Sunday, July 9, 2017

My Guy Friends Can't Use The F-Word

With my blog's second birthday in the books, all the talk in my apartment has been mostly centered around self love.

It is also important to note that 98% of my new friends in Nashville are male; and while they are surprisingly well informed and extremely supportive of the self love battle, they are not always certain where they stand on it. And after writing and answering questions about this stuff for two years now, I'm not entirely sure my readers know where they stand on it, either.

"I really want to jump on board the body positive bandwagon," the men in my life reached a general consensus, "I want people to be happy and healthy. So I'm never quite sure how to be supportive of body positivity around women who know..."

I let the hesitation hang in the air so long it made them uncomfortable.


Everyone in the room breathed a sigh of relief; that someone, particularly the girl of the group, had finally dropped the ever-feared F-bomb.

"See," the boys continued, "It's okay for you to say it, because you're a girl." 

I didn't see what my gender affiliation really had to do with it, but they seemed to think it made all the difference.

"If you say that word around us, it's okay," they explained, "But if we had said it around you, you would've been offended!"

I wasn't quite sure what that meant either, and I had a feeling we weren't talking about self love anymore. Was I supposed to be offended because I was fat, or because I was a girl? This was about to turn into a debate on body fat and double standards. And I was determined to keep them intrigued enough to prove my point.

"Girls don't get offended when you call us fat," I opened my grand monologue, knowing I would be interrupted.

"Bull crap!" and similar comments escaped immediately, "Have you met women?"

Why, funny you should mention that, boys. It's almost like I am one. And here's the deal:

Fat is not offensive. Fat is a three letter word. It is something that is contained in food, something that is printed on nutrition labels; something that our bodies (yes, all bodies) need. And some of us happen to have more of it than others.

And yes, some of us have too much of it. Some of us are riding that unhealthy line, and some of us are well beyond it. But I've found that these people usually already know this about themselves. Most body positive writers and warriors are medically identified as fat. They are also often found confidently calling themselves fat, but not because they are making an open point to self depreciate. (So there's no reason to counter them and say, "Oh stop it, you are not fat!"). Because they understand what this post is about.

The problem with the word "fat" is not the word, or even the meaning itself. The problem with the dreaded F-word is the connotation that our society has created for it. Because in our world, you have to be 5'7" and 90 pounds to be considered beautiful, and everything else is labeled "fat," (i.e., UGLY).

Women do not become hurt and offended because you called us fat. Women become hurt and offended because it feels as though you called us ugly. Because the word "fat" no longer means "you've gained a little weight and I'm worried for your health." Today, it means, "you've gained a little weight so you are no longer pretty."

In our minds, you have not called us fat. You have called us ugly. Even if that was not what you intended to say.

Every woman has a different body type. A different body shape. And a different healthy fat content. This means that there is no standard definition of what our weight should be. Even the most amazing men with the best intentions (and most women on their good days) realize this. However, there is a standard definition in our society of how pretty we should be, and unfortunately, in our media, advertisements, and health care magazines...pretty only looks one way:

Pretty = Skinny

Google will tell you anorexia warriors and eating disorder survivors have an overwhelming fear of being fat. That that's why they starve themselves. Or purge after eating. And advertisements are right there behind the "mentally sound" group of women to encourage them to lose weight. We think this is because they are feeding on our insecurity of becoming fat.

We. Do. Not. Fear. Being. Fat.

Eating disorder warriors do not have an overwhelming desire to be skinny. Weight loss programs are not full of women who want to be thin. The truth is...

The world is full of women who want to be beautiful. Stunning. Captivating. And our society has tricked us into believing that we are unable to achieve this intrinsic desire of our hearts if we have more fat than the average supermodel (who is, by the way 5'9" and 98 insanely unrealistic standard).

So instead of just being kind and funny, we starve ourselves. Instead of channeling our motivation toward our passions, we hit the gym...often more than once a day. Instead of loving people and treating people as we wish to be loved and treated, we form a social group to go on diets with in order to achieve our bikini bodies. We channel absolutely all of our creative energy into making ourselves smaller. 

