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Fat Shadows

I have struggled with my weight most of my life, and my self-worth for longer than that.  And then a few days ago I read a post over at Fat Heffalump that spoke to me.

I’m so fucking sick of people being all offended at fatness.  I am sick of people expecting fat people to hide themselves away out of public sight, never being seen at the shops, at the gym, in the workplace, on the street.  I’ve had enough of people complaining that they saw someone’s fat arse, arms, belly, thighs, whatever.  I’m tired of being told that fat people should cover our bodies, wear dark, minimising, flattering clothing.  That we shouldn’t be seen in leggings, tights, sleeveless tops, short shirts, tight jeans, swimsuits and short skirts.  I’m sick of fat people being told they should starve themselves, never eat.  I’m royally fucking fed up with being expected to hide myself away like I’m something to be ashamed of.  I’m over being hated simply because I exist in a fat body.”

It was a breath of fresh air in my fat-loathing brain.

I’ve spent a lifetime under the soul crushing shame of being this person.  There are so many opportunities I’ve missed because of this body.  I hide it, and I hide in it.  I’ve skipped dates and parties.  I’ve passed on job interviews and invitations.  If I go for a walk, it is quite likely that some kind person will try the age-old motivation technique of hurling obscenities at me from their car.  If I go to a club, I better not dance or try to have fun.  There are so many things I don’t do because I’m fat.  I don’t want to join a gym because I am not brave enough to handle being looked at that way.  You know the way.  The sidelong glances and the not so quiet titters behind polite hands.  The jokes that are told just loud enough to be overheard.  Someone please explain how that makes any sense at all.  For fuck’s sake, I’m only there because I am trying to fix that what you find wrong with me!

No matter what I do, or where I go, my fat shadow follows, casting its oversized stereotype across my life.  Do you have any idea what it is like to feel like you should be ashamed for eating, breathing, for LIVING every single time you step into public view?  Yes, I am working on my health.  I exercise.  I eat carefully and mindfully.  I dutifully drink my water and avoid temptation as much as I can.  But they don’t know that I am a work in progress.  They don’t know that I am buying this gallon of ice cream or that box of cookies for my children.  Just looking at me could never explain the heartbreak and struggles that got me to this place, this body, and so I endure the disdain and disgust.  And I am so tired of it.

I am this person.  For however long it takes me to whittle myself down to a socially acceptable number on the scale, I will be fat.  I’ve been working for the past six months toward a healthier me, not for that possibly unattainable number or for those people, but for me.  And I just can’t bear to be ashamed of myself any longer.  Here in my blog, I’ve chronicled periods of self-loathing and brief moments of acceptance of my flaws.  I’m ever evolving, a work in progress, and my thoughts, feelings and opinions reflect my mercurial nature.  I don’t know if I am brave enough but I think I’m ready to try.  I will not hide away until my body is an acceptable size.  As Fat Heffalump writes, “No more furtiveness about living life.  It’s there to be lived, and I’m going to be fatting all over it.”

At least, I’m going to try.

Filed Under: Me

13 Responses to Fat Shadows

  1. Your body is beautiful. Your soul is more than just beautiful: it is brave&sunshiny& spirited& funny& immensely creative. I love all of you, even the jiggly parts. I have my own wuite jiggly parts, too :) they neither make me who I am or take away from who I am anymore than my shadow does <3

  2. This post made me smile, for I feel the same way. My body shape used to bother me so much, especially when I was a teen. I was so self-conscious, being a big girl and all, that I missed out on a lot of things. Meeting the man that became my husband changed me so much. I don’t care what the world thinks anymore. The love of my family has made me accept myself. I am trying to lose weight for my health, and getting to buy new clothes is always a cool thing. ;D As for society, it can go jump in the lake as far as I’m concerned. Me and my jiggly bits are doing just fine!

  3. I wish I was where the two of you are at!

    I still mourn the loss of my thin self due to thyroid disease. Intolerance to synthetic medications keeps me, well, fat. It’s difficult when you know that the person you were (thin) is inside there somewhere. I’ve missed out on a lot myself in the past few years due to how much I’ve hated what my body has become. I remember what it was like before this disease. I could move easily. I can’t move as easily now. My body didn’t ache like it does now. I was a dancer and I loved it. I don’t dance anymore.

    The worst was being asked when I was due. Jokingly, I answered “oh no honey, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat.” Deep inside I was crying.

    I so wish I could be accepting of myself like you both are, and be happy to accept what I’ve become now in this day.

  4. I think you are a beautiful person inside and out. And deep down I know that my body is not me…it is just the vessel in which I travel in during this time. But in all honest Joni, you are a truly beautiful person and if people want to judge you by your looks then they will lose out on knowing a wonderful loving person. And I have to say reading your journal is starting to motivate me to get off my butt and exercise and do the right things for me…not those other people. Thanks for being you.

