I asked on Twitter recently (Tweet @TheRotund if you have an idea or just want to say hi) what topics people might want to see. Fat sex came up, of course, and I’m working on it. But so did this:

Limbo period between embarking on FA & truly believing oneself is beautiful & worthy of self-love. Still not getting that part.

That right there is pretty much the biggest damn hurdle in all of fat acceptance, I think. Like, I used to think it was making the decision to work on your self-acceptance, fat-acceptance, body-acceptance. But once you make that choice?

You have to keep making that choice every single day. Or nearly every day. Or as often as you possibly can until it is a habit. You have to fail and then start again at it. Well, you don’t HAVE to fail. It isn’t a rule. I’m sure there is, somewhere, a person who hated their body and then woke up one day and just… stopped because it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to keep on doing it.

The truth is, there is a lot of fake-it-until-you-make-it in FA, at least in my experience. I had to feel really awful and still treat myself well – not because I genuinely believed I deserved it but because I was committed to treating myself well as a course of action independent of how I felt about myself – because I finally got that, hey, this is good for me and I DO deserve it.

In fact, feeling like I deserved it…. Frankly, I still struggle with that one sometimes. Do I deserve to have a book that I coauthored on the shelves without sending submissions to faceless agents for years and paying my metaphoric dues? Do I deserve a kick-ass husband who loves me just how I am? Do I deserve to wear the ridiculous fripperies that I consider fatshion?

But you know, lately, I’ve been thinking:

Fuck deserving it.

And I know the original comment isn’t exactly equating a feeling of self-worth with the idea of deserving it but stay with me for a minute here.

One of the most iconic advertising slogans is “I’m worth it.” Well, hell, yeah, you are. We all are. But that honestly doesn’t mean we’re going to get it because the world doesn’t work like that.

Questions of what we’re worth, what we deserve…. They seem oddly religious in foundation to me. Or going back to the old reward system. You can only love yourself if you deserve it.

I could name you some names (though I won’t) of people that I find personally reprehensible who might very well just totally love themselves. Being a douchebag doesn’t always spring from self-hate, after all. Sometimes people are just douchebags.

No, the world isn’t fair and we have to deal with that – my best choices in that regard are when I am being proactive about my boundaries and actively working for what I want, regardless of whether or not I deserve it.

Y’all, I could angst about that one FOREVER, especially because I have a couple dozen friends who are excellent writers without representation. But also because there are millions of people in the world who are BETTER than me.

The difference is that, honestly, what I DESERVE isn’t going to determine what I go after in this world. Not when it comes to happiness or work or clothes that look awesome.

Especially not in that last case – because then it’s often dependent on what OTHER people think you deserve and that rarely goes well.

So, here’s my advice for the limbo period: Put aside the question of whether or not you feel like you are worthy of self-love. Stop thinking about it as much as possible. You don’t have to have come to any conclusions, you just have to table the matter. And then treat yourself the way you would if you already loved yourself. Treat yourself well. And kindly. And treat other people the same way. And it will sink in.

It might take a hell of a long time for some people. But even if it never really does, what’s the worst that you have to show for it? Healthy and enforced/enforceable boundaries (which can often lead to being treated better by other people), and a backlog of good things you have done and choices you have made for yourself.

Limbo sucks. Let’s spend as little time there as possible.

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  1. Posted August 3, 2009 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you get. The End.

    That’s a tough thing to say, but I found it actually a good thing to hang on to when getting to terms with even bigger issues, like asking yourself, ‘Why did this wonderful person have to die, and that dreadful douchebag there is still alive? He doesn’t deserve to be; in fact, I’d kill ten of him for the other one if that would help.’ But nobody deserves to live or die, succeed or fail; we just do.

    Trying to determine who deserves what means flailing helplessy against reality. It’s not a very powerful stance to take in life.

  2. Posted August 3, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m thrilled you posted my topic. Your last handful of paragraphs are golden.

    I have always hated the “I’m worth it!” in advertising. I think I have a chip on my shoulder of products / services playing off (many) women’s resentments and low-self esteem lifestyles.

    Thanks for this post, it’s wonderful.

  3. Posted August 3, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Great post, Marianne! I think that faking it until you make it (and then maybe faking it until you make it a little further, and so on) is great advice.

    Since I deal with this topic pretty much every week in my blog, I’m going to do a shameless plug here (http://bodylovewellness.blogspot.com). I hope that’s cool!

  4. Posted August 3, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    I love your style, your voice and your humanity. You write in a voice that simultaneously shares your experience while also inviting me as a reader to consider my own.


