Can we talk about the f word for a minute?
FAT...I don't know many humans in my life that this one word hasn't had an impact on in one form or another. Be it a friend, family member, co-worker or that person who looks back at us in the mirror. It's a word that we use to describe people; and some may even say unintentionally define our own or other's worthiness in a certain context.
As a stylist working in a salon for the last 20 years with nowhere to look but into a mirror, I hear lots of self loathing and hatred spoken and I see how we put limits on ourselves, an upsetting amount of times a day, because of the perception we have of ourselves...
Typically its talk about a "new" unsustainable diet, like someone's just discovered the final solution to their misery. Too many have said the following while sitting at my styling chair:
"I'll get that short haircut after I lose another 20 pounds."
"My face is so fat."
"Oh I wish I could wear that vibrant color but I'm too big and I wouldn't want to call too much attention to myself."
"When I get rid of these 20 extra pounds I'm going to *insert any activity literally almost any size body is capable of*."
"Oh, 2 more sizes to go down and I can finally wear my "skinny jeans"." (Like it's some fantastic life changing event)
And then there's my all time personal family favorite that really molded my perception of myself... "she would be so pretty and much healthier if she took that extra weight off..."
That F-word can hit you like a brick and sometimes not much less painful, a word that's treated like a curse to mankind, a swear word of sorts. We have been so conditioned to take offense when it's used to describe someone we love. Almost instinctually we understand this to be a word you may not want yourself associated with.
This has been my prison and I am not alone, actually, I am in rather good company, in fact.
It's 2013, and into my life rolls Derby. I'm a 30-something, single-mom and stressed-out business owner. 6-feet "too" tall, 250 pounds "too" fat, self esteem in the toilet, in a tanking relationship with a narcissist, and I'm looking for something, anything that could rescue "me" from "myself".
I found a bout advertised online, ventured out solo on a recon mission and, Oh. My. God... NEVER have I witnessed a big woman admired for size, until then. NEVER had I seen so many shapes and sizes fitting together so perfectly all with purpose, until now. NEVER would I have thought of someone that looks kinda like me as an athlete, until now. When I tell you that day changed my life I cannot say it with any more truth or honesty, I joined that League the following week and with eyes closed and both feet, I jumped!
It has not been easy in any sense. When I committed to something as unconventional as what derby is, and what it requires from a person, it definitely became one of the biggest physical, emotional and mental challenges of fortitude in my life outside of raising my daughter. Ultimately, over these last few years, this sport has slowly given me permission to own my body in it's various fluctuating forms and the space I take up, unapologetically. It has allowed me to not cringe every single time I see a photo of myself. It has forced me to look at my body in ways that were incomprehensible before. All of the parts of me I so badly tried to shrink through starvation and self-destruction.
I am beginning to see value in the positive reinforcement from my teammates and coaches. Woah. What? Slowly and surely that "F-word" is going to stop haunting me because although my body is in fact bigger than most others, it's just as healthy and probably more active than most and it's also stronger, more powerful, more capable, faster and more flexible than I ever gave it credit for.
For so long I've been dwelling on what I thought this one little word meant and how we perceive its meaning. It followed me through life like a dark cloud making me completely oblivious to all the other amazing things this body was about and the fact that even though I don't always love it others do. I know this is not just my story.
I know there are others out there subconsciously waiting for permission to do the things they tell themselves they can't because of that one little f-word. The more all of us talk about this and the more we dig into its perceived meaning, the less power this word has over us and this is why I believe it's important to include FAT with all the other Strong Athletic words.