Because once we are skinny, we will be pretty. And once we are pretty, we will be happy.

No. No, no, no, no, no. Ladies, you do not have to be a certain weight, or have a certain body shape, or wear a certain size of clothing to be pretty. And you certainly do not have to do these things to be happy.

So if you like going to the gym, then go. If, and only if, you are going to improve your health and not simply to diminish a number on the scale.

If you like dietetics, then keep blending your meal-substitute smoothies. If, and only if, you are still getting your correct calories, vitamins, and nutrients for your body.

And gentlemen? It is about health. And it is about beauty. And it is about happiness! And I am so sorry that the F-bomb busted out of it's home on the nutrition label, came into our society, and screwed everything up. I'm sorry that it has made women even more confusing to you.

This is not your free pass to go around calling anyone fat. This is your education on why you aren't allowed to do so, and how you should respond if anyone calls themselves fat.

Because people should be healthy. And people should feel beautiful, whether they are a size 2 or a size 22.


People are beautiful, whether they are a size 2 or a size 22. Whether they are fat or not.

So instead of being worried about whether or not people are fat, we should be worried about where their health is at. This includes their weight, their muscle mass, their fat content, their vitals, their cholesterol, (the list goes on and on)...and their mental health, too. Like seriously. Do you even know anything about it? Do you know how hard they're trying to lose weight? Do you know if they have a medical condition prohibiting them from doing so? Do you know how hard they're working to love themselves as they gain weight back to a healthy range after recovering from an eating disorder?

Do you celebrate their workouts because they are improving themselves? Or do you celebrate their workouts because they are losing weight?

Think hard, because we're all guilty of it. Be honest with yourself.

Is their weight really any of your business? Is the number on their scale the first thing you should be estimating about them? Are the clothes they wear for you to decide? Answer honestly. Does their physical appearance have anything to do with you?

If you are not their parent, their doctor, or their personal trainer, the answer is no. If you are a workout partner, be supportive. If you are a co-worker, be encouraging. If you are a friend or boyfriend, be complimentary on their strengths. Trust me; they already know plenty about their weaknesses.

As for what you can do? Become more aware of the thoughts running rampant in their head. And in your head. Are you a victim of the F-bomb? Or do you utilize it often to put people down? This includes the judgements made inside your head. (Yikes.)

The answer is probably both. Someone has probably called you fat, or has looked at you and thought, she needs to lose weight. But if you've ever looked at someone and thought "Wow, she looks horrible. She needs to lose weight," you are guilty of doing the same thing. You are not in the proper mindset. You are linking fat to ugly. And these two things are not direct correlations of one other, though society has taught us that they should be.

If you have ever looked at someone and thought, "Oh dear, she needs to lose weight. I'm worried because she is not healthy, and if she is not healthy, her life might be in jeopardy. And that would suck because I love her so, so much! I wonder what I can do to help her be healthy again..." then congratulations! You are in the correct mindset. But most of us have that thought after we subconsciously notice how terrible they look, if we even take the time to have that selfless thought at all.

It is also important to note that we are in the 21st century. Health no longer means physical health alone. It also means mental health. So if you are noticing that someone is gaining or losing weight, it is your job to scan their motives. Do not compliment someone on their weight loss if you do not know whether they are eating healthier or not eating at all. Do not compliment their physique unless you know they are not addicted to watching the number on the scale go down after spending four hours each day at the gym. Because if you are unknowingly encouraging unhealthy, disordered eating habits, your compliments can be just as devastating as calling them fat. If not more.

And this goes for girls and guys. Let's just get that double standard debate out of the way. Girls are more likely to experience these cases, and I am a girl, which is why my posts so often come from the female perspective. But men are victims to this as well. So once again, the point of this post matches the point of all my other posts on the blog...

Pay attention to others. Be kind to others. Encourage others, support others, love others. Take care of others. And do the same for yourself when no one is there to reciprocate. That's what self love is. That's what love in general is, and so many of us have lost sight of how important it all is.

Fat does not equal ugly. Skinny does not equal pretty. And I'm sorry the world has taught us otherwise.

Be hungry. Be happy. Be healthy.

No comments:

Post a Comment