Archive for the ‘Body Image’ Category

Wishing me ill

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

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.


Thought for the day

August 22, 2011 1 comment

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!

HAES finally getting positive media attention

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

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.

BEDA National Weight Stigma Awareness Week September 26-30

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

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.

From the wonderful Marsha Hudnall from Green Mountain at Fox Run:

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.


Fat acceptance and breast reduction surgery

July 18, 2011 6 comments

I would like to hear from any fat acceptance advocates who have had breast reduction surgery, or anybody who has an opinion about it.

Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of my surgery. I had wanted this surgery for many many years due to pain and discomfort, but also for aesthetic reasons, and because of reactions from other people. Women’s bodies seem to be game for any and all public comments. I had been putting up with stares and rude comments from people since I was 11.

I had the surgery and I’ve never felt better. I don’t have any more pain in my neck and shoulders, it’s easier to do my job and to exercise.  Hell, it’s even easier to sleep and breathe. People don’t stare and make rude comments anymore. I don’t pay a fortune for bras anymore. This surgery isn’t right for everybody but I don’t regret my decision in the slightest.

Now, just bear with me while I ramble to myself. I am a full believer in fat acceptance. I believe that there is too much pressure on people, women in particular, to be thin by any means necessary. I don’t believe that all fat people are going to keel over and die by their 30th birthday (yes, I do know fat senior citizens). I believe that weight-loss dieting is often counterproductive to achieving health. And I feel that acceptance is the one of the keys to health and happiness.

But what do you do if parts of you make you genuinely uncomfortable, in a physical and/or emotional way?

Are fat acceptance and breast reduction surgery compatible? I wouldn’t dream of having surgery to reduce my stomach or my legs. But my chest just felt too big, too uncomfortable. It’s not the same as weight-loss surgery in my opinion, but it’s something, I don’t know what.

Does any of this make sense?  Does anybody have any thoughts?

Shopping with mom

June 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I hate shopping for clothes with mom.

I ask mom to shop with me because I often need my clothes to be altered and she’s a seamstress. Usually clothes that I buy to fit around my hips are too big in the chest and waist area. I ask mom to come with me because I need to know which styles and fabrics can be altered and which can’t.

There are 2 things she always says, without fail, that just drives me bonkers. 1. That outfit is very slimming. 2. This outfit isn’t flattering on you. Gah!

First of all mom, I shop at plus-size stores for a reason. I am a big girl. No amount of clothing is going to make me look like a supermodel. Nothing will ever slim me down enough for your liking.

Also, it’s always nice to be indirectly told that you look like crap so you need clothes that make you look even the teeniest bit smaller.

And what does “flattering” even mean? Clothes that show too much leg on a fat woman aren’t flattering? We must make sure that our arms are covered? Clothes must give all women a well-defined waist? Even for thin women, clothes that make them look flat-chested are a no no? Thin women should wear those panties with the butt padding?

And let’s not get started on buying swimwear.

I’m not saying that it doesn’t matter what people wear. I’d rather not return to a time where all fat women had to wear were muumuus. But certainly a woman being comfortable in the clothes she chooses is more important than dressing to look slimmer.

So yes, mom, I’ll take the baggier pants even though you think they make me look big.

Categories: Body Image, Fat Acceptance

Marie Claire: fatties are gross!

October 31, 2010 3 comments

So much has already been written about Marie Claire magazine’s colossal fuck-up when they decided to publish one of the most offensive blog posts I’ve ever read.  The author of the blog post, Maura Kelly, thinks that it’s perfectly ok to publicly humiliate a specific group of people.  She later offered a really bad apology, but the damage had already been done.

I have read several rebuttals to this blog post, but the best one I’ve read so far was written by Josh Shahryar on the Huffington Post.  “Dear Marie Claire and Media: Fat People Are People, Too.”  The first thing that amazed me was that it was written for the Huffington Post, not exactly a fat-friendly website.  This writer is a self-admitted “foreign policy guy,” but he wrote this article with what I felt was such sensitivity and caring for someone who usually does not write about such topics:

“The big deal isn’t one person pulling this bigoted post which will undoubtedly go down as a masterpiece in the annals of hatred. It is the audacity of a reputable international magazine for women to make thousands of women feel like their bodies are unworthy. That they are ugly. That their mere presence on our television screens is a public offense.

I know that many overweight women have image issues and they know that there are people out there that look at them and judge them by their BMI. However, at least those people are kind enough to not come up to them and say it to their faces. Because that would be mean. A reputable international magazine for women just came forward and told millions of women that its staff thinks they’re gross. It gave a bigot the platform to come out and hurt millions of people. That is a very big deal.”

And for the people who complain that this is a free speech issue: Nobody is saying that people can’t have their own opinions.  I personally don’t care whether people don’t like me for being fat, gay, black or whatever.  What I do care about is people contributing to the ill-treatment of an already marginalized group.  The freedom to hold opinions, no matter how distasteful, does not mean that you get to be free from criticism of said opinions.