Self-hate as motivation has never worked, for me. For anything, that I can recall.
I made a video of myself dancing, which I’d never done before. It was partially in response to a youtube troll saying something mean to me about my body. When I read his mean comment, I thought of some snappy comebacks but responded with joyful movement instead.
It’s partly about fat liberation. I needed more videos of fat people dancing, to nurture my self-love, so I made my own.
I was thinking about self-hate as motivation. It was in reference to fatness and fat liberation. Almost everyone I’ve ever seen try intentional weight loss dieting used self-hate as motivation. Relatives, friends, strangers.
There might be a veneer of self-love. I’ve heard: I’m doing this for my health, I want to be there for my grandkids, or I’m worth this. But the violence of self-starvation is hard to deceive yourself about! When culture has handed us a fuckton of shame, it seems natural to try to use the shame for a helpful purpose.
But I think the shame needs to be healed, not encouraged for a desired goal. If intentional weight loss actually worked, maybe that could be valid? Like using anger as energy to make a change. But since intentional weight loss doesn’t usually work, a huge percentage of the time, the shame might not have any productive use.
I used to hate exercise, as something like torture. It was horrible to force myself. I suffered from the sensation of being overly hot, sweating, boredom, the painful ruminating thoughts I’d think while exercising, all the feelings, including shame.
The exercise was never enough. It was on someone else’s terms, not mine, even when it was on mine. The selves inside me telling me to exercise were not really me–they were manifestations of mean voices I internalized. Nasty PE teachers, relatives who hated their own bodies and put that hate inside of me, commercials, clueless doctors, and authority figures who didn’t even know me.
Going outside was the worst–to be perceived exercising hurt me. Sometimes people make rude comments, like saying to their passenger, about me, “Yeah, she needs the exercise.” Yes, funny to insult the person who’s trying to care for her health. Funny to put down the vulnerable person you’re glad you’re not.
I wrote a poem about being shamed my whole life for my fat body. It’s about being rejected by a loved one, then turning my pain about that onto myself. I put it on youtube in April, but it was private. It’s public now.
I was really sad that day. Maintaining self-love in a world that wants to whack me down is too much work! The poem has a lot of pain in it.
What joy, now, to exercise for fun, on my own terms. I love movement. Dancing is wonderful for me.
I love the quote: You can’t hate yourself into a version of yourself that you love. That’s how I feel about self-hate as motivation.
Or something like that MLK quote.
Partly I’m motivated by a feeling of responsibility, but mostly it’s a pleasure, to love my body in all sorts of ways, including exercise. It feels good sometimes, the free feeling in my joints, the motion of my hips, the outside air on my skin. I get excited about the sky.
Exercise is a valid thing to do. Like brushing my teeth, taking a shower, prioritizing sleep. Thank you, body, for your hard work. You do so much for me–I can do something for you.
It’s nothing about desire to lose weight or even be strong or live longer. It’s something my body asked for, and I say yes.