I have been following with some interest the reaction to your comment about the benefits of fat-shaming and your subsequent clarification (“It works for some people.”)
I will not be joining the bandwagon to crucify you for this remark, though I must admit as a mother and grandmother, all I could picture were my beautiful daughters and their granddaughters. One of them is entering adolescence, by the way, and by all accounts, she is one beautiful girl from the inside out. She is a gifted thinker and athlete, but what impresses me most about her is her kindness and compassion towards others and the world.
Sadly enough, she is already worried that she is “too fat”. So you can imagine my visceral reaction to your comment.
But now, to be honest, I am just feeling sorry for you. I feel sorry that your culture sent you the message that your worth was tied to a number on the scale. I feel sorry that when you made that request of your step-father, he did not pull you over and give you a hug and a heart to heart talk about how important it was to not place your value in your looks. I feel sorry that you are now the recipient of cruelty on social media, which, as you know, is just another form of shaming.
Megyn, I used to think like you because I am a product of the same culture. I was young and thin and obsessed with “looking good” as defined by my culture. And I held in disdain those who fell short of the mark I tried so hard to achieve. Though I never said anything out loud to anyone, I knew the thoughts I harbored in my heart.
But I would like to share with you a pivotal experience I had on a commuter bus in downtown Seattle that forever changed me. From my vantage point about one half way down the row of seats, I saw a woman who could barely fit down the aisle gently coaxing a young girl of about three in front of her. They took a seat behind me, and while they passed by, my head filled with critical thoughts about her appearance and the effect “her lifestyle choices” would have on her young daughter.
As we approached my stop, I moved to the side-facing seats in the front, and from that vantage point, I had a clear view of this woman. The young girl who had boarded with her was now fast asleep on her chest. For some reason my vision shifted. I saw this young girl enveloped between her mother’s breasts. I could almost touch the warmth that emanated from the mother’s face as she stroked her daughter’s hair and smiled down on her.
In that frozen moment, I saw what my critical self had missed in judging this mom by her appearance: she was a harbor of love for that young girl. She was warmth and safety, and she had a peace and a calm about her that invited affection. Somehow, I could not imagine that her little girl ever noticed anything about her mom except her capacity to love.
And now, because of her, it is that quality I seek to notice and celebrate in others.
Megyn, I want you to always remember this: our size never defines us as women. And our individual stories can never be reduced to a cultural stereotype. Let us celebrate our competence and our courageousness and not qualify it through a number. Let us encourage and support each others’ gifts and not let them by hampered by external expectations. But more than anything, let us stand together against the real enemy – any words or actions that seek to diminish us in any way because of artificial notions of what it means to be acceptable as a woman.
We are beautiful,we are worthy of respect, and we are enough - no matter what our size.