How I came upon FA

I just realized that people who don’t know me (ie. pretty much everyone who reads this) will think that I’m a relative newcomer to the FA movement. In reality, I’ve been part of it, on and off, for the past decade.

Obviously, like most people, I didn’t magically enter the world of FA. But to be frank, I can’t quite remember how I first stumbled upon it either (heh, that was nearly 10 years ago, after all, might as well say a century ago).

First of all, I’ve been chubby most of my childhood and teenage years, although I was a healthy kid. I did plenty of running around, biking, and most other activities that kids do when they play outdoors. As a teen, I was quite active and played sports, including ice hockey. Yet, despite this all, I had little self-esteem as a teenager, especially at 16-17 years old. I had internalized the same negative messages that most of us have at one point (y’know, the whole “no guy will ever like me”, “I’m so ugly” and other thoughts that destroy your self-esteem). In reality, my social problems had little to do with weight and a lot to do with self-confidence.

Fortunately, high school ended, and I entered junior college. Upon starting school, I was still in that same frame of mind as I was in my last two years of high school, but I had the chance to meet my first sorta boyfriend. He was 6 years older than me and was a tall and skinny geek. He also had personal baggage that kept our relationship from developing completely, something he acknowledged years later. However, in the end, he made a huge difference by making me know that I was lovable just as I was. I’ll never forget how he told me with his usual Spock-like logic, one day that I was whining about my weight, “what would you rather be, fat and in shape, or skinny and out of shape?” That really shut me up, and he was right. Unbeknownst to me, that was my first exposure to HAES, in the days before the Internet became mainstream (that happened in late 1993).

Life went on after that. At 19, I started dating a bit and gaining some life experience. My self-esteem had improved compared to my high school self (I know the difference was non-tangible, as my size was about the same as my 17-year-old self’s and I was still quite a nerd and a tomboy to boot, completely clueless about clothes). Soon after turning 20, I met Steve, who became my boyfriend. We remained together for 10 years. A year into the relationship, I followed my last-ever diet (the protein shake-and-muffin kind… iiiich for rubbery muffins!). Can you guess what happened? Yup, lost some weight (can’t remember — 40 lbs, maybe?), which of course I regained with some extra pounds over the following years.

In 1998, I moved to Ottawa to do an internship with the Canadian government, while my boyfriend stayed in Montreal. Was kinda rough to be apart for 8 months but at least it wasn’t a hugely distant long-distance relationship. And since I had regained weight (and despite being exposed to nicer plus-sized clothing stores), my self-esteem was becoming so-so again.

I remember my first exposure to FA, although it was more a flash in the pan than anything else. It was an essay called “À 10 kilos du bonheur” (25 lbs away from happiness), about the failure of dieting. It took another 4 years before I really entered the FA movement.

Now, I don’t remember where exactly the epiphany for FA came from. Was it when I bought Laura Fraser’s Losing It? Was it some article in either Bust or Bitch magazine? IIRC, it was Bitch Magazine, and there might have been a review of Losing It, or some URLs in the article. In any case, I read Losing It in no time (I highly recommend that book, even though it’s quite dated now), I fell in love with Bitch Magazine (I have every single issue since winter 1998-99), and I discovered my first online FA community: Fat!So?. The site’s forums, combined with the book, really were my starting point for accepting myself as I was, instead of trying to beat my body into a size it might not want to be. Of course, that change of attitude didn’t happen overnight, but over the course of a few months or so.

As the years went by, I more or less abandoned the FA movement because I no longer needed it as a crutch to sustain me within society. I was simply living my life. It’s not that I couldn’t be bothered with FA, but simply that I had too much in my mind to focus on it.

Fast-forward to my thirties. I became single again in 2005, just before I turned 30 (no, it wasn’t a thirties crisis or anything like that but a breakup that could’ve happened a year or two earlier. Being single again, when it had been so long ago and early in my adult life, required some adjustment. I did get used to it.

Life was going well in by itself for a couple of years, until September 2007. An encounter with some guy turned ugly, very ugly (verbal abuse galore, and I never felt so alone as I did that night). But I refused to let that bad experience destroy me; instead, I got back into the FA movement, to avoid internalizing the ugly things I had heard.

This is when I first heard formally about HAES. To me, it’s about taking into account my genetics (my maternal grand-mother was fat and so were her siblings, and her own father), and becoming active again, like I was when I was a teen — not to exercise to lose weight or anything like that, but rather to increase my strength and my stamina while enjoying the workout. Hence the aguagym classes.

And this is pretty much where I’m at now. I’m 32 years old, I live in an apartment that I like, I have a friend/boyfriend/whatever with whom I’m spending lots of time, and I’m pretty much comfy in the body I’m in. EVEN THOUGH I’m actually bigger than I was as a teen. The weight of my teenage thoughts were a lot heavier than my body ever was..

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