My friend and I are going out on the town tomorrow night. She didn’t have anything appropriate to wear so we marched on down to the local fat girl clothing store. Now, I hate shopping, but the clothes in this store make me happy. It’s wonderful to see a company taking fat women’s fashion needs seriously and not offering up an endless selection of muumuus and clothes for your grandmother.
My shopping experience is usually nice, but I felt sad this time. I
was eavesdropping happened to be in earshot of other women in the changing room and there was much body hatred. One woman even said to the sales associate something along the lines of “It’s not the clothes, I just need a new body.” How sad is that? I wanted to pretend to be Gok Wan from How To Look Good Naked, give them all a hug and tell them that they’re gorgeous just as they are.
It made me feel all kinds of old when I was reminded that Nevermind by Nirvana turned 20 this past weekend. I remember when it came out. I remember buying the cd and instantly falling in love with it. This was when music was good.
When I look back at pictures of me when I was a child I can see that I was not fat. I was taller and bigger than the other girls in my class but I wouldn’t have considered myself to be fat. Well, not that fat. I was strong and athletic and healthy.
My mother, however, thought that I was too big for my own good. She would give me less food than she gave to my extremely skinny brother, and would say no when I asked for seconds. “Do you really need more food?” she would ask. When I was 12 she took me to the doctor to be put on a diet, which consisted of meal replacement cookies. When that didn’t work she took me to another doctor who ran all manner of tests to see if something was wrong with me. Nothing was. These days she pretty much leaves me alone because she knows how I feel about dieting and body image.
I don’t blame my mom for her behaviour at all, that’s what happens when you live in a society that views fat people as defective. But I wish she wouldn’t have wished me ill.
When we were kids one of my cousins came down with a really bad stomach virus or food poisoning. She was very sick for a couple of weeks, so of course she lost weight. My mom said to me, “You need what she has so you can lose weight too.”
That statement never sat well with me. Why would you wish someone ill? Can you think of any other circumstance that wishing someone ill would be appropriate? If you’re concerned about my “health,” why would you want me to get sick?
Why would you risk the self-esteem of a little girl by letting her know that you think she looks horrible so she should become sick if it will help her to look “better?”
I was just as appalled to see a friend’s Facebook status recently. She became ill and I believe she is having her gallbladder removed in the next few weeks. Her status was along the lines of, “One good thing about being sick is that I’ve lost 23 pounds in 2 weeks.” Really??
I had food poisoning back in January, and weight loss was the last thing on my mind. The first thing was “How did I get this,” and “I feel horrible and I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.”
I strive to not be sick. Thank goodness I no longer buy into this madness.
When you stop commenting on other people’s bodies, what they look like, what they are wearing, why they should or shouldn’t be wearing that… When you stop doing that it’s amazing how much better you start to feel about yourself. Give it a try!
This article, “End of dieting? New movement focuses on health at any size” appeared on the health page of MSNBC, courtesy of Prevention magazine. This article is excellent at describing what Health At Every Size is and why it’s healthier than weight-loss dieting. Thanks to JenInCanada for posting this on Facebook.
Some gems from this article:
Before coming to Green Mountain, Troy had spent countless days—and dollars—dieting. She isn’t alone: At any given time, 53 percent of Americans are trying to slim down. So why, then, are so many women overweight? Many experts believe it’s because diets simply don’t work for keeping weight off long term. “If we had a 95 percent failure rate with a medication, it would never get approved by the FDA. Yet that’s dieting’s record,” says Michelle May, MD, founder of Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Workshops.
After decades of yo-yo dieting that only leaves them heavier than they were to start with, many women lose the will to work out and watch what they eat, and they begin dodging doctors who seem to blame all their problems on their weight. Some ultimately give up on dealing with health issues such as high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, believing that without dramatic weight loss, it’s useless.
But according to a controversial new movement, it is possible to break this cycle of failed diets and poor health, even if you never end up in a pair of skinny jeans or in the safety zone of the BMI chart. It’s known as Health At Every Size (HAES), and its principles are so radically simple that they can be difficult to grasp after a lifetime of trying to follow complicated plans full of rules, stages, calories, grams of fat, points, scales, and math.
The basic premise is that healthy behaviors can improve your life regardless of whether they result in weight loss. You abandon diets in favor of “intuitive eating,” which means paying close attention to what you crave and how the foods you eat make you feel, as well as gradually learning to distinguish emotional hunger from the physical kind. For exercise, you identify any activity that provides enough fun that you don’t need to force yourself to do it regularly. HAES also demands that you love and respect your body just as it is, whatever size it is right now. At its core, HAES is about stripping away rigid ideas about food and fitness.
Some experts believe that the negative effects of yo-yo dieting go beyond the physical and emotional tolls of being overweight or obese. According to Linda Bacon, PhD, associate nutritionist at the University of California, Davis, nutrition professor at City College of San Francisco, and author of Health at Every Size (the bible of the HAES movement), many studies suggest that yo-yo dieting itself increases the risk of high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and high blood cholesterol. Studies also show that a vast majority of dieting ends up being yo-yo dieting: Up to two-thirds of people who lose weight regain it within 1 year, and nearly all the rest regain it within 5 years.
As an aside, I have a policy of not reading comments in news articles, so tread lightly with this one.
The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) is hosting National Weight Stigma Awareness Week, running September 26-30. From their website:
Weight stigma is bullying, teasing, negative body language, harsh comments, discrimination, or prejudice based upon a person’s body size. Weight stigma is something that shames and hurts many people (of all shapes and sizes) and it is time 1) to spread an awareness of how harmful it is to all and 2) to talk about it.
The misguided concern revolves around the mistaken belief that a person’s health can be measured by their body size/weight. That’s clearly a myth but it’s one that is widely considered fact. At a minimum, the tragedy of it is that it drives what may be a perfectly healthy larger person to chase after weight loss, usually to the detriment of their health because weight loss is not something that’s healthy for them. They end up yo-yo dieting, struggling with feelings of failure and negative self-esteem, and often giving up on self-care. It becomes a matter of “I can’t do this so why try?” But what they’re often giving up on is healthy behaviors, no longer making an effort to eat well, move their bodies for well-being. Basic healthy behaviors become a victim to weight loss failure. So does the individual.