Oh my weight!
February 5, 2012 1:39 PM   Subscribe

How do I accept my weight and my body? (Snowflake-y details inside)

Now, regardless of how obvious this question may seem, please do bear with me:

I have always been fat and have no idea what being thin is like. Well, I wasn't a particularly heavy newborn, but my first baby photographs already show me with a little extra pudginess that never really went away. It didn't really help my confidence that when I reached my teenager years, I'd already been to several nutritionists, was on medication and had been on and off dieting for years. That and the fact that I picked on/bullied by my mother/grandmother (who is obese)/school peer and told off because of my weight for years on end, left a big mark on my current self. I do understand that they are concerned that I'd/will end up like my grandmother, but it never helped things. (Even now, I can barely bear to talk to my grandmother because the first thing she'll ask will be 'how's your weight?')

I admit I enjoy food quite a lot (especially the home-made kind: roasts, stews...) but I have never eaten particularly 'wrong' nor do I overeat/binge. I also try to count my calories and have cut things like soda from my diet a long time ago, which, in the grand scheme of things, didn't really make a big difference. I did however, stop dieting a while ago as I don't see the point of it, since I never managed to either lose a significant amount of weight nor keep it off for a significant amount of time.

At this point, I am about 10-20kg (20-40lbs) overweight and despite that I haven't had anyone tell me I'm fat (besides my family) for years, I have extreme trouble getting over the fact that I am fat, and accepting myself/my body as it is. To the point that my partner has told me he gets a bit annoyed every time I question him about my weight as it reveals how insecure I am about it (he thinks I'm just fine as I am).
posted by Trexsock to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Let me recommend Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon, Ph. D. and Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere as two good places to start.

Dieting is a predictor of weight gain, not weight loss. People who do succeed in changing their body compositions or weights intentionally do so through a combination of permanent nutritional and exercise changes, and not everyone who improves their health through nutrition and exercise changes sees a concomitant loss of scale weight or even inches.

Stepping off the merry-go-round of body shaming and diet talk is hard. But focusing on your own health and your own behaviors (and weight is not a behavior) is so much more productive that you will be amazed once you do it.

If you're interested in doing a sport or endurance training or dance or anything that will help you move from seeing your body as an object that has the "wrong" dimensions to feeling at one with your body and amazed at the things it can do, let me recommend Slow Fat Triathlete by Jayne Williams. It's not relevant only to larger folks who want to do triathlons: it's really thought-provoking for everyone wanting to find a way to be active in the body they have, not the body a magazine tells them they should have.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:49 PM on February 5, 2012 [12 favorites]

One of the things that helped me accept my body as it is was to use it. In my early 20's, I decided that even though I was fat, I could still exercise. So I started to move around. I joined a gym - not with the intention of losing weight. I wanted to gain strength and be fit.

I kept doing that, and I grew to appreciate what my body could do. How strong it was, and how I felt when I noticed that my stamina and strength increased. It was a great feeling. I became more active, began to practice yoga and martial arts as well. Being active and being aware of my body became things that were part of my lifestyle, and I really enjoyed how I felt.

In being active and happy with my body, I ended up losing a significant amount of weight. I'm not telling you this to tell you that exercise = weight loss. I made a lot of lifestyle changes around my diet as well, as a result of wanting to eat better for my activities.

What I am saying is - when I took the focus off 'the weight' and just began to appreciate my body for what it could do, it took a lot of stress off of me.

It sounds like maybe if you can, speaking with a therapist may help as well. I had a really great cognitive therapist who helped me a great deal with my issues about body image, and how I saw myself. The sessions allowed me to be in a safe place to discuss my problems, without judgement. Maybe that would help you as well.

Good luck!
posted by carmenghia at 1:52 PM on February 5, 2012 [15 favorites]

not everyone who improves their health through nutrition and exercise changes sees a concomitant loss of scale weight or even inches.

