By Lo Denmon
Several years ago on New Year’s Eve, I started a tradition with a dear friend to list the things we wanted to be cognizant of for the next year. Some people might call them “resolutions,” but those get a pretty bad rap in the public eye. I, for one, am not especially interested in traditional resolutions because they seem to maintain an overarching theme that fatness is bad and every action of the new year should be dedicated to becoming less fat. But I always find that these resolutions are impossible to stick to because they aren’t healthy habits. They are put in place to avoid being shamed and rejected by other people, as if living up to someone else’s expectation of attractiveness will allow you to be happy or comfortable living in the body you’ve got. So I’m sharing with you some of my New Year’s Resolutions, the hobbies I’d like to explore and habits I’d like to develop for a happier, healthier (still fat) me.
1.) I will eat whatever I want, in public places, without worrying what other people think. Everyone needs to consume food everyday. There’s no way around it. But I refuse to justify my caloric intake with statements like “It’s cheat day!” or “Well, I’m eating a salad, so it’s healthy.” Nope. It’s my body, and they’re my choices, and I’m going to eat what makes me feel good. Invasive thoughts about how others who see me eating, as a fat person, do nothing to bolster my self esteem or make me feel good about myself, and they have zero frame of reference for my personal circumstances. Can you imagine being so restricted in your day to day life that you feel obligated to eat based on what other people perceive you as deserving? It’s ludicrous to live by someone else’s expectations. Whose expectations are they expected to live by? It’s okay to eat fast food. It’s okay to choose to eat salads. It’s perfectly acceptable to recognize that certain foods make you feel perky and others make you feel sluggish and you can eat whatever you choose.
2.) I will be photographed with a fat body. I will send snapchats with a double chin. I will Instagram photos of me out doing things. Do you know the angle I have to orchestrate to avoid having a double chin in photos? If I constantly presented myself to others with that upward turned face with a stretched out neck, my friends would never see my face. They just aren’t that tall. But they’ve all seen my face in person. They know what it looks like. My double chin on snapchat will not be much different from what they see in real life, and because they are not infants, they have grasped the concept of object permanence and know that my face is not miraculously going to change just because of a few angles.
3.) I will buy a kayak and go hiking. You will not find me in a gym. You won’t find a lot of people in gyms come February. I think that gyms are intimidating and miserable for fat people. It’s not that gyms are inherently bad, but they can cause a lot of people, myself included, to leave feeling worse than when they entered. You get caught in this vicious loop where gym rats are either angry that you’re fat and in their gym (presumably to lose weight, which might appease them) or you’re fat and not in a gym and thus not losing weight. And then there’s that thing about being the star of an amateur filmmaker’s snapchat movie about being fat in a gym. (Not that being fat on social media is horrible – See #2 – but that’s some unnecessary antagonistic behavior that most people would call bullying.) Gyms are miserable for me because “working out” is miserable for me. Aside from the intimidating and unwelcoming environment, gyms don’t make for good habits for some people because they aren’t mentally stimulating and folks go with the intention of only losing weight. I see gyms as a punishment for not measuring up. A better way to approach this goal is to develop a sustainable and meaningful habit. Go outdoors and explore the world. Engage with the environment you exist in. Exercise your body in new ways for the sake of exploration and feeling better about your body. No matter your size, your body is capable of propelling yourself. Barring some issue with accessibility, your arms are strong enough to propel a watercraft with a paddle, no matter the pace. Your legs can carry you across wooded trails, regardless of how much time it takes you. It’s completely acceptable to move your body and feel good about how much you are capable of doing. In the process, you will probably lose weight, but you might also learn that you don’t need to lose weight to be happy and comfortable in your body as it is.
It’s important to recognize that these are not simply body positive resolutions. These are fat positive New Year’s Resolutions. These resolutions speak to the way that fat bodies exist in the world, and that they deserve to exist as they are. It’s acceptable to have fat on your body and continue living and existing.