Worth Your Weight

September 10, 2008

Real quick: one last thing

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 10:19 pm

If you’ve seen this already or if something similar has been discussed in the Fatosphere recently, forgive me. But this is what I was trying to get at in my last post. Replace “feminist” with “fat acceptor.”

We need our own Big Tent:

In the middle of the lawn is a big blue tent with a sign saying, “The New Agenda.” This is the tent where women from all the different booths and kiosks gather to work on the issues they agree on — which, as we all know, is not every issue. They don’t stop being themselves when they go to The New Agenda tent, and they don’t abandon their beliefs. They just put aside their differences long enough to talk about the things they do agree on.

Pro-choice women will never agree with pro-life women on abortion, but they do agree on equal pay and healthcare and domestic violence. In The New Agenda tent, those are the things they can work on together. The Hothead Paisan lesbians and the feminists-for-Christ probably won’t be joining each other’s social clubs anytime soon, but in The New Agenda tent they can put their heads together to figure out how to combat sexism in the media.

The idea is to create a place where we can join forces on the many issues that unite us, instead of remaining always divided by the issues that separate us.

[Comments off … and me, too, for a little while. Take care!]

[ETA a description of the “Big Tent” AKA the New Agenda from the above link to Reclusive Leftist for those who don’t want to click through.]

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September 7, 2008

To flounce or not to flounce?

Filed under: weblog — worthyourweight @ 8:12 pm

I understand the urge to flounce. I think it’s a very human one. But I’ve known it’s looked down upon since the wild, wild West of Usenet. (“Just leave already! No need to draw attention to yourself with a big melodramatic ‘goodbye, cruel Web’ post.”) While some flouncers are seeking drama/attention, I think there are many who simply want to say goodbye and let others know why they may no longer be seeing them around.

The Fatosphere in-fighting is demoralizing. It used to be an uplifting and inspirational place, for me anyway. I’ve only been involved a little over a year, but now the idea of walking away is relieving some anxiety and feels freeing.

Am I the only one worried that fighting amongst ourselves is preventing us from banding together to advance fat acceptance? I can’t imagine I am. Is this what’s kept FA a fringe movement for over three decades? What a shame. Is there no way to unite behind a common goal despite all our differences — of opinion, experience, politics, religion, etc.? I don’t know.

I still miss Disturbing Brew. It saddens me that Big Fat Kiss has recently left. Now, Fabulously Fat College Student is leaving, too. (I’m not sure why, but I’m curious.) There have been others who have moved on in the past year as well. Every time I wonder if FA just got weaker.

When we spend so much time fighting each other, who’s left to fight for fat acceptance? Maybe some participants in the Fatosphere aren’t interested in furthering the cause. ::shrug:: I just can’t tell anymore. But isn’t FA worth banding together for, even if we can agree on nothing else?

So if I end up closing this blog or making it private, you can always reach me at worthyourweight [at] gmail [dot] com. I’ll be happy to keep in touch and/or grant you access to the posts.

If you do not find God [or good, for you atheists] in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for Him further.                       

Mahatma Gandhi

September 5, 2008

In lieu of blogging today…

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 7:39 pm

I’ll be making origami cranes.

Why?

Well, aside from the fact I like doing origami, I also wanted to help out a fun, creative offline FA project. I’m sure you’ve heard of it by now. Marilyn Wann’s 1000 Fat Cranes. I’m Jenny-come-lately here, but I’m going to try to make as many as possible. I’m a bit worried about adjusting my technique so that they end up *fat* cranes, but I’ll do my best.

I’m not sure how many cranes are still needed, if any. But I’m going to start and keep an eye on the updates. If 1000 are made before I get mine sent out, I may just continue for my own wish ^_~

You can learn more about the project here.

Pitch in if you’re interested!

(Comments are off to keep my hands free for folding.)

[Don’t forget: if you’d like to be on my blogroll, please read this.]

