[This post is inspired by the brave and poignant apology by Iris Higgins I shared with you here.]
Dear Women of the World,
Sitting up here atop my perch — the one made with my fancy schmancy degrees, nestled next to my thin privilege — it’s easy for me to throw stones at the diet industry and popular media. I talk about how women’s magazines are ruining our lives and how utterly absurd diet companies are with their dangerous fads.
I’ll be the first to start a letter writing campaign to companies sexualizing little girls. I’ll stand up with my virtual bullhorn and tell you where (and where not) to spend your hard-earned dollars and vent for hours about how angry certain billboards make me.
But what I don’t talk about nearly often enough is my own part in making other women hurt. I’ve rarely told you about the ways in which I play a role in the epidemic of low self-esteem. And that’s primarily because I don’t like to think about it.
I’m of an average weight. My BMI falls in the “normal” range and I don’t have health problems that doctors attribute to my current size. Perhaps even more significantly, I’m not stigmatized for the way that I look to others. I get by without scornful looks or strangers watching what I order at fast food joints. I only have to pay for one seat on the airplane. I don’t have industries and billboards and governments and shouting at me to change my size — or else!
Just to be clear, I’m not hear to apologize for my size. I’m not sorry to be my particular size and shape, because no one should be.
But those facts are important to lay out as context for my experience.
I’m acutely aware of weightism, one of the last remaining socially acceptable “-isms,” and not just in others. I’ve learned to see weightism in myself too. And I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for the times that I assumed you wouldn’t be interested in going on that hike because of your size.
I’m sorry for buying hundreds of products over the years that only use incredibly thin (and usually always white) women in their advertising.
I’m sorry for the many times that I’ve not said to stop the fat talk at the lunch table. I’m sorry for taking the path of least resistance and not wanting to “stir the pot.”
I’m sorry for subconsciously granting thin people more credibility and leeway than you.
I’m sorry for former years of watching The Biggest Loser and cheering on players.
I’m sorry for failing to intervene when someone starting making unsolicited comments about weight.
I’m sorry if I’ve noticed more acutely what you ate or how you moved.
I’m sorry that I browse those same magazines that tell us to get rid of parts of ourselves in the grocery line.
I’m sorry that I’ve lost my voice at times I most needed it.
I’m sorry for all of the things that I’ve done to make this a more hostile world for those of a larger size to live in. I didn’t mean to hurt you, or myself for that matter. I could sit here and further blame society, but I am society. So instead, I’ll keep my excuses in check and simply tell you, I’m going to do better.