Fat, Fat, Fat

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The first time I called someone fat, I was 7 or 8. I have no memory of what caused those words to come out. But I remember the spiral of intense sadness that followed them. I remember the diets, the binges, the sudden realization that I must be forever skinny. I don't know if the woman I said those words to remembers that day. But sometimes I sit here late at night and wondered if that was one of the moments our relationship started to change. One of the things I hate hearing the most is "Oh you've lost weight, you look great." It's usually given to me a few weeks after someone I know has been told, I've been working out again. I've tonned up and am showing confidence in my skin. They mean it as a compliment, but they have the opposite effect. Did I not look amazing before? And if that's how I take those words, meant in kindness, how did "You're fat" affect her self-esteem?

I have very few regrets in my life. In fact I can think of two. This would be one of them. Saying "You're fat" and watching tears of shame roll down her face will always stay with me. For years afterwards I did my best to build this woman up. I gave her every ounce of my life, trying to be the support system she needed to stick to the latest diet or excercise plan.

And one day I got tired. I was in my own rut and couldn't hold another person up. When my rut was not important enough to be acknowledged, I figured what the hell. Why I am trying to fix her self-esteem? How can I be any good at that when I don't even believe in myself.

The realization of this lead to my tattoo a year later. The other day I found this poem shared at the end of this and it really resonated with me. We teach girls to be fat. We teach women to be ashamed of their bodies. These pictures were not easy to post, but they are my body and it is who I am. I took these back in January at the beginning of my 122 Day of Yoga. I'll be doing a Workout Update soon, maybe with pictures maybe not. But why are we not taught to learn our bodies?

Fat, Fat, Fat
Dear Mom,

I was seven when I found out you were fat.

I never knew it before.

But then one day, I knew it,
and then I couldn't un-know it anymore.

I knew you were fat, because you said so.
I knew you were fat, because you never lied.
I knew you were fat because I heard you say it to yourself as you looked in the mirror.

Before that day, I never knew your breasts were fat.
All I knew was that they were where I went to rest my head.
Billowing pillows of flesh designed to wipe off my tears and choke back my sobs.
They were where I listened to your voice, sing-song, story, sweet, scary voice.
They were the portal to your heart-beat, the very tempo that put me to sleep.
They were the ocean that heaved me up and down on the ebbs and flows of your breath.
They were my home, my salvation, my rescue.
Until that day, the day I learned that your breasts were fat.

Before that day, I never knew your thighs were fat.
All I knew was that your thighs stood straight and strong under the skirt that I hid behind.
The swinging, summer, swishy kind of skirt.
The kind of skirt that women wore.
The kind of skirt that I pretended to wear when I played grown up.
Until that day, the day I learned that that skirt meant fat.
And that it hid thighs that were fat.

Before that day, I never knew your stomach was fat.
That was the stomach that had encased me for nine months, wrapped me in a warm womb of watery heaven, held me suspended in not-yet-life and gave me the very air that I breathed.
Until that day, the silver lines that were etched across your skin were the tether rope that I traced to remember where I came from, the trail of breadcrumbs leading me back to safety, the tracks that told the story of my birth.
That day, I learned that those too, were fat.

FAT, FAT, FAT, the word itself was like an umbilical guillotine, an ominous rope around my neck, a death sentence waiting to happen.
A fat sentence.

FAT, FAT, FAT, is there a worse thing for a woman than that?

FAT, you said to the mirror.
FAT, she said back.
FAT, FAT, FAT.
Nothing worse than that.

I was seven when I found out that you were fat.

I was seven when I found out that one day I would be fat too.

Because you said so.

By EM Richter (if someone has a link to her work, please let me know)

If you would like to see the rest of the images from this photo shoot let me know. Please be kind in your comments.