Recently I watched the first three episodes of My Big Fat Fabulous Life. For those not familiar with the reality show on TLC, it follows 30-year-old Whitney Way Thore who first gained popularity (no pun intended) about a year ago after posting a series of videos of herself joyfully dancing. I loved the Fat Girl Dancing videos and the message she promoted on her No Body Shame Campaign page as well as with appearances on programs like Good Morning America and The Steve Harvey Show: “Love Yourself. Live Fully. No Excuses. No Shame.” As far as I understood, Whitney’s message applied to everyone regardless of weight or health status. When I first heard about her reality show I thought, “Great! Finally a show about a woman who loves herself exactly as she is and doesn’t feel the need make excuses for her body or lose weight to show the world that fat bodies are awesome!”. I should have known better.
Cut to present day and the episodes thus far. Whitney repeatedly explains that PCOS, or poly cystic ovarian syndrome, is the reason for her gain of about 230 pounds. Instead of using dance as a way to prove that people can do whatever they want, regardless of size, it’s become a weight loss tool.
Don’t get me wrong… if Whitney wants to lose weight it’s her body to do with it as she pleases. I subscribe to Ragen Chastain’s Underpants Rule. (https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/the-underpants-rule-and-you/)
What I don’t subscribe to is the message from My Big Fat Fabulous Life. Be a “good fatty”. Loving your body is OK so long as you’re working to make it smaller; accepting your curves is alright because you’re trying to reduce their size.
But, but, but… Whitney wants to be healthier, right? Here’s the thing, ladies and gentlemen: weight loss does not automatically result in better health. If that were the case, slender women wouldn’t have PCOS. Fat is blamed for a myriad of health problems (diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, etc) but there not one disease or issue that thin people don’t suffer from as well.
So here I am, the “bad fatty”. I love all 5 foot, 2 inches of my plush, abundant body. I don’t know my weight because I don’t step on a scale (unless my doctor needs to prescribe medication) but am likely in the mid 200’s. I have diabetes and high blood pressure and don’t know my family medical history because I’m adopted. I have a sedentary job and don’t exercise regularly. My knees ache when I walk or climb stairs. I tire easily and sometimes get out of breath.
I don’t want to lose weight. I do want to increase my activity and strengthen my knees so have started using the elliptical trainer I got as a present a few years ago. I want to reduce my blood glucose/blood pressure so am doing my best to reduce stress and eat mindfully.
I won’t deny myself the pleasures of tasty foods like a rare steak, home made cookies or pizza with extra cheese. I won’t count calories or measure portions. I won’t track my progress by the numbers on a scale or the size of my clothing. I won’t post “before/after” photos or say anything remotely like “If I can do it, so can you!”. If I do, please slap me. Seriously. I give permission to anyone who personally knows me to smack me upside the head should those words ever come out of my mouth or keyboard.
I doubt any reality show producer will come knocking on my door because I’ll continue to be the “bad fatty” and promote the message that doesn’t get heard a lot on TV: EVERY BODY deserves love, acceptance, respect and happiness regardless of size, shape, weight or health and everyone should be able to live their lives fully without shame, excuses or weight loss.