeseburger. Or a cookie. Put on some weight.”
“You have 5 pounds to lose? Hah! That is NOTHING! Be glad you’re so thin.”
“You’re so thin, I could snap you like a twig!”
And the worst one of all, “You’re so thin … I hate you.”
When did this become OK?!? At what point did we decide that we are allowed to look another woman in the eye and tell her that we hated her? Or that she should gain weight and doesn’t have a right to have body-image issues because she is thin?
Thin shaming is just as bad for women’s body image as fat shaming. Both are wrong.
Over the past few years, I’ve talked to a number of other thin women about this topic. It is something that they are experiencing on a regular basis. Some have told me their stories about how they thought it would change when they grew up, how they never expected that it would continue in to adulthood. How in ways, it is worse now because they can no longer excuse it is a playground taunt.
Everyone wants to be thin, but we vilify the women that actually ARE.
We make them outcasts. Women bond over how much we hate our bodies, the latest diet that we are on, how we will simply never have thigh gap. If you’re thin? We act as if you have no right to be a part of the tribe. You have hit it. You reached the goal we all desperately long to attain, if only we would make the life changes to get there.
So many of the messages today about being body positive are actually talking about accepting your PLUS size body. Embrace the Curves. Eff your beauty standards. Love me as I am!!! No one should say that they are fat. Love yourself no matter what your size. Stop hating your body.
But here is the reality: if we are talking about being body positive, thin women are a part of this conversation as well. Love yourself at any size? At any size means at a size 00 or a size 30.
It is time that we stop attacking the thin women of the world. Tearing another woman down is fighting the wrong battle.
I will never again tell another woman that I hate her because of how thin she is, how fabulous her hair is, how wonderful her life may be compared to mine. It is time we pull this hateful language from our vocabulary.
I would like to be the first in line to say it:
To the thin women, I AM SORRY. I see you, and I hear you, and I embrace you – exactly as you are. Come, join the conversation. Be a part of the circle. You have every right to be here.
I always thought I was not a planner.
Wait. That isn’t true. Back when I was a teenager, I was a planner. I would plan things to do with my friends, what we would do over the summer, that sort of thing.
I learned quickly that if I let myself plan, I would overplan. I am rather creative, so I would build up entire scenarios of how things would work out. Then I would be absolutely miserable when my plans did not work out the way I expected.
In my 20s, that trend of misery continued, but with greater frequency. It felt like any plans I made just fell apart. So instead of fighting it, I became someone who is not a planner.
For the past 15 years or so, I’ve absolutely refused to plan.
My road trips? I generally know when I need to be at my destination; everything about going from point A to point B is left up to whatever my mood is that day. “How can you drive across the country without a plan?” Easy. Give yourself a bit of a buffer so you can stop for longer stays when you fall in love with the charm of a place. Beyond that? Just go.
Life will all sort itself out.
The past two months have taught me that I am a planner after all. It is a reality that has hit me square in the chest and forced me to face it, as much as I hate to make plans.
I retired as a pro photographer, which was the equivalent it turns out as untying the anchor I had been tethered to for 8 years. A week or two before the Dad 2.0 Summit, I found myself in a state of panic. When Mike asked me what we wrong, I couldn’t verbalize it at first. Finally I asked him, “What am I?”
He looked confused. “You’re a writer. A coach. The Avenger of Sexiness.” To him, it was obvious.
My profound response? “Oh, good. Ok.”
It was at that moment I realized I need a plan. More than I ever wanted to admit. If someone asked me what I did, I needed an answer to give them. If someone asked me how I did it, I needed something to point them to. I needed a plan. I needed answers.
Because when I really look at what the issue is here? It is that I don’t like to feel like I’m not prepared. Which was exactly how I was feeling. Even though all of this is actually a natural progression of the work I’ve been doing for several years now, it all feels completely new at times, and I find myself feeling very lost.
So I’ve been making plan after plan. Finding my answers.
Every time I think, “Ok, I have a plan now, I’m all set!” I find something else comes up.
Yesterday it was the issue of using images with my blog posts. I honestly have no idea how many photographs I have from the past two years of road trips, but it could be 50,000 images. Lakes, mountains, forests, fields, oceans, deserts, beaches – I have photographs of them all. Beautiful, amazing photographs.
They might not literally fit what I’m talking about in my blog post, but they are incredible, and I want to share them. So I will. After hours of debate, I decided I simply must use them as the graphics for my blog posts here. My posts that I am planning to write (oh goodness, there is that planning thing again!) might all be about body image, self-confidence and taking care of yourself, but they are also about me and my story. My message. Travel? It is part of my story too.
Now that I’m planning things out, I realized I needed to reframe how I think about my blog post content too. Social Media and SEO have killed my blog. I spend a lot of time worrying about what I could write that would be interesting to my readers. That would come up high in the search engines. That would have all the right keywords, be optimized for social media, all those things that are so important.
Or maybe they are not that important at all? Maybe the really important thing is to actually just write?
It was then that I realized that I also need to break some rules. Rules that are arbitrary and that I had set up for myself. No one else was holding me to them.
