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Many women in our society—yes, myself included—have learned to hate our femininity, hate our form, hate our maturity as we grow older, hate our bodies, our minds, deny our wisdom. How many of us women who have a certain amount of extra weight have experienced the following scenario...or similar?
We get on a public bus. There are no seats, and we're trying to keep our balance. Suddenly, we hear the screeching laughter of a couple seated women who happen to be much thinner than we are. Maybe their boyfriends are sitting near them, and one of them makes a fat-shaming joke. The laughter is louder, screechier, and sounds like fingernails on a blackboard.
We find ourselves, perhaps, wishing we were home in bed under the covers away from the world. Or maybe we wish we dared to beat the crap out of all of them. Regardless, we were just relegated to inhuman monsters invading everyone's space. How "dare" we get on a public bus with more body fat than is considered "normal?"
Whatever normal actually is.
This is just one example of how narcissism is dividing us as women, which does not help us in this day and age when we're trying to take our power back. Bad enough to have endured mental, emotional or physical abuse by men, be the husbands, friends, employers, or family. We women who have endured similar abuse by other women, in many ways, suffer worse. To be burned by our own sisters, or in some cases, even our mothers? That is not an easy thing to reconcile within ourselves. Particularly when it's something petty like egotistical judgment of "fat" people. Why do some of us still have trouble with the concept that speaking out against disrespect or abuse by men in the workplace, personal life, or society as a whole, works better when we support each other as women? Many of us, I know, do understand this. I'm not the first person to write about this. I do honestly hope I'm one of the last, however. We need to change this, sisters!
Yes, there can sometimes be a health risk to carrying more weight than our body might naturally want to. Taking care of ourselves, however, should be just that. Taking care of our SELVES. Not the egos of our husbands, our bosses, our mothers, our sisters, our best friends, our brothers. Nor the demands of a twisted society. No. Taking care of our bodies has to be OUR choice because we WANT to. If we need to lose some weight to get healthy, we should do it because we want to live! Never mind anyone else's thoughts one way or another.
When I think of what women do to each other sometimes, I remember when Elizabeth Taylor lost a lot of weight in the 80s after struggling with it for years. Joan Rivers was very prominent then, and one of her most popular routines was to fat-shame Elizabeth. When Ms. Taylor wrote her book about her weight loss journey and all the emotional upheavals that went with it, she shared a snippet of it with People Magazine. In the snippet, she described one incident when Joan approached her at a party after she'd lost the weight. Joan gushed and said Elizabeth looked amazing. Words to that effect. Then, she asked her to "think about WHY" she made fat-shaming jokes about Elizabeth onstage.
Why? Why, indeed?
It seemed to me at the time like Ms. Rivers was trying to take credit for Ms. Taylor's weight loss! She probably didn't know what to do now that some of her best comic "material" had gone and lost weight.
Yes, yes, I know, Joan Rivers was a comedienne and people are going crazy on comedy these days...no one can joke about anything without it being too offensive. The anti-bigotry police have gotten almost psychotic about comedy...but fat shaming seems to have slipped under their radar with little more than a frown and a roll of the eyes. We live in a world where everything is hyper-scrutinized for racism, sexism and other bigotry, but fat shaming has gone relatively unscathed in both comedy and other areas.
Elizabeth Taylor, however, did not take the bait when Joan Rivers tried to push her buttons at that party. According to the People article, she simply smiled and said something like, "Thank you." Then she moved on to talk to someone else.
I've always admired Elizabeth Taylor for more than just her epic acting skills, which I grew up watching on late night TV. Opening up about her humanity and her struggles with weight in an industry that demanded a certain "perfection" inspires me to this day. Elizabeth lost the weight for health reasons, not to placate anyone who had ever criticized her. However, she refused to lower herself to any kind of negativity that people threw at her. She was a strong, stoic woman whose legacy still inspires many.
