I’ve been doing some reading — namely, pieces like Beauty Schooled’s Why Loving Your Body Won’t Kill You (and related links), The Curvy Nerd’s A Letter to My Future Self, Sasha Paley’s novel Huge (review pending completion), and Shoshie’s Having an openly fat relationship — and I’ve made a discovery that’s profound to me, in navel-gazing, first-world-problems sort of way.
I don’t want to change my body.
This is not to suggest that other people’s choices to lose weight, tone up, or improve the state of their health are ones with which I disagree. I’m all for folks making empowering choices for themselves, and I don’t for a minute expect that everyone else’s good-for-them choices will mirror mine. But as I’m steeped in stories of people who are ultimately on body-changing journeys (for a myriad of reasons, with greater or lesser attachment to the physical results), I’m also realizing none of them are journeys for me.
Because I don’t want to change my body.
I’ll continue practicing asana (among other components of yoga) and running for as long as they serve me — which I hope is decades into the future since I derive a lot of pleasure from both of these activities. And I’ll continue cultivating a healthy relationship with food, where “healthy” includes both my physical and emotional health needs. In short, I’m not going to stop doing anything that’s already working for me.
But I don’t want to change my body.
What I want is to change society’s perceptions about my body.
I want to go clothes shopping and have my size available in a variety of stores — instead of one or sometimes zero. I want to ask a sales associate, “Can I try this on?” while holding a form-fitting dress and not see a sneer. I want to ask about fat athletic wear and not hear anyone laugh.
I want access to medical attention with out fear of a weight lecture, without fear of “just lose weight” offered in lieu of legitimate treatment. And frankly, I’d like people to stop complaining that my weight is driving up insurance premiums. Because I promise, lack of adequate initial treatment due to fat shaming has cost my insurers more dollars than my actual BMI ever has — not to mention what I lose in quality of life.
I want to eat in public without fear of being told I’m doing something bad for me.
I want my body to stop being associated with terms like “lazy,” “unhealthy,” “disgusting,” “pathetic,” and “cow.” Or at least, I want society to equally associate my body with terms like “active,” “healthy,” “attractive,” “admirable,” and “cool.” Moreover, it terrifies me that a lot of people take for granted that an “epidemic of” or “war on” my body is a good thing. I’m not really into using my body as someone else’s metaphor for garbage, pestilence, or annihilation.
Because my body is exactly the size and shape and strength and weight that work for me right now. It’s the part of me that handles all the “survival” stuff when I’m meditative and stuck in my head. It’s the part of me that handles all the “survival” stuff when I’m dissociative and stuck out of my head. It’s the knees that kneel fifty times a day to teach a student one-on-one, the feet that move me through a run, and the core and lungs that power my vinyasa. It’s the lips that kiss my partner good morning and the arms that cuddle my dog good night.
So I don’t want to change my body because it’s not my body that should change.