Big fat hypocrite.
Ok. So. I just read this article from yesterday. It’s the piece by Niamh Horan in yesterday’s Sindo – and it’s a prime example of why I should not be allowed to read the Sindo. I know it’s needlessly inflammatory in an attempt to wind me up and sell papers. I know that Niamh most likely spent the days leading up to publication thinking up the most sensationally offensive language possible to use to give her article more “bite”. I know that the article is 100% bullshit, from the first word to the last spiteful paragraph.
However, I cannot let it go. So let the rant commence.
Nothing tastes as good as thin feels, she says. Well, I can’t argue with that – I’ve never been thin in my life. Throughout my life I’ve been burdened with being overweight – and I’m not talking about actual extra weight, I’m talking about the perception that I am overweight. Looking back on pictures of myself as a kid, I genuinely do not see it. I don’t see the “puppy fat” I was told I’d lose. I don’t see the mysterious enormous stomach that I used to hide by tying jumpers round my waist. I don’t know why I always covered up my arms. I just… don’t see it.
So it wasn’t that I was horrifically fat in reality – but I was very aware that I was. That was my perception, and that came from other people. I have a distinct memory of being told not to worry, that I would lose my puppy fat when I grew up – and I thought, ‘what puppy fat? I have puppy fat? Oh.’ I was about 7.
As I grew up, this stayed with me and (predictably) I put on weight. Why? Because I love food and hate exercise. I did some hurling, swimming, I played badminton – but for fun, not to lose weight. During secondary school I was trotted to Weight Watchers, and the reason I went was to keep my parents happy. When the Leaving Cert rolled around, I was delighted to be able to stop. I’d lost over a stone and people kept telling me I looked great – and sure, that felt nice. But it wasn’t a life-changing revelation for me. I was still the same person underneath.
I used to think ‘if I was thin, I’d have a boyfriend’. Then I lost some weight – so I decided it was my glasses that made me unattractive. So I got contacts. Still no boyfriend. And then, an epiphany. No matter how I look – fat, thin, speccy, glassesless… I’m still me. And the me that I am – stubborn, opinionated, fiercely loyal to my values – could never be happy being with someone who wouldn’t have been with me anyway.
That probably makes very little sense… but I was thinking about it in a school context. I thought about all the guys I had a crush on in school and how I could never respect them if they suddenly started cracking onto me just because I looked different, better in their eyes.
That was the first of many small epiphanies.
In recent years, there have been many more. There’s been the realisation that in 20 years, I’ll be looking back on photos of me now and not seeing the flabby arms I’d never show, or the chubby knees I refuse to bare. I’ll be looking back saying “fuck, I was hot. Why did I waste that?”
Then there was the realisation that nobody gives you a hard time unless you let them. Nobody makes you feel bad, lesser, other unless you let them. So I don’t care if you call me fat – because I am. I have a mirror at home, I can see myself, I know that. You telling me I’m fat is the same as telling me I have blue eyes. Thanks for the info! Well done on being super observant.
The final epiphany – the one that’s enabled me to be (shock horror) happy with my body was this: The only reason I hated myself was because I was supposed to. The only reason I wanted to lose weight is because I felt like I was supposed to want to. I thought about my other friends, my gorgeous mates who despite being incredibly hot, were unhappy with their bodies. I thought about how every single woman out there hates something about themselves. And I saw that the only reason we do that is because we’re supposed to. And as my friends will tell you, I’m not one to follow orders. So I stopped hating myself.
And I think that might be my point. Horan’s article asks people not to hate her because she’s thin. Raging hypocrisy aside, she has a point. And I’m going to argue it briefly.
It’s not ok to berate someone about how they look. This is something I wholeheartedly agree with. It’s not ok to tell someone they look horrible because their ribs are showing, that they need a sandwich or two, that they need porking up, that they look like they’ve just wandered out of Auschwitz. I’m saddened and horrified that at 11.5 stone, Niamh Horan’s mother marched her to the gym and put her on a scales in public, at age 17. And moreover, I’m saddened that she thinks this was a nice thing – no, a necessary thing – for her mother to do to her.
We need to stop hating people because they’re thin. I agree. But when you frame that message, that message of tolerance and acceptance, in thousands of words of vicious bile and hatred about fat people and how they offend your poor eyes by their very existence – well that’s what we call hypocrisy. It’s not even original.
We need to take the message further – we have to stop hating people because they’re X. Because they’re other. Because they’re not us. And to do that, we have to first stop hating ourselves.
I am glad that Niamh is now happy with how she looks. I’m not even going to hop on the “she looks a state in that picture” bandwagon, because let’s face it – she looks great. She has a hot body, she’s incredibly pretty, and she’s got the confidence to show it off.
That’s not because she’s thin, though – that’s because she’s happy. And from what I can deduce, that’s what people mean when they say “nothing tastes as good as thin feels”. It feels… happy. And no matter how much Niamh Horan tells me I’m not, I couldn’t possibly be, I’m in denial about being happy – she’s wrong. And I don’t need to put others down to feel that way.
Filed under: musings, ranty | 4 Comments