I should have added "Or a concomitant gain of scale weight or even inches for those trying to increase rather than reduce their body weight," because that's just as hard, even though that's not the situation you're in.

I think the hardest bit for people with a higher body weight is to get your own mind out of the moral judgments people attach to other people's bodies. Sometimes thinking of how weight change is hard in both directions can help with that!
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:56 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

> How do I accept my weight and my body?

As others allude to above, lifting weights is a great activity and can you give a different mindset. Since I bought Starting Strength and began a barbell lifting routine, I now step on the scale periodically to see how much my weight has gone up! For powerlifters, how you look doesn't really matter as long as you're increasing the amount of weight you can squat, deadlift, etc. It's really intimidating at first, but that book is a godsend at making barbell lifting not scary.

It may be best to get out of moralizing about your body entirely, but if you're not having luck doing so and haven't been able to lose weight, shifting to a different body-outlook mindset altogether might get you started.
posted by losvedir at 2:16 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

carmenghia is definitely right. By focusing on how strong and capable your body is, you'll be able to turn those negative feelings into positive ones. Start exercising! Exercising doesn't really do much for your weight (the major factor in the way that you look is your diet, not how much you work out) but it will help you feel awesome about your body.

I'd like to offer you a specific exercise program, but the only one I have personal experience with is my own and it's kind of homegrown -- I go to the gym every five days and do a little cardio warmup, squats, leg press, glutes, hamstrings, and hip adductions/abductions. Three days a week I do ab exercises at home. This works for me and I've seen lots of improvement, measured by how strong I feel and how many pounds I'm able to lift. I've actually gained a little weight from this because muscle weighs more than fat. It's not about the number on the scale, it's about how I feel in my body.

Couch to 5k might be something for you to consider. Others might be able to weigh in on this specific program, or other exercise programs, that might be good for you. I can't speak highly enough about how great exercise is in terms of the way I feel about myself.
posted by k8lin at 2:17 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't dress for the wrong weight -- either up or down.
Don't hold on to clothes you'll wear when you are thin.
Don't wear baggy clothes to hide inside.
Don't wear tight clothes because you are fooling yourself into thinking they flatter you.
Do buy the best quality you can afford and do get acquainted with a decent tailor. For very modest investment, you can have clothes that truly fit who you truly are.
Good luck!
posted by thinkpiece at 2:17 PM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Great other advice that I won't repeat, and I am not sure if this applies to you, but: Buy well made, flattering clothes that you like. Don't tell yourself you can't wear a particular style, or that you are going to wait till you are a size smaller to get something, you deserve it now, and you should buy it! Don't feel like you need to hide under baggy clothes. Same goes for makeup/hair, if you do that stuff. I've had too many friends tell themselves it doesn't matter what they wear, because of their weight. You are worth it, and sometimes you can fake it till you make it. Good luck!
posted by kellyblah at 2:21 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding sidhedevil's book recommendations. Both of those are excellent!

I'm sorry your family members are so demeaning to you. It's not okay for your grandmother to constantly critique your weight and ask you questions about what your weight is. Your weight is none of her, or anyone else's business, and if I were you, I'd consider telling her to suck it.

Being fat is not shameful, it's not a personality flaw, it's not morally wrong, it's not worse than being thin, and it's not ugly. The body you have now might just be the only one you ever have - you may never be thinner. If you focus on being healthy, no matter what size you are, the weight will stabilize at whatever point it's supposed to be for you.

Good luck!
posted by Sal and Richard at 2:37 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am assuming you are female. If you arent, my advice won't be as directly helpful, sorry.

I have been around 35 pounds "overweight" for most of my life, too, and I've finally made some headway in this struggle to love myself. one of the things that has helped a lot was belly dancing- not only do I get to use my body in a way that makes it physically stronger, looking in the mirror and saying "hey, I look fucking awesome doing this Mayan" or whatever has made me aware that I inhabit this body, it isn't just some ugly meat that I'm forced to associate with. Also, belly dancing attracts people of all shapes. Being around other women who can "own it" will make you think of yourself as not flawed: we tend to judge others much less harshly than we do ourselves.

