Body Love: J is for Jolly
There are so many assumptions about people with different body shapes. If you are a beautiful woman with huge breasts, people assume you are sexual. And if you are skinny, people might assume that you are either healthy, or suffer from an eating disorder. Short people are expected to be cute in their behaviour, masculine looking men are assumed to be aggressive. And fat people? Well, we are expected to be unhealthy and miserable because of our weight, and paradoxically, also constantly jolly and funny.
I dislike stereotypes and assumptions. They are hurtful. But not only that: eventually we start to internalize them and feel like they are true. So we either try to fit the stereotype because we feel it is an expectation, or we start assuming of ourselves that we are all those things. I for one have definitely internalized all those assumptions about fat people, and often hate myself for being unhealthy, lazy, unable to lose weight and being miserable about my body shape.
I don’t make those stereotypes up, you can find them everywhere: in movies, in books, in the media, in Facebook comments on pictures of overweight people. They are everywhere. A fat person should hate their body. A fat person should feel miserable about their body. It is the fat person’s fault if they are fat, they are just too lazy and have no control over what they put into their mouths. And I start feeling that those things are true about myself, and I hate my body shape, and blame myself for it.
And then there is this assumption that we are all jolly and funny. That we can take the jokes about our weight, that we love to joke about it. We are not supposed to whine and talk about our health, or our weight, nope: we are expected to be happy jolly people. Smiling and always in a good mood. I mean, we can’t impress anyone with the way we look, so we better impress people by being positive people and pleasant company.
Jolly and Miserable
I am definitely someone who likes to joke around. At school I was the classclown. And I definitely laughed when others bullied me for being fat, because laughing with them at least made them stop faster. But was I happy? No. I just thought that I was never enough because I was fat. I got told that all the time, so it had to be true. So I didn’t want to complain about being called things, because it was my own fault to be fat. Apparently.
And I hated myself for having a fat and ugly body. I blamed myself so much for it. I didn’t think of genetics, I didn’t know about my PCOS yet. And I was silently miserable with my body, just as people assumed. But I am wondering: if no one would have judged me for my body shape, would I have really hated it as much? I think I would have had a pretty decent chance to learn to love my body. But that was taken away from me. Stereotypes and assumptions had at that point, in my teens, shaped my body image.
I held onto that body image, and the stereotypes following with it, for many years. I didn’t speak up when someone told a fat joke about me. Instead, I laughed with them. I was the pleasant fat person who didn’t share her body misery with others. For a while, I managed to lose a lot of weight. But it didn’t matter, I still felt like the fat person. I still hated my body. It was then I realized that all those miserable thoughts, all that hatred, were assumptions that I had internalized.
I am often stuck with just that awareness, without doing anything about it. I might not get bullied as much about my weight (which I gained again because of meds and additional illnesses, by the way, and not lack of exercise or overeating), but I get back-handed compliments. And they hurt too. And then I am there again: I think people are right. I am fat because I am lazy and I have no self-control. My body is unwanted and unlovable. I am unhealthy. I am not allowed to talk about my body hatred, I need to smile it all away.
Here is the thing though: I don’t fit most of those stereotypes at all. I am not lazy. I walk almost every day. Sure, I might not exercise as much as I used to. But that is down to additional health problems, not because I wouldn’t want to. I exercise the way I can exercise.
I don’t overeat. As a matter of fact, I eat healthier than the average person. And I am a vegetarian. I eat a low carb diet. I have not had fries, chips, milk chocolate or a real pizza in many years. My illnesses (that are not caused by my overweight) limit what I can eat, and how much. I often don’t even eat 1000 calories a day, because I can’t due to my IBS. And I don’t drink. I don’t take drugs. So I live as healthily as I can.
I have illnesses that cause overweight: PCOS and Hashimoto’s. And I took medication that causes overweight. And even my diabetes is not caused by my overweight but by genetics (both of my parents are diabetic) and an insulin resistance. I don’t have a single illness that is caused by fatness. I have no pain in my body because of it.
But still, I am smiling. I am smiling to not talk about how much I hate being hurt because I am fat. I smile because I feel it is not appropriate to whine about that I’d like to be thinner. Because deep inside I think: maybe I could exercise more, maybe I shouldn’t have taken those medications, maybe I could cut down my calorie intake even more. I have internalized the assumptions.
In the best of worlds, I’d ignore all the assumptions, and stopped blaming myself fot my body shape. I would not even need to point any fingers at different reasons for the why of my overweight, because does it have to be a bad thing? Why can’t I just be okay with my shape and learn to love my body instead?
I am doing the A to Z challenge during the month of April. My theme is Body Love. So you will get 26 posts from me, following the alphabet, related to the topic body love. You can check out more about the to A to Z challenge by clicking on the banner. You can find a list of sexbloggers participating in the challenge on Mrs Fever’s site.