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Author Topic: Having Self-Esteem While Fat  (Read 28776 times)
Kasmira
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« Reply #45: February 16, 2011, 12:34:49 pm »

Whereas for me part of my body-image struggle has been to understand that I'm not fat just because I'm bigger than your average woman.

That. Exactly that. My BMI sits me firmly in the middle of the "overweight" category but I know that I am not overweight. I may only make it to a mite below 5' 6" in terms of height and still clock in at 160lb to 170lb most of the time, but I've got big hips and broad shoulders that make it hard to clothes shop whether I'm at 140lb or 170lb.

More to the point, I know I'm not overweight because while I may not be the type who can sprint a couple hundred yards and look like anything other than a panting heap at the end of it, show me a ten mile route and I'll run it without stopping and have energy to spare at the end. I'll do it slowly, but I'll do it just fine. Same for back-packing trips, bike rides, and rock walls your average more 'normatively proportioned' person would say were out of their depth. I may not be able to keep up with most people in a short race, but make it long enough and eventually I'm going to overtake the majority of other people in it. It took me far longer than it should have to realise that folks have different body shapes and styles and I'm built for stamina and, like Sunflower said, surviving famines and that's okay.

I come from a long line of solidly built Scots and if I'm anything like my mother (which the fact that I fit pretty much everything that she wore at my age perfectly would indicate) I'll slowly work my way up through the "overweight" category to well into "obese" in terms of BMI. And sure, most people would look at her now and say she needs to lose a lot of pounds and spend some time at the gym. But she's one of the fittest 60 year olds I know. She climbs mountains with a 40lb pack on her back and doesn't think much of it, spends an hour at the gym 3-4 days a week, and probably walks getting on for 10 miles a day since she opts to pretty much never drive. If I can be in her shape when I'm 60 I'll be pretty happy with myself, even if I am considered technically obese.
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Kasmira
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« Reply #46: February 16, 2011, 01:18:20 pm »

Then I figured it out. It's not the T&A...not really. And it's not the incredible cheekbones or the smooth hair that I've never had. I still turn the occasional head, even with this figure, because I walk with my head up and my shoulders back and I smile at people because life is basically awesome.

The point in my life when I started turning heads I was probably about in the middle of my usual seasonal weight yoyo (I'm less active in the winter 'cus most of my sports are outdoors things and it's just too freaking cold up here in the frozen north...) and had been done with my hip and boob development for a good couple of years already. The only thing I can think of that had changed was that I'd finally come to the conclusion that I was wasting a hell of a lot of time and effort trying to keep my legs smooth and my hair non frizzy. So I just stopped. Threw out the razor and stuck the hair tamer products at the back of a draw somewhere. And suddenly, apparently, I became attractive.

It struck me as very odd at the time. I spend most of my time in mid-calf length skirts so my hairy legs were in full view of the world, and the Harlem summer school students I was teaching at the time passed judgment that I had "nappy hair" and needed to go see their cousin/sister/aunt for a perm. Why was I suddenly getting all this attention when no one had ever given me a second glance before? Looking back though, I realise that that was when I really started to get some self-confidence when it came to my body image and apparently it showed. At any rate, it was enough to cement my confidence in looking however the hell I wanted enough that I ain't picked up a razor or hair straighteners or fretted overmuch about an extra 5lbs since...
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« Reply #47: February 16, 2011, 07:30:35 pm »

...This thread is for talking about developing and maintaining a sense of self-worth while fat (a little fat, or a lot fat; from whatever cause or set of causes).  What helps you?  What sets you back?  What inspires you, or angers you?...

I am 5'5" (roughly) and weigh over 200 lbs.  There are days when I feel fat and disgusting, and other days when I feel sexy and assured.  I think my self-image largely depends on how my day is going - when I have a good day, I feel on top of the world and great.  When have a bad stressful day I feel fat, and ugly, and worthless.

I should note here that prior to becoming pregnant with my son at 19 I was always normal weight - 5'5" and between 110-120 pounds.  I never took the baby weight off - and then added more as "armor".  I have a number of issues I'm still working through regarding this - here's hoping therapy will help.
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« Reply #48: February 18, 2011, 08:34:57 am »

I know so very many great sites related to body positivity, FA, etc, that the link-dump required to share them all overwhelms me (even considering I don't have to do it singlehandedly; Jenett and others are providing them as well - but there's heaps more).  But one way I could manage that is to do one each day....
And I've been a bit under the weather, so I haven't kept that up.  But, thanks to something Brina said in the "Foods that make you feel good" thread, here's today's Fat Link of the Day:  First, Do No Harm.  I posted a link to one of its articles in the thyroid thread a few months ago, but this is a rec for the site as a whole.  It's not exactly a happy fat link, since it centres on instances of fat prejudice compromising medical care, and reading those can get depressing/enraging in a hurry.  But it's a useful place to learn more about how to demand that your doctor give you the care that your body is worthy of whatever its size.

