I have not been posting any blogposts recently, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing them. I keep finishing one, putting it aside to edit later and leaving it there. I feel like I have something to say, but can’t quite find the words, or maybe the courage to make it public. My words have come out angry and fierce, confused and unclear, so I am trying again… to say what I think needs to be said.
I think this is what I am trying to write about…
I want to write about this because I find it absolutely appalling that we are still asking questions like this. I am livid that sometimes it seems to be getting worse. Things like the “thigh gap” discussions that move around facebook, twitter, and even make it to the Ellen Degeneres show (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg3tdqWSi6k). It just feels like it’s been so long, so long of talking about fat, of shaming fat, of telling people who are not a specific size that there is something wrong with them, that they are unworthy of the same love as a person who fits the profile.
I am angry, but I am also tired. I am tired of these discussions, that seem to be only discussions. I am tired of watching movies that shame fat people, and needing to coach myself through the shame and self-criticism that inevitably follows. I am tired of having to be selective in what magazines I look at, what articles I read, what people I spend my time with. It is enough, absolutely enough.
I have been reading a bit of Brene Brown recently, and she tackles the issues of shame and vulnerability in simple, yet very powerful ways. One thing she says is this, ““Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites.” She is right, but we have heard for so long that worthiness does have prerequisites. Worthiness is the product of the right body, the right job, the right relationships, the right amount of success at the right times. When we believe we are worthy, we feel we belong and all of us, every one of us, needs a place where we belong. When we don’t believe we are worthy, we struggle with anxiety, depression, strained relationships with self and others, and a constant striving to be enough that undermines everything.
When so many sources tell me that my body is a signal of my laziness, my lack of will power, my unworthiness of love, acceptance, celebration, I get tired. I get pissed off, and I lament the wasted time that these lines of communication have cost me.
I know I can be angry, that I’m allowed, that it’s healthy, blah blah, and all of that is true. But at the end of the day, the only thing that really helps is to recognize the power that I have to do something about it. I can’t change what is printed in magazines, nor the messages that come through television and movies. I can’t educate every person to understand that bodies are different, and bigger doesn’t always mean less healthy. But what I can do, what is most radical and life-giving for me is to accept my body as it is. Not as it will be when I finish my latest diet, not as it will be when I get back into a gym routine…. as it is right now. I can, for today, say enough. I have had enough of all the negative messages, and I am enough. Damn it, I am.
Brene also says this… “The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect. When we don’t have that, we shape-shift and turn into chameleons; we hustle for the worthiness we already possess.”
Worthiness is something we already have. We have it because we are human, because we are here, and for no other reason. We work to make ourselves better humans, to love more authentically, to give more generously, to care for ourselves and our bodies and pursue health. But none of this, none of it, makes us worthy. We already are. Until we see and understand that, we spend all our time trying to convince others and ourselves that we are worthy. Until I see and understand that, I spend all my time trying to convince others and myself that I am worthy.
I am sure that some part of this resonates for most of you who are reading this. I am sure that at one time or another this has been part of your story, your struggle as well. This is what I am learning, and how I am trying to overcome it, finally, after many years of silence and shame. We are enough, we are worthy of love and belonging, this is the message we need to hear. What they told us, what they keep telling us, about our bodies, about what it means to be enough, is and has always been, woefully wrong.