So as mentioned before, I’ve decided to stop reading health & fitness blogs (at least the ones that I don’t perceive as fat-positive) for a while. I hadn’t really twigged before that other people probably think, when I talk about my weight/size, that I’m coming from a place – typical of many women – of being fat, hating it, and trying to change my body through lifting. That’s not actually the case.
Let’s go back to the start. I’ve always been on the fat side, but growing up I never hated myself for it. In fact, it didn’t seem very important. I read stories of women growing up larger/fat & hating themselves and I can’t relate. I went to an all-girls school and wasn’t interested in boys (I suspect probably due to being put on a very high-dose pill aged 14, for endometriosis) so I didn’t care that no boys found me attractive. There were slim, image-obsessed girls in my year, but I wasn’t really friends with them (I wasn’t cool enough!), and besides, they usually seemed unhappy so I didn’t want to emulate them. There were more than a few girls who had anorexia/bulimia or other EDs – that to me seemed merely horrific, not admirable.
When I was 18 I went to a mixed party with some of the boys from a nearby boys’ school. I vividly remember wearing a baggy t-shirt with Thunderbirds on it, because I liked it; I also remember being called a “heifer” by the boys there, and the slim girls laughing. My only reaction was to ignore them & simply think “Well, after this summer I never have to see any of these people ever again” (and I never did!)
Where did I get this I-don’t-care attitude from? I’m really not sure. Not from my mum; everyone in my family is large & my childhood has many memories of my mum & sister being on diets (as well as suffering from horrific endometriosis, as I did later). But the thing is: I have never, ever wanted to emulate or “be” my mum. Many women say they admire their mothers and I, well, I never did. I feel a bit horrible for saying that (I do love my mum, I promise!) but she never had the sort of life I wanted for myself. Instead, I wanted to emulate my dad, and he was – is – fat and zero fucks are given (well, except for when he had a heart attack 9 years ago & lost weight after, but he’s still a large man by anyone’s estimations).
Maybe it also stems from a similar place that my not wanting children comes from. I understand that most women want children, and frankly I expect (wrongly) that most women want them; I just don’t apply that expectation to myself. So, I understand that most women want to be slim & not be fat, but I don’t apply that expectation to myself. If that makes any sense?
So back to lifting. I didn’t start to lift because I wanted to be slim, lean, whatever; I started because I wanted to be fit & strong, and it looked (initially) like powerlifting was a way to get those things without the expectation of losing weight. Sadly, I think I realise now that that luxury only applies to powerlifting men (and women who are large while being extraordinarily strong, like Kristin Rhodes (who I will never be even a quarter as strong as!)). But I didn’t realise that at first – possibly because I’ve always wanted to emulate my dad, my idols are mostly men, and I don’t really “do” gender roles.
So when I talk about my weight, I’m not coming at it from the perspective of someone who’s afraid of getting fat; who has been fat in the past; is trying not to be fat; etc. I am fat!
The issue is that nowadays, now that powerlifting is a bit more mainstream & more people are talking about it, suddenly – for the first time in my life – I feel like I have to worry about being larger. Suddenly there are all these messages about getting lean in what I consider to be my refuge for being a happy fat person.
Contrast this with the current trend in lifting blogs to showcase how much the (female, always) writer is eating, while staying lean/getting bigger (but not fat!). I find those posts hard to read because I can’t relate to the fear of getting fat, and also because I see fear of fat = fear of being like me. So really, I don’t want to see that the (slim) writer has downed a pint of Ben & Jerrys & is lauded for it, because I know that a fat person eating a pint of Ben & Jerrys would be called disgusting, gross etc – for doing the same thing.
I can 100% understand why women make posts emphasising that they eat a lot and that eating a lot is a good thing, as historically we women have been encouraged to eat very little, get small and not take up space. I don’t begrudge people posting things like that. I just can’t relate to it myself, and I find it hard to read because before I started on this “health & fitness journey” I ate what I liked and gave no fucks at all how fat I was. It’s only after I started lifting – 3 or more years after – that I find myself confronted with this & feel forced to care.
It’s as if my experience is the opposite of others’ – other people have found that lifting has given them the freedom to eat what they like; but for me, I had that freedom before but now I feel like it’s being curtailed (and it is, a bit, in that I have to make weight for competitions). And yeah, it’s not fair [stamps feet, toddler-style].
I’m sure I will get back to happy fatness soon enough, I just need to take care of myself a bit more & not read so many fitness blogs.