A Big Girl In A Small World: Self-Care Tips For Fat Women
By Emilia Leonetti
As a fat woman who exists on this vast and diverse earth of ours, the relationship between me and my body has always been contentious. Between the sideways glances and the hushed whispers, lies the loudest, most brash projections of Fatphobia. Keyboard warriors who tell me I’m a “fat c***”. Distant family members who cite my health as a “concern” and a source of contention for future lovers. Purveyors of diet culture who tell me I need to have my beach body for summer OR ELSE (or "else" in this context meaning I will never find friends, love, a job, success and societal approval.)
All these layers of micro-aggressive behavior together form a glorious shit sandwich that we’re often forced to bite into every day. These unreasonable expectations set on fat women are a burden that weighs heavy on our shoulders, costing us our confidence and robbing us of our personhood. Of course, we’re all feeling tired and a little wary of running the same circles every day, but at the same time, we want to leave a legacy we can be proud of when we shuffle off our mortal coil. So, what to do?
1. FORM A SUPPORT GROUP
Social media - the go-to carriage service of the 21st century - is FILLED with body-positive groups which welcome fat women. Typing keywords such as “fat” and “body positive” into the search bar of your social network of social will flood you with results. Browse each group and choose one – or a few – that works best for you. Many groups that are seemingly “body positive” have a tendency to objectify and fetishise fat women, so heed caution and scan the culture of a group before really diving in. But in spite of this, you can be sure that you can form a support group with powerful women who will lift you to the skies.
2. MOVE YOUR BODY IN WAYS YOU WANT TO
Our current health and fitness culture is hell-bent on portraying a single picture of health that all must aspire to. A rock-hard six-pack, a thigh gap, a big butt that’s the payoff of so many squats. However, for many of us, that ideal is simply out of reach. We might be time-poor, unable to exercise vigorously after hours and hours investing time in work, family, or other situations. We might have significant economic disadvantage, not paying gym fees and eating “junk foods” because they’re cheap and easy to prepare. We might have bodies that are simply not pre-disposed to a Kate Upton-style bod even after eating nothing but quinoa and doing nothing but Crossfit for six months. It’s also worth noting that the fanatic culture of fitness values not just thin, well-off women - but white, able-bodied, thin AND well-off women. The health and fitness industry is a microcosm for the paternalistic “ideal” of how a woman should look.
To combat this, move in ways YOU want to. Feel like a stationary bike day? Great! Want to go dancing? Awesome! Want some time on the tennis court? Go ahead! Don’t feel like you’re up to anything? Take it easy! Listen to your body and adjust accordingly – you’re the one who’s in charge.
3. EAT IN WAYS WHICH NOURISH YOU
“I’ll have the salad, thanks.”
How many times have you tried to diet out of guilt, and felt like your body was not getting the nourishment it needs? As I stated with my last point, your body is a sentient being worth listening to. If you are hungry, you will know. If you are full, you will know. If you crave a salad, a steak or a block of chocolate, you will know. Your eating habits are not up for debate, discussion or justification. Eat the damn spaghetti – you were worthy before the first bite, and you will still be worthy after you wash your plate.
4. TAKE A SELFIE
Yeah, you heard me.
During my lowest points in my relationship with my body, I found taking selfies helped enormously. I felt like I could represent myself any way I wanted – I was now in control of how I presented myself to the world!
Find your angles. Play with makeup. Put on all the filters – or no filters at all. Have an entire gallery on your phone devoted to your beautiful face. Remember – your face, your body, your choice.
Invite your friends around to riff on “The Room”. Play a silly video game. Exchange stories of all the embarrassing crap you did as a teenager. Laughter is a form of therapy. Revel in it. Indulge. Feel like the beautiful being you are. And live your life, your way.