Since I'm behind on links, and since that one's definitely un-fun, I'll throw in a bonus one that's all about the fun:  Stiletto Siren's Lips Hips and FATshion Tips - she's fat, she's sassy, she loves clothes, she knows where to find 'em in plus sizes, and she rocks those outfits.  (There are quite a lot of folks in the fatosphere who blog about fatshion - yeah, we call it that - either as their main theme or occasionally, but Stiletto is a good place to start.)  Not much activism here, but I always get a boost from seeing visual proof that being fat doesn't mean we can't look good.

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« Reply #49: February 18, 2011, 09:23:42 am »

First, Do No Harm. [...]  It's not exactly a happy fat link, since it centres on instances of fat prejudice compromising medical care, and reading those can get depressing/enraging in a hurry. 

I was wondering, how much is known about prejudices compromising medical care in various cases? About women in general for example?
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« Reply #50: February 18, 2011, 10:45:25 am »

This thread is for talking about developing and maintaining a sense of self-worth while fat (a little fat, or a lot fat; from whatever cause or set of causes).  What helps you?  What sets you back?  What inspires you, or angers you?

Hi. My name is Sekhemib and I am fat. I am 5'3" and weigh in at about 166lbs. In regards to the self-esteem area, I have absolutely none. I have always had extreme issues with body image. When I was younger, I was as tall as I am now and weighed in at about 105-120lbs (given the time of the month) and I was ugly as sin (or so I felt). After a few years of bulimia/anorexia, I got over it. I was skinny and it was good! I put on some weight in my early twenties, but not to any detrimental effect. I looked good and my fat ass didn't look like some huge bulge on the back of a stick. It was great!

At 24, I got pregnant with my son and my 135-40lbs zoomed up to near unheard proportions: Depending on the scale, I was either over two hundred pounds or just below it. I lost about thirty of it in the first three months after his birth and I've kept the rest. It's proportioned itself out, though... My thighs and ass are proportionately fat but now, I'm shaped like a pear. All of my weight are from the stomach down. There are days when I'm in the shower and I look down and am horrifically disgusted. There are days when I'm in the shower and I look down and I imagine that I might have lost weight.

I'm always imagining things.

I have no advice on how to make yourself feel better. I have no advice on how to bring self-esteem up. I just think I'm fat and I'm in such a depressive tailspin, being surrounded by girls with proportionate body fat, that I assume I always will be. My mom was fat; I might as well be, too.
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« Reply #51: February 18, 2011, 10:57:37 am »

There are days when I'm in the shower and I look down and am horrifically disgusted.

My best advice on this, for everyone is: Do not do this. EVAR.
Looking down oneself gives a distorted image and causes us to look down at ourselves - pun fully intended.
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« Reply #52: February 18, 2011, 11:53:32 am »

I was wondering, how much is known about prejudices compromising medical care in various cases? About women in general for example?

As an example:

I went to the doctor because I was tired all the time and noticed my legs were very swollen at the end of the day.  I now know the cause is hypothyroid.  This doctor, possible because I wasn't losing hair (that I knew of) and didn't have dry skin (I am addicted to moisturizers) meant that it couldn't be that, so he never tested for it.  He kept telling me to exercise and lose weight - when I was telling him I had trouble staying awake all day.  I had to constantly remind him that my ankles weren't fat, they were swollen.  He never addressed that issue except to offer diuretics that did nothing except make me pee all night.  If I had been skinny, I think he might have considered other reasons for my problems than just being overweight.
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« Reply #53: February 18, 2011, 11:58:01 am »

I was wondering, how much is known about prejudices compromising medical care in various cases? About women in general for example?

My doctor told me, many yrs ago, it was a shame, such a pretty woman shouldn't be so large.
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« Reply #54: February 18, 2011, 12:10:34 pm »

My doctor told me, many yrs ago, it was a shame, such a pretty woman shouldn't be so large.

*grunt*
Either you are pretty or you are not pretty.
And nobody better comes up with the: but you got such a pretty face thing.
I think this is insulting.

Why is it only very thin has the right to be pretty, happy, in love, be loved.... and so on ad nauseum.
Even a fat girl is alive, isnt she?

There is a book, I havent read it, but I liked the title, it was something like: dont wait for thin times = dont postpone your life because you are not of the weight somebody thinks you should be.
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'You had to repay, good or bad. There was more than one type of obligation. That’s what people never really understood.….Things had to balance. You couldn’t set out to be a good witch or a bad witch. It never worked out for long. All you could try to be was a witch, as hard as you could.' Terry Pratchett 'Lords and Ladies'

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« Reply #55: February 18, 2011, 12:11:09 pm »

My doctor told me, many yrs ago, it was a shame, such a pretty woman shouldn't be so large.
Fuckety-fuck-fuckARGH!!!  Becuase it's ALL ABOUT whether we're "pretty" for the doods!

