Now I wrote in the past that There Is Room For Negative Self Talk In Fitness and I’ve written a song about how self-hatred is a super power (Soundcloud) so this take is a little out of character for me.
But as hard as I am on myself and as much as I respect the discipline of other people who are hard themselves I think there is a dark side here, some moral problems, that came up as all dark, moral problems do, on Twitter.
A girl was posting before and after photos of her fitness and talking about them. One she said really made her sad still because she had taken the before picture as a way to punish herself when girls at school were bullying her for being fat. It made her cry to write about it then and it’s making me cry a little bit writing about it now.
It’s a photo of a well-dressed, pretty girl who’s kinda chubby. And because I read her tweets I also know that she’s smart and articulate.
And I’m so sad for that girl being so mad at herself because that should be enough. But society is so cruel and so demanding that that wonderful person ends up hating herself and at such a young age when there’s so much of life left that will be coloured by that hatred. It’s some heart-breaking shit.
Then she loses the weight. Her conventional, physical beauty shines through and now she gets into clubs no line, no cover. And that’s the happy ending.
That doesn’t feel morally right to me. That feels like she joined her tormentors and gave into the desires of a cruel and unjust society.
But at the same time, and as she points out, she also got healthy. She didn’t only get hotter by giving society what it wants she also extended her life and protected herself from disease and chronic conditions. That is a happy ending.
I hate myself because other people tell me I should seems awful but if it’s leads someone to loving themselves then can I really judge society so harshly for doing it?
Short answer yes I can don’t be a piece of shit to people.
My transition into fitness came from a sort of self-loathing but it wasn’t externally motivated. My self talk was you’re so unhappy, you feel like shit all the time, nothing makes you happy, what could possibly be worse about taking up running? And I could take some of that self-anger and a bit of that self-punishment and turn it into speed.
And once I got to distances and speeds that impressed me and also impressed others it was a bit easier to like myself sometimes.
At the same time though my body became more appealing to me (weird thing to say but you know what I mean) and to others and I’ve seen the dark side, the fear of becoming ugly again, the shame of simply bloating after a meal, and all that. And, worse I feel, the awareness of other people’s bodies as well.
I think the curse of knowledge in this case is best illustrated by height. I never thought about it before a girl I was wildly infatuated with summed up the reason we couldn’t date, even though we had amazing rapport, with not tall enough.
I, with all my supposed love-worthy qualities felt passed over like one passes over fruit in the supermarket. She threw away all the value of my life as casually as one agrees to a side of fries.
Evidently I’m hungry, two food metaphors.
Then I hated everyone taller than me. And shockingly they were everywhere, most of my friends were taller than me and I’d never noticed.
And the same thing happens with fitness. Once you care about your own you automatically see the haves and have-nots of others. I think it’s what makes cruel people cruel, they’re either so worried about their own short comings they revel in going for the kill on the short comings of others, or they’ve had it so easy that any short coming of another must be a choice and it’s deemed okay to be shitty about the choices of others and use shame as a corrective tool.
I know. I’m a drunk and I’m really intelligent. I’ve been on both sides of pointlessly attempting to use shame as corrective tool.
To try and pull this to a good feeling ending I’ll go a bit deeper on that and say that being a drunk has made me a more empathetic person all around and I think it effects why I’m not shitty about the fitness and body-types of others.
Being an alcoholic really, really sucks. Like, dozens of reallys and people don’t understand or acknowledge it. Someone said once about the idea that being gay is choice that no one would choose it then, no one would choose to get disowned, beat up, judged, condemned, excluded, etc just for the fun of being gay. And I feel similar about being an alcoholic, if quitting drinking were as simple as quitting drinking then everyone would fucking do it and there wouldn’t be any alcoholics.
No one’s making the informed conscious decision to lose their friends and family and all their money and look like shit all the time and end homeless for the fun of drinking oneself to death.
And it’s much the same with depression and self-hatred. You don’t choose to have it but you do have to choose what to do about it.
For the sake of getting in another reference to my songwriting, it’s why I wrote a song called As Sad As You Need, which is a much poppier song. Being depressed gave me the insight into the paradox of loving someone with a problem and that includes loving yourself. You have to accept them and want them to get better, that should be contradictory, so you have to say you get better for you, when and how you want to. When it’s you vs yourself or you vs society.
Whether the obese or addicted, the depressed or the anxious, we have to love them and ourselves enough to give them the space and time to get better.