It’s become trendy to call out the idea of feeling fat. We’re told that fat is a substance on the body, not a feeling. It’s also not a judgment. You have fat rather than you are fat. This is all true. And yet I think we all know what it means to feel fat.
Women’s unique physiology lead us to gain and lose both fat and water weight along with our monthly cycles and other hormone fluctuations. It’s disconcerting to wake up 5 or 10 pounds (2.2 – 4.5 kg.) or more heavier overnight in response to your period coming on, sensitivity to a food, or just because. When your pants and your shirts struggle to button, it’s logical to feel fat no matter how thin you may actually be.
Accompanying these hormonal fluctuations are emotional changes that may make you feel irritable, discouraged, sad, or frustrated along with physical tiredness, tearfulness, fuzzy thinking, and outright pain. Add to this cultural associations with fatness and you have a recipe whereby feeling fat becomes a sort of shorthand for feeling inadequate.
You may not have gained a pound – water or otherwise – and yet feel fat as a sort of body dysmorphia that says if you aren’t perfect then you must be fat. And that leads us down a dangerous path keeping us in shame and caught in the desperation of the dieting cycle.
It’s worth taking the time to tease out what’s really going on. What does it say about you if your pants are a little tight one day? If you feel temporarily tired and unmotivated? It likely means only that you are a woman in a human body.
What if you have gained weight, or continue to be a weight heavier than society wishes? Science has firmly proven that it doesn’t mean you’re lazy, sad, ignorant, unhealthy, a failure, or there’s anything else wrong with you. It only means that you have fat on your body. End of story
Words matter, even when you’re talking to yourself. The next time you catch yourself feeling fat, slow down and ask some questions to isolate what it is actually going on. Is it normally fluctuating weight or is it a judgment about your body and yourself? How are you internalizing societal prejudices about body fat? Are there perhaps other accurate emotions present that lack the self judgment?
I’d love to get to know you better. To get on my schedule for an informal talk with no agenda other than understanding your body struggles and helping you get unstuck click here. If you need other times, use the contact form linked below.
*** *** ***
This week I’m reading Thriving Women Thriving World – An Invitation to Dialogue, Healing, and Inspired Action, by Diana Whitney and others. The main women behind this book are fellow positive psychology practitioners who are on fire with motivation to inspire women to make the world a better place for us all.
For more resources, check out our Resources page.