By Roni Davis | Tiny Buddha
“That girl was fat, and I hate her.”
One of my clients said this the other day—about herself. Well, her little girl self. And my heart broke.
One of the very first things I do with clients is encourage them to practice self-compassion and kindness—just extending themselves the same basic human compassion and kindness that they would anyone else.
Very much the opposite of what most people who struggle with weight and food are used to. After all, when it comes to our weight and food, we’re programmed with messages like “You just have to want it more, be motivated, build your willpower muscle, try harder, work harder, be better…”
Perhaps to some, it may sound easy or silly, and it’s hard to understand what the hell kindness and compassion have to do with weight and food struggles when we’re so programmed to believe the opposite.
Just extending yourself some basic human kindness and compassion really does end up being one of the most important things to do when you’ve struggled with weight and food for a long time. It’s also the hardest, and some struggle more than others with this simple concept.
Personally, I struggled hard with it when I first started trying.
I hated myself. I hated and was ashamed of every single thing about me, and didn’t think I deserved any kindness or compassion. But I knew that if I ever wanted to change the way I felt about myself, I had to figure out how to find some.
So, I started picturing a little girl version of myself when I felt like I needed kindness and compassion. If I couldn’t give it to myself, I’d pull up a mental image of her and direct it that way.
It worked, and it’s a trick I’ve also been using with clients since.
But the other day, this woman (like many others) said, “Little girl me was fat… and… I… hate her. How am I supposed to give it to her when I hate her too?”
It broke my heart, but it didn’t surprise me, and as I think about it, it makes me angry. It makes me angry because this beautiful lady wasn’t born hating herself for a little belly roll. She learned to from our stupidly broken society and has carried that belief around with her every single day since.
From the time we’re old enough to make any kind of sense out of the world around us, we’re taught that fat is the enemy.
Mothers have been taking their kids to Weight Watchers meetings with them to get publicly shamed for the number on a scale since they were seven or eight. We’ve been warned “Better not eat that, you don’t want to get fat, do you?” as though it was a fate worse than death, while simultaneously being taught that food fixes everything.
“What’s wrong honey, you’re sad? Here, have a cookie.”
“Sore throat? Here, have some ice cream.”
We’ve watched as weight loss, at any cost, has been rewarded. Those who lose it are treated like royalty—showered with praise, attention, and acceptance, while we watch those who gain get whispered about behind their backs for “letting themselves go.” Or worse, they get openly teased and made fun of to their face—often even by friends and family who supposedly love them and claim to do it out of love and concern.
Our society has programmed us to believe that fat is the enemy and thin people are somehow better than those who are bigger, through millions of micro (and macro) aggressions over the course of our entire lives.
And here’s what’s happened as a result:
Tens of millions of people (big and small) are wasting literally their entire lives desperately trying to “fix” their “fat” problem so they feel more acceptable to the current narrative that size and shape determine human worth.
And when they put on a pound, they hate themselves.
It’s all so unbelievably toxic, damaging, and counterproductive, and it fuels the exact “problem” our population is obsessed with trying to “fix.” Because the individuals behind the war we’ve waged on fat, go through their entire life hating and rejecting themselves.
The stories they tell themselves about themselves end up looking a whole lot like this:
I’m worthless and unlovable if I’m not skinny.
I’m a failure if I gain weight.
I’m useless and stupid.
I ate bad, so I’m bad.
I’m such an idiot because I let myself go.
I’m disgusting and don’t deserve to feel good or be treated well (by myself or others).
You may be thinking, “Good, how else are they going to get motivated to get their shit together and lose the weight!” You may even follow that thought with the typical “I’m just worried about their health” tripe. (If you still believe that weight loss obsessions are in the “best interest” of public health, pop over here and read this piece).
Think about those words for a moment and consider how they make you feel. Now think about the impact of hearing them running through your head on autoplay, both consciously and unconsciously, tens of thousands of times a day, every single day, for years or even decades.