I’m sure Lizzo is still standing and isn’t going anywhere, and I know she doesn’t need anyone to tell her to stand tall, but I needed to say it. This isn’t a topic that I weigh in on easily (yes, pun intended). I am overweight and have been most of my life. I adore Lizzo, because she has confidence that I have never had. I wish I could love my body the way that it is, but I tend to fall on the side of what Jillian Michaels has said. My body is unhealthy, therefore I should not glorify it. The problem is, Jillian is wrong.
If you are not overweight, you cannot know what our day to day experience is like. There are enough people, particularly in the US, telling overweight people that we are not beautiful and that we are not worthy. Yes heart disease and diabetes and the risks of other illnesses are a problem, but not feeling beautiful is never going to help that get any better. It also should be said that people can be thin and still get heart disease and diabetes, I’m pretty sure Bob Harper can speak to that.
The other thing is, Jillian wasn’t just speaking against Lizzo‘s body, but she was speaking out of turn, and disrespecting Lizzo‘s black culture. In black Culture full-figured women are respected and appreciated much more than in white culture. When I was studying in Ghana, the men there would always tell me how beautiful I was, and it was disconcerting because I wasn’t used to it. I was used to the unattainable standard, practically anorexic, airbrushed, impossible measurement of a woman’s beauty. I was used to men yelling at me out of cars that I was a “FAT BITCH”. I was used to people telling me that if I would just lose weight I would be able to get a man. Doesn’t really help, when you’re gay, but that’s another topic, for another day.
The bottom line is that there is an intersectionality that needs to be part of the discussion, because it is a very white American judgment to say that being thin dictates your worth. I have so much praise for Lizzo, because she is showing young girls all over the world, that beauty comes in all sizes. We absolutely need that to be taught to our kids. They must know that size doesn’t dictate your worth.
My other problem with what Jillian was saying, is that being overweight isn’t always the problem. Sometimes it’s the side effect. I have lupus and fibromyalgia. I used to be over 100 pounds lighter, going to the gym 5 to 6 days a week. Then one day I couldn’t get out of bed. It got worse and worse, and now it’s an inverted climb, instead of just an uphill battle, trying to lose this weight. As I struggled to get any doctor to pay attention, I had to learn the hard way that doctors can be fat phobic too. They will just say you need to lose weight. Well, losing weight isn’t going to make me absorb iron better. I am so iron deficient, that I have to get iron infusions. I’ve got a list of doctors a mile long, and it took me a long time to get ones who would take my diseases seriously and stop tagging everything as just a weight problem. There is more going on, and because of it, losing the weight isn’t just a simple proposition.
In the meantime, hating my body is not going to get me anywhere. I am a happy person, who will often sing show tunes around my house, while taking to my cats. I have no use for putting myself down constantly, and I would much prefer to see myself in Lizzo’s reflection than Jillian’s. I may have weight to lose, I may decide at some point that I’m happy where I am, even if that’s not as thin as Jillian would like me to be. Regardless I don’t have use for anyone telling me that I shouldn’t see myself as beautiful and that I shouldn’t metaphorically lift myself up and be happy with who I am.
Thank you Lizzo, for all that you do for girls around the world. Thank you for what you do for me. You make me smile and you make me feel empowered. I wish you had been around when I was growing up. Keep being you and keep doing you. Thanks for your expertise in fitness Jillian, but I think I’m all set with your fat shaming.