A Guest Article by Kristen Pickrell
First off, let me say that I have no degree or paper documentation of knowing what I am talking about. I do not have it all figured out and i know that my thinking will continue to grow and evolve. This is all coming from personal experience and it is coming from the view point of someone who is still learning and going on her own body posi journey. I am a fat woman and these are my experiences.
So a little back ground on me, I first learned I was fat in elementary school. I had grown to be taller than all the boys and girls and I played rough and I loved rough. I had hurt someone on the playground by hugging them too hard and when the teacher told momma about it, momma turned to me and said I had to learn to be careful with people because I was just bigger than everyone. And then the diets started.
In a world of detox teas and laxative lollis, diet culture is prevalent. It is hard to see some of our favorite plus bloggers go from “loving their body” as they gain views and traction, to almost hating themselves in comparison before and after pictures. So as someone who is a ride or die fatty, what does it look like for a person who works out and is also super happy with themselves?
I think the important thing to remember here is that it is a completely normal human process to evolve and change. We all do it, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Isn’t it a great thing to not have to be the absolute same at all points of your life? So, in keeping with that mindset, let’s take a deeper look into the ever amassing obsession with before and after fatty photos.
When I first started on the Social Medias (I am a self described grandpa, I don’t know how they work or what their physical functions are a lot of the times but I do appreciate them for the connections they give to people), I started following lots of the plus size influencer people. Cute outfits and hundreds of thousands of followers. I would come across their profiles and I thought to myself “Self, this is great! Look at these people loving their fatasses and their flabby arms and their jiggly stomachs! These are my people!”. Then I noticed they would post a lot of workout videos or pictures. Still nothing wrong with this, I workout myself so I would enjoy their cute matching yoga legging and tops with brightly colored sneakers. And then the comparison pictures would start. Before pictures of when they were fatter and unhappy and living terrible lives, possibly of the bog with category with their skinny friend cropped out or with a caption of how terrible they used to look. And after pictures of them skinnier, happier, aware of where the camera was and looking into my soul with their numbers of weightloss on display and a caption reading “Living my BEST life”. Except, I still look like that before picture. So…..what is this promoting?
It’s not a matter of don’t buy into comparisons. Of course we are told to not compare ourselves to other people. But these are people with masses of followers. People watch their feeds and pay attention to their messages. They set examples for people. They could have simply posted a picture of them at their current weight and commented on how much easier it is to walk up stairs now and how they hit a new bench lift weight. Humans are visual creatures. I don’t want to see myself as some before picture. I am not a before picture.
I digress, back to Fit Fat. I am a person who has fat on their body. There is hair on my head. There are eyes in my face and toes on my feet. Fat is a descriptor. It does not define me as a person. I also happen to like to workout. I will go to my gym 5 or 6 days a week for a couple of hours and i will enjoy my time there, 70% of the time (there are times I would rather saw my arm off with a dull spoon but that isn’t actually helpful to my point here so let’s forget I said that). Am I working out to lose weight? Nope. Have I lost weight from being there? I don’t know, I don’t find it helpful to my psyche to look at numbers on a scale so I just dont. Do I diet? Nah. Pizza is awesome, as is Pad See Ew and I have a mighty hankering for Nutty bars and Gushers. I work out so I can have better sex. I like to be mobile and would like to be able to keep my heart rate down for when I hike up to a waterfall. I like watching the dudes at the gym when I get off of a machine and they have to move the weight control up to a smaller weight (powerful thighs, thanks volleyball). I like to be active. I also like my body the way it chooses to be. This is the weight my body has settled at within the lifestyle I like to live and I am ok with that. I am currently training for my first 5k. How am I doing that, you ask? By eating an entire bowl of Kettle corn and drinking a coke. Maybe I will hit the gym later, maybe today will be an off day. We shall see how I feel later.
I don’t trade food for workouts either. I don’t think about how many calories I am about to put into my body and convert that into extra time on the treadmill. Thats a toxic, accolades based behavior that I was brought up to believe and as an adult, have had to teach myself to stop doing. I do not justify the food I put into my body with thoughts of I will work it off later. I eat what I want, (as long as it doesn’t make me sick, sry beef) and then I workout for whatever my body feels like doing that night. And sometimes it’s nothing. Sometimes I get to the gym and all i do is stretch because I literally just don’t feel like it. But I love this body and I show up for her and I listen to what she says and I do my best to make her happy, whether it is ice cream and then a nap or pasta and then a workout.
My friend Moonbow Brite ( Burlesque stage name, she is as colorful as her name implies) practices intuitive eating, which is eating things that her body needs to remain happy. Sometimes that is a salad, sometimes that is the most moist and delicious of all burgers. Not a diet, there is no restrictive eating habits other than what the body says it needs and then stopping when it is done.
“I am not terribly active right now [because of knee and hip related issues] but that’s another thing is that I try to be nice to myself and my body. My main activities are stretching, dancing, and walking.”
Last year MBB was selected to be a part of the first ever all plus size Burlesque festival produced by Ginger Snaps( another badass burlesque performer and fat aerialist ) and held in Texas.
Ok, recap. Can you workout and also be Body Positive? SURE. Can you be Body positive and not workout? SURE. Does one equate the other. NOPE. Body positive is all about learning your body, loving your body, listening to your body and figuring out what it needs. It is completely possible to love your body and still want to do things to make it feel better. Sometimes my body needs a weight lift training session and sometimes, like now, it needs peanut butter eggs. It’s all about moderation.
Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Your body has been though a lot and has gotten you through a lot. You are not a before picture. You are a glorious, ever evolving, mass of particles. You got this.