On the problem of happiness.

I’ve thought about this problem before, but a recent comment brought it up again:

What about fat women who’ve tried to love themselves and have failed at that too?

It’s a curious dilemma. I mean, what do you do when not only diets have failed you, but your effort to try and accept yourself has failed? You’re kind of stuck, and I don’t think it would be a fun place to be stuck. You know that dieting is pretty stupid, but you’re starting to think that the idea of actually *liking* your big ugly body is starting to sound stupid as well…

I have a few questions, and please don’t take offense…I’m just trying to understand.

-Have you put as much effort into learning to accept yourself as you have put into dieting? Have you thrown out the ‘thin’ clothes and bought new ones that you like? Have you read books and websites?

-Have you talked to your spouse or partner about this; does your spouse or partner find your body unattractive? Have you talked to your family? Do your relatives harass you about losing weight?

-Have you found a doctor who is not prejudiced about size? They do exist.

-Have you looked for a size-friendly exercise or support group? They also exist.

The reason I ask this is because learning to love yourself is not easy. If anything, it’s even harder than dieting, but with one important difference: in the end, you will succeed. But the effort must be real. Self-love does not automatically appear when you decide you’re done dieting. It takes work and effort.

Ask yourself this: Suppose you have a set amount of energy to apply to a task. And you have two choices. Which one are you going to choose to spend your energy on? Dieting, which works for most people only in the SHORT TERM, and can make you feel worse about yourself if you gain the weight back…or self-love, which will produce long-term results and can actually improve your physical and mental health?

Making the choice is easy. It’s following through with the choice that takes work. Loving yourself requires ACTIVE changes, since everything in our culture is geared to weight loss. When you look up health, you find weight loss. When you look up nutrition, you find weight loss. When you look up body image, you find weight loss. Therefore, if you sit passively back, the tides of our culture will gradually erode your resolve not to focus on weight loss. You must actively seek out size-positive information and support.

If anyone needs resources for self-love, ASK ME. I have tons, and am more than willing to share. There are websites, books, advocacy groups, dietitians, doctors, and researchers galore who believe in health at any size.

And, for the record: I do not advocate weight gain. My agenda is encouraging people of all sizes to live healthy lifestyles, regardless of weight. I actually believe that keeping a STABLE weight is healthiest of all, whether you start off fat or thin. Sometimes you will gain or lose naturally; but that is not my concern. My concern is for people to love and respect themselves, their bodies, and each other.

One last thing: a note on medical conditions. PCOS has been mentioned to me more than once now, by two different people. I don’t know the specifics of the disorder other than what I have read here, but what I’ve heard is that the condition results in a higher weight, and a harder time controlling weight for women who have it.

To this I offer the following logic: we’ve determined that for perfectly healthy people, controlling weight is near impossible, unless through extreme, unhealthy measures (we’re talking self-starvation, bulimia, compulsive exercise, weight-loss surgery, etc.) In fact, it is so difficult for normal people to control their weight that many health professionals have decided to encourage people not to worry about weight, and focus instead on living healthfully (which means eating nutritious food and exercising regularly.)

Therefore, if you have a medical condition which makes losing weight even MORE difficult than it already is for normal people, why would it make sense to try losing weight? You’re fighting a losing battle. For anyone with a medical condition, I think it is conservative to say that you should eat well and exercise moderately. Why add to the stresses of your condition the impossible task of trying to control an uncontrollable weight?

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