One sunny afternoon, I was feeling good and gearing up for my first ever art show. I had posted some photos on Instagram in anticipation of my big night. I opened the app and under my last post, was a comment by a stranger berating me about my weight. A total stranger wrote, “maybe you should lay off the pizza” …
I want to write an empowered sentence here. Something about not letting the haters get me down. But let me tell you, that’s not what happened.
Having an Eating Disorder is often accompanied by a very loud, very mean, inner critic. In this case, my inner critic said “SEE!!! I TOLD YOU SO!!” I cried and cried and wanted to cancel my show. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to feel and express my anger that I found my own voice and was able to pick myself up and get back to my art.
My art and writing explore body politics, fat-shaming, and Eating Disorders. I ascribe to the Health At Every Size (HAES) philosophy. The only thing you can tell about a person from their body size, is their body size. People are entitled to their opinions and can share them as I do. We don’t have to agree. I do have a problem with people who state “facts” that have statistics showing that those facts are false. I do have a problem with strangers having opinions about other people’s bodies – especially mine. Shaming people for their weight doesn’t make anyone healthy.
In addition to the pizza comment, another stranger decided to chime in with their opinion of my body. They wrote:
“Being fat is not healthy, and to save lives there has to be money spent in dieting industry because fat people can’t hold themselves eating the last piece of pie, or taking a hike for a change. And it’s not that being fat is ugly, it’s simply dangerous by dieting they are being helped. Being fat isn’t healthy so it should be taken care of by dieting industries.”
I am not denying that there are health concerns tied to people in larger bodies. Those things exist. There are also bodies considered “obese” despite blood work and other test results demonstrating their excellent health. Regardless of either reality, MY BODY IS MY BUSINESS. It is not helpful to tell me to go on a diet. It is not helpful to tell me what you think about my body.
I shouldn’t have to spell this out but will … people have all sorts of body types and sizes. You have no idea why. And even if you did, it is none of your business.
At first I was shamed and embarrassed and never wanted to have a photo taken for the rest of my life. For weeks I was so ashamed of my body that I didn’t want to eat. I swam and walked excessively. I hated myself. I cried. A lot. Then I got angry. And angry creates the impetus to make change. I turned my art into a local fundraising effort called www.foxtales.ca and donate all the profits to a centre for people with eating disorders. I took that shame and I used it to fuel my work and my fundraising efforts.
I refuse to be body-shamed by strangers who know nothing about me and my story, or by anyone at all.