August 28, 2008

LOLfat 3

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 8:06 pm

Caption adapted from a line in The Women.

Image from an “obesity” epipanic article here.

[About the blogroll.]

August 23, 2008

More concerned about z’s than lbs

Filed under: HAES — worthyourweight @ 12:04 am

We all know how important sleep is for health. That’s one of many reasons that insomnia can be so maddening. I know I need sleep to function well and repair my body. Being well aware of how essential restorative sleep is compounds my sleeping problem. It makes me worry about it over and above the fatigue and other consequences of not getting enough sleep.

If you’re like me and struggle with long-term insomnia (and I’m guessing a good chunk of us in the Fatosphere do; after all, many conditions we share like depression and fibromyalgia either can cause sleep disorders or can be caused by sleep dysfunction), then I’m sure you are well aware of the recommendations for good sleep hygiene. If not, they include:

–cut out nicotine
–cut out caffeine
–exercise, but not 2 hours before bedtime
–use your bed for sleep and sex only
–try to find some way of relaxing that works for you; have a wind-down bedtime ritual
–reduce light in your bedroom with blackout curtains and/or a sleep mask; reduce noise with earplugs or drown it out with a white noise machine 
–keep your bedroom at a good temperature: not too hot, not too cold

I wanted to share some things I’ve discovered in my six years — and counting — of grappling with insomnia. (I could almost cry even reflecting on this and realizing that I’ve only slept six hours straight twice in the past six years. And I was used to sleeping eight hours straight. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to sleep.) Of course, this post is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see your doctor if you are experiencing insomnia. Like I said, these are just my tips after a lot of trial and error, stuff not usually included in “sleep hygiene” advice.

Avoid over-the-counter sleep aids like Sominex and Unisom. I was warned that using them could mimic fibromyalgia. I’ve never been able to corroborate that, but I know that eventually they made my sleep even worse than it was. I also became psychologically dependent on them. It was a real brothertrucker getting myself off of them.

I was eventually prescribed a sleep aid, but I experienced five different side effects after taking it for a short time. So now I’m not on any medication to help me sleep. I sometimes use Bach’s Rescue Sleep to quiet myself down if I’m revved up and it’s bedtime. It’s made from flower essences and is meant to calm. And — ugh — I hate to admit it, but I do keep a box of Unisom on hand for the really bad nights. As a last resort.  But I try not to use any because it was really hard to get off of when I was taking two to three a night.

Keep a notebook and pen within reach of your bed. Rather than running through my to-do list for the next day and fretting myself into a tizzy, I can write it down and let it go.

It’s OK if you only get two hours of sleep that day! This was a hard lesson for me to learn, especially since insomniacs aren’t supposed to nap. It would have been easier for me to be carefree about how little sleep I was getting if I knew I could take a nap if I needed it. Well, I finally had no choice one day but to function on two hours of sleep. But that was the turning point. Knowing I could if I had to lessened the stranglehold of fear and worry about “can’t get to sleep/must get some sleep/only have three more hours until I have to be up.” I could stop eyeballing the clock (a huge “don’t” for the sleep-challenged) and relax enough to actually fall asleep. Don’t be afraid to have to start your day on two hours of sleep. If you worry about it, it’s like those gag toy finger cuffs: the more you struggle, the tighter they get.

Hit the reset button on your brain. After I’ve been tossing and turning for a while, I’ll get up and read or watch TV for a half hour or an hour. Nothing stimulating, though. Oftentimes that — or even just a walk to the kitchen/bathroom for a drink of water — seems to be enough to get me out of that repetitive groove of fighting for sleep. It may seem strange to sacrifice an hour of sleep in order to get sleep (because insomniacs are supposed to go to bed and get up at the same times every day, establish a pattern), but it’s worked for me because I can spend hours upon hours just trying to get to sleep.

Maybe good sleep is a topic that can only be dear to an insomniac’s heart. But I think we, as a society, should be spending at least a third of the concern currently wasted on weight loss and maintenance on improving everyone’s sleep. To me, it’s clear that z’s are far more integral to health.

