Feeling Fat is an Attitude of the Mind
   Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

A woman, highly competent and intelligent, is promoted to the position of departmental head.  While congratulating her on her promotion, her boss tells her that a photographer will come the next day to take her picture for the company's newsletter.  From that point on, all she can think about is how fat she feels and how big and ugly she will look in that picture.  She sleeps fitfully that night.  She wakes up every few minutes and sees herself looming large in the photograph.  The joy of promotion is completely washed away by wave after wave of shame about being "too fat." 
When someone says, "I feel fat," you know that person has been brainwashed by the "fat Nazis," that is, those who themselves are obsessed with thinness.  It is all a result of mental programming.  We don't feel fat in the body.  The place we feel fat is in the mind.  The weight loss industry and the world of fashion and entertainment have brainwashed us and created this unhealthy obsession in our twentieth-century society, 

Children are born to naturally like themselves and admire and fall in love with their marvelous, little bodies.  So how do some of us grow to dislike and even hate our bodies?  What is responsible for this shift from body admiration to body dislike and body hatred?  Answer: the sheer weight of others' opinion.  We allow other people's opinion to dictate how we should feel about our bodies and therefore about ourselves. 
Feeling fat or yucky about your body is not really about the body, it is about you.  So, analyze how you feel about yourself.  Some misguide themselves by thinking, "if I was not so fat I would feel okay about myself."  Self-esteem comes in all shapes and sizes.  I have seen very fat people with high self-esteem and I have seen thin people with very low self-esteem.  No matter, what beauticians, bodyworks, and clothes designers promise us, they can't deliver self-esteem to us.  We acquire self-esteem from within and not without. 

Thinness and happiness are not synonymous. One can be fat and jolly.  One can be thin and yet very unhappy.  In spite of no connection between happiness and external appearance, we have convinced ourselves that pounds and inches measure our self-worth and yield us happiness.  Happiness stems from within and not without. 

"Because I feel fat, therefore I am," is wrong reasoning.  I have seen people who are slim by social norms but they have convinced themselves that they are oversized.  Some feel that a part of their body is so out of proportion that they can't feel good about the rest of themselves. 
Have you heard, "people lie, mirrors don't?"  Mirrors do lie.  It depends who is looking in the mirror.  Some of us are very unforgiving and critical of ourselves.  "Mirror, mirror on the wall.  Who is the ugliest of them all?" and mirror says, "You."  Trust me, mirror is lying to you right in your face.  Look at yourself with a kinder eye.  Have compassion and respect for yourself just the way you are. 

Bad body thoughts are your worst enemy.  Here is a six-step plan to get rid of your bad body thoughts: 1. Spot a bad body thought as soon as it props up in your head, like you notice a bee when it is buzzing in your ear. 2. After you catch the bad body thought, challenge it.  For example, you thought, "I have fat thighs."  Challenge it right away by asking yourself, "Who says so?  The fat Nazis?  Thin thighs and blonde hair are just the same.  Society dictates us what we should admire.  I should decide whether my thighs are fat or right size for me."  3.  Apologize to yourself for being impolite to your body. 4. Say something kind and positive to yourself. 5.  Figure out what is it that you are really criticizing about yourself.  Ask yourself if your dissatisfaction is about your work, relationships or some unresolved business of the past.  6. Accept yourself with compassion and work on what you are dissatisfied with. 

Reader's Comment:
"Your article was very inspiring. I have thought to myself, "You're fat, you're fat and ugly, and that makes you a bad person," because society teaches us fat=bad. I wrote down some of your words to read over to encourage me. I focus on challenging the bad thoughts and coming back with a compliment instead. My thighs aren't the thinnest, but I have other great physical attributes! :) I hope you've inspired other women just like me. I hope we can oust the stick figures soon, and bring back the curves!"
Joan Nickerson


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