The past few weeks, I've watched something interesting happen on my Google Analytics. For non-bloggers or web nerds, Google Analytics is what lets me see how many people are visiting this site and from where. For a couple of years, I've watched people find me after searching for “fat porn” and “extreme weight loss methods.” I'm happy to report that those are now moving down the list (thankfully), and another phrase has skyrocketed to the top: weight loss blog.
This made me really happy because it meant I might reach more people with my story. The past couple of days, however, I have been doing some deep thinking. (I know, I tend to do this a lot. You might want to take a potty break right now before reading on.)
The #1 mistake I have made with this blog is calling it “Skinny Emmie.” Certain people get turned off by it because they think I'm chasing some societal norm to be “thin” by whatever standards they have in their head. Right before starting this blog when I was messing with the layout, I approached a member of the fat acceptance (FA) community to do some work on it, and I was turned down because a weight loss blog went against her beliefs.
I got upset and worried that I was ruffling feathers. I wasn't brave enough at the time to go:
“Hey now. I have considered myself a member of the FA community for years. I'm not doing a weight loss blog to promote being skinny or looking a certain way. I'm trying to change my life because I don't feel good the way I am right now. I have the right to be unhappy with my health and my body, just as you have the right to be happy with your health and body. If I need to come to a place of self-acceptance, a large (pun intended) part of that is going to be getting my health, and yes weight, into a range where I feel comfortable within my skin.”
Last night, I read an article on The Huffington Post about body image and the FA movement that included an interview with Lesley Kinzel. I've read her writing for a few years now. At first I started reading because of her outfits (she blogged as Fatshionista), and then I continued to read because of how comfortable she was in her body. She has a new book out, Two Whole Cakes (disclosure: have not read – on my list of to-read), which covers some of her story and fat acceptance. As a regular reader of xoJane, I read Lesley's posts and love them because they make me think hard about my own image. (Also at xoJane is Marianne Kirby, other FA advocate.) Instead of chiming in though, I sit back and wallow in the confusion that is someone who identifies with both weight loss blogging AND the fat acceptance movement. How can I effectively straddle the line to both support FA and support my desires to lose weight because my health was failing?
An excrept from what Lesley said about fat acceptance in the Huffington Post article:
…What I try to get people to walk away with is knowing that any decisions they make about their bodies and their health needs to come from a place of self-love, and not self- loathing. Decisions to diet often come from seeing an unflattering picture of yourself or seeing yourself in a mirror where you don't look the way you think you want to look. That's a bad place to be making those decisions. If you want to make changes, make sure they're coming from a place that's not “I hate my arms” or “My husband is no longer interested in me sexually.” [You'd do better to make decisions from]: “I want to take care of myself. I want to feel good. I want to feel comfortable.”
I agree with Lesley wholeheartedly. Yet, I do have negative feelings when I see an unflattering photo of myself. Am I to be condemned for that? I hope to hell not. Ultimately, my decision to lose weight comes from self-love: Wanting to take care of myself. Wanting to feel good. Wanting to feel comfortable.
Lesley also struck a chord with me when she wrote “Is “Fitspo” the new “Thinspo?” (seriously, if you're in the fitblogging/weight loss blogging community, please read it.) Again, as someone in this weight loss blogging world, I see “fitspo” everywhere. Other bloggers, friends, on Facebook, and Pinterest. It always makes me cringe because the bodies are so perfect and not what I want little girls to see and go on to believe that is what they have to look like. I'm not going to take time here to write out all my rambling thoughts on fitspo – perhaps another day on another soapbox. I will say though – I am not judging my friends or fellow bloggers for liking fitspo. I don't know their motivation for liking it – do they want to look like that because that's what society says is “healthy” or is it motivated by something like a personal desire to bench 350 pounds?
Anyway, the point of all of this is that I'm tired of worrying what people think of me. When I started a plus size fashion blog, I was criticized for actively trying to lose weight, so I worried about that decision for weeks. When I put the word “Skinny” in front of my name, I worried that people wouldn't think I still supported the fat acceptance movement.
Screw it. I'm done worrying about what other people think.
I know my intentions here, and changing my name from “Skinny Emmie” to “Girl-Named-Emmie-Working-To-Get-Healthy-Because-She-Felt-Like-She-Was-Dying-And-Yes-She-Is-Losing-Weight-But-You-Don't-Have-To-And-She-Still-Loves-You-No-Matter-What-And-You-Should-Love-Yourself-Just-As-You-Are-Without-Shame-Because-You-Kick-Ass.com” just isn't in the cards. It doesn't roll off the tongue. I will continue calling myself a weight loss blogger and those who choose to believe that I'm doing it for external v. internal reasons can believe it. I'll say I belong to the fat acceptance movement even if it means that other fitness bloggers incorrectly think that means I'm not as healthy as they are.
In the end, all we can be is ourselves, and I'm a fat accepting weight loss blogger.
I would really love some dialogue going on about this. Please leave (respectful) comments below. Feel free to chime in about the “fitspo” article as well.