Worth Your Weight

March 29, 2010

My muffin top runneth over

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 6:01 pm

I’ve always had an antagonistic relationship with my belly shape. It protrudes over the top of my waistband — and below! Someone suggested I wore too small of a waistband on my bottoms and that that’s what caused the condition. (I don’t believe that.) It looks similar to the woman’s shape in the picture below, but mine is more pronounced. For the record, I think this picture is double cute. I found it @ Charlotte Cooper’s.

I’m seeing more and more bellies like this one…and mine. I’ve started to think this is nothing more than a natural variation in shape.

One of my favorite paintings is the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli.

I love her body. Wouldn’t mind having one that looked like hers. Of course, nowadays she’d be considered a plus size model, which is ridic. But I especially notice her stomach…it’s nice and round. Here’s a detail:

Now imagine a fat Venus. I think her stomach would end up looking like mine! I realize it’s silly, but whenever I feel diminished because my body shape is not a societally approved one, I find comfort in the idea that I have the same lush belly of Venus — just the XL version.

October 9, 2009

The cure for obesity

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 8:15 pm

My aunt (the one who had WLS) once told me she believed I could find the cure for obesity. She meant it as high praise. She was telling me she thought I could accomplish anything, and the pinnacle in her eyes was curing obesity.

But I was beaten to the punch. One of the basic tenets of fat acceptance is that fat is not a disease. In fact, “obesity” is a misnomer because it medicalizes the state of being fat, which FA believes is a natural one. I find it an ugly sounding word. It’s even uglier if you believe fat is but one variation of body size and not something you’ve done to yourself because you’re a bad, bad girl. In fact, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word derives from the Latin obesus meaning “that has eaten itself fat.”

So I guess GlaxoSmithKline can eat FA’s dust.

All cured!

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Side effects include believing in your own worth and a reduction in stress.

October 8, 2009

Calling in sick (of this)

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 10:34 pm

.

The Office makes me feel bad about myself. (I’m referring to the U.S. version.) Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the 10/8/09 episode.

Despite the LULz being few and far between this season and the last, I still perversely tune into The Office pretty much every Thursday. I gave up at the beginning of this season, but then I caved and caught up online. (I’m still blown away that no VCR needed if you miss an ep of almost any show.) I have been bothered by things on the show before. The humor can lean toward mean-spirited. There was the time Phyllis was flashed and Michael didn’t understand why *she* would be the one flashed. He asked if the flasher had seen Pam. “Or Karen from behind.” Really offensive stuff. To all the female characters.

Yeah, I get that that’s supposed to further portray how Michael is just a real loser. I actually think his entire character is one long mean-spirited “joke.” He’s actually had flashes of a real humanity. His showing up at and reaction to Pam’s art show spring to mind. But fine, one could argue the show is attempting to demonstrate how an a-hole treats fat people, especially women.

But the show itself goes on to make rather bigoted statements. Remember the episode where the office workers were giving blood? Phyllis and Stanley show up with cotton balls bandaged to their arms (having not donated blood) to try and score a cookie. Why those two? I think the answer is sadly obvious.

While Phyllis is shown as a happily married woman with a very active sex life, she is also all too often held up to be ridiculed. When Pam refuses to be a cheerleader for a pickup basketball game in the warehouse, Phyllis volunteers only to be met with Michael’s “ew.” When a reporter comes to the office for a press conference, Dwight puts a potted plant in front of Phyllis to hide her because “you always put the best fruit on top.” Again and again, The Office ranks the attractiveness of the women in their office, often if not always in ways that are public and hurtful.

Tonight it was a male character’s turn to be denigrated. Now, I’m not a fan of the Kevin character, but I absolutely cringed when Pam’s sister mistook Kevin for Oscar’s boyfriend and Oscar got offended. That wasn’t even the worst part. The horrible moment quickly followed when Oscar said, “You think I’d be with this?” And he pointed to Kevin, who in Oscar’s eyes is no longer a person, but a thing. A “this.” Then Oscar demands Pam’s sister apologize for assuming he’d be with Kevin. Hilarious? No. Repulsive? Yes.

