I opened my email last Wednesday, and there it was, the email subject that slapped me in the face so hard my eyes began to water.
GIRL, WHAT? UGH UGH UGH. Why did the woman who is, to many, myself included, the very image of the struggle with weight and body acceptance, go and SAY a NUMBER?!
FINE. LET’S TALK NUMBERS, OPRAH. EVEN THOUGH IT IS EXACTLY WHAT I DO NOT WANT TO DO AT ALL EVER NOPE NO THANKS GIRL.
This should not be a big deal, but it feels like one.
200 pounds is a weight I know well. 200 is what I’ve danced around for A DECADE, in and out of college. I am apparently a dense human being, also not a tiny one, with hips and a big old ribcage and apparently heavy organs or bones or whatever. These people with goal weights around 100, 120 pounds? LOLZ girl when I got hips I skyrocketed right up the charts. I’ve literally never seen below 130 on a scale, and I knew the scale well as a dancer and a preteen girl. I’m an average-to-average-plus-ish sized human, always have been, with “lady lumps” (gag) and plenty of muscle, and I am AWESOME and fucking HOT, IMHO! I have ALWAYS been active, am currently squatting 200, I’ve competed in 5ks and 10ks, am trained in a billion different forms of dance including ballet (Cecchetti method, thankyouverymuch), jazz, tap, contemporary, lyrical, modern, swing, ballroom, you NAME it, and every calorie that goes into my body is logged and counted on an app and has been for years. I am active and healthy, I do not overeat, and 200 POUNDS (OR MORE OR LESS OR WHATEVER) IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF.
EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT.
LOOK. A 275 pound 5 foot human is going to look very different than a 275 pound 7 foot human. Shit, two 275 pound 6 foot people could look like complete opposites, factoring in muscle versus fat and a billion other things that could affect the way you look. This is to say that NO NUMBER IS HEALTHY OR UNHEALTHY. YOU CANNOT LOOK AT A PERSON AND KNOW IF THEY ARE HEALTHY, no matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ they may look to you, and with all of the toxic bullshit around weight out there, having someone SAY a NUMBER and having the tabloids repeat that number over and over and over again out of its original context, just seems cruel (shocking, tabloids are nevvvvvvver cruel), especially coming from OPRAH.
Now, the quote was pulled from an absolutely beautiful, truth-filled, close to perfect piece in the New York Times about dieting by Taffy Brodesser-Acker that you ALL should read, and within the confines of what the author is getting across, it makes sense. Shit, it makes sense OUT of context, because again, no one’s idea of ‘healthy’ or ‘overweight’ looks the same. That number is Oprah’s personal benchmark (P.S. she could have not said ANY number and gotten the same point across, also, remember she is also SELLING YOU something *ahem* Weight Watchers) of what is ‘healthy’ for her, and I agree with her that body acceptance talk CAN get a little too PC at times (this coming from me, the PC queen!), as is discussed in Taffy’s piece, because in the same way that I want no one to feel shame for what they look like, I also want to feel my personal best and to work toward being the healthiest that I can be, and I want that for others, too. If a smaller size comes along with it (NEVER EVER DOES because my hormones and thyroid are garbage), great, and if not, what the hell else can I do? Keep on lifting and logging in that cardio and eating 1300 low-to-no-carb calories a day and wishing to hell I didn’t have to do any of it but not totally hating having done it once I’m walking away from the gym. No matter what I do, though, some people will look at me and people like me (The average US woman is a 16. I’m 3 sizes below that and I’ve been judged for my size, IMAGINE what the ‘AVERAGE’ woman goes through?! Who am I to complain about any of this in the first place?!) think “lazy overeating slob” when that could not be further from the truth, and look at thin people and think “fit and healthy” even if they eat nothing but cheeseburgers and beer and donuts and avoid workouts all like the plague (I know some of these people). What I am trying to say is that body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and most of all fat phobia is real, and it is extremely painful to have your worth be reduced to how much space you take up in the world.
The bottom line is, you CANNOT know if someone is healthy by looking at them. You CANNOT change the fundamental ways your body is built, your bones, your organs and how they work, et cetera. You CANNOT know what someone else’s weight is (that guy at the fair is LYING) or what it “should” be. You CANNOT know that person’s story. THAT PERSON IS MORE THAN THEIR WEIGHT.
And to all of you who, like me, cringed when they saw that number sitting there, looking back at them, with your brain saying to you “even OPRAH thinks you’re fat”…
You are ENOUGH. You are LOVED. You are WHOLE. You are ALIVE and working toward a better you every day, even if all you do that day is simply stay alive.
YOU are so much more than ANY fucking number.