textualdeviance: (trapped)
Random thing I just realized: I find it hard to post about anti-fat hatred in more-general fora. I'm always afraid that if I even bring up the subject, it'll call attention to the fact that I'm one of the fatties, and the bullies will smell the blood in the water and descend upon me. And because being fat is something that's still considered a "genuinely" bad thing for various reasons, people simply aren't willing to step up and have my back when shit like that happens, which leaves me to try to fight off the raptors on my own. And that? Is freaking exhausting.

The sheer amount of victim blaming that happens when anti-fat prejudice flares up is breathtaking. Somehow, people have got it into their heads that the mere state of being fat is physical evidence of character flaws--ones that are apparently so bad that sentencing us to discrimination, harassment, pain or even death is justified.

And then there are the concern trolls. "Oh, but it's so unhealthy!!" Um. OK. So why is every iota of the health and fitness industry polluted with messages about how I'm utterly worthless because I'm not decorative enough, and never will be no matter how healthy I am? Why can't I find a gym that will simply let me use some equipment to help improve my blood pressure without being flooded with stuff telling me I'm ugly, and that's the real problem? Why are people so judgmental about the bodies they see in locker rooms? Don't tell me this is about health when even my doctor's office has a bunch of brochures for cosmetic surgery. If berating people about how they look actually worked to improve health, Americans would be the healthiest damned people on the planet.

I'm just so fucking tired of it. I'm tired of being faced, literally dozens of times every single day, with people telling me that I'm not worthy of love, of respect, of even being alive because I'm fat. And I'm even more tired of otherwise-sensible people who are doing nothing at all to stop this from happening, or--even worse--propping up the industries that perpetuate it. If you're too tired or busy or whatever to actively work to end this, fair enough, but at least stop giving money to companies that make fortunes off of making fat folks feel like shit, yeah?

I've managed to survive as long as I have because I've done everything I can to be valuable in ways other than how I look. I've studied hard, worked hard, tried to make myself a kind, loving and generous person. I've learned to be charming, to be witty, to keep people entertained and amused and informed and cared for. I have done everything I know how to make up for the fact that my body is not what my culture says it should be. And yet it's still not enough, and I'm not sure it ever will be. I'm not sure there are enough social Hail Marys I can say at this point that will ever absolve me of the sins of my flesh.

I'm just tired of living like this. I'm far too stubborn to take the easy way out, of course. For every ounce of me that's hurting and bleeding from the constant beatings, there is an equal amount of rage and defiance that bubbles up to make me refuse to succumb to the will of the people who want to see me defeated. But I admit: this fight would be a hell of a lot easier if I knew there were more people out there who are willing to fight by my side.

I sincerely believe that I am a person who is worth the air I breathe no matter what size I am or how I came to be this way. I also know there are--thank you--several people who also believe that, and who have worked hard to support me. I just wish there were more. This is not a fight that can be won by one stubborn-ass chick and her tiny army, because this stubborn-ass chick is not the only one who's being constantly attacked. People who aren't as stubborn as me are still, quite literally, dying because of how much the world is telling them they're worth nothing. And for the love of fuck, this has to stop. Please.
Feb. 8th, 2012 02:42 pm

It's a sin

textualdeviance: (Faith Healer Lee)
Even though my conservative religious upbringing was comparatively mild, and ended when I was 12, I think I still have some lingering fuckery from it even now. In particular, I have ongoing wars with myself over anything I enjoy, especially food or leisure-related stuff, because I still feel like it's sinful/wrong/immoral to indulge in something pleasurable without paying for it with subsequent pain. Bleh.

Realized this because I was just thinking about the Puritanism involved in the anti-gay/anti-abortion crowd, and how their greatest fear is the idea of pleasure without painful consequences. Poke the "but the baybeez!" anti-abortion arguments, and you'll get to the root of it: believing that the pain and risk of pregnancy and birth is a just consequence for a woman's sin of enjoying sex. (Some will even put it in so many words--birth is a woman's burden because of Eve's sin. Bleh.)

But even among the non-religious, there's still a lot of lingering Puritanism of other kinds. In secular society, we've mostly accepted the idea of consequence-free sexual pleasure--we're down with contraception, pre-marital sex, etc. But we seem to have transferred that idea that pleasure is a sin onto other things. We can't rail against Lust, so we're railing against Sloth and Gluttony instead. (And Greed, but that's a different thing, as there are consequences beyond oneself for Greed-inspired acts. Same with Wrath. Envy is more or less victimless, unless it leads to stealing, and excessive Pride just makes you an asshole.)

Practical advice v. moral righteousness )

Now, the practical stuff still applies, of course. Saving for retirement, for instance, is a smart move even entirely unconnected from ideals of morality, and too many rich people don't understand exactly how connected their bottom line is to the well-being of the working class. Sometimes indulging in short-term pleasures can have exponentially worse long-term consequences, and shooting yourself in the foot in some sort of ill-advised rebellion against people telling you what to do is just stupid. But if you've already done the practical analysis, and know at which point you need to stop before you hurt yourself or someone else, there's no sense whatsoever in denying yourself pleasure just for the sake of doing so. Live it up.

