Fat Acceptance: What Does it Mean to Be Gentle with Ourselves?

This is the last of a six-part series on fat acceptance based on a talk I did in 2008.  Thanks for hanging with me.

In my attempts at self-acceptance, I’ve learned that exercise is vital for me to feel at home in my body.  I have experienced the endorphins released as natural opiates when I exercise, and I’m hooked!

Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, any exercise is better than no exercise and probably will improve your mood:  Walk for a few minutes at lunchtime; take a water aerobics or karate class; putter in the garden; kick around a soccer ball or shoot hoops with your kids.

Reconnecting to the feeling of being physical, and trying to find joy in moving my body, in whatever way I’m able to, helps me to be OK with being me.  My body has betrayed me a few times, but it’s the only body I have, and I want to enjoy it.

People of all sizes say off-handedly “I’ve gotten so fat, I can’t put on a bathing suit,” so they don’t take part in something that they would otherwise enjoy. But they’re only limiting themselves.

I refuse to give other people the power to make me feel bad and decide what’s OK for me to do because of how my body looks.  After watching my daughter go rock-climbing at the Y for weeks, I recently tried it, even though the harness shows my belly and I’ve never seen a fat woman rock climb before.  Stay tuned for more on that experience.

I have tried to make my peace with food.  If I want a cookie, I can’t ignore the craving, because it will only get worse.  I try to choose a low fat cookie, or one with oatmeal, but I am going to eat a cookie.  I have found that if I truly listen to my cravings, I do crave healthy food.  It is possible to crave salad and broccoli.  And garden-fresh tomatoes and basil.

If one day I overeat because I had a bad day, it’s all right.  I’m human.  Just because I “pig out” today doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, or a fat slob.  It means my body was craving something, whether it was physical or emotional.    Our bodies are evolutionarily designed to crave and hold onto calories when they are deprived.  I do the best I can.

I used to have a bumper sticker on my car that says “Change the way you see, not the way you look.”  I try to find the beauty in myself and in other people  It’s not easy with the way we are bombarded with messages that we need to be fixed; that we must be as thin or as buff as possible.

If you can only find one or two things about yourself that you like, start there.  If you like the color of your eyes, or the curve of your wrist, every time you catch yourself with a negative thought, replace it with a positive one about what you do like.  Eventually you’ll get the message, and liking yourself will become easier.


Finally, I keep statues of Venus of Willendorf around, in my car, on my refrigerator, and in earrings and necklaces, to remind me that women who looked like me were once revered as goddesses.


2 thoughts on “Fat Acceptance: What Does it Mean to Be Gentle with Ourselves?

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