The following is my Reflections love letter from 24 September. If you’re looking for the third installment of “Invincible,” it’s the next one down. 🙂
Oh dear ones, this is not the love letter I thought I’d write this week.
I find that I am driven–perhaps, if I may be so bold, as Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness in Mark 1–to write about something I read this week. Except I was driven by someone else’s writing.
It was an article from the Huffington Post called, “Everything You Know about Obesity Is Wrong.”
I am very nearly willing to get down on both my recently sprained knees and beg you to read it. It’s imperfect. It lacks some of what I might love to see in it. But it is SO important.
Just as I know that Unitarian Universalists and Pagans are well-represented among our comrades, so too, do I know that big, fat, round people are. A new spiritual direction client said to me this week, “It is such a relief to see someone who looks like me and like my spouse.” I know that my being visible online has brought more fat people into our circle than might otherwise be here.
We are ALL welcome here. No matter our size, shape, or weight. Thin, fat, in-between, fit, in various states of dis/ability or health…
And because we are all welcome, I want those of you who are not fat to consider what you can do to make the lives of the fat people in your life, whether nearby or at the edges, easier. How can you be an ally?
You can make sure that there are big, armless chairs or benches in the places where you work. If you go into a waiting room where there are only smallish chairs with arms, you might say something gentle to your provider. Perhaps, “Have you thought of having some other seating available in your waiting room? I know that my larger friends would have trouble with just that one kind of chair.”
You can consider, when making dinner dates with fat people, whether the chairs in the restaurant have arms or whether the booths have tables that move. You can do that labor so your fat friends don’t have to.
You can begin to decouple thinness from health. They are not the same thing. There are healthy fat people, unhealthy thin people, unhealthy fat people, healthy thin people… and ALL of us, no matter our health status or how it came to be, deserve the respect due all fellow humans of worth and dignity. No one owes you their health.
And say so. When people say they’re going on restrictive diets for their health, learn how to challenge that idea. Do some research. Learn about Health at Every Size; become an ally.
Furthermore, fat people know we’re fat and that there are ways that make our lives difficult. Please stop telling us, no matter how “worried” you are for our health.
And a final, oh-so-important admonition for all of us—especially those of us who spend time with children–please be kind to yourself about your own body. The number one indicator of the kinds of weight bias that lead to eating disorders in children is how their parents talk about themselves and other people where bodies are concerned.
Be kind, loves, be kind. Allies, fat people, everyone, be kind. My brother is fond of saying that he has never regretted being kind. Remember that you, too, are worth the freedom of kindness.
Be kind to you. You–you in the body you have now, whether it is considered an occasion for privilege or oppression–are worth kindness.
Even now, even today, when you didn’t wear, because you felt self-conscious about wearing them, sleeveless tops and shorts this summer.
You are worth kindness.
Even now, even today, when you know that you have already been unkind about yourself, your children, and other people.
You are worth kindness.
Even now, even today, when you remember bullying fat children or sitting idly as they were bullied. Or as you remember the bullying you endured (fat children are bullied more than any other group in schools). Especially when you remember these things. Especially when you need forgiveness or tenderness.
You are worth kindness, my loves.
P.S. Here’s the article again. Please read. (https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/everything-you-know-about-obesity-is-wrong/)