If you are a person who lives in a fat body, or a body that is not defined as beautiful by mainstream culture, or if you have ever felt like you were not enough in some way (or that you had to be different in order to be happy) I think Lindy West’s words will resonate with you. West’s message is a vital one. It counters the mainstream fat-shaming world that says women have to be thin to be brides and that people need to lose weight for their wedding. I’ve heard so many people (some are individuals I know and like and think have good lefty politics) make comments about wanting to lose weight for a wedding or other event. Fuck. That. Shit. Be yourself, live in the body that is yours. Don’t wait ’til you are thinner to live your life. If you do, your life will pass you by and you will hate yourself in the process.
Also— being fat or “overweight” does not mean someone is unhealthy. It’s high time we uncouple the notion of what it means to be healthy from body size. Studies now show that being “overweight” (having a BMI between 25 and 30) is less associated with mortality than being “underweight” or even a “normal” weight. Read this article for the proof! (And here’s the Journal of American Medical Association article if you’re in the mood for something a little more academic). Also— so much more goes into being “healthy” than just diet, exercise, and body shape. That’s just one small sliver of health. What about social and emotional health? Having a strong social support network? Getting enough sleep and rest? Playing? Making art? These all factor into one’s overall health, but the world we live in puts way too much of an emphasis on body size, eating and exercise habits when determining what it means to be “healthy.”
This is my favorite quotation in West’s article:
“When I think back on my teenage self, what I really needed to hear wasn’t that someone might love me one day if I lost enough weight to qualify as human – it was that I was worthy of love now, just as I was.”
I think this is a message that we all need to hear again and again and again: You are worthy of love right now, just as you are, and you are enough. You don't need to change in order to be happy, you don't need to make six figures, or get married, or be in a relationship, or "get your shit together,” or meet all your New Year’s resolutions, and you certainly don't need to lose weight or change your appearance. You are beautiful just the way you are. Happy 2016!