Never, Ever, Ever Stop Eating

Last week was Body Confidence Week in the UK, a social media marketing campaign led by Dove (of course). I watched on Sunday as the UK body positivity organization Shape Your Culture got the hashtag #fatisnotafeeling to trend on Twitter in response to Facebook adding “fat” and “ugly” as emotions for status updates.

And then, of course, yesterday I saw this:

If you don’t want to read it, and I don’t blame you if so, it’s 4chan’s /pol board getting offended over the idea that body positivity exists and trying to figure out ways to troll two body positivity guest speakers at a community college in Hartford. “Fat bitches can’t be allowed to tell people being fat is healthy or attractive,” the OP opines. “In two years they’re going to elect one of their own President,” another user complains, doing a great job of pretending that it fucking matters how much body fat Hillary Clinton has (it didn’t matter when it was Taft, of course, but WHATEVER FACTS). “Crush them with logic,” another responds, “logic” being defined as stating that body fat puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Which are true statements, but are not the truth inasmuch as they are not even close to being a whole and complete representation of fitness and health. It’s not as simple as fat = unhealthy, as athletes Louise Green and Wendy Welsher can tell you. “Fat and fit” is a real thing — studies have suggested that moderately obese people live longer than non-obese people, and that when an obese person’s blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar are within a healthy range, they are at no greater risk of developing heart disease or cancer than anyone else. In other words, fatness in and of itself is not a risk. Lifestyle is a risk, and fatness is actually not a very good indicator of lifestyle choices, as it turns out. Human bodies are complex. Imagine that!

To these incredibly smart and critically sharp (read: neither incredibly smart nor critically sharp) people on 4chan, though, none of those facts matter and the answer to all female fatness is simple: Stop eating, fatties! It just takes a little self-control! Why don’t you have self-control? God, you’re a useless human being.

This whole thing sent me into indignation mode. Some people think I’m fat and some people don’t. I had a whole mob of people saying that the cellulite on my thighs in some of my self-portraits was burning their eyes out of their skull (I hope that is literally true). I’ve said enough that in my opinion, I don’t care — I’m 5’10”, 176 pounds, 25.3 percent body fat, I ran a marathon at a 12:25 pace last week and never once felt out-of-breath, I like lifting heavy shit, I mainly want to improve my balance and flexibility. That’s my body in a nutshell.

But all the fitness shit I do, I do half because it makes me antsy not to be doing something challenging with my body, and half because I love eating more than I love my boyfriend (i.e. if he told me not to eat so much it’d be over) and working out is conducive to eating a lot. It’s not to say that I would purposefully eat less if I wasn’t working out so much — LOL, yeah right guys — but that if you eat a lot, it’s nice to have somewhere for all that excess energy to go. That means that I did a four-month marathon training program and didn’t lose any weight and didn’t lose more than a few tenths of a percent of my body fat.

I stopped dieting in February. I was only dieting because 1) when you’re into fitness, people REALLY want you to track your macros and 2) I was in the habit of dieting from when I was a younger, less secure person. I eat everything now and don’t think about it much except when I haven’t eaten enough — and I can tell, because I feel sick, dizzy, and weak. That whole “nothing tastes as good as thin feels” thing is bullshit. The truth is that nothing tastes as bad as low-fat, low-carb desserts, nothing tastes as good as a ripe mango or a really fantastic torte, and nothing feels as good as either an orgasm or when your clavicles have been tight and you crack them into place.

And nothing — absolutely nothing — is more fun than having a delicious meal with people you love. Or by yourself. Every religion that I know of has a food ritual: Christians have communion, Jews have seders and kosher laws and Shabbat meals, Buddhists fast and offer food and have chants for food, and Hindus and Muslims have fasts and feasts. Most religions have some kind of prayer for meals and often different prayers for different eating occasions. If religion is what cuts down to the core of human faith and belief and emotion and imagination, human faith and belief and emotion and imagination have always had a special place for eating.

That’s why I hate it when someone tells people to stop eating, or to eat less. No, sir. Preparing, sharing, consuming, and savoring food is part of what makes humans human. In my opinion — and this is just my opinion — dieting makes people anxious because they are excluding themselves from a beautiful, emotional, sustaining part of human existence. Being thinner than you presently are isn’t going to get back the meals you could have shared with your friends or the pleasure of smelling chocolate wafting out from an oven in a bakery that you passed by because you’re on a diet. It’s not self-control, it’s masochism.

It’s self-control and self-awareness to know what your body needs and give that to yourself, not to deprive yourself of food because some dick on the internet says that health is a monolithic concept that’s necessarily the same for you as it is for him. Never, ever, ever, stop eating, and fuck the body-shamers.

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