This post was originally intended for people making fat jokes--hey, it's insensitive and rude and perpetuates negative stereotypes about people who are loved. I thought I'd make a list of 10 things to keep in mind before posting one on social media or sharing with a group of friends.
Fat shaming is real and it can be very ugly. But I realized that instead of just trying to fight it by shaming those who participate in it, I think it is more effective to share the truths I have learned about myself, about my inherent value, about my worth as a person of larger-than-'normal' girth. Maybe you need to hear this; maybe you know someone who needs to hear this. Share away.
1. I am created in the image of God. Because He spent time on me, I am worth knowing. I am worth looking at. I am worth talking to. My whole self--body and soul--is knit together in the goodness of God. Every human is a mystery wrapped in flesh. I want to know more mysteries. I want to learn more about God and about the lovely people around me, no matter what they look like. I want to apply that grace to myself, too. How about you?
2. I am beautiful. Not in spite of my weight, not because of my weight, not merely on the inside. I really like my face, my athletic frame, my hair, my legs. Because they are me. I celebrate the beauty of the whole of my physical body. You can, too. My friend Nicole Morgan encouraged me to take things I am proud of and celebrate them. I celebrate my thick, dark hair. I celebrate my pretty brown eyes. I celebrate my feet that take me places. I celebrate my body for bearing three children. What can you celebrate about your body?
3. I have something to say. For too long, I felt like I couldn't speak about important things because I carry more weight than what is deemed healthy. I felt like others would ignore me, might think I was ridiculous for speaking up, because of my size. It's not true. I have something worth listening to because I am human, not because I am thin or fat, or rich or poor, or mentally stable or on anxiety and depression medications. My story is worth telling because it is the story of a girl learning how loved she is, and I think there are a lot of people who need to hear that story, no matter how big or small the storyteller is. I am the temple of the Holy Spirit, and I am loved as I am. So many times verses about being God's dwelling place get used to silence overweight people, to shame them into guilt over their size. But silencing another person is never the answer. We need to reason together, speak kindly to ourselves and to one another. What story do you have to share?
We are loved no matter what. No matter shape. No matter size. No matter what.
So, before you make a fat joke, whether it is directed at another person or at yourself, maybe you can think about these things:
1. Am I celebrating or denigrating someone's body (even my own body)?
2. Is it affirming the image of God in another person or in myself?
3. Does it silence someone else by taking away their right to speak for themselves?
There are so many other hilarious jokes to be made. Let's not waste time on the ones that steal dignity from our brothers and sisters, and even from ourselves.