  5. Monica
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    I wanted FA before I knew what it was. I knew I wanted FA when I was seven and my mother told me to suck my stomach in. I wanted FA when I was thirteen and for all intents and purposes anorexic, although I didn’t lose enough weight for a formal diagnosis, doing crunches on my bathroom floor and wishing I was allowed to like the curve of my stomach between my hipbones. I wanted FA when I gained all that weight back and more.

    And now that I’ve found it, it’s difficult and it’s terrifying, and I’ve had some pretty serious setbacks in the form of a major depressive episode and an additional 20 lbs gained over the course of a year, after being at a stable weight for over a year for the first time in my life. And reading this post… I am so glad to know it’s not just me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    (FWIW, in response to the original question of what topics I would like to see? Bringing FA to fat family members. Should I? Shouldn’t I? I want them to be happy, and I think FA is key in my happiness, but I don’t want to be preachy. My mom has just decided to get WLS, my brother is staking a lot in it in terms of seeing it as a model for his own future weight loss, and I want to provide a different kind of role model. But I tried bringing it up with him yesterday and just made him really upset.)

  6. Freyjah
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    This is where I think people with a deep religious commitment have an advantage. A friend of mine always says that you deserve everything just by virtue of being put on this earth by God. She also says that there’s no point in comparing yourself to other people because “only God sees in 3D,” so you can never know enough about them for your comparison to be valid.

    I don’t have my friend’s faith, but I do try to adopt her philosophy. It takes a lot of the pressure off.

  7. meerkat
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    It’s just too bad so many people are going to tell you you deserved it when you get something bad. That impulse to pretend we are all safe from Bad Thing X so long as we don’t do Thing Y.

  8. Posted August 4, 2009 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    THANK YOU for this, TR. It makes sense that the “deserving” thing belongs in the nearest dumpster, because you’re absolutely right — there are people who not only are total douchebags, but are PROUD to be total douchebags, who seem to get every single earthly reward there is. And like you said, plenty of unbelievably talented people who go unrecognized. I know that. I can see it. And yet, if I accomplish one thing in this body it will be the formation of a single standard, that will allow me to use the same forgiving yardstick on myself that I use on others (who are not total douchebags).

  9. Lori
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    I’ve had so many things in my life, FA being one of them, that I’ve felt this “limbo” about. To me, it feels like the lag between my feeling something and my understanding it to be true. I think a lot of times we can “get” something intellectually, but have it take a lot longer for it to sink in and be something we truly feel.

  10. Jackie
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Not to get too academic or anything, but I think that “deserve” idea is part of our American culture that people who work hard get good things because America is all opportunities for hard workers and therefore people who are poor are just lazy. Intrinsic to this “American dream” is the idea that people get what they deserve.
    It’s funny too because in lots of the rest of the world that is the craziest idea ever!
    Of course, the American dream ignores all kinds of privilege and also, as others have commented, the vagaries of being human more generally.
    Yet, it is so tempting! This idea of deserve. Thanks so much for lifting the curtain so we can see the man behind it!

  11. Pegkitty
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    The first little affirmation I actually wrote out and hung on my bathroom mirror is kind of a flip side of the Golden Rule – it says “Treat yourself as you would treat others.”

    Also, as far as I can tell, being a douchebag rarely springs from self-hate. Most of the real db’s I’ve known seem to be quite fond of themselves.

  12. Christi
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Fwiw, *I* totally think you deserve it (agent, authorship, etc), because you aren’t just putting anything out into the universe–you’re putting a message out that a lot of people (including me) desperately need to hear. So maybe it’s less about you and Kate deserving it personally and more about the ideas deserving an audience (in a BIGbigbigbig way), and your way of delivering those ideas resonating with a large number of people (pun unintended, heh).

    But even on a personal level, TR, being around you is being carried along on the wave of your irrepressible spirit and energy, and that’s a very good thing.

    This is tangential to the OP, but I have the problem of not realizing a boundary has been crossed until after it’s already happened. I’m curious if other people have this issue, and – if so – how you handle it. By the time I realize something is bothering me, it feels like I’ve already allowed whatever it is so it’s hard to change my mind and reset that boundary. I’d love to hear from you, TR, or from others who have had success with that.

  13. Posted August 4, 2009 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I am new to FA and I also am in that Limbo period of learning about FA and standing in my certainty of my own self acceptance. Having spent this past weekend at two conventions with more FA folks I came away with some new ideas about this limbo period.

    FA is such a complete shift in my self perception, that just deciding to accept myself as a fat man is not going to happen. I need to investigate, understand all the implications, check out the opposing viewpoints, cross reference every blog and medical study, speak with my therapist, navigate through my family’s reaction to my FA and that’s just off the top of my head.

