Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kermit had it right!

"It's not easy being green." - Kermit the Frog

It is really a bit of an irony, isn't it?  It's not easy being different, but everyone is different from everyone else.  So while we should be celebrating our differences, we spend our lives trying to be just like everyone else who is trying to be like everyone else!  It makes your mind spin sometimes, keeping it straight, doesn't it?

Today, though, I'm talking about being fat.  (I know, what a change of subject for me! *laugh*)  Not only being fat, but being fat and loving yourself.  This is one of the hardest things I've ever attempted in my life.

Note that I said "attempted" not one of the hardest things I've ever done.  You see, I'm still at the beginning of the journey compared to a lot of the Health at Every Size proponents who blog.  I've barely put my feet onto the path that they have all tread already, and I'm finding it to be a Herculean task in many ways.  I'm finding that it isn't very intuitive at all after a lifetime of being barraged with the message that I'm just not good enough as I am.  The old habits have been ingrained deeply, and for every success that I have, I deal with three or four old demons coming back to haunt me.

Some activities make shove my old self-hatred in my face rather violently.  For example, last week I was in the position of needing a specific piece of clothing for an upcoming event.  I need a top that is reminiscent of the late 1940's / early 1950's, the kind of clothing that women wore when they had their hair up in victory rolls and wore dresses, heels and aprons to dust the house. 

It is hard enough to shop for clothes when you have very basic restrictions like "I need a pair of jeans" or "I just want a couple of new tops", but when you add very specific needs into the mix, it becomes an exercise in fortitude, patience, and self-hatred.  After nearly three solid hours of internet searches using sites I'd already bookmarked and seeking new sites to look at, I was still completely and totally without options.  That was when my Demons made their move.

"I am such a blob.  I don't deserve pretty clothes because I would just look like a lump in them anyway.  Who cares?  I didn't want to go to that event anyway."

Welcome to the typical thoughts that run through the head of someone who is fat in America.  Let's break it down, though, shall we?

"I am such a blob." - Actually, no, I'm not.  Though I will admit that I am shaped a bit like a Shmoo (look it up if you don't know what that is), and that my shape is round, I have many more positive characteristics than a blob.  Blobs are faceless, amorphous beings that lack any distinctive traits.  I have plenty of distinctive traits, including amazing blue eyes, a laugh that makes others happy just hearing it, baby-soft long brown hair, curvy hips, and a vibrant personality.  Thus, the blob analogy fails on multiple fronts.

"I don't deserve pretty clothes because I would just look like a lump in them anyway." - If I look like a lump in my clothes, then it is the fault of the clothes and the designers who create them for not making things that flatter my shape.  But if you suggest that designers create clothes specifically for fat people, most will get a look of unadulterated horror on their faces.  There was an episode of "Ruby" on the Style Network where a group of design students were asked to design clothes for Ruby, and their reactions ranged from reluctant to downright horrified.  Of course, once they did it and they met her, it was different.  It wasn't just "a fat person", it was a person they'd spoken to and gotten to know.  But that is the attitude that is encouraged in the design world, and it isn't possible to ask every designer to hang out with a fat person for a day to change their minds.  The design world needs to step up to the plate and change those attitudes from within.  If they don't do it out of a sense of social responsibility, they should at LEAST do it out of a sense of financial responsibility.  There are a lot more of us fat folks than there are of them, and we have money to spend for the designer who comes out with a line of flattering clothes!

"Who cares?" - I do.  If I didn't, then it wouldn't hurt so much when I have to struggle to do something that takes slender people five or ten minutes to do.  I care that I'm made to feel like a second-class citizen just because I want nice clothing that fits me well.  I care that society repeatedly tells me in this manner and in other ways that I am worth less than people who look smaller.  I care that I am constantly judged by my appearance and found wanting, though I am just as smart, just as talented, just as nice, and just as healthy as many people half my size.  If I didn't care, then I wouldn't cry.

"I didn't want to go to that event anyway." - Yes, I did.  Yes, I do.  Yes, I am.  I have found something, though it still isn't exactly what I need.  But it is close enough that I won't stand out horribly.  Even if I hadn't found something, I was still going to go to the event.  I refuse to let myself miss out on things that I enjoy because of my size.  Not any more.  I have hidden for too many years, and I have stepped back out of line too many times.  Too many other fat people let the world shove them away and convince themselves that they didn't want to do it anyway rather than stand up and say, "I have every right to be here too."

So Kermit had it right.  It's not easy being green, or fat, or any number of other things.  It is downright hard.  But to quote Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in "A League of Their Own":

"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."

I hope that someday everyone DOES love themselves, and that it stops being hard.  I think that if loving ourselves stops being hard, it will still be great.

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