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The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating Acceptance and Self-Care

NEW LESSON: FALL 2013

Search for size friendly messages and services. You are entitled to feel good about yourself

Diet survivors come in all shapes and sizes. Some of you fall into the thinner weight range, but "feel fat." Some of you are slightly larger than what is considered desirable at this point in time in our culture, and some of you are very large. For the diet survivor who is large, meeting your needs in can feel daunting at times, especially if there is a strong part of you that agrees you are too fat to engage in certain activities. We encourage you to work toward the idea that you are entitled to be out in the world and live the life that you want to have at your current size. While there may be obstacles, how you face them will depend significantly on your belief system. If you believe you are entitled to feel good about yourself, have access to services, or participate in certain activities, you will use a different approach than if you view a lack of access to certain things as punishment for your size.

A simple example involves a diet survivor who loved go to the movies, but felt uncomfortable in the seats. As a result, it had been at least a year since he had gone to a theatre. His shame over his body size kept him from thinking about alternative ways to be able to see the films that interested him. As he began to understand that he was entitled to see movies regardless of his weight, he took in the advice of a friend who pointed out that the new movie theatre in town had roomier seats. He also realized that he would be more comfortable attending a movie when the theatre was less crowded, so he chose to go on a weekday rather than a busy weekend. Acknowledging that he deserved to see movies opened the door to being able to think about how to have this experience in the most comfortable way possible.

Part of attaining this sense of entitlement is realizing that just because something, such as airplane seats, does not come in different sizes, it doesn't mean that they shouldn't. In other words, rather than thinking your body must be wrong because the culture doesn't accommodate you, it is helpful to recognize that there are ways in which our society falls short. This position can help you move from a place of shame toward advocacy on behalf of yourself, and possibly even to size activism.

Despite the fact that there are so many messages in our culture that idealize thinness, there are also more and more size friendly messages and services available. Seek these out. You may visit a store that specializes in clothing for the larger person. Numerous catalogues with larger clothes, including bathing suits and lingerie, are now available. Large cuffs can be purchased to ensure accurate blood pressure readings. There are yoga tapes for rounder bodies and exercise classes for larger men and women. One company provides scuba gear and training for large people. Another group offers an annual weekend retreat to focus on living well at a larger size. The list goes on and on and will continue to grow as people of size demand more services and products.

There are also numerous organizations that advocate for the rights of fat people. While some of you may see your identity regarding weight as quite personal, others of you may choose to channel your anger about how you've been treated regarding size into the public arena. This may include working for political change, participating in gatherings to raise public awareness regarding weight discrimination, and networking with others who share similar experiences.

The larger diet survivor often feels isolated. If this applies to you, search for messages and services that validate rather than shame you. If you happen to notice a magazine article or commercial that takes the focus off of weight and offers a more balanced view of size, that's wonderful. But you will also need to make a concerted effort to find resources that meet your needs on a regular basis. Believing that you are entitled to have these resources can open doors and make a tremendous difference in how you approach obstacles that lie in your way. Feeling entitled to meet your needs means that you can put your frustration where it belongs, rather than taking it out on yourself.

Activity: A visit to cyberspace

Block out one hour of time to spend on your computer. Check out the following websites and blogs:

http://healthateverysizeblog.org/

http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/

http://www.haescommunity.org

http://www.moreofmetolove.com/

http://www.naafa.org/

http://www.cswd.org/

Try your own google search and see what you can find!

(But beware of sites that promote dieting and/or body hatred, which may also come up in a search related to positive body image.)

Each individual woman's body demands to be accepted on its own terms.

–Gloria Steinem