So that is where we are at. I have a plan. A plan for what I want to share here over the months ahead, and a plan for letting go of the rules holding me down – the need to have exactly the perfect image for a post, and just the right keywords, and everything just so.
You have to choose what is important for you. For me, right now? It is the writing. I can worry about all those other technical things later if they end up really mattering to me. It is time to tear down the barriers of rules I had been setting up for myself about how things had to be done because “they” said it is the right way to do it. No. Not in this case.
None of it matters if I’m not writing. I believe in what I plan to share so much, I can’t let anything stop me.
Turns out I’m not just a planner, but a rule-breaker as well. When it comes to life? It will all work out. It always does. Now I just need to pay attention to what other arbitrary rules I’ve put in place that really, in the end, don’t matter if they are stopping me from doing what I’m passionate about!
Meet Matt Diaz. Matt has lost 270lbs over the past 6 years. 270lbs. Just the thought of that blows me away.
Matt has a Tumblr where he talks a lot about Body Positivity and Body Image. He shares a lot about his journey of changing his life, and the things he still struggles with.
Then he shared the video where he shows what 270 pounds worth of excess skin looks like. I’ve included it below – just hit play.
I watched the video this morning, and I could not get it out of my head all day.
Our culture acts as though women are the only ones with body issues. What I’m realizing every day is that not only is that not true, but we are teaching men out there to suffer in silence about the issues that they have.
It took a lot for Matt to put this video out there, to share his story. Not only do I applaud him for the tremendous weight loss, but also for the courage and the vulnerability this video took to make. For all the people in the world whose eyes have been opened thanks to him.
“Understand that to love yourself is to contest the negative things that were put into your head. Every smile, tattoo, bathing suit, and crop top is a small revolution. Tell yourself you’re beautiful every day, and I promise you will be.”
— Matt Diaz
Turns out us women don’t have the market cornered on negative body image after all. Isn’t it time we all started to have a conversation about this?
For more on Matt’s story, check out Upworthy – “It’s the side of extreme weight loss rarely seen, but that’s why it’s needed” and if you want to contribute to help cover the cost of the medical bills for his surgery to remove the excess skin, you can visit his GoFundMe page.
When I first saw this photo of this man dancing, my heart hurt. Here he was, happily dancing to the beat – until he noticed someone taking his photo, and he stopped. His body language in the second photo? It just crushes me.
Some days, the power of the technology we hold in our hands has such a negative effect.
Fortunately, the story does not end there. After he was body-shamed, and the image was posted on Imgur by FrozenBadger telling off the people who did it on 4Chan? A group of body-positive women in California swooped in with a plan.
“I decided to tweet it and our offer in the hopes if he did see it, he would see something positive instead of a bunch of people upset,” Cassandra Fairbanks, aka @CassandraRules told Buzzfeed.
The invitation that they offered him? Restores my faith in the good that is in the world.
Over time, he was found – his name is Sean, and is now on Twitter as well, as @DancingManFound.
A GoFundMe page was set up to bring him to Los Angeles for the dance party, but the even better part? All the stories that have come out about bullying, and the fact that all of the extra money will be donated to anti-bullying charities in the United States and the United Kingdom.
It Doesn’t Stop There Though
As happy as all of that makes me, looking at the photos that kicked off this chain of events this past week has me thinking.
Great that thousands are coming together to throw a party for one man.
What about the bigger picture though? We, as a society, are still pretty messed up. One dance party doesn’t stop that.
There are still websites like People of WalMart out there. “What Not to Wear” features in magazines. If you look at the movies, the fat friend is almost always the “buddy” and never the star. And if we are really honest with ourselves, while we might not have taken the photos and posted them on the internet? We still might have cast a sideways glance at a stranger dancing at a club and wondered what they were thinking.
What right do they have to be dancing? To be wearing that outfit? To be behaving that way?
Let me be clear – I am not innocent here. Oh no, not at all. I really wish I could say that I didn’t do it, but I am standing here, guilty. I’ve asked a friend, “what were they thinking?” about how someone looks. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve done it within the past month.
I hate myself for it every time I catch myself doing it. It goes against everything I stand for, and yet I feel like it is such a common part of our culture, we have become conditioned to do it without a second thought.
What if we changed that? Whenever I think something negative about a stranger, to break the cycle, I plan to walk up and compliment them. Find something good to say, and actually say it.
This is going to be my challenge for myself, because I truly believe there is something beautiful in everyone. We just have to stop and look for it. Stop being so critical of one another. You do not know their story, or what they are going through.
What we do have is the opportunity to make their day brighter, to say something positive, and to bring some joy in to their world.
Will you join me on this? Lets see if we can do something that makes an impact that goes far beyond a dance party?
I know it is a crazy idea. It will push me out of my comfort zone. I am pretty sure that is a good thing. Whatever it takes to break this horrible behavior.
Let me know what you think in the comments, and if you would be so kind? Please SHARE this. Use the buttons below, Pin this image to Pinterest, whatever works for you. Just help spread the word. XOXOXOXO