In my last post I mentioned that I rarely spend money on myself but for this challenge I have. That’s actually kind of a big deal for me. When I spend money on things I want, and sometimes even on things I need, I feel selfish and indulgent. Intellectually I understand that isn’t true (or perhaps more accurately, it is true but it’s okay to be selfish and indulgent once in a while). But knowing and feeling aren’t often the same thing. So, it was with a lot of anxiety that I bought some things…
A guide book, some comfortable clothes for walking, headbands, a backpack with a water bladder for the longer walks, and some money set aside for new shoes as soon as I get to a store with people to help me find the right pair for my needs. Not much (but still a significant amount of $$ for our budget minded family) and yet I’m feeling the need to justify these purchases, to reassure myself that it’s worth the money I’m spending. And one of my justifications is giving me pause.
When I’m being completely honest with myself I acknowledge that little voice in the back of my mind that is patting me on the back for being a “good fatty”. For those not familiar with that term it boils down to this… A lot of people are raising their voices to promote size acceptance and some of those people like to break down the stereotypes that fat people are lazy, have difficulty with physical activity, aren’t athletic, have high blood pressure and cholesterol, etc. It’s an important message but has created a bit of backlash because now some people think that overweight people are worthy of acceptance only if they defy these stereotypes. A recent viral blog post (which I’m not linking because it doesn’t deserve it) was supposed to be inspirational but was really very condescending in this manner. The thin runner was “proud” and “inspired” by the fat runner, upon whom they heaped heavy doses of stereotypes. This went viral because other thin people couldn’t understand why I person of size wouldn’t be flattered to be complimented on being considered good and worthy of admiration by people who are obviously superior. (No one says this outright but it’s in the subtext; kind of the way some men are flabbergasted when women aren’t flattered by catcalls or some white people still think articulate is a compliment.)
So, you can see why it bothers me, a loud proponent of size acceptance, to find myself feeling proud of being “good” in the eyes of other people. Yes, I’m excited about this challenge and have a lot of sound reasons to be proud of myself but there’s also a tiny little part of me that is proud for a really dark reason. That dark little part was one of the reasons that made me feel better about spending money on myself. Not because it made me happy, would improve my health, would help me have more joy (which are ALL true) but because other people would see me being a good fatty. Ugh.
And then I remember, as my angsty teen self learned so long ago, that I am not a toaster. I’m not just one thing. I am a confident person who is accepting of myself and my body. I am also a person who lives in this world full of size stereotypes and has faced discrimination and judgement as a result. And I have feelings and thoughts that reflect both of those (and a multitude of other things). And true self acceptance is acknowledging those dark corners of yourself without judgement. I see that this is something that is still an issue for me, that I still have some work to do. But then I remember how far I’ve come in this journey and I know that darkness is a part of me but it is not all of me.
So, I lace up my old walking shoes, put on my new clothes and walk. A little bit in the interest of being “good” and “worthy” but mostly because it feels good and makes me happy. And I am definitely worth that.