This is the last post in a series where we have explored the idea of “Fat Activism” and how the body positivity movement has influenced people to stand up to diet-culture and the attacks on obesity. I know that for some people the word “fat” can be scary, triggering, and hurtful. The purpose of this series is to take the sting and derogatory nature out of the word. “Fat” is a descriptor, just like tall, short, red, square, or triangular.
I pondered whether a series of interviews that use the word “fat” would be contrary to the guidelines. It was a struggle for me to make this decision. People with body dysmorphia often use this word to describe how they are feeling about their bodies and reading the word “fat” could be very uncomfortable. I also thought about the bodies of people who do not present as the stereotype of someone with an eating disorder. I thought about all the people living in bigger bodies who are feeling/being judged, and having their struggles invalidated.
NOTE: Fat is not a feeling. It is a descriptor.
My decision did not come easily. I came to the conclusion that this topic is important and necessary to further the conversation about people with Eating Disorders who live in bigger bodies, or who chose to use the word fat. And for those people living in bigger bodies who are called “fat”. My hope is that someone living in a bigger body, who is struggling with an Eating Disorder, and is afraid to seek support because of judgement, experiences, and prejudice, will read this and feel one step closer to seeking advice and support for their illness – your body is valid, your Eating Disorder is valid, you are valid.
Remember to nourish your body, mind, and spirit,
Conversation with Katheryn Hack
I was exposed to the idea of “fat activism” around the same time that I was diagnosed with a chronic progressive fat disease called lipedema (fall of 2016). Lipedema means my body accumulates painful fat, unrelated to my diet or how much I exercise. This condition, research suggests, affects up to 11% of women. Learning all this proved to me how utterly ridiculous the diet industry is. Culture had tried to convince me for years that my size was related to my choices. Learning that that wasn’t the case, set me free. I jumped into the fat activist movement with 2 feet. I began making fat figurative art. This process I believe sped up my ability to see my body in a positive light. I now believe that adding creativity to my acceptance journey helped me effectively eradicated my body shame.
I have kids. When they were toddlers, they begin learning about “opposites“. In this context Fat is simply a description word. No different from up / down, big / small, fat /thin. Using the word as it truly is, for me it takes the sting out of it. Some say it’s a weak reclamation of the word, but in this case, I feel like it’s simply using it in its original meaning and context. Fat activism to me simply means actively centering and normalizing fat bodies. This is important work because when fat people live in shame the whole world suffers.
After having a healthy pregnancy and baby then becoming pregnant a second time, a new OGBYN, expressed fear about my pregnancy because of my weight. I was the same weight 15 months prior with my first child, and had ZERO problems. (I chose a different Dr.) I remember very vividly many, many times avoiding the doctor or feeling great distress at having to go to the doctor because I knew I would be judged for the number on the scale. Dread and fear are profound challenges to contend with when seeking medical help for any kind of ailment. It increases stress and we all know that prolonged exposure to stress makes it harder to heal.
[If I could speak to my childhood self] I would tell younger Kathryn the same thing I say to my kids and to present day Kathryn. All bodies are good bodies. Caring for and loving yourself unconditionally is your birthright. You get to have the loudest voice in your own life. The work I post to social media strives to convey that total self-acceptance is our birthright no matter what kind of “marginalized” bodies or identities we have.