Worth Your Weight

July 26, 2008

Are you there, God? It’s me, TFGITW.

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 7:47 pm

TFGITW stands for the fattest girl in the world, which is what I’ve always felt like and still do, to some extent. I may have something like body dysmorphic disorder, but whatever it is, it must be the Jekyll and Hyde strain because in my mind’s eye, I’m thin or at least average-sized, but emotionally I feel like the fattest person in any situation — even if intellectually I understand there is a larger person present.

In college, a classmate of mine was a big guy. We had at least one class together every semester. He was significantly bigger than me, but it didn’t matter. He was male. In my messed up thinking, that didn’t affect my position as the fattest person present. See, guys are allowed to be big in Jekyll/Hyde land.

In high school, I definitely felt like TFGITW. Even though there was a girl in the class under me who was bigger. It’s such an effed up thought process. Even noticing different sizes made me feel bad (still does), but when objectively I saw that someone was larger than me, it didn’t change how I felt. I truly felt like the fattest girl in existence.

Ditto when I “successfully” dieted my way to what turned out to be what I wish I weighed now. At that time, in my mind’s eye and with my actual eye, I was still TFGITW. Yet currently, in my dreams, sometimes I’m thin/average and other times I’m fat. It’s so weird.

Of course, pre-FA I was desperate to lose weight. In addition to the Slim-Fast, exercise bike, aerobics videos, Weight Watchers, Richard Simmons, and pocket calorie guides bought at the supermarket checkout display, I also turned to prayer. I asked God to help me lose weight in a healthy way.

The Lord indeed works in mysterious ways. One of my last weight loss attempts involved joining an online diet support group. I’m planning a future post about just how little their advice helped and also how laughable their strategies were in light of what I’ve learned through fat acceptance. But it’s ironic that I learned about fat acceptance through that diet group.

Several fat acceptance articles got posted to the diet group, including a lot of press material on Paul Campos’ The Obesity Myth.  Now, I don’t believe for one second that fat acceptors were trolling a diet group. The real trolls were just strangers belonging neither to FA nor the diet group, trying to pit the two groups with conflicting views against each other.

Finally reading The Obesity Myth is what introduced me to fat acceptance and HAES. It’s what led me on my way. So while I had prayed to lose weight, I think God brought me to fat acceptance instead. It makes a lot of sense because the way I was raised in Catholicism was to put much more emphasis on Jesus’ ultimate commandment rather than tie myself in knots over sins. He said the greatest commandment of all was to love God and also love your neighbor as you love yourself. I think a large part of loving yourself is accepting yourself.

I am glad I found fat acceptance before learning about Jesus diets. I’m not sure when I first became aware of the religious weight loss diet, but I did first learn in Losing It by Laura Fraser that the Christian WLD is often sexist/misogynistic/patriarchal, especially with its emphasis on deference to one’s husband. [Yes, again with Losing It. I know it’s old (1997), but if you’re at all interested in FA, I think you would love reading what she writes. She discusses the history of every major diet and tries them, IIRC — basically exposing them for the shams they are. She interviews a woman who has horrific problems from WLS — and this was before it was fashionable to have it done. Your heart will really go out to this poor woman. And the kicker is when Fraser talks about all the major obesity researchers coming to the conclusion that diets don’t work. Their advice? Diet anyway. I really should re-read this one and post more specifics.]

The religious diet has also been covered in the Fatosphere. I remember posts earlier this year at The F-Word (“You may now love yourself”) and Big Fat Blog (“Faith-Based Dieting”). The concept is a bit distasteful to me, because it focuses on two of the Seven Deadlies, gluttony and sloth. Well, I think it’s been well covered in the FA movement how little either has to do with one’s weight. If I truly believe my weight is as much under control as my height and eye color (and I do), then how can I have any guilt over it being the result of supposed “sins”? It’s how God made me.

I know some fitness fanatics like to talk about how a body is a temple and should be treated as such. For them, that translates into eating “clean” and lifting weights. Probably not smoking and drinking, but that’s not always a rule. For me, viewing my body as a temple means I should respect it as it is. I wouldn’t go into a temple and start redecorating it, tearing down walls, and shaming the worshippers into tearing it down and rebuilding it into something more fashionable. I would honor it.

I’ve always thought, since God/ the universe/Fate made us how we are, that natural hair color is what suits us best, for example. But that doesn’t mean my hair hasn’t been white, Psylocke purple, and Pillarbox Red. It also doesn’t mean I won’t be dyeing it on a regular basis now that some gray is popping up. But for things we can’t change? The most loving thing we can do for ourselves is to actually be ourselves.