Later, Kevin is shown to be smelly (his only pair of shoes are destroyed by the hotel staff when he asks for them to be shined because they smelled so bad), clumsy (he knocks over candles and flowers at the wedding ceremony), stupid (he wears Kleenex boxes for shoes), and disgustingly inconsiderate (he tries to alleviate his foot pain by putting his feet into one of the hotel ice chests for the guests). And I can’t help but tie all of this back to the fact that he is fat because they have pounded the audience over the head with it so many times in the past.

I don’t usually like to rant because I try to stay positive, but this time I just had to do it. I’ve actually sat on my fingers several times about The Office, but tonight’s episode just kept dragging me down. It did literally make me feel like I’m less than because I’m fat.

(Off-topic mini rant: I hated that Stanley brought his mistress as his date for the wedding. Oh, also long-term mini rant: the documentary supposedly being made about Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch — is it going to be like about 10 times as long as a Ken Burns’ film?)

So I don’t know if I’ll be continuing to watch The Office. There are inspired moments that I adore. There just haven’t been (m)any of them this season and last.

September 3, 2009

LOLfat (6)

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 3:21 pm

LOLfat 6

In this case, “LOL” stands for living out loud and getting the last laugh. LOLfats attempt to reclaim our decapitated (or, in this case, faceless) images.

I find it particularly ironic that what some bigots grant fat women as their only “saving grace” — their pretty faces — is always omitted from media coverage of fat. As in the previous LOLfats, I found this image by Googling “obesity epidemic.”

“Fatophobia” as a term bothers me because I can see too well where the fat haters argue that it is right/correct/moral to fear fat. I’m not sure “fatism” has caught on, although I use it sometimes. I definitely think the “-ism/-ist” construction most connotes the idea of unjust discrimination.

Jumping off from “misogynist,” I was wondering about coining a word like “misaleiphist” based on the Greek aleipha for “fat.” Was also batting around “misadiposist,” but “adipose” is derived from the Latin. So it’s not a parallel for the Greek gyne of “misogynist.”

While I was checking that I had my etymology straight, I thought I’d peek at the entry for “fat” at the Online Etymology Dictionary. Some of it sounds quite positive actually:

fat (adj.)
O.E. fætt, originally a contracted pp. of fættian “to cram, stuff,” from P.Gmc. *faitaz “fat” (cf. O.N. feitr, Du. vet, Ger. feist), from PIE *poid- “to abound in water, milk, fat, etc.” (cf. Gk. piduein “to gush forth”), from base *poi- “sap, juice” (cf. Skt. payate “swells, exuberates,” Lith. pienas “milk,” Gk. pion “fat, wealthy,” L. pinguis “fat”). Fig. sense of “best or most rewarding part” is from 1570; teen slang meaning “attractive, up to date” (also later phat) is attested from 1951. Fat cat “privileged and rich person” is from 1928; fat chance “no chance at all” attested from 1906. Fathead is from 1842; fat-witted is from 1596; fatso is first recorded 1944.

August 21, 2009

The Siren Call of Dieting

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 8:41 pm

image borrowed from www.timboucher.com

[Trigger warning for brief mentions of dieting and calories]

I was recently given some photos of a birthday dinner I attended. Everyone looked so great. Then I came across one of the pictures I was in. I won’t lie to you. I cried. My stomach, my upper arms, my chin — just ugh. After experiencing numerous times the shock and surprise of looking *smaller* in old pictures than I felt at the time, I was disappointed to feel the opposite when confronted with these current pictures.

My first reaction was to start a diet. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been strongly convinced for over two years in my fat acceptance beliefs (I understand two years is not all that long really), and here I was reverting right back to my pre-FA mind set. I haven’t started a diet…yet. But I’m afraid I will. I have calorie-counted a couple of days since then. Not restricting, but just tallying up. I still write down everything I eat, which is probably evidence of disordered thinking. The totals did not leave even any room for dieting unless I truly want to go the starvation route. Actually, it’s hard to argue that all diets aren’t experiments in starvation anyway.

