A couple nights ago, I sat on the floor of the kitten room. I’ve been working hard to socialize these kittens, and each of them has reached a different level of comfort. On this particular night, Angus came right up and plonked himself into the crook of my leg, purring away. Reaper, not to be outdone, climbed onto my thigh, also purring away. Ghost and Gherkin are both a bit more scared. Ghost stood under a chair to my right, purring but too afraid to get closer for pets. Gherkin lay on the ground, just close enough for me to lean forward and reach her short pets. It was actually a milestone for her – the closest she’d ever willingly come to me for any prolonged period of time. I only have two hands, and I alternated between petting the four kittens. Reaper in particular didn’t like when I stopped, and she would stand up and try to sniff my face to get my attention whenever I leaned over to pet Gherkin.
Jason took this picture of me and my little cuddle puddle. It is not a flattering photo. There’s no hiding the fat anywhere. There’s no denying that I am very fat. It is what it is.
And I love this photo.
In this photo, I have a bunch of half-tamed feral kittens begging for love. They are looking at me for affection. They trust me at this moment. I’m showing them that humans can be safe and loving and warm. They don’t see “fat.” They see love. And I can’t look at this photo and see anything but love, either.
I won’t lie. I am not happy in my body right now. Ever since the medicine and injury debacle back in October, I’ve gained 25 lbs and am now the highest weight I’ve been in 12 years. Those 25 lbs have put me over a very specific line that, when crossed, causes mass chaos in my body. Everything hurts. I was plenty obese 25 lbs ago, but I was also fit and strong, and medically, all my numbers were fine. (Well, except for the inflammation markers that no one could figure out, but that was when I was thin, too.) None of those things are true anymore, not at this size, and coupled with two injuries and a surgical site, I’m left hardly able to move. My body is not a safe or comfortable place to be right now, and that doesn’t even go into any psychological barriers.
But this post isn’t about loving my body. I’ve become a bit jaded with body positivity, and have leaned more toward body neutrality and body functionality in the last year. A body is a body is a body. I can love myself completely separate from my body. And with that, I can also not love my body while still loving myself. I can want my body to change, while still appreciating it for the things it does for me. With body neutrality, there isn’t so much pressure to love my body while I’m actively in pain every single day. Nor is there that conflict of, “If you’re trying to lose weight, you must not love your body properly” that is so prevalent in the current BoPo movement. My body just is, fat and painful as well as functional and integral.
When “fat” is stripped off its connotations and just becomes a description, you can see the true story of a person. I can look at this picture of me and see, not fatness, but mutual love and newly-forming relationships and the hard work going into the building of trust. So yes, I love that photo, I love me in that photo, and I won’t hide that photo away because of an insignificant little word like “fat.”