A Merry Life dropped by this week to share a favorite from her archives. Now I'm off to start my holiday shopping and... what? It's only December 18th. I mean, I'm off to take a nap...
After the response to yesterday’s post I am almost at a loss for what to say. The comments left on the post “Because You Just Can’t Love A Fat Girl” were interesting, eye-opening, encouraging, and thought-provoking. There was a lot of great stuff in there, but what I found most interesting was the way many comments led my thoughts down a different path. Instead of thinking about love and relationships I found myself thinking more about weight and how it affects our own self perception.
Losing weight, gaining weight - these changes in size change you. They change how you look on the outside but even more profoundly they often change how you feel and think about yourself. When you lose weight you gain confidence, you feel better, you think you look better and you project a more confident image of yourself. When you gain weight there is a constant nagging voice of failure in your mind that says you can’t be as confident because you just don’t look as good anymore. Here is the thing: it is all in your head.
Fitarella mentioned the “FAT voice” in her own mind, the one that constantly asks if she will ever be good enough. Despite all her achievements being the wonderful person she is the voice still hangs around telling her fat is unlovable, fat is no good. Roni mentioned that with her husband, “Over the 15 years we’ve been together all the weight stuff, all the self confidence issues, worrying, the thinking I’m not good enough, all of it, was in my head.” It seems we all let the fat voice win way too often. We allow the negative thoughts to seep into our minds and change our self perception even when no one around us agrees with it.
And that self-perception, how you see yourself, apparently has more to do with who you are and how you find love and interact with people that anything else. As Diane said, “I’ve learned along the way that a man falling for you has a lot more to do with your perception of yourself than theirs.” You are the one in control of how you see yourself and you are also in control of how others see you. The fat voice wants you to be sad and think you aren’t worth much because of your weight. If you listen, that is how others see you. But that doesn’t have to be the way it is.
Instead, you can define yourself outside of your size. Like Krissie said, “I don’t let my weight define me, although that is what I blog about. I am a lot of things. I am smart. I am funny. I am giving and kind. And that’s what I focused on when I was dating. If I focused on my weight back then, I probably wouldn’t have dated as much. Other people see what what you put out there. You give off signals – body language, in your talk – that either attract people or make them want to be around someone else. If you think you’re not going to attract boys, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy and you won’t.”
The FAT voice is a self-fulfilling prophecy for many bigger people. The FAT voice is a dangerous thing that exists in our own minds, and often it exists at every size. You don’t have to weight 400 pounds to wrestle with the fat voice. A gain of five pounds when you weigh 120 can quickly introduce you to the FAT voice. Once it gets entrenched in your mind, it convinces you that you can’t do things skinnier people can. “You can’t exercise at this size, what’s the point? You can’t really lose weight permanently, so why try? You can’t find anyone to love you, so why even date?” But if we listen to what other people are saying, we realize we have control over our lives.
We can do whatever we want and be whoever we want. We can be healthy. We can be active. Fat doesn’t define you. Thinness doesn’t define you. Size shouldn’t matter. So, do yourself a favor and tell the FAT voice to shut up.