August 15, 2008

“OMG, you’re such a cow!”

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 10:30 pm

Why, thank you.

I think cows are very pretty.

Also, the term “heifer” hits my ear in a really pleasing way.

Don’t you just love when attempted insults are really just compliments in disguise?

You can hear Velvet D’Amour’s take on being called a whale here at The Curvy Life.

[If you’d like to be on my blogroll, please read this.]

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.]

July 18, 2008

Spinning the Coke bottle

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 9:43 pm

                                     

I once had a commenter attempt to dismiss the invaluable resource that is Junkfood Science by stating that Sourcewatch claims the author, Sandy Szwarc, is being paid by corporate interests. I finally got around to taking a look at Sourcewatch, and one potential bias they point out got my attention:

Another large sponsor of the CEI, the Coca-Cola company, which could benefit financially from easing the consumers’ fears of calorie intake, refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, Type II Diabetes, and the possible consequences of obesity.

Setting aside the “obesity” panic scare tactics, I find the site’s interpretation of a Coca-Cola company connection noteworthy. Why? Because, as I first learned in Laura Fraser’s Losing It, diet sodas are considered part of the diet industry. I was quite surprised by this. According to Coca-Cola’s website, Diet Coke is “the most popular sugar free soft drink in America!”

Diet Coke was the third best-seller of any soft drink in 2007 with 10 percent of the market share, according to Beverage Digest. It just made me laugh to see how Sourcewatch chose to spin this connection between JFS and the Coca-Cola Company. Of course, another way to spin it actually results in the exact opposite “potential bias.” Imagine, Junkfood Science is written by someone with a link to a weight loss diet company!

I’m not seriously claiming JFS is influenced by ties to companies like Coca-Cola in either direction. I try to be a discerning reader, and JFS has never given me cause not to take its content at face value. It’s very important and iconoclastic work Szwarc is doing, and I thank her for it.

[Edited for emphasis.]

July 11, 2008

Breast image

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 10:59 pm

My relationship with my breasts — how I feel about them, how I view them — is inextricably tied to being fat. Therefore, my breast image has always been negative, like my body image. I’m working to change that though.

It’s a challenge. I came of age when the paragons of beauty were the original supermodels: Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista. They all had the requisite modelly modest bust. I, too, wanted a more humble bosom. At least that way I would be similar to the ideal in one way. It was not to be. I was fat with large-ish to large breasts. I amfat with large-ish to large breasts.

Of course, in my mind it was cause and effect. My being fat caused me to have the opposite of the breasts I wanted. I wasn’t able to fathom that either being fat or having the type of boobs I developed was just the way I was made. Or that the two went together just like any other hereditary traits. No, I sadly believed I caused myself to be fat and my being fat caused my undesired bazooms.

What bothered me even more about my girls than uncooperative size was droop. It may’ve been the case all along, but I started to notice around age 20 that I actually began manually lifting and positioning them into the bra. I had always thought the dreaded sag was a result of aging and/or going braless. Well, I had just turned 20, and I’ve worn a bra since I was a pre-teen. So I figured any lack of perkiness was due to being fat. Thus began a decade of breast hating.

My first breakthrough in making peace with my bust happened while watching the film The Magdalene Sisters. I highly recommend this movie, although it could possibly be triggering due to, amongst other things, sexual assault/abuse and anorexia. The film is based on true life experiences and chronicles the punishment young Irish women endured in the 1960s for being raped, unwed mothers, or just too pretty. They were sent to work in the Magdalene laundries, run by nuns. Sometimes they were imprisoned there the rest of their lives.

There is an especially harrowing scene where the girls are lined up naked while two nuns assess their bodies: who has the biggest breasts, who has the largest bum. It’s heartbreaking. Quite unexpectedly I noticed something that took me out of the film for a moment. One of the young women had breasts just like mine, but she wasn’t fat. That really floored me. I had associated the shape of my breasts with the fact that I was fat so much that it never ever occurred to me that just maybe that shape of breast was but one flavor of many.