Well, problem number one with my temptation to diet is that I promised myself I wouldn’t (see number 7). I hate when people break promises to me or lie to me. I certainly don’t want to do either to myself. I lost an organ because of dieting. It’s commonly believed the organ is an unnecessary one, but let me tell you, not having it has affected my digestion and as odd as it may sound, my ability to live normally to a certain extent. (If it sounds odd, just talk to someone with IBS or Crohn’s disease.)

The second problem with wanting to diet is a major tenet of the fat acceptance movement and one I agree the evidence supports completely: diets don’t work. Even if I didn’t believe one whit in any aspect of FA, why would I logically engage in an activity that has a 95 percent chance* of failing (some studies contend it’s a 98 percent chance)? If my desire is to lose weight, why would I do something that 95 times out of 100 will result in not only failure but in accomplishing the exact opposite? Rational thinking would tell me those odds are terrible. It’s just astonishing how often losing weight is prescribed in this society (by medical professionals but, more often than not, by laymen) when it’s an endeavor practically guaranteed to keep the dieter at the same weight or even make them fatter!

The last (for now) problem I have with my urge to diet is that it’s an unhealthy practice. I just finished reading Breaking the Diet Habit: The Natural Weight Alternative, and while it’s old (from 1983), there’s a lot of evidence discussed about just how detrimental dieting is to one’s health. Something not surprising to anyone who’s ever dieted: dieters are in a constant state of stress. Another non-shocker to those of us aware of FA and/or HAES: dieting (in some cases permanently) damages the body’s internal cues of hunger and satiety. I’ve long thought that the missing piece of the equation “fat = unhealthy” is fat*dieting = unhealthy. Breaking the Diet Habit is great at pointing out that the only reason fat is even in the equation is that fat people are more likely to diet. Thin people do, too, but not as prevalently. I can’t endorse the book wholeheartedly because they seem to ascribe all eating “misbehaviors” to dieting behavior whereas I think overeating and emotional eating are sometimes also variations in normal behavior by normal (i.e., non-dieting) people.

So basically I feel like the promise of being thin and all its entitlement — as achieved by dieting — is the sirens’ call. The fact that dieting is unhealthy for you and ultimately doesn’t work for 95 percent of those who attempt it *and* oftentimes results in weight gain is your ship crashing against the rocks as you tried to get closer to listen to the sirens’ song.

I also recently read Fat!So? by Marilyn Wann. It’s old, too (1999), but *so* good. I cannot recommend it highly enough. By far the funnest FA book I’ve read yet. I’ve been trying to do a suggestion I found there with these birthday party pictures. I’ve been trying to look at them and not think negatively about myself and find the good. Trying to desensitize or resensitize or I’m not sure what. I’m actually over being bothered by my stomach and arms. I’m still working on the chin.

I feel terribly vain for thinking all of this and then posting it, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like a vanity issue. The confidence I’ve been building for the past two years as a fat person just got terribly shaken by those pictures. For me, the issue got complicated because my first instinct was to diet. I’m still trying to fight that and stick to a more HAES approach.

Here’s a quote I’ve been thinking a lot about from Breaking the Diet Habit:

The pressure on aspiring models to maintain a skeletal physique is legendary: fashion models are notorious for the nutritional abuse to which they subject their bodies. As difficult as it is for them, however, it is even more difficult for their public. Models, after all, are intended to set standards. When even the skinniest segment of the population has trouble adhering to the ideal, there is not much hope for the rest; yet the ideal, however unrealistic it may be, remains in force, forcefully.

 *I’ve seen in the past commenters questioning where this figure comes from. This is where: International Journal of Obesity 13, number 2 (1989), pp. 123-136, F. Kramer et al. “Long-term follow-up of behavioral treatment for obesity: patterns of weight regain among men and women.”

August 16, 2009

Hello, Hello Again

Filed under: weblog — worthyourweight @ 10:20 pm

Howdy!

