I’ve reached a point lately where I don’t feel like I have a lot to offer the fat positive community. I was there when it took off, displaying my own personal journey to loving myself, and maybe changed a life or two along the way. But at the height of all this, I feel like I’ve plateaued. What is left to say that hasn’t been said?
I began contemplating how else I can help myself and others and I realized where I want to take my body positivity next:
Mental illness is still one of those things we don’t talk about because no one wants to be looked at as crazy. It’s still one of those things that’s okay to discriminate against. “You should probably avoid her. She’s bipolar. D:”
“That’s so gay” or “You retard” are phrases we have rightfully begun to cringe at or reprimand people for saying when we hear them. But “He’s a total schizo” and “I get a little OCD about things” are okay and taken lightly.
I don’t feel this is acceptable. Maybe with mental health positivity we can’t shed pieces of clothing off to show how beautiful we feel and give a big fuck you to the folks who made us feel less than our whole lives, but we can put our stories out into the world. I want to break the stigma.
I’ve gone my whole life faking “being normal”. Laughing as friends threw around the word “schizo” about others in an effort to blend in and not draw attention to my own illnesses by defending the target of the verbal attacks. It’s quite a chore to avoid letting people see you talk to yourself, do obsessive compulsive rituals until you “feel right”, and see the cuts you put on your body. It seems very trendy to throw around the word “depressed”, and yet to be dismissive or fearful when we see someone actually suffering from self harm and suicidal thoughts caused by depression.
But what causes these reactions in people? Like with any form of discrimination: lack of knowledge, generalizations, and fear of that which we do not understand. The media and pop culture almost never portray mental illnesses in a positive light so of course people who don’t exist with one become afraid of people who do. (I say almost because the one time I can recall that they showed the accomplishments of a schizophrenic person was in the biopic “A Beautiful Mind” about the Nobel Prize winner, John Forbes Nash.) If you hear a story about a mentally ill person it’s probably about an assault or murder they committed, so the public freaks out and thinks all people with the same condition should be quarantined for the safety of society. We’re not taught through any medium (or maybe not smart enough to realize) that the same way one person of a certain ethnicity committing a crime doesn’t mean ALL members of that ethnicity are predispositioned to commit the same crime, the actions of one person who has a certain mental illness isn’t the prime example of how ALL people with that illness will act. Like all diseases there are degrees, and different people handle things different ways. It’s a revolutionary concept, I know.
The same bravery people have shown in loving, accepting, and owning the imperfections of their bodies, I’d like to see them have with their minds. I know firsthand how hard it is to live with secrets you can’t unload because you’re afraid of the judgment, and I want to play a part in lessening that fear for others. I want to showcase the good people with mental illnesses can accomplish and to end the scary stigma associated with the names of these conditions. #thechristineproject to share your stories.
Those pictures up there are really hard for me to post. It’s like when I first got into body positivity: you get really worried everyone’s going to judge you and everything is going to backfire, but just like with that sometimes you have to face your fears and jump into the deep end before it gets better. Here I go…