Yoga is also a good way to feel better about your body (that's pretty much the point!) Becoming more flexible, more relaxed, more present in this moment, will lead you on the path to living yourself the way you deserve to.

It's so hard when your family isn't supportive. Right around when I really started my journey of living myself for who I am, my mother got liposuction. She and I have very similar body shapes, and it really hurt me that she didn't love her body (and by extension mine) so much that she thought she needed surgery! A big part of letting go of this was realizing that all those pressures I feel about my body, everyone feels too, no matter how they look to me. We can only be responsible for ourselves. Misguided attempts to shame you reflect more on the person doing the shaming than on you.

Stop framing this in a negative way to your partner. Have you ever had a friend who thought her flaws were just awful, but you didn't see it that way? Repeated insistence that you are hideous, and how can you possibly love me, and look, right here this is why my tummy/butt/whatever is disgusting only makes other people uncomfortable and reinforces the negative ways you think about yourself. Look in the mirror and say "damn, I'm beautiful". Look at yourself when you think your parter is judging you and think "damn, he's lucky to have such a beautiful person around, and I'm lucky too, to have someone who loves me as much as I deserve to be loved". The power of positive thinking is cheesy as hell, but really works. You need to break the cycle of hating how you look, and thinking good things instead of saying bad things is the first (hardest!) step.
posted by zinful at 3:05 PM on February 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'd play off carmenghia's advice and say find something you're good at or want to work to get good at and can be proud of. For example, I do a lot of working out (and am still huge), but on weekends I play pickup basketball. I'm not good in the classical sense, I can't make crazy shots or run circles around people.

However, I have strong legs and can drive really well when someone starts trying to lean in on me. Being a big guy means I can set a screen or take a charge and they take more damage than I do. I can shove people out of the way under the basket for rebounds. I can use my size to block people out or deny them a lane. I'm the guy you don't want guarding you because you'll wear down, get tired, and I'll keep coming at you. And I've been working on my shooting. It feels pretty good to wear out younger/slimmer/better people and have them leave the court while I'm still ready to go.

Maybe it's a team sport. Maybe it's something individual like running or weight-lifting or swimming. (I do all those things, too) or something where numbers could go up and you could accomplish things like running (or even walking) in a 5k or deadlifting some absurdly high number. Maybe it's less sport, more activity, like dancing or yoga or whatever.

Find something cool your body can do and you'll have something to be proud of that nobody can take away from you.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:14 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Agreeing that exercise/dance makes you feed different about your body. I went on two hikes this week, and, although I know I probably don't look a bit different than last week, the way I feel about my body instantly changed. It feels powerful and amazing. In my mind it looks so much better that I want to put jewelry on it and decorate it. It all adds up to looking/feeling better about your body.

And I also agree with dance. Especially something like belly dancing where you will feel sexy right off the bat.

Don't look at exercise/movement as a way to loose weight. Look at it as a way to love your body. It works!
posted by Vaike at 3:17 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

No one has called you fat for years, except your family. The consistent, recurring abuse from them is a serious problem. Have you ever told your family, "My weight is not up for discussion, you need to drop it permanently if we're going to have a relationship"? If not, I suggest you do so. If you've already said something to that effect, then your family members need consequences when they bring up your weight: you say, "OK, I'm hanging up/leaving now. We can try this again another time." This isn't overdramatic or immature, it's a way to try to maintain a relationship with your family while protecting yourself from their awful attitude about your weight.

