Resilient Fat Goddess
I must start with when and where the phrase was birthed.
What the heck is Resilient Fat Goddess anyway? Great question! It’s really interesting to experience people’s reactions when they hear my business name. Some stare blankly at me. Some seem to look confused. Once while giving my elevator speech in a room full of networking professionals, a man couldn’t contain his laughter. I don’t know if it was out of awkwardness or actually thinking it was laughable. Someone once asked me why I used the word “fat” in my business name. And then. . .there those who get it. They really get it. And I am met with a huge, knowing smile and/or some version of “what a great name!”
It’s now been a few months of operating under Resilient Fat Goddess (RFG.) I haven’t had huge amounts of time to devote to my writing. Though I have made it a goal to publish two essays a month on my blog. It became really clear after a discussion last month that it was time to write about my business name.
I must start with when and where the phrase was birthed. It was during a Reclaiming Body Trust® workshop I attended with Be Nourished in July 2016. I was once again at my wits end, because I felt completely out of control with food. This had been a recurring feeling since about the time I was 9-years old. I would cycle between restriction of some sort, and then binging. I miraculously ended up with a spot to the retreat after someone canceled at the last minute. I say last minute, and I mean two days before the retreat was to start. The office manager was busy fielding emails, and I didn’t know until a few hours before the retreat started that the spot was indeed mine. It’s also miraculous, because I decided to spend my precious graduate student loan money on a weekend retreat. And somehow what I read on the Be Nourished website was enough to convince that what they were teaching was very different from anything I had tried before. And the list is long, folx.
RFG was born out of the stories and teachings that were told that weekend. A part of the weekend was spent learning about the teachings of Brené Brown (who is rather human, read more by clicking here) from Hilary Kinavey. Brené Brown speaks about vulnerability, shame, and resilience in ways most people don’t. While her work predominately avoids taking racism and other forms of oppression into account, there is something about her language that acknowledges our experience of being human. This framework of understanding how shame about my body had been what influenced much of my relationship with food, and of course, my body. And it recognized the resilience that always resided in me from the time when I was relentlessly teased as a kid to being at this retreat trying to make sense of my relationship to my body in our sizest and fatphobic world. I knew that resilient was definitely a word to describe my experience. It continues to be.
Then, at some point Dana Sturtevant told this amazing story. I think it was when we discussed normalizing the word “fat” as a neutral descriptor. Many people in larger bodies reclaim the word “fat” in this way. Similar to how I am tall and have brown hair. I do not think every person in a larger has to reclaim the word. This weekend was the first time I ever felt like I could say that I was fat without having any negative connotation attached to it.
Back to the story Dana told! She was at a conference for eating disorder professionals where a therapist was telling a story about a child that was sent to her. The therapist asks the girl why she is there to see her. The girl says, “I’m here because I’m fat, and I need to lose weight.” The therapist responds to the girl by saying, “Yes, you are fat, and what we need to do is make you a fat goddess.” This was such a powerful story to hear. The little girl was told by someone with power (a therapist) that her weight was not something to be solved or fixed. But something to be celebrated, and honored. I hope you have the chance to hear the story from Dana someday. She tells it in an animated and compelling manner as she does.
Sitting in a room with 14 women of all different shapes and sizes while learning about how diet culture was upheld through capitalism and patriarchy was super powerful for me. I acknowledge the privilege there is in being able to pay and attend a workshop for a full weekend. The time – I didn’t need to work or worry about child care, energy, ability – physically and financially, and to feel pretty comfortable in a room of white woman.
At the end of the retreat, Hilary and Dana gave us time to write down some phrases on a post card. The post card was for us to take home and use as a reminder of our weekend. I still have mine. It is tucked into the edge of my kitchen cupboard right near my kitchen sink. I wrote several things down that stuck out to me. One of the bullet points on my list was Resilient Fat Goddess. It felt like the perfect summary of who I wanted to be. After our time to write, we then were sharing items from our list as a group. Several people shared. My heart started beating faster, because I wanted to share, but it felt vulnerable. All of a sudden, I spoke up and said, “Resilient Fat Goddess” with some confidence. It felt so big and powerful, and at the same moment that I felt myself feeling the impact of this phrase, there was a collective gasp that let me know I wasn’t the only one who felt it. I was not used to speaking truth like this. I think it took me a minute or two to start breathing normally again.
RFG was born out of a desire to heal my relationship with my body. It recognized (and continues to recognize) that my body is not something to hide, be ashamed of, work tirelessly at changing, but possibly something I could learn to accept and maybe even honor, love, and celebrate.
I have friends today that remind me that my body is the smallest part of who am I. Sometimes this makes me cock my head to one side and wonder – is that really true? Because it seems to be the part of me that has been focused on throughout my life by doctors, family, friends, society, etc. But the truth is that there really is so much more to me. My spirit, my personality, my capacity for love, compassion, and connection.
My hope is that others can relate to/learn from/listen to/be inspired by my experience. So that we can continue to let go of what keeps us from remembering that we are Resilient Fat Goddesses. I don’t want this to be me as THE resilient fat goddess. I want this term to be something that is available to the collective. We are all Resilient Fat Goddess, and connection to others often plays a part in how resilient I feel. I do acknowledge that some may shy away from this term for religious reasons, which is understandable. If RFG is something you want to claim or embrace, please by all means do. Please use the hashtags #iamresilientfatgoddess #iamRFG and/or #resilientfatgoddess if you like!