A few weeks back my friend and I were attending a summer BBQ and we wanted to dress up a bit. Days before the event I had mentally prepared my two options—both were button shirts, different colors.
Hours before the event I went to try on the shirts and was soon frustrated. My boyfriend asked what was wrong.
“Urg. I feel too fat to wear these clothes right now.”
He insisted everything looked great and helped me try on some alternate choices. But I was still frustrated. This lasted for about 45 minutes.
I had this conversation with a client the following week in the gym and said, “That’s what happens when you consume food and drinks like a Jerk for two and half weeks.” I digressed by saying I wasn’t too worried about it because give me 10 days of regular exercise, eating and I’ll be back to feeling like myself. Which was authentic to how I felt.
Why I am emailing you today is because I hear this frequently—people telling me they feel “fat”, “huge” or “have a big stomach”.
I read something that struck me from Jessi Kneeland I wanted to share with you:
“Feeling ‘fat’ and actually being fat are completely separate and unrelated experiences.”
The question being asked is the idea behind why feeling fat is a problem—what does that feel like? The challenge here is to put to words why ‘feeling fat’ is such a negative thing.
For myself, the struggle comes from a larger feeling of negativity—things that are harder to name or discuss, so “feeling fat” is the easier route.
Jessi Kneeland states, “Fat is not a feeling”. Fat is a description, like “tall”, “slow”, “strong” or “pink”. These are all subjective—not good or bad. But we attached meaning to these words and that’s where the issues arise.
For me, the problem wasn’t feeling “fat”, but it was frustrated (mentioned earlier). It was a feeling of anger towards myself because I willingly over consumed alcohol and food. Yes, I had a lot of celebratory events and family from the USA staying with us. But never did they ask me to consume that way. The responsibility was on myself, and that frustrated me.
Jessi went on to state that growing up (particularly with women), “Being called ‘fat’ or ‘big’ or ‘ugly’ was excruciating and everyone knew it, so if someone really wanted to hurt you, those were the insults hurled at you.”
The meaning attached to these words are from our surroundings and society as a means to make us feel unworthy—less than. So society can keep us playing small, companies can sell us products to ‘fix’ us and the people around us can make themselves feel better than us.
It’s been drawn to my attention that anyone who struggles with feeling fat, unflattering or any body image issues, is really struggling with something else entirely.
Maybe it’s failure or worthiness. Maybe it’s something traumatic or maybe like my latest experience, frustrated (with a little shame) because ‘you knew better’.
So, I am leaving you with this message by Jessi:
Body acceptance is more than reframing our flaws. It’s more than only loving yourself when you’re fit or eating well or doing things you know are ‘right’.
Real love is about letting go of the belief that other people have the right to determine if you’re ‘good enough’. It’s about basing your worth on something other than being looked at.