Exactly ten years ago, Pete, one of my childhood besties asked me to dinner, saying he had something important on his mind he wanted to share. I knew he was going to tell me he was gay. Growing up, our little band of misfits always knew he was, didn’t care one bit and loved him wholeheartedly. He, on the other hand, didn’t know for a long time. Well, it wasn’t really about knowing. It was more about accepting. He knew he was gay, but he couldn’t accept that, for reasons out of his control, he was something he never, ever wanted to be. How do you accept that you are naturally something you abhor, and that no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to change? How do you overcome the internal shame? And then the external – friends, family and community? It took Pete a long time, longer than many, to reconcile his mind with his heart. His journey of acceptance started off surrounded by strangers with whom he had nothing to lose. Eventually, he was able to embrace life as his truest self and, slowly but surely, confide in even those he was most afraid to disappoint. And, to his surprise, once he owned his truth, most everyone embraced him with love and support. His life had been filled with pain and struggle, but owning his truth transformed it to rewarding and fulfilling. And now, ten years later, he is flourishing! Recently, I was given the opportunity to blog for, Fattitude the Movie. As I thought of topics that would inspire others, I started to feel like a hypocrite. Like Pete, there was one aspect of the true me that I had abhorred for most of my life. I had spent years trying to change it, to no avail. As of late, however, with the help of strangers with whom I had nothing to lose, I’d begun a life-changing process to embrace the real me. That’s all well and good. But, as of yet, I haven’t admitted my secret to friends and family. I’m at a crossroads. Do I bare it all to you, the reader, and hope that no one in my personal circle finds out? No. I cannot write about loving all of yourself if I’m holding back in my own life. Pete had the courage to not only accept himself, but to request that others did, as well. So today, with him as my inspiration, I am going to do the same. Sure, I’m afraid of the fallout. But I’m also excited to see what comes of finally saying my secret out loud. There’s no turning back now. Here it goes . . . I am fat. Gosh. It feels a little anti-climatic. My shameful truth (that probably isn’t shameful to anyone but me) has only 6 letters. Should I underline them or make them bold for more impact? I am fat. I am fat. I am fat. I AM FAT! Huh. Still not as dramatic as I thought it would be. Why has it has taken me years of really hard work to be able to say them? How about this? I am hereby declaring that I am fat, beautiful, important, and lovable, just exactly how I am! Yep! That’s it. Now I’m OWNING it! It isn’t that my friends and family didn’t know before today that I’m fat. Duh! But I worried about allowing for a dialogue with them about my body because I feared they would shame me, blame me, tell me I should have tried harder or just be incapable of understanding that, as I have come to learn, bodies come in all shapes and sizes and, more importantly, my worth comes from inside of me, not from the outside. Declaring my fatness today marks my official shift from knowing I’m fat to accepting I’m fat. Of course, acceptance is layered. Some days I have it, some days I don’t. Staying connected to the feminist and fat activist movements and learning from women like Substantia Jones, Golda Schein, Virgie Tovar, Amanda Trusty, Ragen Chastain, Jeanette DePatie, Linda Bacon, Evelyn Tribole, Elyse Resch, Tess Holliday, Traci Mann, Isabel Foxen Duke, my incredible doctor, Karen Coshow, and, of course, Lindsey Averill and Viri Lieberman, helps sustain me, especially in harder moments, because if I forget for a minute that I can simultaneously be fat and exceptional, all of these women will remind me that I deserve greatness at any size. So there you have it. I’m fat, I’m mostly good with it, and now I’m all in. I know I will be met with the same love and support Pete encountered when he came out. I look forward to seeing all the ways in which my truth will set me free and allow me to flourish!
*This blog post is the opinion of a particular Fattitude intern – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.