So I’ve been on a sabbatical of sorts from blogging. It’s kind of a joke because I was never the most prolific blogger, but I still felt pressure because I tried at least to do one post a week. If you blog, you know how time-consuming that can be, depending on the content. If you don’t blog, you would not believe how involving it can be (or at least I didn’t until I tried it myself ;)). Heck, I’m sure those of you who are strictly commenters know how engaging the Fatosphere interaction often is. I found myself following and participating in many discussions to the extent that I was like, “Real Life, stop hogging my online time.” So I just took a while off to see if I could use the time I spent blogging/reading blogs/commenting to advance other projects like getting better at pool and drawing/painting.

Away from the Fatosphere, I didn’t feel as confident in fat acceptance. To counteract this, I started reading more of the FA canon books to keep a toe in the water. But now I’ve decided to try and blog again and see how it goes. I once saw on another blog the pledge to blog without obligation. That’s what I’m going to try to do. I greatly admire the bloggers who post meaty and often. I wish I could be like that, but I don’t think I ever will be. (I think I just had a blog acceptance moment :P) Anyway, just didn’t want to jump right in with a new post without a little explaining. Hello again, everyone!

February 23, 2009

Fill ‘er up

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 8:23 pm


If you’ve spent any time at all in a dieting environment — professional or amateur — you’ve definitely heard that “food is fuel.” It is not entertainment, damn it! This strikes me as just as dreary as the idea that sex is solely for procreation. Heck, even the Catholic Church allows another reason for sex: to strengthen the bond between wife and husband.

So I’d been advised in my former dieting days to view food for my body like gas for a car. Er, okay. I accepted this blindly as “great advice!” (Except I enjoy mouth-feels of food almost as much as tastes, sometimes more.) It sounded like a useful thing to keep in mind. But like so much diet advice clunking around in my head — like “eat and exercise like a thin person” — it just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. (Like, uh, there are many thin people who overeat and are sedentary.)

I began to ruminate on the food/body-gas/car analogy. Fuel, huh? Well, the dieting maestros swear that losing weight’s all about burning more calories than you take in.

Well, what happens if a car uses more gas than it’s been filled with? If your car runs out of gas, it breaks down, and you’re going nowhere. Supposedly even letting the gas tank get below 1/4 full is bad for the car.

I don’t think the human body is designed to ever burn more calories than it took in. That makes no sense. It’ll either use what it has or save any extra energy for later use/emergencies.

I’d rather have a car with just enough gas in the tank to get me to my destination. Actually, having extra fuel in reserve sounds like an even better plan. Running on empty doesn’t interest me at all and actually sounds quite dangerous.

[My blogging here has been -- well, sporadic doesn't begin to cover it. A real-life project has eaten up most of the time I used to spend blogging, and this will continue the rest of this year and possibly several more. So this could be my last post. I'd love to be able to come back. I'm just not sure when. But I thank you from my cockles for reading/commenting. You make the Fatosphere a hell of a community, and I'm grateful for your contributions and how you've informed my belief in fat acceptance.]

January 6, 2009

LOLfat 5

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 2:35 am

In this case, “LOL” stands for living out loud and getting the last laugh. LOLfats attempt to reclaim our decapitated (or, in this case, faceless) images.

The caption is my FA take on an old dieting/pro-ana canard (“Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”).

October 15, 2008

The gift of fat acceptance

Filed under: fat acceptance, weblog — worthyourweight @ 11:48 pm

Worth Your Weight hit the one-year mark last week. Whoa. Like some FA bloggers have said, my own blog grew out of the desire to stop spamming other FA blogs with tome-like comments. Blogging takes more dedication than commenting, though, and I have a whole new appreciation for bloggers who update frequently. It takes a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately, I’m not able to comment and update as much as I’d like to, but it’s still nice to feel like part of an FA community. I must thank Fat Fu for that.

I am very thankful for all of you. Yep, even those I debated with — even when we couldn’t agree, even when we couldn’t persuade the other, you made me refine my argument and for that I am grateful. Readers and commenters here … well, you make this place what it is. You keep me coming back myself, and I’m really honored by our interaction. Thank you for visiting, sharing, lurking. You make me smile and further my journey.

