#mentalhealthmonday – fatphobia

Trigger warnings: mentions of weight loss and diet culture, fatphobia from people including doctors, discussion of eating disorders and suicidal thoughts

I’ve been thinking about this post for quite a while, but I finally decided to write it. This is for a couple of reasons – I just got engaged, and weight loss is a big thing in the wedding industry. Also, I just finished reading an ARC of Sofie Hagen’s book Happy Fat. It was brilliant, and it made me think a lot about how much weight and diet culture has impacted my mental health.

When I was around 8 or 9, I remember being teased in ballet class for my weight. The instructor told the other girls off, and said “Wendy will be beautiful once she loses that puppy fat.” Aka, equating thinness to beauty. And it’s all kind-of gone downhill since then.

I know I am privileged, in many ways. I am a smallfat. I am white. I am not physically disabled. However, I have encountered my share of fatphobia. I’ve been told that my fiancee will leave me, because I’ve got bigger. I’ve been told that no one will respect me in the workplace, because I am fat. I now have to usually shop for clothes online, because high street clothes stores don’t carry clothes in my size. When I eat in public, I feel watched and judged, particularly when I am with my fiancee, as he is in very good shape. I can feel people wondering why he settled for me.

This is really interesting, because I also know what it feels like to be thin – what it feels like to be considered conventionally attractive. I’ve talked about this before, but I thought it was worth mentioning again. In my second year of university, I went down to a UK dress size 6. (I am currently a size 18-20). This wasn’t on purpose, but rather because I wasn’t eating, because I was suicidal. It was a really difficult time, because in some ways I felt incredible (aka, being thin) and in many others I felt awful (fainting all the time, feeling suicidal). I was told that I looked amazing. I got attention from men (as I outwardly appeared to be straight). I was able to wear all sorts of clothes that I’d never been able to before.

As I got better, I gained weight. And when I went on medication for my psychosis, I gained a lot more. (It’s a common side-effect). My weight has gone up and up over the past two years, from the medication and not being able to move for a while because I broke my ankle. It has gone up because I lived alone for a year, and I have difficulty summoning the energy to cook healthy meals for myself, or convincing myself that I deserve to eat. It has gone up because when I’m with my fiancee I do believe that I deserve to eat, and to eat things that I like. In some ways, my weight has gone up because I am now mentally much better.

It is difficult, because I feel like I am pressured to lose weight by many people, who do not consider that this would be extremely bad for my mental health. My doctor, for example, mentioned this a couple of weeks ago. I told her that I had no doubt that this would trigger my disordered eating, as I tend to use food to punish myself. She didn’t really seem to care. (I might at some point write a blog post about why losing weight is not necessary, and is the result of the diet industry looking to make money from people’s self-hatred. So I’m not going to go into that here.)

She didn’t seem to care that I have struggled with my mental health, and with my disordered eating. (Not that I’ve worked on everything yet). In many ways, I feel that a lot of people would rather me be thin and extremely mentally unwell – or dead – than fat and doing well. And that’s really fucked up.

 

 

4 thoughts on “#mentalhealthmonday – fatphobia

  1. Claire says:

    The weight pressure in the wedding industry is the worst. I remember at a wedding fair being approached as I walked past a stand for Virgin Health, and they said they’d help me look my best for the big day!

    I asked them if they didn’t think I looked fine now, and funnily enough they didn’t have a prepared answer for that. They looked a little alarmed to be put in that position. I hope more brides put them in that position because frankly their very presence at a wedding fair is toxic.

    Congratulations on your engagement!! Try and enjoy the fun stuff and ignore the nonsense. I found it hard at first to avoid being sucked into the ‘wedding mania’, but we had such a long engagement it meant I wasn’t forced to make snap decisions under pressure.

    Like

  2. stoner on a rollercoaster says:

    Hey,

    Hope you are doing well.

    Not sure if I have sent this request before.

    I am scheduling Mental Health Awareness re-blogs for the month of May, can I share a blog post of yours that’s related to the subject in any way.

    Your words can help educate the readers on the subject and give validation to the ones traveling in the same boat.

    Thank you! 🙂

    Like

  3. thebookishskies says:

    I am so so so glad you’ve shared this, because I feel like a lot of people struggle in the same way.
    I hate the idea that in order to be healthy, you have to be thin. That’s bullshit. More than being physically healthy, you have to mentally healthy, and it really seems like you’ve made a lot of improvement mental health wise.
    Most doctors don’t care about that, and that’s the fact. Most people don’t care about whether or not you’re healthy, if you’re feeling good about yourself, if you have no other issues related to eating disorders or such. All they care is whether or not you’re thin. And, as you put, it’s very fucked up.
    I’m not exactly a fat girl, but I for sure feel pressured just as much to be thin in order to be successful and in order to be wanted by someone else. And I don’t know if there’s any advice I can give you, but just know that your size does not define who you are. Losing weight is not necessary and you can be happy, successful and beautiful just the way you are now. 💛

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s