In addition to the family stuff, I'd like to share something else. I grew up overweight, uncoordinated, and un-athletic. I was usually the biggest kid in the class and was painfully shy, so I was sensitive about my weight. I've gone through thinner and heavier periods as a college student and 20-something, and right now I'm pretty happy with the way I look, but there's still a voice in the back of my mind that says, "You're too fat to wear this," or, "You're too fat to do that." It's a voice that says you have to be "perfect"--slim and fit--before you deserve to enjoy life. The single best thing I've done to fight that voice has been to get involved in martial arts and kickboxing. Learning karate has helped me to develop better coordination. Kickboxing and strength training have made my muscles strong. Whenever I look in the mirror and think, "Ugh, my arms are so flabby..." I flex like a body builder and admire the muscles under that flab--because, yeah, I have body fat, and I'd never make it as a fashion model, but my body is strong and awesome anyway.

I strongly recommend that you find a small woman-friendly gym of some kind--dance, martial arts, strength training, whatever--and take a class or work with a trainer to start developing skills with your body. I recommend smaller gyms with a specific focus because it's nice to have a sense of community. An alternative would be to pick a sport and join a club. The important thing is to begin learning new skills that put you on the same team as your body: it's not about punishing your body on a treadmill, it's about combining the mental effort of learning something with the physical effort of practicing it.
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:21 PM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think all the diet and exercise suggestions above are fine, but none of it is going to help much if you can't get your head out of the way. Undertaking a lifestyle change around eating or doing yoga or lifting weights "for your health" is great, but a lot of people add on the afterthought of "and then before you know it you lose weight anyway." And the fact is, that might not happen at all. And thinking about something else doesn't make weight loss more likely.

I think the best and most important thing to do is to learn to love yourself no matter how you look, no matter if your body is falling apart and unhealthy, fatter than you'd like or saggier or older (because, let's face it, that's where we're all headed anyway). Loving yourself has to become divorced from anything about what your physical self looks like. For me, it took some years of therapy to get to that place. And then I felt fantastic and sexy and strong and beautiful even though my physical self hadn't changed much. (Full disclosure: then shit happened and I undid all that good work and now ten years later I'm starting over, but still, it was great while it lasted.)

In your case, it sounds like there is all kinds of early life trauma around your body and its size, plus family bullshit that follows you around even if you are ready to leave the past behind. I think you need to heal that stuff before you can accept your weight and body and therapy can be very helpful in that regard.
posted by looli at 3:23 PM on February 5, 2012

Weigh yourself once a month. Worry about your weight at that time... and only at that time. If you start to get anxious about it, remind yourself that nothing terrible will happen in just a month and if there are any changes then you'll deal with it on weigh-day.

This might also help with telling your family to fuck off. "I keep an eye on my weight, you don't need to, never talk about it again."
posted by anaelith at 3:26 PM on February 5, 2012

My earlier comment about attuned eating was removed - I apologise if it came across like I was addressing weight loss rather than feeling good about the way you already are. I thought it was worth considering as a way to peel apart how your body truly feels with regard to hunger/appetite vs. how your family makes you feel, or other factors none of us know about.

As others suggest, treat exercise as a way to feel good, not to lose weight. Physical activity produces all sorts of feel-good chemicals and reduces all sorts of feel-bad ones, so go for it!

Sorry mods if I missed the point and this needs deleting again. A nudge in the right direction might help in that case.
posted by cogat at 3:41 PM on February 5, 2012

I just wanted to say thank you for posting your question because I've been thinking a lot about it this week. One of the twisted-up things I discovered in my own therapy is that when I actually did lose weight, I would feel panic and often sabotage myself. Everyone in my family has a fucked up relationship to weight, and doubtless my holdups are related to a reluctance to play their stupid fat-shame game, while at the same time hating myself anyway. Once I untangled that particular knot, I found it much easier to both accept myself as I am and not to binge eat. Which for me is huge progress. I still have exercise-related hangups, but am working on those too.