My own FA progress is coming along nicely. Not perfect by any means. I still have at least one “I hate being fat” moment a day. Yet, resisting the urge/imperative to diet is getting easier.  I actually shudder to think if I’d never stumbled across FA. But I wish I had done so earlier, like back in college or even high school.

Fat acceptance is truly a gift. It’s given me my life back to some extent. Before FA, no matter what accomplishments I had elsewhere — no matter what successes I imagined/hoped for/fantasized about — there was always the glaring “failure” of still being fat. I sometimes avoided going out because of being fat. I’m sometimes still tempted to hide, on a low or blue day.

This may be naive, but I think if fat haters/concern trolls could exist in the mind of a fat person for a day and truly experience the loneliness, guilt, self-hatred, shame, self-esteem suicide, and pain fat people deal with every day and have dealt with every day, every hour, day in, day out, year after year … just maybe they’d let up. I feel all this stuff on a regular basis, and I’m actively pursuing being a fat-positive woman! Sometimes I just think the anti-fat people believe fat shaming and hatred is no big whoop. Like a paper cut or something. Rolls off the back rolls. Erm, no. It’s more like being stabbed in the back, through the heart — and then twist.

Here’s something that sounds completely bonkers. My school friends knew I was fat. I was fat in school. Yet, years later I avoided meeting up because I hadn’t succeeded in losing any weight. Madness. It made complete sense to me at the time, and now I’m just like, “Huh?” They knew you were fat! Why would they have expected you to become perfect in the interim?

There are many paths I shunned because I thought fat stood in the way. (That includes romantic avenues. Yes, s/he is interested in you! Yes! Go for it. Even if you’re wrong, rejection is less painful than regret, IMO.) No more. It’s little acts of standing up for myself, but there are bigger things in the works, too.

I wear sleeveless shirts again. I used to whenever I wanted but then got self-conscious about my upper arms. Heh, guess what? Thin women have the water wings o’ flesh that undulate when they wave goodbye, too. Mine are larger. So what?

Another little thing is that I’ve allowed myself to wear watches and wrist cuff/bands again. I had been taught that they aren’t for larger arms. That bracelets and the like should gracefully slide halfway towards the elbow. Forget that noise. Mine may stay firmly at wrist, depending on the selection for that day. And that’s just fine. I like knowing the time, and I enjoy jewelry I’ve acquired over the years.

For years, I’ve put off a return to Japan until I’ve lost weight. (I grew up there as “The Fattest Girl in the World,” but strangely photographs of me at the time contradict how I was treated and how I felt — a common experience, post-FA.) At least now the only thing standing in my way is money.

The crux of fat acceptance, in my view, is that fat is a natural variation that’s been unjustly vilified, and the high-pressure attempts to correct it actually make one fatter. It’s not that the default human is thin and fat people are rebelling against the norm. We’re part of the norm. There’s short and tall. There’s black hair, brown hair, red hair, and blond hair. There’s brown eyes, green eyes, and blue eyes. (Not to mention the myriad combinations.) Why is it at all logical to assume thin is the only size humans are supposed to be and fat is a deviation? It’s really not.

Basically, the gift that is fat acceptance (including HAES) is enabling me to learn how to be (more) myself … not wanting to be anybody else, including thin. It’s a rough ride at times. Sometimes it’s like a summer drive at dusk with my favorite song on the radio. But at least I’m on it, you know. I feel lucky to have accidentally made my way aboard. Roll on.

October 1, 2008

LOLfat 4

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 1:01 am

In this case, “LOL” stands for living out loud and getting the last laugh. LOLfats attempt to reclaim our decapitated images.

The caption was inspired by the description of a living book, Fat Person, from the extremely cool Living Library project, Aussie version:

I think one of the biggest “light bulb” moments in my life was when I realised that I am not a broken thin person. I’m a person with feelings, dreams and aspirations – and those don’t all revolve around the size or shape of my body.

I learned about the project from Big Fat Blog’s guest post by rainalee. If you haven’t read the series on her experience as a living book, I highly recommend it.

I also remember hearing somewhere that “men are failed women at birth.” Whether that is true or not, it’s wildly offensive and negating. Akin to saying a lesbian is a “failed straight person.” Just no.

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