This article originally appeared on Ravishly.com
Can you be fat AND fit? Better yet, can you be a fat, body lovin, accept your lines and curves and stretchmarks, #effyourbeautystandards ACTIVIST, and be fit? Many people will say no, that working out is just pandering to societies need to make fat people more acceptable and pleasing to the eye, and so by working out and “being fit”, you’re just caving to the patriarchal media standards, and thus betraying and abandoning your fellow fat folks by becoming one of “them”.
You know what I say to that?
#EFFYOURFATFOLKSSTANDARDS #EFFYOURSKINNYFOLKSSTANDARDS #EFF. #YOUR. #STANDARDS.
Yup. I said that. And ya might hate me for it. Ya might call me a double crossing, fake fattie bitch. And I’m okay with that. I really am. But this “being okay with that” is a very, very new thing. I love my body because I’ve learned to accept my body for all the wonderful things it can do. It made a human. It blesses me with fabulous, mind blowing orgasms. It walks and hugs and kisses, and stretches and does all these things that make me feel like a million bath bombs - bubbly and alive. I owe much of this transformation to Portland Fashion Week 2013, and 2014 when I happened upon Jes Baker and the body love movement. I thought I’d died and gone to fat girl heaven, and Jes was sweet baby Jesus. Like I’d touched the hem of her adorable circle skirt and seen the light! Hallelujah! I was fully baptized in the church of radical self love. The congregation, full of fatties, skinnies, and in betweenies, welcomed me with open arms and said “Be yourself here - we love you just as you are, and we always will”. It was amazing. A place I found validation in, simply for being a breathing, functioning human being. If you can be on fire for God (or whomever/whatever you believe in), you can be on fire for body love and acceptance, and I have been a flaming lunatic for it since 2014.
But when I started working out I struggled like a sorority girl in church after a saturday night hook up. Don’t make that face. The struggle is real. I mean, here I am, screaming “Love the skin you’re in!” and “Be confident - you’re beautiful just as you are, and you’re worthy of love!” and I take up cycling and working out with a trainer, which will essentially change my body. Nobody would care that I was working out so that I could be a better burlesque performer. Nobody would be interested in knowing that I was very concerned about hurting my back while transporting my child who is unable to walk, so I needed to strengthen my body. Nobody would care about any of that. They would just see a woman who was faking the funk. What. The Fat. Fuck? Every horrible thought ran through my head:
1. Am I betraying the women and young girls who have told me that I’m an inspiration to them because of my body confidence?
Answer: I don’t know the answer for sure, but my gut says no. There will be (as there have already been) those who question my motives, and assume that I’m doing it to be more “socially acceptable”, but I think for the most part it will serve to remind people that you can be fit AND fat, and that one does not negate the other.
2. Does my working out and deciding to get fit mean that I don’t love my body, and I’m not confident?
Answer: Nope. My body confidence will always be my body confidence. But my ability to shake my ass relentlessly on stage withouth going into cardiac arrest because I’m fit AND fat will improve. And I shake and shimmy for those women and young girls, to let them know that they too can be as fly as they wanna be, fat or not. Also...I’m a grown ass woman. And in the words of Queen Bey, “I do what-ever I want”.
3. Will I become neurotically obsessed with the scale and want to off myself when it doesn’t move for 2 weeks?
Answer: Real talk. As much as I would love to say that it never happened, and I’m immune to the numbers, it just ain’t true. I fell prey to the damn scale for a hot minute and found myself a snack pack away from avoiding lunch AND dinner, just to watch the numbers slide. The struggle is real y’all and I’m human.
4. Can I be a body positive/body acceptance activist who also works out?
Answer: Tess Holliday (Munster), Meghan Tonjes, Louise Deane Green, Ashley Graham, Whitney Way Thore. FUCK.YES.I.CAN. Being a body positive/body acceptance activist means that regardless of WHAT shape my body takes at any given point and time in my life, I love it. I am kind to it. I remember that it has the right to love and adoration, first from myself, and then from my man. I remember that all bodies, those bigger than and those smaller than mine are entitled to the same, and they are no better or worse than my own. We all have beautiful, lovely bodies that allow us to do a plethora of unique things that can never be summed up in the numbers or letters on our clothing tags. Being fit can never change that.
In a nod to the fabulous Tess Holliday, #EFFYOURFATFOLKSSTANDARDS. I’m fit. I’m fat. And I’m fly as fuck.