    To top that off, I can find, see, blog with, and meet many many awesome women living their life in FA but, even at a convention for FA, I could only find three other FAT guys in who were living in FA. (sorry to wine about that, not very manly, huh??)

    One of the fat guys at the convention really had his head together and I think I may have found a mentor and role model. I am happy for that.

    In talking to him and with his help, I came to see that at some point, the analysis and trying to find logical justification for being okay with being a FAT MAN holds me back from being okay with being a FAT MAN.

    I agree that that analysis has to be tabled and there has to be some fake it till you make it in the process.

    At some point I just need to own that my own sense of self worth needs to come from within and I must disregard all the opposition to my FA whether it be from my family, my media, or (and this is the toughest one) that inner voice that is actually a representation of all those outer forces.

    I have to stop trying to get to “living in FA is right or wrong based on this or that” and stand in the truth that Living in FA is my best chance at a life of happiness and fulfillment.

    I’d rather be happy and wrong (in others eyes) than miserable and in sync what those outside of myself believe and perceive.

  14. Lenore
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    I’ve been trying to get away from this concept of “deserving” things. If everyone only got what they deserved, the world would be a pretty grim place. All the “awful” people would get awful things, which may seem fair until you think about all the good things in the world which wouldn’t be allowed to exist in the first place, since so many wonderful things come out of circumstances that, by all rights, shouldn’t have inspired such great things. The “good” people wouldn’t do so many good things, as the people who are on the receiving end of those things don’t “deserve” them. And without those unearned, un-looked-for moments of kindness and grace, so many “bad” “undeserving” people wouldn’t find the inspiration to turn their lives around.


    Anyway, about FA: You’re right about the large amount of fake it till you make it going on. I still do that a lot and I often feel not just frustrated, but also kinda guilty about that. It helps to remind myself that if nothing else, my faking it till I make it will at the very least result in just that much less body hatred going out into the world and affecting the people around me. At least by not outwardly expressing negative stuff about my body, I’m preventing other people from absorbing that kind of negativity and hopefully it’ll make it that much easier for someone else to escape that body hating mentality.

  15. Alyce
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    For me, it’s rarely about the deserving it. I get that, or at least I think I do. I feel like when I say to myself and others, “I’m awesome!” that I mean it. And mean not only that I am awesome, which of course I am, but mean that I think it. I do think it!

    But there are so many thoughts and images that cripple the thought process that I rarely even get to thinking about whether or not I am worth it, whether or not I deserve it. It’s just the same ol’ ingrained “eat this, don’t eat that” that is so pervasive.


    Anywho. Great post. It is absolutely a daily/hourly struggle. Thanks for acknowledging that.

  16. Posted August 7, 2009 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    @Monica, who wrote:

    “(FWIW, in response to the original question of what topics I would like to see? Bringing FA to fat family members. Should I? Shouldn’t I? I want them to be happy, and I think FA is key in my happiness, but I don’t want to be preachy. My mom has just decided to get WLS, my brother is staking a lot in it in terms of seeing it as a model for his own future weight loss, and I want to provide a different kind of role model. But I tried bringing it up with him yesterday and just made him really upset.)”

    This is a great topic; I also would love to see this addressed. I am newish to FA and don’t know how to handle family stuff either!

  17. Posted August 7, 2009 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Oh.. the limbo. I struggled with that forever.. I’m probably still struggling with it. It was really obvious for me with respect to clothes though. When I first gained a bunch of weight, I wore the biggest baggiest things I could find. Typically these were men’s clothes, which were easier to find in bigger sizes. I think I didn’t feel pretty, and felt I didn’t deserve to feel pretty. The more I find plus sized stylish clothes, the more I am coming out of that limbo but I wonder if I’ll ever fully be out of it.

  18. Lexxie
    Posted August 7, 2009 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    I have been faking it for quite sometime, and it’s finally starting to just be the way i think all the time. I still have bad days, or weeks, but it’s not my default anymore. Your words have helped me tremendously to see the world, my world, in a different way. And I allow much more possibility into my life then ever before. I cannot wait to see what you have to say about fat and sex, yay!

  19. littlem
    Posted August 13, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    You don’t get what you deserve. Thank you.
    You get what you negotiate.

    “The truth is, there is a lot of fake-it-until-you-make-it in FA, at least in my experience.”
    Ooo, telling secrets …

    When I start feeling like it’s limbo, I try to re-image it as a zen state of sorts. B/c in this culture, we’re going to spend a lot of time there.

    (**** of a post. <3)

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