Posted on May 20, 2012 by Dr. DeahThink about it…how could one itty bitty word elicit such a broad spectrum of feelings, images, and associations? Throwing a fit If the shoe fits Misfit The perfect fit Fit for life Fit to stand trial When I worked in an inpatient psychiatric hospital for adolescents, one of the Expressive Arts Therapy activities I led was to have my patients free associate on the word fit and then choose one event from their list to explore. Without fail, the material generated from this directive was deep, rich, and expansive. In the scenarios that emerged few, if any, were neutral in nature. There is no middle ground about throwing a fit or not fitting in. We are either fit or unfit for duty, a 1A or a 4F. From the time we are aware of others around us we are praised for fitting in and criticized for not fitting in. Redheads don’t fit in, tomboys don’t fit in, boys that cry or are too short don’t fit in. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has had:
- Dressing room fits while on a quest for the perfect outfit
- Worked with her child to find a perfect fit college
- Became fit to be tied by the enormity of my to do list
“...It’s been many years since I worked with you as my therapist in the hospital and the work we did helped me alot. I changed alot of my bad attitude about my body and don’t get depressed as much. The recreation activities we did helped me like my body more and I like doing more active things now than I used to. I even think my eating is more normal I know I don’t binge like I used to and I am much thinner than I was when you knew me. I lost 45 pounds! But the problem is that other people still see me as fat. They don’t know that for me this is thin or thinner. It makes me want to diet so they will like the way I look more. I found your web page on Facebook and it made me feel better to know that I can be healthy at this weight. (I am 5’4 and weigh 150 pounds) But I still feel like I don’t fit in. It’s hard for me to like myself when everyone around me thinks I’m too fat.”Let's be clear. I read mountains of material on fatness and fitness and feelings. I am used to reading endless disparaging comments about fat people by people who hate fat people or are truly worried about a loved ones' health that they believe is jeopardized by their weight. In fact, I recently received a comment that kindly informed me that,
“You are doing a disservice to fat people by giving them the excuse to stay fat which comes with the tacit approval of being unhealthy. How can you say you really care about someone’s health if you don’t encourage them to lose weight?”Those kind of comments usually elicit a weary sigh and a response that I call “D3 on the juke box,” as I explain the Health at Every Size® perspective and that the war on obesity is causing more harm than good. But the personal perspective of my former patient’s note struck a different chord in me. I felt angry and sad on her behalf and it elicited a flurry of questions.
- How do we hold on to the benefits of adopting a HAES approach if loving yourself continues to be undermined everywhere you go?
- How do we strengthen our commitment to finding our healthy weight when the criticism we receive about how we look activates the urge to sign up for a diet program offering pre-packaged foods not fit for human consumption.
- Why do people keep insisting that even if we are healthy we still need to “just lose the weight” because we don’t fit the image of a healthy thin person?
- And why the hell does everyone on the planet all of a sudden seem to care about my weight anyway? (Sorry, had a little s*#t fit there)
“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice it is conformity.”I agree. I am hoping my former patient can be Very Very Brave. Til Next Time, Dr. Deah