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Saturday, July 11th, 2009
My name is Sonya. I am 24. I am a Virgo, with dyed black hair, a love of giant jewellery and funky tights. I am a writer. I am fat.
I feel no shame in saying this. I am not fishing for compliments; I am not putting myself down. It is simply a statement of fact – I am fat.
It’s taken a long while for me to get to this point, this acceptance of my body. I was always taught that ‘fat’ was an insult; it was the way you put a person down. I would engage in the diet rhetoric, say that I wasn’t having any dessert and next week I would start to eat better – as if food had a say in the person I was.
It didn’t help that I came from a mix of hearty Russian, Polish and Greek stock, with wide hips and large thighs. My parents would make comments about my child bearing hips and the size of my clothing. I despaired at my figure. They both came from families where everything on the plate must be eaten, but at the same time, commented on how much I was eating. My father was dealing with depression and anxiety, and turned to food in order to cope with his issues. He started ‘eating his feelings’ as you would say, and as a result, he wasn’t a very positive influence for me. My sister was (and still is) diet obsessed, trying to get her thighs slimmed down, her cheekbones more defined. Her ultimate goal is to search at the front of a clothing rack, instead of at the back.
When I was younger, I was surrounded by body conscious peers. My sporty, skinny friends were incredibly different from my chubby, sedentary self. I was always picked last in teams and I never wanted to change in front of anyone after sports, embarrassed of my breasts and my pot belly.
I started restricting my eating. I would eat, literally, an apple a day. If I had a ‘full’ feeling in my stomach, I would bring it back up again. This continued, on and off, for most of my life, into my teenage years, right up until I started at university. I would binge eat, mostly sweets and chips, and then vow the next day that I would start the diet again. I exercised like a fiend, even though I utterly hated it.
But nothing much was happening. I was still the same weight, still the same height, still the same shape.
My self esteem, quite frankly, sucked. It didn’t help that I was incredibly shy, which was seen as being far too aloof by the outside world. I never accepted dates, because I assumed that I was just being asked as a cruel joke. I felt suspicious of new friends – were they only being friendly with me because they needed to add a ‘fat’ friend to their group? Did they really like me?
It’s funny, but the change in my thinking came about as the change in my body did. In my last year of university I went through a depressive state. I guess I had what you’d call a mini breakdown. I started proving how much I was like my father, and eating my feelings. My weight ballooned. I didn’t realise how much it did, until I went to put on a pair of favourite jeans, only to find I couldn’t get them past my knees. The casual comment from my mother – “Oh yes, I thought you’d put on weight” made me cry.
I was determined to lose that horrible fat I had stacked on. I was going to start the cycle again. Until I didn’t. I remember, looking around on the internet one day, and I came across the livejournal community, Fatshionista. I was stunned. There were these beautiful women, who felt absolutely no shame in being themselves, in being their fat and fabulous selves. It sounds ridiculous now, but it was revolutionary to me, that someone could be happy with the way they were. I started thinking that maybe I could be the same.
I started with myself and my headspace. I tried to figure out why I was using food to make myself feel better, why I was both rewarding and punishing myself with the amount on my plate. It was hard to learn that food and eating can be a positive, nutritional and healthy activity, if I let it.
Obviously, it hasn’t been easy. I still have my bad days. I try and combat this by surrounding myself with positive, happy fat people. Reading fat acceptance blogs and books and disengaging from the horrid cycle of diet and weight loss talk has also helped. I find that listening to my body, and giving it what it needs, intuitively eating, has kept me healthy and happy and benefited my well-being enormously. I feel like I only have the one chance, the one life with my body, so it’s time to start treating it with the respect it deserves – I am going to clothe it in fabulous fashions, I am going to nourish it with fantastic food.
I am utterly privileged to be a member of the Brisbane Axis of Fat with other proud fat people.