Self-acceptance has been a challenge for me since puberty, I’ve realized.

Before then, I didn’t really believe little Tyrone when he called me fat and punched me in the stomach when I was five or six years old. I didn’t see a problem with being a size 14/16 at age eleven. It wasn’t until sixth grade, when I changed schools and started growing boobs and zits and had some of my first really unpleasant academic and social experiences, that I started to get down on myself.

For me, the concept of loving myself for who I am right now is just foreign. I’m always trying to fix myself. Lose weight. Stop procrastinating. Get organized. Treat myself better. Have better hygiene. For me, self-acceptance is merely the lack of self-deprecation, or just not thinking about my opinion of myself at all.

This week, Sheryl e-mailed me with a one-liner:

Have you heard about this “fat acceptance” movement? What do you think about it?

I hadn’t heard about it, so I hit Wikipedia, where I read the condensed version. It’s exactly what it sounds like: “a grassroots effort to change societal attitudes towards individuals who are fat.” So, I formulated an opinion:

Are fat people discriminated against? Do people make unfair assumptions about them? Definitely. Is being overfat unhealthy? I’m not a doctor, but I’m going to say yes.

I’m going to lump this into overall tolerance. I can’t be sure it requires a “movement,” but being socially tolerant of people in general is a good idea. Medically, though, I can’t see being OK with a loved one being obese. I wish [my BFF] would lose some [more] weight, for her own sake (and the same with all my other obese friends), but I don’t love her any less for there being more of her to love.

Sheryl then introduced me to Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose blog, where Kate and two other bloggers write about the importance of Health At Every Size. Sheryl also told me, “I’m not saying ‘DIANA. Stop losing weight and love yourself!’ I’m saying, love yourself at every step. 😀 It’s kinda liberating.”

Until she said that, I completely hadn’t realized she meant ME. I need to accept MYSELF.

But it’s so hard.

I’ve realized, as I’ve been prompted to think about it from Sheryl and from Zen teachings, that I’ve harmed myself quite a bit over the years with negative self-talk. I could easily point fingers to people — OK, one person in particular who was known to call me lazy, call me a swine, make me feel stupid when I couldn’t follow a line of reasoning, and even ask if my father was Polish — and say that I learned it from watching them. But I’m not willing to place all the blame on one person or period from my childhood. I’m 32, and I need to take responsibility for myself.

Would I talk to a peer or a child like I talk to myself? If I had to wake Aaron up in the morning, would I berate him for being a lazyass, and tell him he’s going to be late again, and tell him to just fucking get up? Because that’s my almost-daily monologue to myself after my alarm goes off and I hit the snooze.

Would I ask a friend, “What the fuck is WRONG with you?” when I saw them looking into the fridge AGAIN, or being depressed about nothing AGAIN, or being hard on themselves AGAIN? Because that’s an almost-daily question I ask myself, in complete seriousness.

If my bestest girlfriend evar were in the bathroom or a changing room with me, and I somehow managed to see her nekkid (which never happened, even in the four years we roomed together), would I point out all the places where she has weird fat rolls or forming wrinkles or big thighs or a weird ass or knock-knees? Not that she has these things… but I do. And I point them out to myself regularly. Sure, I also notice the smaller neck, more visible jaw, flatter abdomen; but I still have so far to go.

The idea of loving my body like it is? Completely incomprehensible right now. I’ve tried to read the articles and posts on Shapely Prose, and I just can’t wrap my mind around most of it. It’s like reading, I don’t know, an article on quantum mechanics: I see the words, I comprehend what they must be saying, but they just don’t apply to me, and they don’t sink in.

Do I love the body I’m in right now? FUCK, NO.

Do I like it a hell of a lot more than I did five years and 60 pounds ago? Absolutely.

Do I love myself? Do I love me for ME?

Fuck. I don’t know.

3 thoughts on Self-Acceptance

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  1. Personally, I believe that self-loathing to a degree is necessary. Okay “self-loathing” is WAY too strong a word for it, but to not be quite content with one’s self is necessary to improve and grow. As with anything, it requires moderation and control.

    Think of the most self-satisifed people you know. Be they completely content with their body, station in life, personal habits, or (as grind my gears so often) intelligence or “correctness” on any given subject. They refuse to progress as human beings or posess the flexibility or tollerance to interact with other ‘imperfect’ beings to be productive members of society. They don’t get invited to coffe much, either.

    No one’s perfect. We (well most people) accept this as a given in others and can love them for all their imperfections. We need to love orselves in the same way. The difference is, we can’t change the imperfections in others. We CAN change the imperfections in ourselves.

    You don’t have to love your own imperfections, but you can love yourself despite them. In the end, we’re all human and have blemishes, personality flaws, zits and scars (mentally and physically). You change what you want to to the best of your ability, and revel in the fact that you have the freedom and ability to do so.

    Besides, you’re just plain, old fashioned awesome no matter what you look like, Di! Any you’re looking more awesome every day!

    (Gotta get my own lazy ass up and moving one of these days and drop a good 50 lbs, myself.)