In my experience, I had little to no exposure to other women’s naked bodies. I should clarify: real, live women. Of course, I’d seen actresses bare their breasts in movies and many paintings, sculptures of nudes. But I didn’t have a clue as to the breadth of variety of breasts. I wonder how many of us do. A problem, I think, is pr0n (I don’t like typing the real word). Naomi Wolf wrote an excellent essay* about this.

Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it. For how can a real woman—with pores and her own breasts and even sexual needs of her own (let alone with speech that goes beyond “More, more, you big stud!”)—possibly compete with a cybervision of perfection, downloadable and extinguishable at will, who comes, so to speak, utterly submissive and tailored to the consumer’s least specification?

For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.

For two decades, I have watched young women experience the continual “mission creep” of how pornography—and now Internet pornography—has lowered their sense of their own sexual value and their actual sexual value.

As Wolf writes, not only are men’s expectations about women’s bodies held to a pr0n standard, but women’s expectations of their own bodies are filtered through those men’s eyes. I think the proliferation of pr0n also profoundly affects women’s evaluation of their own bodies — in whole and part — in relation to their body image self-esteem, independent of what men would think. Because when else do we get to see bared breasts other than our own? Even if we actively avoid it, pr0n is rather permeative.

The more I learned about breast diversity, the less I hated mine. I caught most of a great documentary simply titled Breasts. Another one I’d heartily recommend, especially if you feel uninitiated when it comes to different breast types. This doc has helped me go even further in accepting my bosom as is. Again, it’s really useful to encounter a variety and see myself actually represented there, especially when I started in a place where what can be an important part of a woman’s identity, my breasts, felt like an anomaly and one I’d brought on myself by being fat, to boot.

The participants, most of whom appear topless, represent a wide range of age, size, race and background. They include an 11-year-old on the verge of puberty; a breast-feeding mother; a 24-year-old with a breast reduction; a stripper with implants; two women with mastectomies; the self-proclaimed leader of the “Strong Breast Revolution;” a transsexual; a 49-year-old who is concerned about the safety of her silicone implants; a 420-pound comedienne; and two mother-daughter pairs. Their candid thoughts are humorous, moving, and often surprising.

One of the latest steps in my journey towards a more positive breast image happened while I was shopping for Japanese goods at J-List. If, like me, you are susceptible to episodes of prudery, I strongly suggest going to the under-18 version of the shop, JBOX. Of course, if I hadn’t mindlessly been browsing the 18-and-older site, I wouldn’t have made a bit more breast positivity progress. At J-List, I saw a thumbnail pic of Shoko Goto, “a busty Japanese adult video actress.” I was surprised. Her bust size is larger than mine, but the shape/ptosis was the same. And here she was being held up as a certain type of ideal! It made me feel better, especially since she’s not fat. This really caused me to believe that sometimes it’s not that large breasts sag. It’s more that they’re shaped differently from large and perky breasts. It’s just a variation. This is in danger of becoming my mantra, but variation is not aberration.

The latest boost to my breast esteem was after I read Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. The book inspired me to actually look at myself naked in the mirror once in a while — without being negative, actually with kindness. It’s not always easy, and it does take some effort and dedication. But it’s helping. As do the Fatosphere and especially The Adipositivity Project. It’s nice to be coming to the conclusion that my breasts just are. They aren’t a result of something I did wrong. Sometimes they’re even pretty to me.

If you’re worried about your boobs, rejoice. You’re not a freak. Maybe you just didn’t know that there are others out there just like you.

*[Excellent except for a faulty conclusion that processed foods and supersize portions cause “obesity.”]

July 8, 2008

LOLfat 2

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 9:56 pm

[Another attempt to reclaim our headless images. Found the image itself at Charlotte Cooper’s.]

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