The truth about fat, and how to stop fearing it!
Here’s the deal. We wouldn’t all be trying so hard to get skinny if it hadn’t been shoved down our throats to fear getting fat. To fear the less happy, less successful, less fun life that results out of being considered thin and beautiful.
But how do we fear something that our body genuinely needs to have to survive? How do we get over worrying about having more body fat than is considered ideal?
For me, it started with educating myself on why my body needed fat, opening my eyes to see just how fat people have been portrayed throughout our culture and separating my worthiness from my body. So today I want to share some facts and insights on each of those topics in hopes of helping you begin to see fat as an inanimate object our body needs and not something to be feared or judged.
Why do we need fat?
Great source of energy! Our body uses the fat we eat and the fat in our bodies to provide the energy for most of our life-functions.
Stores our energy! Extra calories that we consume but do not need to use immediately are stored for later use in the fat cells of our bodies.
We eat essential fatty acids! Fatty acids found in things like salmon, avocados and olive oil are essential for growth development and cell functions and cannot be made by our body.
Helps our nerves & brain function! Fats are a important part of the nerve cells that send messages to our brain which contains large amounts of essential fats.
Maintains healthy skin and other tissues! All the cells of our body need to contain some fat because they are essential to the cell membranes, which controls what goes in and out of our cells
Transporting minerals & nutrients! Fat in our body helps transport fat-soluble vitamins like A, D E and K through our bloodstream to where they are needed.
Fat is necessary to survive. Eating fat and having fat on your body is a natural part of life. The only reason you currently see it as a negative is because society has told you it is. But it hasn’t always been that way! Being fat used to mean you were wealthy and had enough food to eat. Now with a plethora of food available we see being fat as a lack of self-control and laziness.
How fat & fat people are portrayed in culture:
Whether you realize it or not, both in subliminal ways and overtly we have been taught how to perceive fat people. You might believe that the way you see people is of your own creating but the likelihood is that it has been formed over years of consuming ads, TV shows, movies, magazines, books and conversations.
Here are the main way fat people are portrayed in culture:
the before version
We see this time and time again and wonder why we fear being seen as fat. Isn’t the answer obvious? The reality is, being fat is neutral. It should mean nothing about how you are accepted, loved and treated. It should have no weight on being seen as attractive, smart, happy or successful. But currently we give fat morality which means we either see it as good or bad. Until we realize that people come in all shapes and sizes for all sorts of reasons and one is no better than the other we will go on fearing being fat or becoming fat.
In a study done by the National Institute of Health reviewing prime time TV 1999-2000, found that…
1 in 4 women in reality are considered obese, the television figure was 3 in 100; whereas 5% of all women in reality are underweight, nearly 1 in 3 portrayed on television were underweight. More generally, half of women in reality are average or underweight, as compared with 87% of television women.
The conclusion of their study found that…
Overweight and obese television characters are associated with specific negative characteristics. Overweight and obese females were less likely to be considered attractive, to interact with romantic partners, or to display physical affection.
Monica on Friends: This “before” version of Monica is typically brought in for comic relief and to compare how much she’s changed and how “far she’s come.” She is typically used for jokes and has a fat dance she does while eating.
Ryan Reynolds in Just Friends: Again another “before” version of someone showing that when they were fat they were just the friend and the side kick but now that he is thin and fit he is considered hot and dateable. This story line seems to be easy for both men and women and a surface level transformation boiling someones ability to be seen as more than a funny friend down to their weight.
Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect: Though I appreciate that this character was not portrayed by a thin person in a fat suit and that she is comfortable embracing her body, I challenge the idea that she is defying odds. She is still very much so the comic relief character and makes constant food references and has no interest in exercise. Though there is nothing wrong with any of these things, again this is typical for a fat character and again undermines that they could be more than that.
Here’s the deal, I do like these shows and movies, I’m just here to point out a common theme that we all seem to accept and then wonder why we focus so much on weight loss and being thin. Not only are shows and movies portraying fat people in a more negative light (or not at all) but they also tend to choose a very similar build of the females they cast as their leading stars.
Here is the cast of a few of some of the popular shows that have been on (and ones I liked and watched myself).
The reality is, we are absorbing these messages whether we mean to or not. Whether they comment on their bodies or the bodies of others, there are still messages being sent. Messages of what beauty is. Messages of what worthiness is. Messages of how to be seen as popular and happy.
We soak all of this up, for years and years and some day when we step back we wonder why we never feel good enough. And that leads me to my final point of separating your worthiness from your body.
separating your worthiness from your body
Knowledge is powerful. Taking off the blinders is one of the first steps towards reclaiming your ability to navigate through all the negative and manipulative marketing. I still hear and see fat-shaming but I am able to see it for what it is. I still hear and see ads geared towards making me feel like I’d be happier if I lost 10 lbs but they no longer cause me to act. I still see other women who have the bodies I always dreamed of having but they no longer (most of the time if I’m being completely honest) send me into a downward spiral of comparison and jealousy.
It has taken a lot of work and time to undo the damage that I didn’t even know was being done. But you’re already arming yourself with the knowledge it will take to get you started too. Seeing fat for what it is and seeing how you’ve been tricked all this time, finally allows you to start having some autonomy around your body and your weight. It allows you to start looking at yourself and your actions through a different lens. It starts making the “why” a little harder to answer if you aren’t willing to go deeper.
Our world will constantly be changing the standard of beauty and happiness. It will constantly be adapting and changing it’s mind. Allowing yourself to no longer be tugged every which way, depending on the flavor of the month gives you the freedom to confidently stand in your power and embrace your uniqueness.
You are more than your body. You are more than your appearance. Stop settling for being seen and judged as only that aspect of yourself. Dig in to the parts of you that you are proud of. Dig in to the parts of you that separate you from others. Dig into parts of you that are unique to you. Soon, your appearance ultimately won’t matter because you will be seen for so much more.
There is nothing wrong with being thin or fat, ugly or pretty, tall or short, rich or poor…what’s wrong is believing that those things will define you and bring you joy. They might make life a little easier or a little harder but they don’t have to define who you are and how you show up in the world.
It’s time to show up and demand more of this world. It’s time to stop defining yourself by something so trivial and fearing something so necessary. Be more than the fat on your body and the fat you eat.
If you want to hear more about “The F Word you Should be Saying” check out episode 2 of my Worth More Podcast!