  5. Life is like a pack of Sharpies. Some are thin. Some are fat. All are beautiful. Ok, maybe the Sharpie analogy doesn’t work here. lol

    You are gorgeous. I know it’s hard to see through what you consider to be your flaws. I’m currently carrying around a bit of postpartum fluff, which gets me down sometimes, but I don’t truly understand what it’s like to struggle with weight. I have major issues with my skin (23 years with acne and counting – yay!) and it’s hard to look at myself and notice any beauty. There are days when I don’t want to face the world, especially since I get made fun of a lot. Confidence is hard to come by. Then, there are days when I do feel great and feel a little more positive about my looks. It’s a struggle, but we do our best. Self-acceptance doesn’t just burst through the door one day. It’s a long path that sometimes requires you to sit down and take a rest or maybe just walk with baby steps. And that’s okay…because there is a lot that you see and learn on that path.

    Again, you are beautiful physically and spiritually.

    • I get that you are exercising to better yourself and your health. I am in the same boat as you. I went to the doctor yesterday and she asked if I exercised and I said yes, five times a week for 45 minutes a day. The look she gave me made me feel like a liar. She had me doubting myself. Anyway, I am not doing it for anything other then myself and my health. If people don’t like the way I look, then look elsewhere. I have family members that prize themselves on their looks and their boatloads of photos. I am proud that I am so much more then my weight and outward appearance. I am a phenomenal Mom; highly educated (academically and common sense retained); a wonderful friend; have a phenomenal career that allows me to be home for my children 5 days out of the week but still earn a full time salary and the list goes on. My point, maybe it is not so bad to look this way, it FORCES us to develop our selves and have a sense of self worth that so many “hot” people are lacking. They are plastic shells, oh yay! Think about the flip side while you are bettering yourself. Think of who you are and how far you have come and keep up the good work.

  6. I’m on the journey of self acceptance as well. It’s nice to see I’m not the only one struggling to see myself as a person despite my weight. What I’m coming to realize is that my body can do almost anything I want it to, despite being fat. Some days it’s a lot harder than others to accept it, but it’s getting better.

    I hope you can keep seeing how amazing you are. There’s a lot more to life than constantly worrying about being fat, go out and have fun.

  7. You are beautiful Joni, every last bit of you! I struggle with so much of the same feelings of self loathing because I’m morbidly obese. I even tried to get bariatric surgery and luckily the Dr kept canceling my appointments and I had time to sit and think about what I was about to do to my body. My big goal this year is to make a new affirmation every month and work of loving myself in my current form because I have no love for myself and that’s unacceptable. Life is too short to be miserable about something as trivial as our BMIs!

  8. Don’t let the shallow opinion of others get in the way of enjoying life. You know what you are trying to do is a good thing, that you are doing your best, and that is all that matters. I know, it is easier said than done, but stick with this. Or maybe even better, get angry. You do not have to be ashamed for someone else’s bad behavior.

  9. Last year for Christmas my family gifted me with membership to a small-time gym. I was lucky, I think, that it was small, because there were a variety of body shapes in there, and when I saw girls heavier than I, I always made sure to give them a smile. The skinnier women were more interested in getting their workout in on their lunch hour than giving me a second glance, and the girls that came in in pairs always ended up chatting more than exercising and ignored me too. I have a horrible body image, but I rarely felt judged there, and usually, instead of making me feel crappy, it made me angry, because they could plainly see I was doing something about it.

    I still hate shopping for clothes, but when it comes to food shopping if someone wants to judge me it’s only because they feel guilty they don’t have what’s in my cart. I try very hard to remember these people can’t truly judge me because they don’t know me. Some days are better than others. Plus, it usually comforts me to know that I could kick most of these peoples ass [and surprise the crap outta them while doing it] if I ever had to :p

  10. You go girl! (Wow, that sounds kind of cheesey, but I couldn’t think of any sort of high-five statement that didn’t.) Screw the kind of person who laughs behind hands or makes hurtful comments to you and all the other mean things you mentioned here. Sounds like a lot of people seem to think the bodies they happen to have make them better than people with bodies whose shape doesn’t happen to be “in” right now (who’d be laughing if we lived back in the time of the goddess ladies of all the paintings I’ve seen in museums, you know, the ladies who don’t look anything like what’s in fashion magazines today? i always like to remember that “acceptable” body shape has a hell of a lot more to do with current fads and trends and socialization). But it sounds like they are really just jerks on the inside. Ech. Good luck with your body journey, whether it means losing weight or just finding a way to be at peace with the weight you are in a world with too many mean people in it.

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