Which is to say; therapy (and for me, meds) help. But it's been a long journey, so don't judge yourself for struggling at all.
posted by emjaybee at 4:05 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't share your experience of being overweight, but, holy crap, does exercise make me feel better about myself/my body. And, yeah, muscle weighs more than fat, so maybe you lose weight or maybe you gain weight, but the 'hey, a week ago it was way harder to do X' feeling is pretty nifty. (I'm doing my best to take up exercise again and there really was an appreciable difference in my ability to do sit-ups in a week. Granted, it might have been because was I was pathetic initially, but still nifty.)

I'm inclined to say go as far as stopping to weigh yourself. It's probably not particularly useful information to you. If you lose or gain a particularly significant amount of weight, you'll need to buy new clothes and notice that way. When your family says 'How's your weight?' (WTF, family?), tell them what awesome healthy thing you did recently. '$partner and I went hiking last weekend.' 'I biked to work on Wednesday' Whatever. They can think you're trying to lose weight, when really you're just off having fun, living a healthy lifestyle.

I'll also plug the Metafilter group on Fitocracy. Fitocracy is sort of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives me points for climbing the stairs (yay!), so I get to feel good about myself like every day. (And that's enough to get me to climb the stairs more than resolving to climb the stairs does.) On the other hand, there are loads of people who post zillion-point workouts, when breaking a hundred points in one day was a big deal for me until recently, which made me feel like a bit of a loser.
posted by hoyland at 4:39 PM on February 5, 2012

I'm going back up a lot of things that were said up thread.

letting go of all the baggage that comes with being fat (I was obese most of my life)- like thinking I couldn't be active, that I couldn't be sexy, that because I was fat everything else had to be ON HOLD- letting go of all that is the most freeing thing you could imagine.

Somethings are harder than others. Loving how strong your body can be is a great way to start. Finding something you like to do, a sport, an activity that's a little challenging (for me it was speed walking the 'mean' streets of new york) and suddenly you aren't fighting your body anymore- you're a team. That's how you start to love it- by giving it a chance to show you how amazing it really is.
posted by Blisterlips at 5:09 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since one or two people have asked: This was the FPP on Fitocracy. It looks like METAFILTER was an invite code. No idea if it still works. The group invite code is in the comments to the post, as well.
posted by hoyland at 5:38 PM on February 5, 2012

I'll quadruple the exercise component. Just standing up straighter and getting stronger will help a lot.

Other things that make me feel better about my weight: Wearing clothes that fit. Wearing CUTE clothes that fit (find a good tailor and use them often!). Having a good haircut/color. Having my eyebrows and nails well groomed and my skin clean and not too shiny. Wearing cool shoes and jewelry. There's a lot that you can do to look put together and interesting that has nothing to do with your size. The benefit is that you'll get compliments on those things (not "Have you lost weight"?) and that will be a nice ego boost.
posted by elizeh at 8:27 PM on February 5, 2012

I was never larger than a size 8 well into my forties and then had brain surgery. The meds I must take are correlated with severe weight gain and I didn't escape it. 120 pounds in a little more than a year. The physical and mental implications are many and deep. High arches made the small bones in the ball of our feet break, putting me in walking casts with orders to sit as much as possible. This led to DVTs and pulmonary embolism, and on and on. For months I was shocked every time I caught a glance of myself in mirror. Windows in public were somehow worse. My husband told me over and over how little the weight meant to him but I knew better. Still I couldn't lose any, as I couldn't exercise.

Then, recently, I've experienced a great change. I realized that my husband would not relating to me all these months, and now two years, in the same way as before I became ill if there were not something here that appeals to him. My essence, for lack of a better word. It's in the letters I've saved from children I've taught, the cards from friends, the poems I wrote in school, the feedback from teachers and bosses. Sure these people were relating to my physical presence but it's clear to me now that it was the inner presence that shaped the outer.

