by Aiano Nakagawa
It’s been about four years since I began acknowledging and addressing my own learned and internalized fat-phobia. The last four years I have made a conscious effort to reclaim my relationship with my body, and find power in my big, strong, squishy body.
In the midst of personal change, it can be difficult gauge your own progress. I liked to think I had changed - I no longer experienced negative feelings about my body, I no longer worried about my weight or appearance, and I no longer gave a fuck if anyone else did… But then I realized, I also no longer interacted with people who want me to feel bad about myself. So, when I did have an interaction with someone who, in the past always solicited advice about my body, I was able to actually notice how I have changed.
Here's what happened: One of my aunts took me shopping, but I didn’t have time to try on the clothes. I wasn’t surprised or at all upset when we got home and one of the pairs of pants didn’t fit I said:
Me: This pair’s a little too tight. I think I’m going to exchange them.
Aunt: Why don’t you just lose weight?
Me: (a bit thrown off) Um… because it’s easier to return them than lose wei --
Aunt: (interrupts me) No it’s not!
Me: Yes, and also, I don’t want to lose weight.
Aunt: (shocked look on her face) What?! Why not?!
Me: Because I’m strong, healthy, and really happy. I love my body so much. Why would I want to that?
Aunt: (rolls her eyes and is a bit uncomfortable)…
Had this been a few years ago, or even a year ago, I would have left the room in tears, thinking that I really did need to lose weight. This time though, I left the room, took a deep breath, and realized that the only way she knew how to interact with bodies was to shame them.
She was shocked to hear that I could possibly like, let alone love my body. To her, the only relationship she’s ever known with her body is one of hate and shame. I realized that while I have the spent the last few years improving my relationship with my body and moving past my body shame, she has not.
She is not in the routine of thanking her body after she dances, praising her body as it digests, or sitting naked and getting comfortable with letting things fall. We are on different parts of our journey. In that moment I realized her comment wasn't even about me, and I recognized what she needed most.
A moment later, I reentered the kitchen gave her a big hug, then looked her in the eyes and said “I think you are absolutely incredible, just the way you are. You are amazing and I love you so much.”
And that was that.
Be honest to yourself about what you want: out of life, to eat, to feel, to do in this world. Honor whatever it is, without judgment. Give yourself whatever it is you need. This is a process that takes time. It is the process of getting to know yourself, getting to know your body – without judgments or assumptions – learning to let all the parts of you be what they are.
Face them, hear them, know them, and find peace in letting them be.
Many of us work against ourselves – denying us pleasure, fulfillment, and fullness. This is no way to find peace. We are working for peace within our bodies and ourselves to reconnect us to our power center. We are learning how to listen to ourselves and honor our needs and desires.
Be kind, be gentle, be love, be open.
Enjoy your body.