Episode 24–Just Be Confident Transcript
Hello, welcome to The Fat Lip, the podcast for fat people, about fat people. I am your fat host Ash and if you are following the show on social media you’ve probably already heard about this, but if not I wanted to be sure to mention at the top of the show that I’ve designed a couple of fat positive shirts that are available now on Teespring! There’s a “My Body is Nacho Business” one and a “We’re all good fats” one, and the Fats of the Resistance one that benefits the ACLU is back. There’s also an anti-trump one if that’s your thing. Nearly all styles go as high as a 5X! So go check them out at teespring.com/stores/thefatlip or via the link at thefatlip.com.
Now, onto the show. We have a shorter one today, and it’s in response to some listener mail.
I received an email last week from a listener named Jessica. Jessica said that she has struggled with confidence her whole life, and now that she knows about body pos, she knows logically that there’s nothing wrong with her body and that she has nothing to be ashamed of, but she still struggles to bring put the confidence she knows she should have into practice. So she asked me for some advice about that.
Confidence is an interesting topic because it’s so often a directive that we receive from others. Just be confident! About everything in your life! You’re anxious about a job interview: Just be confident! You hate public speaking: Just be confident! You’re uncomfortable wearing tight clothing: Just be confident! Just be confident is the apparent solution to everything that is wrong in your life.
And there are a number of problems with “just be confident.”
First of all, confidence doesn’t just suddenly explode out of you from nothing. We’ve all been cultivating our body confidence our whole lives—thin people included. But thin people haven’t had to deal with the constant messages that their bodies are wrong and unhealthy and gross, so it’s often easier for thin people to feel confident in their bodies than it is for fat people. The rise of the body pos and fat pos movements has made confidence more accessible, but they are far from a quick fix. Even when a fat person discovers fat positivity, it still takes time to cultivate body confidence. We don’t immediately shed all of that hurt and stigma and negative messaging like snakeskin because we hear a fat positive message. That negative shit has been soaking into our bones for our whole lives, so we’re not going to rid ourselves of it overnight.
Another problem is that confidence isn’t the same for everyone. One thing I’ve noticed in the body pos & fat pos community is that we have a bit of a narrow view on what being confident even means. There seem to be rules that we must follow to be considered confident—we must wear bright colors and dresses and bikinis and have perfect makeup and hair! It’s as if confidence is a performance, and if we execute the compulsory elements perfectly, we too will be deemed a confident fat person. But confidence has nothing to do with that we wear.
And the third major problem with the “just be confident” directive is that those of us who have come to terms with our body are afraid to acknowledge that some days are still really hard. I would venture to guess that not a single one of your body pos or fat pos role models feels confident about her body 100% of the time. I think we all feel like we have to be performing confidence every time we step outside of our homes or every time we post a photo on instagram. We have to prove that we know we have nothing to be ashamed of, so we never acknowledge that sometimes the shame slithers in anyway.
But let me tell you. it does. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think “I cannot go out like this.” Sometimes I get into the elevator in my boyfriend’s building and cram myself into the corner behind him in case someone else gets on. It’s doesn’t make me any less conspicuous, but I guess it’s kind of an apology for taking up space. That really happens sometimes. Even though I know that I have nothing to apologize for—that I have as much right as anyone to be in an elevator and take up as much space as my body takes up. Some days I do not look people in the eye because I don’t want to see the shock and judgement on their faces even though I know that there is nothing shocking or worthy of judgement about me.
Confidence is not easy, and it’s not totally logical. I feel lucky to have gotten to a place where I have many more good days than bad, but the bad are still out there waiting for me. I hear a lot of people say to fake it until you make it. But I don’t think we should have to fake it, and I don’t think that it helps anyone to pretend that we feel 100% good about our bodies 100% of the time. If we can all admit that there are days where we struggle, those who are struggling will feel less alienated.
So I think the best advice I can give to you and to Jessica, the listener who wrote in, is to let yourself off the hook for not feeling confident or for having bad days. Don’t punish yourself for not performing. Don’t let yourself believe you’re any less body positive or fat positive on your bad days than on your good ones. This is one hell of a journey you’re on and there are a whole hell of a lot of negative messages you are going to have to walk past along the way. You’re going to stumble. But surround yourself with people who get you: who can meet you where you are no matter how you feel about your body on any given day and who don’t discount your body confidence because you don’t want to wear a bikini.
True confidence is wonderful, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it doesn’t just spring out of you one day and never look back. It’s not prescriptive, and it’s not black and white. Whatever grey area of body confidence you are in today is just fine.
Thank you as always to Starcrusher for the music in today’s show. Hear more at cstarcrusher.bandcamp.com
And thank you so much to our Patreon patron of the day, Cori! Thank you Cori for your support! It means the world to me. And if you’d like to be a supporter and hear your name on the show, go to patreon.com/thefatlip to find out how.
And just to remind you about the shirts I talked about at the top of the show, go to teespring.com/stores/thefatlip to check those out!
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