Stop lying about your weight.
That’s it! There’s no time limit on this dare, no expiration. You might not find yourself in a position to lie about your weight any time soon, but I’m sure you have in the past. Whether it’s on a driver’s license, or while you’re caught in a gaggle of diet talkers, or if it’s just in your own head, stop rounding down. Stop fudging your clothing size. Stop thinking of yourself as the size you used to be. This body you live in? It’s you. It’s you today. It will not be the same for your whole life, and that’s fine. Part of fat acceptance is accepting who you are right now, this very moment. If you have never lied about your weight, or if you’ve already stopped: congratulations!
What happens when we lie about our bodies? Well, for one thing, people who tell the truth aren’t believed. As Meowser pointed out in comments last month, the headless fatties attached to obesity-scare articles are almost never the same size as the actual humans discussed inside:
I guess the pictorial rule is: When you’re writing about women who weigh 160 pounds, you illustrate the story with a woman who weighs 500 pounds. When you’re writing about 500-pound men, you illustrate with a man who weighs 200. But goddess forbid, in either case, you illustrate with the actual person you’re writing about. Because all fatasses are interchangeable after adjusting for gender.
No wonder trolls on FA blogs always imagine that anyone over 250 pounds must be confined to bed. Could you guess the weight of the person next to you in line at the supermarket? I’m betting you can’t, because we so rarely see honest representations of what body sizes look like.
I first saw Joy Nash’s Fat Rant video linked on a friend’s Livejournal. In the video, as you all no doubt remember (if not, go watch it again!), Joy states that she weighs 224 pounds. One of the first commenters on my friend’s LJ said something like, If she weighs 224, then she must be at least 6’2″. Well, Kate and I have met Joy Nash, and while she is lovely and charismatic and charming and, yes, tall, she is definitely not that tall. So why did this commenter assume she was a giantess? No doubt he’s never met a woman who admitted to weighing 224, so it seemed like an astounding number to him. In the world I like to call reality, he certainly knows someone who weighs 224 and is not 6’2″, but he probably thinks she weighs at least 50 pounds less.
Remember: the number is just a number. It has no intrinsic moral value. It doesn’t control you. It doesn’t say anything about your worth as a person; like the word “fat,” it’s just descriptive. So why lie?
There are a couple of good reasons to tell the truth. One is for yourself: if you stop thinking of yourself as someone who’s “temporarily” at your current weight or size, you’ll be taking the first step in the long march to non-disordered thinking about your body. If you stop lying to yourself, you can stop yearning for that mythical other you, and you can start enjoying the actual you. If you’ve had times in your life like that — when you genuinely didn’t think of yourself as a deviation from some normative you that could have been — you know that it feels awesome. That’s reason #1.
Reason #2 is for the rest of us. If we want to live in a community in which people are not vilified for the size and shape of their bodies, then we have to be part of creating that community. One way of doing that, as I know many readers have seen for themselves, is by speaking up when you see fatphobia in action. Another way is to deflate and correct unrealistic expectations that are imposed upon us — doing a scaled-down version of what Isabelle Caro has done in the anti-anorexia campaign: telling the truth when we expect to see lies.