This was originally posted at Fierce, Freethinking Fatties.
I confess, in spite of my frequent tirades against any kind of lifestyle advice, I am not quite as unhealthy as I make myself out to be. For instance, I am actually quite active and I pay some attention to diet just to make sure I have some variety in there. This is not just for my health, but also because I have a lot of energy that I like to discharge and because I get sick of eating the same things over and over again.
So aside from my altruistic desire to defend the personal liberties that all humans are entitled to and to spite to lifestyle police, what drives me to be as anti-healthist as I am even though I am not completely anti-healthist in my personal life?
Basically, what motivates me is that, to a lifestyle police officer, everyone who doesn’t make health and fitness a cornerstone of their lives is an unhealthy slothful waste of a life. Everyone who cares about health and fitness but who needs to adjust their routine for lifestyle, health, or othe reasons is just plain not trying hard enough.
I have a brief list of activities I entertain myself with and a list of so-called healthy foods that I put on my shopping list of my own free will. I do it because I like it and, to some extent, I need it. I cannot, cannot go through an entire day without some vigorous activity or else my mental health will suffer for the entire day. If I absolutely cannot get the real thing, I’ll invent some errands and take a drive on the turnpike. I have a playlist all ready to go, and while I’m not really active while driving, I feel like I’ve done something for the day and do so at 75 mph. I will defend to the death my right to eat fat, sugar, and most forms of “junk food” under the sun, but sometimes, I crave a bag of snow peas or some wheat Chex to munch on.
I’ve had people tell me that I am really good at this or that activity, although I can tell you right now, they caught me on a good day and have vastly overestimated my ability. Why didn’t I pursue that activity by taking lessons or joining a team?
I just don’t have the passion for it. Some people were born to be accomplished dancers, athletes, and their bodies are imbued with a gift. I may be good at some activities but I am imbued with no such gift and even if I were, that is not where my passion lies. That’s just it.
I am far more creative and intellectual than I am athletic. Thinking and dreaming come naturally to me. They can energize me or calm me down. One of my favorite things to do, believe it or not, is to just lie in bed and stare out my window, usually with some music on. My mind can wander to all sorts of endlessly fascinating things, such as what would happen if this study were conducted? I like the way the wind blew the curtain away from the window, allowing the sun to stream in. What a poem or drawing that would make! Out comes the art kit. I have often found that the less you try to do, the more ideas come to you and the more energy and focus you have to do them.
We live in a society that deifies athletics and those who participate in them. Other pursuits, such as the ones I engage in, are seen as less important, or perhaps outright unnecessary or destructive insofar as it keeps me from my call to healthism. Seldom do musicians or artists get the accolades that athletes do in high school and in college (although college is better about this than high schools.) Students who are on the honor roll, who participate in music and drama, and who run the student newspaper are seen as less than compared to an identical student WHO ALSO DOES TRACK! AND SHE’S GOOD-LOOKING TOO! I don’t have conclusive evidence that this is universal, but my own and the experience of others bear this out on a regular basis and that is enough for me personally to act on.
The other major problem I have with our culture of physicality is that, in addition to casting judgment on people’s interests and contributions to society, it privileges naturally athletic bodies, bodies that adhere to norms of appearance, and able bodies over those that are not athletic, disabled, or simply ugly in some people’s eyes. While my body conforms to some cultural norms, just having that scrutiny directed at something as personal as my body is not something I want any part of…especially if it is directed at parts of my body that AREN’T as socially acceptable.
It upsets me that, no matter what good I contribute to this world, if any, that I will never be good enough because I am not a good enough role model. I am not healthy enough, active enough, and I don’t try hard enough. Somehow, people who don’t lead proportedly healthy lifestyles are bad role models despite getting a top-notch education, being good parents, or what have you. The last I checked, being educated and havign supportive parents that could meet your basic needs was pretty damn crucial to health. Parents who SACRIFICE being good parents or other pursuits for the pursuit of fitness are seen as saints for just that. Parents who decide that having athletic and/or thin children was more important than having emotionally healthy children who don’t self-injure and who are catering to their individual gifts are celebrated whereas parents who have other priorities are seen as child abusers.
There is a world of difference between giving children a wide range of options for activities to enjoy in moderation and forcing them to make it their lives.
Guess what. It will be a cold day in Hell before I allow my kids to be bullied in gym class for not being strong or quick enough. If the gym teacher tells me that maybe it WOULD be a good idea to get my kids to move more, lose weight, or otherwise cave in to the bigoted standards of our healthist culture, this place is gonna blow, baby.
It upsets me that activities that I love, in the way I love to do them, are not seen as “real” exercise. Real exercise, in some people’s minds, is for long periods of time several times a week and it has to be an officially recognized event, i.e. baseball. Cleaning your house to techno music isn’t good enough for them. In other words, if I want to improve my health according to my specifications, I can fuck off and die because only athletes have “earned” the privilege of leading quality lives.
Being a fat or disabled athlete is a form of activism. You are asserting your right to live the way you want and to prove what fat and disabled people can do if they please. It’s positive for you physically and emotionally to do that. Writing this does not mean that I shun athletic fatties or crips from being in my crusade.
MY activism, however, based on my needs, my experiences, and my interests, is to be silent. I reject the world of organized physicality, at least in its present form. I want to defend my right to my inactive, healthy, and happy life.