Here's the critical thing. It may sound trite but I see it every, single moment moment. He relates to me according to how I feel about myself. This has been the great lesson in the ordeal and it's worth the many pounds of flesh. The more I recognize and cultivate the presence that God gives me the less my weight is in the way. To not hide my light under my bushel of fat's the thing. Now that I feel this way all the other recommendations here follow naturally. I want to dress my weight and I understand more about style than I ever did at 128 lbs. Feel your essence, who you are in the deepest place within and you will be more beautiful ever.
posted by R2WeTwo at 9:18 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's really telling that almost all of these answers focus on exercise... when the question didn't mention exercise at all. Seriously, maybe the OP runs marathons! We don't know this.

I suggest checking out Health At Every Size and the fat acceptance movement--there are a lot of blogs out there, and depending on where you live, there may be fat activists in your area too. These are good ways to get exposed to stuff like the BMI project which might help you to change the negative way you think about your body shape.

Are you really "overweight" for your individual body? I too have been fat for as long as I can remember--but you know, I have had the same body shape throughout. I am also 20kg overweight based on BMI etc, but now, at 25, I am only about 10-15 lbs heavier than I was at 15, not something many of my peers can say. I can still wear the dress I wore to 8th grade graduation! I am "obese" based on my BMI, but I believe that my body is a size and shape that is healthy for me. Try to stop judging your body by all of those external standards... think about what kind of size and shape is healthy and right for YOU. And if you have been dieting and dieting and you remain the same shape, it sounds to me like you are probably the right size as it is.

Some things that helped me to start feeling better about my body:

1. I stopped dieting, completely. I have always been a reasonably healthy eater, but I do try to keep the sugar down and the veggies up. I don't count calories--that feels like a restrictive punishment to me. I know how to make healthy choices without thinking about them in terms of calories, and that's what I do. I aim for good nutrition, and do not deny myself reasonable indulgences.

2. I find things to like about my body, and I believe my partner when she tells me what she likes about it. I'm not a fan of my big arms, or the way my legs look, but I have some parts that I do think look really good! Even thin people have body parts they don't like, so try to let go of the bad and focus on the good. Dress in a way that makes you look and feel good, but don't dwell on hiding things. I'm much happier now that I don't check the bad spots constantly. Everyone has some--and nobody but you is noticing yours, so try not to stress over them.

3. Surround myself with people who are understanding, and stand up for myself with those who aren't. When your grandmother asks "how's your weight," if you don't want to get into a fight with her, try "It's great, I'm just my usual size and I'm very healthy."

4. I try to be proud of what I do right and what's good about my body. I'm really proud that I'm the same size I was as a teenager, that my legs are really strong, and that my diet is really healthy compared to a lot of other people my age. Celebrating the things that are good and what I do right has helped me to stop beating myself up about the fact that I don't fit someone else's ideal.

5. Rethinking my idea of beauty is something I'm working really hard on. I was brought up to think that fat is shameful, but I have been trying to reprogram myself, and to see beauty in fat women. And a lot of them are really beautiful! When I have a knee-jerk "wow, she's fat, I hope I don't look like her" thought I call myself on it and make myself look again--often, she actually looks quite nice.

It sounds like you and I might be similar in this way... my parents have both struggled with their weight and they handed their issues down to me, big time. If you ever want to chat about body issues and fat acceptance via MeMail, I'd be more than happy to.
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:44 PM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

OK. So, the thing that has helped me more than anything to accept myself is just to be so busy with other stuff that I forget I'm fat. Seriously, I might notice in a photo that I'm fat or something but it comes as a surprise - "oh yeah! I'm fat!" - because 99% of the time I am not Fat Ziggy but Ziggy who is busy, productive, angry, happy, optimistic, whatever.

I have accepted, relatively late, that I will never diet because I hate how it makes me feel: stressed, anxious, guilty.

Don't think about what your body can't do - whether that's run a four-minute mile or look good in a bikini - but what it can do. Embrace your physicality by doing the stuff you like, e.g. swimming, hiking, running - whatever. Enjoy how your stamina gets better and better the more you do something. You have a functioning body. Really live in your body - don't just think of it as a container that needs to look good.

