Let’s talk about fat (baby)

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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.

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9 thoughts on “Let’s talk about fat (baby)

  1. Laura

    Really interesting blog post, I really liked your take on it. I actually wrote one of those kind of posts- for one of the reasons that you mentioned. To show women who eat next to nothing that they can eat more than they think (I’m sure many women can be bitchy just because they’re hungry) but if you are happy with who you are and you’re healthy and happy with your power lifting performance then ‘others’ don’t matter. I get what you mean- I see loads of girls in bikinis and it makes me feel fat.. that constant ideal can be very draining. Hope you find happy soon xx

    1. lozette Post author

      Thanks!

      TBH I never felt fat before I started lifting, even though I was a LOT fatter then. If anything’ this “health and fitness lifestyle” thing has given me ED-type feelings that simply weren’t there before. I think my experience is opposite to a lot of other peoples’.

  2. mandy @ fatgirlgonehealthy.com

    First, I want to say that I admire you for being able to accept your body as it is for most of your life. I’ve spent many years of my life being told I was fat which resulted in me getting fatter and depressed and in a state of self hatred. It was only a few years ago that I realized that I didn’t have to be skinny to love myself. I’m still struggling with my body image and I find myself very jealous of those that can eat tons of food and stay lean. It’s hard. The internet and blogging world can definitely screw with your mind. I have to remind myself often that we are all individuals and it’s important to keep that in perspective. What works for one person doesn’t work for everybody. Please keep being you! I know I definitely relate to you a lot and love your perspective!

    1. lozette Post author

      I really do wonder where this acceptance of myself came from, as it’s definitely not my mum’s doing, and I definitely did get teased at school for being bigger than average (although I was only ever a size 14 at most when I was at school). I just could never really bring myself to care that much? And – without disrespecting my mum – I always took stuff she said with a pinch of salt! When I was 18 I went on holiday with a bunch of girlfriends & I felt self-conscious about being the biggest girl there in my bikini, but it just didn’t feel like the worst thing in the world. Maybe it’s all tied in with my complete lack of interest in boys & the fact that I never (or rarely) read teenage/women’s magazines?

      Before I started lifting I was really into the fat acceptance/”fatshion” communities, and I still am (although I am more of an “inbetweenie” in dress sizes now). I just find the FA/fatshion online communities so much more accepting than fitness ones.

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  4. babyeaterlifts

    I seriously struggle with the weight class aspect of powerlifting. Now, I don’t struggle with the reality that weight classes are the result of the fact that powerlifting is really about relative, not absolute strength. If you want absolute strength competition, go do strongman. So I respect that powerlifting is about how much you can lift as it relates to how much you weigh, but I also f*cking hate it. Because I have fought for a long time to overcome how much shit I put myself through years ago regarding my weight. I have striven to be free of feeling constrained by how much I weigh. And now that I’ve busted through the confines of weight classes 114, 123, and even 132 all under nine months by gaining weight, I feel like I’m trapped. This morning I weighed 136 lbs. That’s 4 lb away from the 132 weight class, and since I don’t compete with USAPL or IPF or whatever it’s a doable water-manipulation. But I still feel like I’m way too heavy. And I hate feeling like that but I really don’t know what to do to change it. If I didn’t compete, I wouldn’t feel like such crap about my weight. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but there’s the truth. Blah.

    Anyway, I also wanted to say that I hear you on cutting down on the fitness blogs you read. I honestly kind of hate most of them. I have one myself, but it’s in no way a fitness blog. It’s actually usually just a “here’s how I either f*cked up today or how I f*cked up in the past and how I’m trying to deal with it.” And no, I don’t remotely mean diet-wise. It’s usually mental stuff, mental weaknesses, things I’ve struggled with, depression. Feeling torn between the weight class demands of powerlifting and the demands of my own ideas of what it means to feel good about one’s relationship with one’s weight. I get sick of the chirpy, enthusiastic, “motivational” blogs. I already like what I’m doing lifting-wise, I don’t need motivation. I need to hear from women who are honest about their experience in relation to training and living in a way that allows them to train. I need to hear from women who struggle. Because everyone who lives a fitness-oriented life does, and I don’t just mean physically.

    So I liked this post. Because it felt real, and it wasn’t about Ben and Jerry’s binging while maintaining a pack of abs. Thank you.

    1. lozette Post author

      Thanks for the comment!

      I agree that weight classes are my biggest bugbear too. TBH, if I could total 270kg then I would be happy to move up into the 84 class, but I can’t (at the moment), so…

      I do get very tired of reading blogs where someone (usually socially-acceptably slender) boasts about eating sooooo much ice-cream, whereas I know that a 200lb woman saying the same thing would be vilified as disgusting, gross, “Do you really need to be eating that?” etc. Ugh, the hypocrisy. I think that eating food without shame should be celebrated, but I hate that it’s only acceptable if you look a certain way. Grrrrrrr.

  5. G

    Competition makes me super weird. I always wind up having body image meltdowns after races, even if I PB. I constantly have to remind myself that the only person I’m competing against is myself!

    I bet you’ll feel better after backing off from the fitness blog world for a while. Folks out there may have the best of intentions, but personally I find it toxic– even the people that say that weight loss isn’t a goal but a side effect still glorify it. (I still don’t see how the “everyone’s body is okay!” message can coexist with before and after shots/celebratory abs photos.)

    Good luck navigating the minefield! I bet once you clear out the clutter and focus on your plan and your training you’ll settle into a good place.

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