Over a casual brunch under the privilege of the California sun, a conversation emerged about my passion for advocating for size acceptance and why I was so invested in being a part of this movement. Here it was. My opportunity. On an ordinary day, I found a real life platform to test the principles of my blog in my natural habitat. I stretched out my hands in preparation for entering the ring and was ready to unleash my dictation. Unfortunately, almost as quickly as the first question landed, a follow-up arrived. “For example, what do you think of someone like Chrissy Metz, advocating for people who are severely overweight and making it seem like it is ok?” In the blink of an eye, my entire world turned red and hot and painfully personal. Every cell of my being wanted to attack this question with the vigor of a starving coyote who had finally staked its prey. There it was, right in front of me. The open window slammed shut and the reality of how deep these misconceptions sank became frighteningly clear. Before I risk chastising this person for her seemingly twisted beliefs, it is my obligation to relay, this question arose from an earnest wish to understand, from a person who herself has suffered with body issues, weight fluctuations, etc. Therefore, while I wanted to shake her ferociously and rid from her mind any traces of this disturbing reflection of our reality, I knew a reactive response would never yield the transformation I hope to inspire and the honesty I have pledged I would represent. And so, I took a much-needed deeply intentioned breath, pushed my ego aside and did my best to answer the question.
Here is what I came to:
I cannot pretend to imagine the burden of being a public figure who, seemingly overnight, becomes the spokesperson for a cause. Not to mention, a cause as personal as what it means to live in this world as a severely overweight woman. Take your biggest challenge. Whether you have accepted this challenge and adjusted your life accordingly or not, take this challenge and wear it like a cloak for the world to see. Wear it like a sign plastered on your forehead and wait for the avalanche of questions to wash over you. The mathematical formula that breaks down each unique facet of your challenge means nothing. You are your challenge and it is the first thing that enters the room. It is your opening act and you are employed to pick up the pieces before any other dialogue can begin. The pain of this reality hits me with a gut punch and while I would NEVER claim to represent Chrissy Metz or any other man or woman who struggles for acceptance in spite of their appearance, I can certainly relate to the feeling of having to stand for a cause regardless of a want to do so. When you are an overweight person, the topic of your value despite your size hits you in your face at every turn. I cannot possibly count the amount of times that I have received unsolicited advice from perfect strangers about the way that I should live my life or the actions that I should take to change it. I was once handed a business card for a Pilates studio while quietly reading a magazine at LAX by a thin woman while she ate M&Ms. This is just one of countless examples just as ludicrous. It is amazing, the high horse we as a society happily ride based on the physical manifestation of our biology. I will be working for the rest of my life to rid the emotional trauma of a lifelong battle against my body and while I aspire for the same career success, and work daily to put myself in a place very similar to the Chrissy Metz’s of the world, it is hard to digest a reality so ripe with public scrutiny. I imagine it is a world impossible to grasp until you find yourself on the other side of the barricade.
So what does this all mean and how do we build a world of, not only size, but universal acceptance? Here is what I have discovered, along my path, as a starting point: Try as hard as you can to find the areas of your life in which you are prejudice. Take a careful inventory of your thoughts and beliefs and ask yourself where they are coming from? What kind of person do you aspire to be? The kind of person who makes other people fight to be seen? Or do you strive to remove your limitations so that you can accept every person as a person of value and a reflection of yourself? Struggle is ubiquitous and however you wear your struggle, I am sure you would not want it to define you. We are all so much more than the containers we come in and to me size acceptance is about real genuine connection, unmuddied by a laundry list of preconceived definitions. So bring on the questions, don’t be afraid to ask them even if you fear they will make you sound ignorant or small. Because without the questions you will never find the answers and wherever your beliefs now stand they will never change without heavy mining and excavation. I will keep searching for my own limiting beliefs and doing my very best to create more united and honest connections. It is my greatest hope that you will join me on this mission. Feel free to talk to me about it, I am here and willing to listen.