Choose your media wisely. You might think that those celebrity gossip mags are harmless but all the cruel articles about Jennifer Aniston's (miniscule) tummy roll kind of infiltrate into your consciousness. Next thing you know, you will also be scrutinising other women's bodies, and your own, for flaws the way those magazines do. Pointless.

Much better than that, expose yourself to varied body shapes in media and real life. Really look at people, but look at them with generosity. "She's fat, but her hair is awesome." "He's fat, but I like what he's wearing, and he has a nice face." That generosity will filter back into the way you perceive yourself too. "I'm fat, but I have the best smile." (I'm sure you do, too.)

And finally, choose your company wisely too. I've actually stopped hanging out with otherwise nice people because their constant harping on calories and working out just makes me feel terrible.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:43 AM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just realised I assumed you were a woman. Sorry about that. But I hope some of my answer helps regardless of your gender.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:54 AM on February 6, 2012

Maybe it would help to know that even if you did lose the weight, it's hardly certain that would make you feel better about your body?

I dance, so I've spent a lot of time talking about body image with women who have bodies that would fit the general social stereotypes for "healthy" or even "thin". Some of them work very hard to maintain that body type, others find it comes easily. Most of them - us - struggle with accepting our bodies as they are.

Your weight is not the problem. Society's effed-up attitudes toward women's bodies, and the degree to which your family has caused you to internalize them, are the problem.

There's tons of advice in this thread I hope you'll find helpful. But I also hope that as you try following it, you keep in the back of your head that loving your body as it is isn't some second-best solution you fall back on after the weight loss has failed, but something that's unfortunately necessary for just about all of us to work through at some point, as the consequence of living in a female body in this culture.
posted by psycheslamp at 12:29 PM on February 6, 2012

(Rereading my answer, I'm worried it may come across that I'm trying to minimize fat-shaming or deny that women whose bodies read as overweight are policed much more intensely than those who fit the current body ideal. So I just want to affirm those are very real things, but emphasize that it's not your body causing the issue, but the culture that views women's bodies as matters of appropriate public concern and control.)
posted by psycheslamp at 12:41 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Protect yourself from your family. Seriously. If they won't stop being hurtful, stop being around for them to hurt.

Screen out, to the extent possible, hurtful media images. Find images of women in a greater range of sizes, from your size to much larger than you. Read size acceptance blogs and fat fashion blogs and lurk at fat dating websites (even if these women are much bigger than you are, part of what you're doing is re-calibrating your sense of human beauty.

Do you look better to yourself naked? Spend time looking at yourself naked and being naked. Find clothes that look good on you. Every time you pass a mirror, tell yourself you're looking good.

Look for beauty in women around you of all sizes, and when you see it, use it to remind yourself NOT that you don't measure up, but that there is a lot of beauty in the world and you are part of it.

If you catch yourself being judgmental about someone else's body, stop it. If you catch yourself being judgmental about your body, stop it. "These are my thighs and this is how they are and they're just fine."

Remind yourself that your body is just one part of yourself as a person, that bodies are fragile and contingent. Remember that your body doesn't owe anyone anything. Why is it your body's job to be pleasing on the eyes? There are people whose livelihoods depend on their body's looks (models and actors) or abilities (models and actors - and athletes and dancers and laborers), but yours (I'm guessing) doesn't. So who gets to say that there is some aesthetic ideal your body should meet?

Ultimately, you love your body not because it's beautiful (in whose eyes, anyway?), not because it's strong (it may or may not be), not because it's able (it may or may not be), but because it's yours. Love you, love your body. It may not be your platonic ideal of a body but it's the one you've got, and how much more precious is that?

Good luck. The way our culture is set up, (not even to mention the deck your family stacked against you - ugh!) it's an uphill battle. But every little victory along the way counts.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:10 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

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