I attended an event last night that excited and empowered me like very few events have. Jes Baker (creator of The Militant Baker blog and many other amazing things) gave a talk at Curvy Girl Lingerie in San Jose, CA. Her presentation wasn’t just on body acceptance or loving yourself. Her talk, “Change Your World Not Your Body“ addressed so many angles of the body shaming issue, that a socially and psychologically conscious gal like me can’t help but soak it all in.
I learned about Jes a little over a year ago, and was smitten by her bold, honest, creative, and positive energy. She touches on various aspects of body love and includes every body in the discussion, understanding than people of varying body sizes, abilities, and genders are pretty much fighting the same battle of body shame. She, and other women, dare us to see body acceptance as a means to revolutionize society.
I have been to many different types of conferences before, but I had never been to a conference that focuses on body issues or body acceptance before. It’s a topic I have shied away from due to my own shame. I believed that if I went to a fat acceptance event, then I would, well, have to accept my fatness. However Jes Baker’s approach to the subject has helped me see the negative impacts of having this shame, and normalized it. Last night, she posed the question that I didn’t even know I was asking myself: “Will I hate my body or love my body?”
As a bonus, I also met Vergie Tovar, who is currently rockin’ my world big time. If you don’t know about her, you need to. She is all the cute, smart, funny, fun and gorgeous.
There are so many topics I can go into based on last night experience that I feel I need to highlight significant take-always now and go into these and other topics separately in future posts. So here it goes.
The word itself is loaded. The emotional reaction I get from the word is painful and long-standing. For years I have tried to own this word, but fell short of truly embracing it. After last night, I can now say, I AM FAT! Wait, what? Duh! Everyone else knows I’m fat. Am I that late to the party? ¿Que nuevas?
I now realize that, throughout my life I have allowed everyone else to define what my body means to me. I avoided the F word out of the fear of what others have decided the word fat means. Specifically: ugly, undesirable, wrong, lazy, gross, etc. What is new for me about saying I AM FAT is that I am finally owning the word fat and deciding what it means for me. For now, what fat means for me includes: I am human, I have a body, a body that takes up space, a body that works, a body that demands attention, a body that stirs up emotions and reactions, a body that is bountiful. My body is only a part of who I am and it has things to tell me. I get to decide how I relate to my body. As most things go, what fat means to me will change over time, and at all times, I get to decide it’s meaning. So yeah. I’m a fatty fat fat and love every part of me, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
~I SAW ME
On the daily I would see my reflection in a window and cringe. I would sigh and feel shame. I would see everything I thought was wrong with me. My short legs, my wide body, my broad shoulders, my round stomach. I saw my failure as a human being.
Sitting among more than 25 women of varying larger sizes for 2.5 hours was life changing. I noticed how everyone chose to dress their bodies, their topics of conversations, and overall presence. In Jes’ presentation, she mentions neuroplasticity and the power of exposing ourselves to more diverse body shapes regularly as a way to bolster our own body love. This is crucial as we are purposefully bombarded with non-realistic images of bodies and, despite knowing better, believe that these are what “perfect” bodies should look like. Well, let me tell you, being exposed to bodies similar to mine, works. At the end of the night, after being in the presence of these women, I caught my reflection in the window, and for the first time, I saw me. I saw ME and for THE FIRST TIME EVER I didn’t have a knee-jerk cringe-y reaction to my big body. FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, I saw my reflection and said “Oh, hi there!” I am grateful beyond measure for this singular experience.
~TAKING UP SPACE
As a chubster, I take up space. I have slowly been trying to accept and get real comfortable with this reality, but my fear of fat kept me from being able to accept this fully. Funny thing is, being afraid of fat doesn’t make me “not fat”. Fearing fat doesn’t suddenly make me 60 pounds lighter. Instead, being afraid of (and not accepting) my fat keeps me from myself. In essence, I cancel out my own existence. Sad. Hugs.
Many of the women I was with last night took up space, owned their size, wore big bright bold patterns and form fitting clothing, short skirts, spoke honestly about real topics, and laughed loudly. There was a lot of unapologetic laughing out loud last night that I couldn’t help but feel elated. I also wondered how many of us audience members dial ourselves back for fear of taking up space. Last night, I’m glad so many decided not to.
I have never had the experience where, when someone took a group photo, there was a simulations group movement of self-adjusting for the photo. You know, tugging at shirts and skirts. Pulling our clothing that folded into our lonjas (fat rolls). Sitting up and finding our best pose to hide a chin or two. It was absolutely the funniest, most endearing, cutest thing ever.