I have a long history of disordered eating, although it has been mostly under control for many years. However, I had a significant “slip” in late 2018. Going back into performance and being presented with a too-tight costume put me right back into an old, awful mindset, and I lost over 20 pounds in about six weeks. And no, I didn’t do this in any “healthy” or “sensible” way. I did it the way I’ve usually done it: I mostly stopped eating.
I knew that I was messing up, but it was like I couldn’t stop myself. Now, a little over a year later, I’m even heavier than before that weight loss, and although I know better, I’m afraid.
Rationally, I know that I won’t keep gaining weight forever. I’m not the ever-expanding universe; I’m just a fat person who did some intense restriction. My body has to heal from that. In this case, healing looks a lot like eating to satiation every single day regardless of whether or not I gain weight. Yes, it’s the opposite of what our culture says. I know that other people would say I was supposed to restrict even harder to solve this, but long experience has taught me that restriction is counterproductive — look at what just happened, after all. There’s no permanent way to make a fat person thin. But it’s so difficult to trust the process when almost everything around you says that you must try harder, that you’re defective, that you’re fat and ugly and lazy and whatever else people assume.
I’m not a “small fat,” but I still have, even at my current size, a modicum of thin privilege. And I think that’s part of the panic. Is this the point where strangers start policing my grocery cart again? (They certainly have in the past when I was bigger.) Will I finally have to ask for a seatbelt extender on the airplane? Have I passed the line from “just fat” to “too fat” in most strangers’ eyes, and will I be treated accordingly?
I feel guilty that I’m reacting this way, too.
I want to make clear that acknowledging this fear and my guilt doesn’t make it right, and doesn’t excuse me from admitting that this is a clear example of internalized fatphobia. Yes, it’s rational to be afraid that people will treat me worse than they already do — but it also means that I need to double down on advocating for fat people, especially those larger than me. If I want a world that’s better for fat people of all sizes, I have to help create it. I may not be in a comfortable place currently, but I recognize that this an opportunity to dismantle a little more of my deep-seated and lingering fatphobia.
I can sit with this discomfort and see it for what it is, and hope to do better in the future.