I used to hate my tummy, back when I thought being fat was bad. I believed I had a responsibility to try to thin myself, and I carried a ton of shame. Now that I know weight doesn’t determine health, and health doesn’t determine value, I love my tummy. What a good tummy I have! I made this meme explaining how to love your tummy, in case you have trouble, like I did.
When I almost died of that stomach ulcer two years ago, I wanted to hate my tummy because I thought it had betrayed me. But I realized really quick that my tummy deserves love. And I take care of my body better, if I love it. So I made a big effort to overcome my impulse to hate.
We all deserve love, especially an injured tummy. How vulnerable it was. In the hospital, I chose to thank and praise my tummy, with the help of Ming, my mom, and the Unitarian Universalist minister Reverend Rachel who came to visit and pray with me, when I was in ICU.
It was not my tum’s fault I almost died. There was a big net of factors in that ulcer bleed. My tummy wanted me to live, which is why I’m still kickin’.
I really like to be kind to my body. This handmade purpley meme (painted on cardstock from a box of Haagen-Dasz chocolate ice cream treats) lists some favorite ways. Many of them I do every day–touch my tummy lovingly, thank it, smile at it.
A meme is too small to explain all I do, though. Some good ideas got left off the list, like qigong, writing a poem about your tummy, committing to fat liberation, and fat dancing.
The org Fat Rose helped me learn to love myself better. In Fat Rose, I found other people who are on a fat love journey. I tried to fat liberate myself in isolation for a long time. Being in virtual space with other people who are fat liberated changed my life; suddenly my fat ideas came together, and it all made sense as a whole.
Being in virtual space with people who were all fat and ok with fatness blew my mind. It was a revelation. We could take “fat is ok” as a given and go from there. Dancing together at a fat dance changed my life. Thank you for being amazing, Fat Rose.
Fat shame suffusing US culture is a huge roadblock in the way progress. Definitely, fat shame gets in the way of love and understanding. If most people have this misunderstanding that fat people are lazy, irresponsible, stupid, and necessarily unhealthy, including doctors, it’s one more barrier that keeps a lot of us from getting what we need.
So I try to sew seeds of truth wherever I go. That’s partly why I became vocal about riding trike and developed the spiritual practice of asking Ming to photograph me on my trike, or photograph me at all. Sharing pics of a happy fat woman feels revolutionary. The world tells me to hate myself and be fatly sad–I say, “No way.”
Here’s me on my latest trike ride. Thank you to Ming for hundreds of pics taken patiently.
Self-hate is a waste of time. I have a theory that being fat isn’t a health risk because fatness is inherently dangerous. It’s a health risk because doctors treat us like shit, shaming us, so we avoid them. And because culture teaches us to hate ourselves for being fat. Maybe it’s not carrying more weight physically that’s difficult for our bodies–it’s carrying the shame that gets heaped on us, and that we’re taught to heap on ourselves.
My worth isn’t contingent on my health. Disabled, ill, and crazy people such as myself are fully valid, at any size and health level. However, I strongly believe that loving myself improves my health outcomes. Self-starvation is a bad scene, a form of self-harm, with horrible consequences. If I can love myself as I am, I can free up a ton of resources, and do good with that reclaimed energy.
I’d much rather work for justice, create radical mental health, ride trike, make pesto, care for myself and Ming, write, and make art than agonize about a number on a scale or harming myself into a smaller version of myself. “I can’t hate myself into a version of myself that I love,” is what I think about intentional weight loss.
Realizing I can do health on my own terms changed everything. I don’t have to do health like I was taught in my family, like women’s magazines told me, like billboards and other popular capitalistic media tell me. Shamey doctor’s office bullshit is not the boss of me. When I get weighed at my doctor’s office and the BMI chart is in my face, I can laugh at it. “You have no power over me,” I say in my head to the chart, knowing a little about its history and how wrong it is. Its fuckery can’t fuck with me.
Once I took my health into my own hands and stopped looking to professionals to be responsible for my health problems, I realized that my body is a very wonderful place, full of mystery, and way more complex than I ever knew. Deciding that I wanted to see what I was like off psych meds was a brave curiosity, and it led to a whole cascade of better choices, where I took back the power I had given up to psychiatrists and other doctors. Scare tactics don’t work on me anymore.
I’m not a doctor and don’t have deep training about bodies, but I have 44 years of experience with my particular body. Sometimes I consult a doctor when I need help, but every day I listen to myself and trust my intuition. I eat foods I find delicious, do research on my own, exercise every morning, feel pleasure, and enjoy embodiment. No longer do I think someone else is an expert on my body. I can trust my own senses.
Even if I’m wrong about self-love improving my health, it’s way more fun, to love myself. So that’s what I’m up to.
I hope you’re getting what you need to live how you want to. These days, I have the bravery to choose a rogue path of self-love over a standard way of self-harm from shame. I hope if you need self-love, you can have that, knowing how to love your tummy, if you want to.