Updated: May 9
As a fat person, I've spent most of my life at war with my body. Providing gentle self-care for my fat body was not something that even remotely crossed my mind. Rather, I spent years being punitive, harsh and downright unkind to myself and my body. I thought I deserved to have a body that was in pain. I didn't believe I deserved to clothe my body in items I enjoyed. I moved my body in ways that was punitive and that would cause the most discomfort. I wasn't thin enough, pretty enough...I wasn't enough because I was simply too much. I did everything I could to make myself pay penance for being fat.
When my legs chaffed, I believed my fat was the problem. And my self-hatred grew. When I got a rash under my breast, I believed my fat was disgusting and the problem. And my self-hatred turned into restriction. When my skin folds developed a rash, I knew it was because I was disgusting as a person. And my self-hatred turned into self-harm. If the rash had an odor, my self-hatred and inner critic came up with things so vile about myself that I won't even write them. My body became my scapegoat for any form of discomfort I experienced. If I could blame something on my body, I did. And I did well.
Learning to Come Home to My Body
Entering recovery from my eating disorder has come with the hard job of learning to come home to my body. Learning to treat her with kindness has been beyond challenging. I am still rewiring my brain with new ways to speak to myself. I still experience chaffing, rashes, things being hard to reach, seatbelts not fitting correctly, etc. The list goes on. And I still get frustrated when those things happen. However, I'm learning to take a more neutral stance with my body. And I've learned ways to intentionally care for my needs.
As a fat person, self-care can't just be baths (especially if we don't fit comfortably in a tub) and manicures. Rather, our self-care has to be intentional. I had therapists and dietitians encourage me to treat my body with compassion, which sounds great and all. But compassion doesn't help me practically care for my body. I had no clue where to start, and the people helping me didn't offer me resources.
Practical Fat Self-Care
Throughout my journey of radical self-acceptance, I've learned several different practical resources that have helped me shift the narrative of self-care. I've listed them below as a resource list for fat folks. I've also listed things that might be helpful for fat folks who live in larger bodies than Ido.
Say it with me, fatties, "Self-care isn't exclusively for thin folks." Did you say it?
Here's another, "My body deserves to be cared for with love and compassion." If you rolled your eyes, I see you. I get it. And it doesn't make that statement any less true.
Resources for the Beautiful, Fat Body
Anti-Fungal Soap - Remedy Soap
Remedy Soap can be helpful to prevent and/or help rashes that can occur in skin folks. This is my favorite anti-fungal soap. It is gentle on my body and helps prevent painful, unwanted rashes.
HibiClens Body Wash
Lumē Whole Body Deodorant - Unscented
Lumē's whole body deodorant can be helpful to prevent unwanted odors. This deodorant is not just for armpits, it can be used for the whole body. This is the best deodorant I've ever used and is especially helpful in the summertime.
Lumē 24 hour Odor Control Body Wash
Lumē Deodorant Body Wipes - 24 Hour Odor Control
Megababe Sweat Absorbing Body Powder
Gold Bond Body Powder
This powder is similar to the MegaBabe powder. This one is cheaper and works well. I prefer the smell of the MegaBabe powder and feel like it works better, but that is my preference. This Gold Bond doesn't have much of a smell at all, so if that's more your jam, this is the one for you. This helps with moisture wicking in those skin folds and challenging areas. It does have a cooling effect, which is nice.
Bra liners are such helpful tools. This, plus my MegaBabe powder, and I'm set. I discovered bra liners while living in Phoenix and dealing with the extreme heat there. However, even in more tepid weather, these can be helpful to prevent the unwanted yeast build up and/or under-boob rash.
This one was hard for me to buy, because my stomach has been such a difficult portion of my body to show love, care or kindness to. However, like the bra liner, this tummy liner can help prevent unwanted rashes.
The day I replaced my shower head with a detachable arm, I felt so much cleaner. I honestly cannot believe I didn't have one for so long. Shower heads can help clean hard to reach locations. This shower head also has a cleaning tool, which has made cleaning my shower much easier.
Curved Shower Curtain
Something as simple as a curved shower curtain can make a fat person feel so much more safe to clean their body. There is nothing worse than constantly getting tangled up with the shower curtain. Again, something small, but it made all the difference in removing unnecessary distress in my world. I have enough reminders that this world isn't made for people like me.
This small tool has been so helpful for me. I live in a superfat body, but I know many friends who live in larger bodies. While I can get to my feet and do to use my pumice stone, using this tool to ensure I clean my feet well is super helpful. This is also easy to clean.
Having something that assists in washing those hard-to-reach spots is so helpful. I go back and forth between using this product and my extendable arm loofah. What I love about this one is that I can throw it in my washer to ensure it stays clean.
Back Brush with Long Handle for Shower
FreedomWand: Toilet Aid, Shaving Aid, Hygiene Aid
This is not a product I have used; however, I have friends who have used it and find it to be super helpful. This is an aid to be able to take care of hygiene needs while using the restroom, shaving and cleaning difficult to reach spots.
Heavy Duty Shower Chair
Size Inclusive Measuring Tape
In the day and age of online shopping, having an inclusive measuring tape makes a world of a difference. Measurements can be challenging enough as it is, but for super fat and larger folks, this can be even more challenging and dehumanizing if traditional measuring tapes don't work.
Seat Belt Extender for Car
Seatbelts are supposed to sit at the hips - below the belly. However, for most fat folks, seatbelts hit higher up on the tummy. This is highly dangerous. In the event of an accident, the seatbelt will go in towards vital organs and can be fatal. Also, I never realized just how uncomfortable I was in seatbelts until I got an extender for my car. It has made all the difference, and I feel a lot safer.
I love you, you beautiful humans.