I digress. I'm a woman who has been shamed and stigmatized because of my weight. I was also married for twenty years to a man recovering from anorexia and bulimia. We divorced for other reasons, but his personal battle stuck with me. It's not only women who get pressured about their weight. I have heard women complain loudly that their boyfriends or husbands have "let themselves go" and gained some pounds, and they are pushing them to go on a diet and exercise regime. Hollywood, we know, can be brutal. We've all at least glimpsed at tabloid headlines fat-shaming the likes of Val Kilmer, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and a slew of other men at various stages of their careers. We all need to come back together as sisters, and we need to help our brothers, those of them that need the help...to see how beautiful imperfection can be.
What is perfect anyway? I don't know about you but that scares me. When I think of "perfect," I think of both versions of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Everyone walked around with glassy eyes and did everything "just so." No emotion, no flaws, no mistakes. And we know what was behind all that. Malicious destruction of all humanity.
My own journey began at age 12 when my dad expressed concern bordering on fear...that I was eating a lot of sugary snacks and would soon get fat. I take after his side of the family. He used to be relatively thin as a young kid, but all my life, I knew him as a jolly Irishman with a paunch and a ready sense of humor. I can only guess this happened after he hit thirty, just as it did for me. My sister and I used to tease him for being fat, and he let us, laughing along the way. We didn't know any better. Inside, he was probably hurting, but we were kids who had already retained images on television and in the movies about what people "should" look like. My mom was always thin, and my sister took after her. When my dad saw my raw, open obsession with sugar that I couldn't hide from him though I wanted to...add to that the beginning of puberty for me? His fear came out, and with it the shame I still have to fight to this day. People just don't realize what fat shaming does to a person. I can't imagine what it's like for parents to see their kids inheriting either their slow metabolism, food addiction, or whatnot. No parent likes to see their children hurt, and obviously my dad had endured enough fat shaming on his own to be scared of what it would do to me. Especially since I'm female. I don't know if it matters if you're male or female regarding gene inheritance that might bode weight gain in later years. I know my grandmother on my dad's side was full-figured, but so were many on her side of the family...men or women. Who knows. All I know is, it gets harder to go on food plans and have steady results the older I get. It is my hope that the more I talk about this and address the situation for what it is, the more comfortable I'll be in my own skin. Then, whatever I do, I will do it for ME. Not for someone else or for society. We as a human race need to change the tune of the song to a more harmonious one that we can all share in.
The video I posted above is one of several videos I posted on YouTube, on my Keep Truth Alive channel. All of these videos are about healing, particularly from narcissistic abuse. If fat shaming is a product of anything, it is narcissistic abuse...on a global, anti-human level that society throws at us from the moment we leave the womb.
All abuse is bad, but abuse by a narcissist is pre-calculated, premeditated, and carried out with full, conscious intent. It is the scariest kind of abuse imaginable. This society is fraught with stigma and hatred of those simply being human. It's time to stop dividing and start speaking out about the FULL truth. We CAN work together to end this epidemic of self-loathing and abusive behavior.
Fair warning; my videos get pretty passionate, so expect to hear strong language at times. My only aim is to tell my truth as I've seen and lived it. Sometimes the truth hurts, but lies hurt even worse.
This video above has me at my raw best, and I got a little busy, so I didn't put it up right away. But you see how real I keep it at all times. I'm tired, strung out, and grumpy. I had just gotten to Bethlehem where I'd be staying for two nights. The following night after I made the video, however, I went to see the Hollywood Vampires at the Sands Casino. It was such a healing experience, the polar opposite of how I felt the night before. Johnny Depp's sung performance of "Heroes" by David Bowie was just what I needed to hear. That song means the world to me, particularly the lines, "nothing can keep them away, we can beat them just for one day. We can be HEROES just for one day."
That is so true. I mean, think about it, we are battling those inner voices every day. In 12-step groups, the mantra is "one day at a time." It's like that with everything, including survival from global narcissistic abuse. We do not deserve to hate ourselves. We deserve to love ourselves. Choose life. Choose love. Choose truth. Choose to be HEROES.