I have often felt guilty about praying for something appearance-related (until I learned about Jesus diets). I never lied to myself or others that my wanting to lose weight had to do with anything but looks. It took FA and HAES to shift any of my focus to health and feeling good.

So, no, I haven’t lost any pounds that I haven’t since regained after praying to lose weight. But just maybe the weight I lost is the weight on my shoulders, the pressure to starve and over-exercise myself into a size I was never designed to be.

[A minor housekeeping note about why you’ll no longer find this blog on the Fat Liberation feed can be found here.

Also, if you’d like to be on my blogroll, please read this.]

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8 Comments

  1. That’s a really lovely post, and I thank you for it.

    Comment by pyewacketsid — July 26, 2008 @ 9:22 pm

  2. Wow. Found your site as I was looking through the various health related blogs and am so glad I found this! We all carry too much weight of guilt on our shoulders – for no good reason other than the expectation of others.

    As a personal trainer I get a lot of confusion when explaining what I do – for the simple reason that I do not believe that being thin is the best indicator of being healthy.

    Recent research shows that being in good cardiovascular shape is the best indicator of lifestyle disease, not level of body fat.

    Health/Fitness professionals should be all about helping people get where they want to be, but am also all about letting people take their own journey – especially since there is no one ideal. We all have our own journey.

    Societies job should not be to hand us a map that says ‘you should be here’ but to ask us to explore our own version of what that journey looks like.

    Thank you for writing. Your message is important, please don’t stop.

    Jamie Atlas
    http://jamieatlas.wordpress.com

    Comment by jamieatlas — July 27, 2008 @ 1:14 am

  3. Hi,

    I went to one of those Christian Weight Loss groups and I almost developed diabetes! The kicker was to NOT EAT until your stomach growled (literally) and then only to eat just enough not to be hungry. I’d sometimes go 12 to 16 hours w/o food. After our group disbanded I would start getting these weird sudden dizzy spells at times where I’d feel like passing out. It was a sugar drop. My body was rebelling agaist the diet I had been on! After awhile the attacks stopped when my body realized I would no longer starve it for hours on end to “hear a growl”. The founder of this weight loss system, that has been ripped down all over the net, never was overweight to begin with! I could write a book on this program, but I can sum up and say it was a crock.

    Comment by downcastmysoul — July 27, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

  4. pyewacketsid,
    That’s such a nice comment. Thank you :)

    jamieatlas,
    “As a personal trainer I get a lot of confusion when explaining what I do – for the simple reason that I do not believe that being thin is the best indicator of being healthy.”

    I hope there are more trainers out there with your outlook and/or that you influence others to question their perspectives. I would definitely train with someone with your attitude.

    downcastmysoul,
    That is a scary story! I hope you’re recovered completely from that experience.

    Comment by worthyourweight — July 27, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

  5. I actually stumbled on this post and was really happy to see (in the comments) that there’s at least one other fitness professional out there who isn’t preaching weight loss. ;)

    One of the best books I’ve ever read about food (not diet, not weight loss) is The Yoga of Eating (http://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Eating-Transcending-Nourish-Natural/dp/0967089727/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1217199430&sr=8-1). I think it’s absolutely true that at different times your body needs different things and it’s pointless to beat yourself up about it based on what SOMEONE ELSE tells you is right or “normal.”

    Comment by yogagrrl — July 27, 2008 @ 5:59 pm

  6. […] Are you there, God? It’s me, TFGITW. [image] TFGITW stands for the fattest girl in the world, which is what I’ve always felt like and still do, to […] […]

    Pingback by Top Posts « WordPress.com — July 27, 2008 @ 7:06 pm

  7. Totally recovered…the little asssh*t that runs that “program” does not exercise either, and she says she does not “need” to, but I think it’s because she does not consider exercise “feminine” because you build strength. I saw her “program” on the Fact Net cult watch board. LOL

    Comment by downcastmysoul — July 27, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

  8. Thanks for a great post. I’ve not yet read The Obesity Myth so will have to put that one on my list to check out. The book that got me started accepting my size and my self was Embracing Your Big Fat Ass by Laura Banks and Janette Barber. It’s funny and effective at the same time, and since reading it I no longer want to cry every time I look in the mirror.

    Comment by Ruth — July 30, 2008 @ 12:29 pm


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