The Body Image Pecking Order…

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It has become the standard expectation by society that if a person is fat, then they must hate themselves. Well, I’m sorry to be the one to burst society’s bubble – but from the point of view of a self-confessed fat girl, this really isn’t the case. 

The idea that fat people must not indulge in self-love is both a suggestion and a declarative. When a fat person declares love for themselves, we are often met with a barrage of negativity – but you’re fat? So you must hate yourself, right? Or – you’re fat, hate yourself the way that I hate you! One of the things that I’ve learnt as I’ve navigated my way through social media is that people can’t handle a happy fat person. It seems to be inconceivable to many that a fat person can love themselves without regard for their size. Even more so when that person states that they love themselves and the body that they call home.

Social conditioning needs to hold its hands up and take responsibility for the pecking order of the things we have so far considered as the top qualities for worth and success. For currently, society holds such things as thinness, whiteness and diet culture as successful – whereas if you err outside of the accepted body ideal, aren’t white and don’t diet, then you aren’t.

Success is neither driven by size nor shape, the colour of your skin or your eating habits. But again and again we are coerced into believing that if a person is fat, they can’t achieve, they aren’t successful or desirable, and they cannot, under any circumstance, love themselves.

The general assumption that fat people can’t possibly be happy with their bodies crops up frequently, but think on this: I love myself because I’m creative, kind, loving, hard-working, a good cat mama and I’m not bad at baking up a storm in the kitchen. None of these reference my glorious fat body, so why should my body size make any of these attributes less worthy or successful? Furthermore, I am entitled to love my body exactly as it is, without comment or judgement from anyone. A fat body is no less worthy than any other kind of body shape – we just need to re-shift the focus of what society defines as the top quality for worth and success.

The way that the current focus is positioned breeds the mentality of “you’re fat – hate yourself the way that I hate you!” It’s no mean feat publicising your bodily love from a social media platform, and I am well versed in dealing with negative comments. It has been made completely apparent to me (on more than one occasion) that others will not tolerate my body – but do I let this bother me? Do I hell. When a toxic person can’t control you or the way that you think about yourself, they will try to control how others see you – it’s the safety in numbers effect.

Growing up as the fat girl wasn’t easy – my biggest desire in life was to be thin, so be accepted into society without anyone batting an eyelash. This luxury passed me by for some time, until I realised that I was in control of how my body and mind correlated, and that actually this could be a positive relationship. Since accepting and loving myself as I am, I am a lot more at peace with myself: I am able to do more, I can express myself fully, I achieve more and now that I’m not burdened by low self-esteem, I am happy. Body positivity, whatever the size of your body, is possible and no-one has control over it other than you. People need to realise that mental health and well-being are unquestionably important – and that being slim is not a prerequisite to happiness, but having a positive attitude (whatever your body shape or size) – is.

Whether through ignorance or a self-righteous ideology people seem to think that they have some kind of right to speak about a body that doesn’t belong to them. Whatever the reasoning, it’s clear that people can’t understand a fat people who loves their body – but sadly for them, they’re going to have to get used to it.

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