Monday, June 3, 2013

Hidden Strength

I was reading today's Dances With Fat blog, and she said something that really resonated with me.

"I think that fat people, whether or not they consider themselves fat activists, are truly underestimated.  In the face of a tremendous amount of bullying and stigma, in the face of the government recruiting our friends, families, and employers to fight a war against us, in spite of the intense oppression that tries its best to crush us, that we keep living our lives is a testament to our incredible strength."

That says a lot, and it hit home for me.  You see, Dear Readers, I have finally started to realize just how strong I am.  I have been taught all of my life that my weight is a sign of weakness.  The world has told me repeatedly that I am weak-willed because I allow myself to eat food.  Never mind that I would starve to death if I didn't, that doesn't matter.  What matters is that it is visibly obvious that I not only eat too much but I make "bad" food choices.  If that weren't the case, the thinking goes, then I wouldn't be fat.  (I actually love fruits and vegetables to the point where The Husbeast complains about how many I make at mealtimes, but even if I didn't that doesn't give anyone the right to judge me or my eating habits.)

The world has told me for all of my life that I should be ashamed of myself, ashamed of my body, ashamed of the "mental failings" that allowed me to become this way.  I'm told on a regular basis that I should have enough willpower to force my body into the mold that the world would prefer to see, even if that forcing causes me physical, mental and emotional damage.

The world has said, "We don't want to see your weakness.  We want you to hide it, like we all hide ours."

But I'm not weak.  I'm incredibly strong when you think about it.  Every day... every day...I have hundreds of messages thrown at me about how I am sub-human, not worthy of sharing space with the "normal" people of the world.  Every day I am told that I am less of a human being because my body takes up more space.  EVERY DAY.

Yet despite that repeated bludgeoning, I live my life.  I go to the store, I hang out with my friends, I dare to be seen.  I have even had the temerity to perform at Renaissance Faires and in theatrical productions!  I interact with people as though I have the right to exist! *gasp*

In the face of constantly being told that it would be best for the world in general if I were either to disappear, hide in my house until I lose weight, or just go away altogether, I dare to exist and to enjoy my existence!  What a travesty!

The real travesty is that it has taken me 46 years to learn that the fact that I do these things, the fact that I not only exist but allow myself to experience all that life offers to the best of my ability DESPITE being fat, that fact is NOT weakness.  That is strength.

I am strong.

Every fat person who goes about their lives in the manner that they prefer is strong.

Every fat person who gets out of bed in the morning and doesn't allow the constant deluge of negative messages to force them to cease to be is strong.

Like Pat Benetar says, "We are strong." and for us, it isn't love, but life that is the battlefield, folks, and it is about time that we realize that and use that strength to tell the world exactly where it can go.  It is time that we yoke that strength and live the lives that we make for ourselves, no matter what other people think about it.  In the end, we can win this battle and this war and win the right to exist without the constant judgment.

We're not weak, we are strong, our strength is just hidden.  It is time for it to come out of hiding. 

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