First things first, about that title. I know I called it 6 Tips for Living in a Fat Body, BUT these can honestly help anyone who wants to have a better relationship with their own body, fat or not.
All of these little tidbits of info are based on my actual, real life experience as a fat person. And if you’re new here, we don’t treat “fat” as a bad word, because fat isn’t bad! It’s a descriptor. At its worst, it’s neutral, and at its best, it’s wonderful.
Ready to get down to it? Keep reading!
1. Ditch the scale
If you’ve been around the fat positive/body positive/anti-diet and similar communities, this advice is pretty common. It’s also, for many of us, prohibitively difficult for a lot of reasons.
But Kristy, if I ditch my scale, how will I know when I’ve gained or lost weight?
You won’t. And that’s oooookay.
I’ll be the first to admit this is HARD for those of us who spent many, many years of our lives eagerly stepping up to the almighty scale and praying that it moved in the direction I wanted (lower. lower was always the direction I wanted). This is a hard habit to break. It’s often made even harder by partners or kids or roommates or whoever you share your space with not understanding why you would need to say bye to a device in order to break a habit.
Maybe you’ll be like some people and you can just get rid of the whole scale. Or maybe you’ll be like me and let it sit behind the toilet in that weird space that collects dust (we all have that weird space, right?) for a year and a half and THEN donate it.
If you share space with someone who needs to keep a scale in the home for whatever reason, ask them to keep it in a spot you never have to see it or think about it.
Breaking up with the scale was the first step to allowing my body to be exactly what it was without assigning a number value to it.
2. Do Your Research
I know this phrase has been co-opted by consp!racy theorists, but I don’t mean do your research on things that require deep academic analysis and credentials to prove, understand, and interpret. I mean independently learn about the following topics:
- The racist roots of anti-fat bias
- The foundation of the body positive movement (hint: Black people started it)
- Intuitive Eating
- Health at Every Size
Learning has equipped me with SO MUCH confidence, information, and tools in my toolbelt to live a dynamic, well-rounded, fat life and (most importantly) give credit where credit is SO VERY DUE.
3. Decline being weighed at the doctor’s office
Or, you can request not to see the number if you absolutely must be weighed or prefer to be weighed. This goes hand-in-hand with establishing a more fat-friendly experience in healthcare.
Here’s the thing. Your weight is often used in a healthcare setting to establish your BMI. You know what BMIs are good for? Nothing.
They’re a bogus measurement not founded in scientific research and, in fact, founded in racism.
Beyond that, your healthcare provider should be treating you. The whole person. Not the number next to your name.
In addition to “I’d like to decline being weighed today,” some other helpful phrases include:
- I’m not interested in hearing about weight loss as a treatment.
- How would you move forward with treatment for a thin person with the same issue?
- My weight doesn’t seem relevant to the issue I came here to address.
I also highly *highly* recommend seeking out a provider who provides a Health at Every Size approach. They can be super tricky to find, unfortunately, but THIS can be a helpful resource. THIS list will also be updated soon, according to the website.
4. Get comfortable confronting your own anti-fat bias
That nagging feeling you get when you *feel* like you need to lose weight, or think to yourself that you’re too anything, from a weight perspective? That’s your internalized anti-fat bias popping up.
Before you freak out, we ALL have it. We’ve been conditioned to think certain bodies are good and others are bad. It’s much more complex than JUST that, of course, and I encourage you to move gently with this because it can be very disorienting.
And please notice I said confront, not “beat yourself up over.” Undoing *literal* years of damaging thinking won’t be undone in an hour or a day or honestly even years because the brain is a complex organ and anti-fat bias is sneaky.
I recommend starting with curiosity. When you feel any uncomfortable thoughts around your body, ask yourself why, and see where that takes you.
5. Wear clothes that fit your body
I know it’s tempting to hold onto clothes that haven’t fit in years. I know because I have done it. I’ve carted them from house to house, across state lines, and lovingly (and a little begrudgingly) stored them under my bed, to be pulled back out in celebration once the “real” Kristy came back with her smaller waist.
Y’all, cut that shit out.
It’s fine to hold on to things that have sentimental meaning. I’m not telling you to burn your wedding dress (unless you want to), but keeping that pair of jeans or that dress that mean NOTHING to you except the reminder that once you only needed *that much* material to cover your body and now you need more is doing nothing for you in any way.
So sell them. Give them away. Donate them. Just get them out of their ceremonial rubbermaid bin and get yourself some jeans that fit comfortably. A top that doesn’t dig into your body. Clothes that stay where you put them and feel good to wear. I promise, the number on the tag isn’t scary, and it isn’t a sign of your morality or accomplishments or worth. Plus, it’s a lot easier to live your life without a waistband cutting off your circulation.
6. Follow fat creators, writers, actors, models, etc.
My number one tip for living in a fat body!! START PAYING ATTENTION TO OTHER FAT BODIES. And not in a creepy way. This is not me telling you to go outside and stare at fat people, okay? This is me telling you to observe people in fat bodies and the amazing things they are doing. The work they’re creating. You can find a lot of great resources for that in particular HERE.
It’s easy to assign an emotion or a moral value to the fat on our bodies, and to be honest society has made it fairly easy to assign it to other bodies as well, but we tend to extend a little more understanding to others because they aren’t US. This is where we can take advantage of seeing fat through another lens. Do you immediately judge someone with larger arms wearing a tank top? Maybe. (If so, stop that.) But maybe (hopefully…) not! Use that to your brain’s advantage, friend.
This also desensitizes us to bodies that look different than the societal standard of “beautiful,” and allows us to appreciate alllll kinds of differences (and our own bodies) more. Because the actual truth is – if you decide you think fat arms are beautiful? You’ll start seeing them as beautiful. Wild, right? Try it for yourself.
What works for you?
Do you have any tried and true tips for living in a fat body? I’d love to hear them in the comments, along with any questions or thoughts you might have.