Love your love handles
I am fat.
Yes, that three-letter word: FAT.
It’s a word that most people attach to a negative image. To every person, the definition varies a bit. So does their level of judgement and acceptance.
In Canada, 80-90% of women don’t like their body. Think about that. It’s earth-shattering. At any given time, almost every woman you see feels some degree of unhappiness about her body. Not just fat women—all women. Petite, tall, short. Most don’t like the body they have. Self-loathing is a sad thing. And the majority of us suffer from it.
I was talking to my good friend a few months ago about this—women, body shaming, self-consciousness, etc.—and what he said surprised me: “Well, at least women can talk about it; guys don’t.” Interesting. Just when you think self-deprecation is gender-specific, think again. Men are struggling too.
Last night, I spoke to a friend who struggles with her weight and self-image. She said: “FAT. I hate that word. I’d never use it for someone else.” Yet, she uses it to define herself.
“Why do you hate the word?” I asked her. She said she felt it was a negative label that just gets thrown carelessly and thoughtlessly around. Everyone’s body is different, she explained. She feels like calling someone who weighs more than average “fat” is like calling a thin person “anorexic”. It’s judgement.
This friend of mine works out everyday. Yet the voice in her head, that cranky old lade in the attic, says “You’re fat. You’re fat. You’re fat.” And some days, that voice wins. Most days, actually. Even when she reviewed her journals from years ago, when she was, technically, less fat, my friend felt the exact same way and described her self-loathing with that same three-letter word: FAT.
Another friend of mine is quite the opposite in her self-awareness. She is essentially the same size as me with a similar medical history, and she OWNS it! She is amazing—and she knows it. Her size doesn’t define her; SHE defines her. She has a healthy self-image and she inspires me to do the same.
With all of my friends somewhere on the spectrum and daily articles on social media talking about self-acceptance, self-confidence and body image have been on my mind a lot lately (clearly). I don’t love that we are struggling; I do love that we are talking about the struggle. Openly and honestly.
Role models like Valerie Segan are proving the negative stereotypes wrong. News flash: “FAT” is not a synonym for “lazy”. It does mean “unhealthy,” nor does it mean “unworthy”. So why is it so hard to be okay with ourselves?
I am a smart and amazing woman. I have ups and downs when it comes to my own personal self-image. Sometimes, I think, “Gina, you’re a goddess!” and sometimes I want to hide in a corner until the crowd passes. Still, every day I work on accepting my body for what it is and what it can do (And it can do an impressive amount of things!). Some days I am hard on myself. However, the more I work at it, the fewer and farther between so days of self-loathing are.
In the last year, with a dedicated workout program, I have lost 4 bra sizes. I hate that. For a long time, it made me feel low. Success was happening, my body was shifting, I was feeling strong. But buying a smaller bra made me feel inferior—for a little while. Then, I decided, that the shape of my vessel does not define me. No way!
DO I wish my belly was smaller? Hell yea! But this belly, at whatever size, fuels my body and helps me live full tilt, chase my children around, and fuel my brain to achieve business success.
There is no magic to self-acceptance. It’s a journey that we all much travel at our own pace. It’s a road I walk every day, proudly. My body is me. And I am amazing. Sure, I’m “fat.” I’m also an athlete, a solid friend, an amazing person, a strong leader, and, most importantly, I am enough.