On November 25, 2014, I turned 29 years old. This was a momentous birthday for me, as I saw it as an opportunity to make change and better myself so I could start my 30s strong. The first resolution I made was to lose 70 pounds.
I had spent much of my 20s binge-eating my stress away. Some people reach for a glass of wine at the end of a hard day; my substance of choice took the form of fat and carbs. The worst part of this habit was not the weight gain – rather, it was the intense feeling of shame and self-hatred that occured after the fact. You would think that this would be enough to keep me from beginning a binge in the first place, but that is unfortunately not how my brain operates. Self-hatred breeds stress, which begs easy relief, which leads to binging, which leads to…. more self-hatred. It’s a cycle.
I vowed to make 29 the year I would break that cycle.
After lots of research on diets, I found the solution on one of Reddit’s many communities: r/keto. In a nutshell, the keto diet involves cutting out carbs and upping the fat and protein. I began this diet right after Thanksgiving and found immediate signs of success.
That’s a funny word for someone who has been stuck in cycles of self-hatred for a long time (the majority of my life). Success means trying hard. Success means sustained effort. It means breaking the cycle and becoming someone new, with unpredictable results. Success is scary for someone like me, as the aforementioned cycle of self-hatred was easy, predictable, and safe.
That’s why my resolution came to a screeching halt when someone stole progress pictures I had posted to r/keto and posted them to r/fatpeoplehate instead.
r/fatpeoplehate, just banned from the Reddit community last Wednesday on grounds of harassment, was devoted to shaming both celebrity and civilian fatties, like myself. Photos of “hambeasts” pilfered from Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and even brazenly taken in public were posted for the “shitlord” masses to ridicule.
My progress pictures were posted by a now-deleted user called “Fattiesaresubhuman.” This user posted my pictures stating that it didn’t look like I had made any progress at all – and maybe I had even gained five pounds (I hadn’t; I’d lost 17 pounds).
The comments on the post ranged from merely agreeing with the original poster to shaming my posture (I have scoliosis) and even bringing up an ingrown hair on my leg, calling it a “festering sore.” This “sore” was a small, slightly darker spot on my leg, barely noticeable to someone who isn’t out to find every single miniscule flaw.
I found out about all this because FattiesAreSubhuman kindly messaged me a link to the post. This user later messaged me saying, “You will always be fat. Keep enjoying your cheat days.” The cheat days he or she referred to related to some of my previous r/keto posts, meaning the user had searched through my posting history. That’s a lot of effort to make sure I knew how much my fat body was hated by others.
That’s what was so infuriating about r/fatpeoplehate: the fact that even my PROGRESS – my desire to change my body from fat to not-fat – was not good enough. The users in the FPH community prided themselves on total fat hatred; even if you were making a change, you were still not a human yet. They also felt that they were somehow helping people by shaming them.
Unfortunately, shame is not a universal motivator. In the case of someone whose head is already swimming with self-disgust, shame merely validates a low sense of worth.
And so, I began to prove FattiesAreSubhuman right. I resumed my binges. I regained ten pounds, because why even TRY to lose weight when it’s apparent to everyone else that I just plain suck. 29 began to turn into just another year, like all the others.
Now it’s been a couple months since all this went down and r/fatpeoplehate was just banned last week. Do I feel suddenly liberated? No, because I know that, just because an internet community is gone, it doesn’t mean that the people behind the shaming have disappeared with it. However, through some introspection, I have come to the realization that the most important weight I have to lose is the emotional baggage I’ve been carrying with me for far, far too long.