Dear dragonfly-high's doctor:  I may be a fat woman, but you, sir, are a FATHEAD.  No love, Sunflower.  (There, I said it, and I didn't even bother to change threads Cheesy.)

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« Reply #56: February 18, 2011, 12:34:52 pm »


What self-esteem? I haven't had self-esteem about my body in.... ever. If its not the number on the scale, its the sad lack of identifying female features. You know how most "fat" women have at least part of that fat go to the boobs? Yeah... I haven't changed bra size since I started buying them. At 12 years old. I have a huge butt and thunder thighs. Sometimes the weight doesn't bother me. I mean, I can sling 50 lb feed sacks, stack kiln shelves, pick up my twiggy friends- I have a goddamn reason to weigh a lot. What I wish for is slightly better proportions. I don't need to be a supermodel, but looking less like a freak would be nice.
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« Reply #57: February 18, 2011, 12:42:36 pm »

This thread is for talking about developing and maintaining a sense of self-worth while fat (a little fat, or a lot fat; from whatever cause or set of causes).  What helps you?

Just had a "Oh, right, we never did pull this out explicitly" moment.

One of the best ways to maintain a sense of self-worth is to be aware of what you're exposed to - in terms of media, advertising, etc.

I've never been a huge TV watcher, but I haven't owned one in 3 years, as much for space reasons as anything else. (Tiny little house).  I do watch specific shows, either via iTunes subscription for things I want to keep (Doctor Who) or via Hulu or other legit online streaming sources (for stuff I watch as it comes out), or just plain catching up on series via Netflix eventually.

But thing is... I don't see the ads. (Even the few I get via Hulu are pretty low-key, and at least half the time, it's things like cars, rather than food/diet plans/etc. that hit the sensitive spots more deeply.) And of course, if you do have a TV, there's Tivo and related options. (Or just muting the sound and wandering off to get a glass of water from the kitchen.)

Likewise, I mostly don't read magazines (barring Pagan ones), so again, am not being exposed to "Lose 20 pounds to look great in a bikini!" every time I turn around. (And in fact, because of where I do my grocery shopping - a combination of Trader Joe's, my local co-op, and the farmer's market - don't even see them in the stores much.)

And I also spend the majority of my time on website that either don't include advertising, where I've got a subscription so I don't see the advertising, or which do text-only ads rather than visuals. (Or which advertise things like tech geekery, rather than "Have a different body.")

It took me a year or two to see what a difference it made, but it's really a powerful way to change how you interact with the world. I was reminded of it yesterday, when I was in Target for a humidifier filter (no other handy place to get it) and was wandering around killing time before another commitment. I realised while there that I just plain *didn't want* 99% of the stuff in there. It didn't fit my values, it had highly synthetic fragrancing or chemicals or materials that I'd prefer not to have in the house.

And because I hadn't been seeing advertising that does sink into your  brain even if you're not really paying attention to it, I was gleefully devoid from any subconscious "Oh, my life would be better if I had X". Because, really, no it wouldn't, and in some cases, would be worse. (My lungs being happier when I avoid synthetic fragrancing, for example.)

Anyway, the same thing is true about our bodies: if all we're watching on TV (or movies, or whatever) is people with a very narrow range of appearance, or worse, watching stuff that's all about how we should hate our bodies and want to change them to meet a standard of unrealistic 'perfection' - well, duh, our brains are going to start believing that, or at least holding it as a possibility. But if we're watching stuff that doesn't do that - whether that's shows that don't focus on physical appearance particularly, or whether it's stuff that engages our brains and emotions in ways that build what we want, we help reinforce the ideas we do want. Pretty fundamental, but potent act of magic in that, too.

There are actually studies that back all of these things up, but it's pretty easy to test yourself - take a month to avoid the more problematic stuff (women's magazines, especially anything diet centered, TV focused on weight, appearance, etc.) and replace it with stuff that's a better fit for where you want to be (food magazines that talk about cooking interesting dishes, hobby magazines that aren't talking about weight or appearance, books and movies that have characters with a range of physical types, etc.) and see what happens.
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« Reply #58: February 18, 2011, 12:49:41 pm »


I agree with everything you wrote.

It is a phenomenom that people getting used to the things they see all the time as "normal".
Even if it is under-weighed and way to skinny.

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« Reply #59: February 18, 2011, 01:13:12 pm »

One of the best ways to maintain a sense of self-worth is to be aware of what you're exposed to - in terms of media, advertising, etc.

I totally agree. I find myself actively disengaging from ads and certain shows and media. (I also actively stay away from too much agression and other things.)
 And whenever I watch old shows, I get confronted with how much has changed in the media. (Not all for the better. But it is interesting to compare.)
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