We girls talk about fat a lot. A lot a lot. Like, a ridiculous amount of the time. We obsess about body parts every time we dress or undress. We say mean things as we grab our bellies (or butts or whatever). We (bizarrely) use our body hatred to bond with other women. (This bit is especially fucked up.) We spend a whole lot of internal and external energy trying to take up less space in the world. (Again, a pretty sad thing, when you stop to think about it.) In fact, if women spent 1/10 of the energy we spent criticizing and hating our bodies into changing the world into something better, I'd be willing to bet the world would be changing a hell of a lot faster than it is.
Even those of us who like to think we are immune to fat phobia (that is, a fear and hatred of fat and fat people), myself included here; whjo are fairly media-savvy, politically aware, cultural discourse busting, kick-ass-take-no-prisoners-hello-world-here-I-am feministy kinda girls get angsty over this body business. Take me for example. I wrote a rather lengthy (and clever, if I do say so myself) master's thesis deconstructing the body hating and fat phobic culture that we live in. (In fact, it was so clever that I myself no longer understand many of the theories I was working with, because motherhood has apparently rendered me brain-dead. Sigh. I digress). My point being - I really do understand all of the external cultural forces and all of the money that go into making women hate themselves. I wrote 256 pages of snappy postmodern theory about it. Yet I still feel crappy about my body. I know that I am totally losing my feminist street cred here. (Insert self-scolding, hand slapping "I am a bad, bad feminist" here).
Funnily (or not so funnily, as it were) enough, in the past few years I've been thinner than I've been for most of my life, and the thinner I am, the WORSE I feel about myself. How fucked up is that? Even more fucked up? I've caught myself talking negatively about my body in front of my kids. (And I know I'm not the only one here.) YOWZA. This is a serious no-no. The no-no of all no-nos. I really don't want my daughter learning that it's normal to hate her body. I don't want my son growing up thinking that either, or thinking that it's okay to judge people by the size or shape of their body. I really, really don't want your kids teaching mine how to hate themselves, go on a diet, or purge up their wheeties, either. Just putting that out there. (You don't even want to get me started on the people who put their own kids on diets. Them, me and a back alley, baby.)
Now you may be reading this thinking, "ooohhh - but fat is so unhealthy!" And to this I shout a resounding "HORSESHIT!" The "unhealthy" is the trump card that gets used to justify hating and ridiculing ourselves, and worse still, hating and ridiculing others. Fat or thin is not what makes a person healthy. Health is about treating our bodies well. Exercising. Eating some greens every once in awhile. Being kind to ourselves. Laughing a little. Or better yet a lot. These are things we can do at ALL sizes, and without talking/thinking shit about ourselves (and each other).
Which brings me to my project. I've got this glass jar, ready and sitting on my kitchen counter. And for the whole month of October, every time I say, or even think something fat-phobic and negative about my body, I'm going to throw in a loonie of my wife's hard earned money (and yes I mean that sarcastically people. My feminist cred isn't THAT bad). And if I catch myself saying anything even remotely body conscious in front of my kids, I'm dropping in a toonie (because did I mention that's seriously wrong?!). And at the end of October, I'm going to count up that money and write a cheque in said amount to the Edmonton Food Bank (I think there's a certain symmetry there, no?). I'll report back in November and let anyone who cares to know how I did.,
So let's put our money where our mouths are, so to speak. If you feel so inclined, join me. Grab an old jam jar, pick a "pet" social service (in our current economy, which gives our conservative governments lovely excuses to cut funding to all kinds of vital social services, there are a plethora of areas in dire need of our "mouth-money"), and we can be project October buddies. At the end of the month, hopefully, we'll have a reality check about how often we talk shit about ourselves. We'll have a greater awareness about what we say in front of our tots and what impact that might have in the long run. And we'll do a little good in our community at the same time.
And who knows, maybe in the end, we'll all feel a bit lighter.