Of course, some people will get on your case for this. Some have so committed themselves to such righteous suffering that it makes them furious to see someone who isn't also doing the masochism tango. They also consider your wanton displays a cavalcade of temptation for them to sin. Why else would half those Family Values sorts get caught with their pants down?

Cultural bulimia )

The thing many (including yours truly) need to learn is that as an adult in this earthly life, you don't get gold stars for being a martyr. Yes, some folks are still true believers in the idea of earning heavenly Brownie Points, and will continue to deny themselves any pleasure in order to make a sadistic deity happy. But if that's not your personal theology, why let your behavior be driven by what boils down to the same motivation?

Of course there's some courtesy and compassion involved. It's rude to grossly enjoy oneself in a way that rubs it in the face of others who are suffering. But, assuming you're not being a mocking jerk, if you didn't have a hand in that suffering, and what you're doing has no bearing on whether it will end? Go to it. It's not inherently mean to indulge in a passion for painting just because some are blind. If you got in their face and said, "neener neener! I can see all these cool colors and you can't!" then sure. You're being a total dick and deserve a slap. But the mere open enjoyment of something you love is not a mockery of those who don't have that thing. Enjoying a pint of ice cream doesn't mean you don't care about starving kids in third-world countries. Driving to work because you get claustrophobic on buses doesn't mean you don't care about global warming.

What it all comes down to, I think, is this: for most of us, life kinda sucks fairly often. Unless you're born into every privileged class imaginable, you're going to suffer on some level. And because there's so much suck in life, why on earth would you voluntarily increase that suckage if there's no benefit to doing so aside from some vague sense of moral purity? The only people who will be impressed by such wholly voluntary suffering are assholes, sadists and control freaks. They are not worth it.

And on that note: I think I'm going to go take a nap. ;)
textualdeviance: (Default)
Thanks to a friend's q on FB, I think I nailed down why I hate exercising for its own sake:

If my brain doesn't have something else to focus on, the only thing I can think of is how much pain I'm in and how exhausted I am. Walking around for an hour shopping, birding or sightseeing? I don't notice as much, until I'm finally in the car and it hits me all at once. Walking around for an hour for its own sake? I'd never get through it.

No, it's not laziness or self-indulgence, thanks. )

I realize I look like I'm going to drop dead any second because many people my size are in truly dire shape. Those who gained their weight by eating garbage and never moving at all have undoubtedly done other harm to their bodies that shows up in the numbers that matter. But I've made it to 40 without going diabetic or having enormously high cholesterol and BP, and I feel better now than I ever did when I was trying to do it the "right" way.

I don't smoke, don't drink, don't do caffeine or mammal flesh. I do low-fat dairy and heart-healthy cooking fats. I get plenty of protein, fiber and calcium. I take vitamins to correct for various deficiencies. I am, even at my size, probably living a healthier lifestyle than the vast majority of Americans at ANY size. But I don't "diet" and I don't "work out" and I never will again, because I already know that doing those things will make me worse, not better, and also make me miserable in the meantime.

It's entirely possible that as I continue to improve my overall health, some weight may slowly--very slowly--come off over the years. But it ain't going away entirely, and it ain't happening on a short schedule. I am, for all intents and purposes, going to be this size, or close to it, for probably the rest of my life. This is what I have, and this is what I'm working with. And I AM working with it, even if small-minded, prejudiced people think otherwise.

I just wish there were an easier way to tell this to the world--to get them to trust that I DO know my body quite well, and manage it in the way that gets the best results for me. Because the constant body hate in my culture is the one thing that's making me sicker than anything else.
textualdeviance: (*headdesk*)
Sometimes, it kind of irritates me when fellow big folks lose weight.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for them if they can do this without hurting themselves, but unfortunately, it tends to make others assume that if one of us can do this, surely we all can. Which, of course, means that those of us who aren't doing it clearly just don't care and therefore are fair game for nastiness. Bleh.

Thing is, we're not all the same. What works for one person may not work for another. And it may even make things worse for some (hello, victim of low-fat dieting.) Humans are an incredibly diverse species, and the particular assortment of genes and environmental factors that make each of our bodies what they are is unique.

But because there's so much misinformation out there (even from doctors--most GPs know jack about endocrinology and brain chemistry), everyone thinks that whatever worked for their Aunt Susie is clearly the magic pill that will work for everyone. And therefore, if you're not on that magic pill, you're obviously making a poor choice, and can therefore be judged.

I don't grudge fat folks who get un-fat, really. As long as they don't start bragging or getting self-righteous about it, and understand how weight-loss talk can be triggering for folks with eating disorders, fair enough. Frankly, if they came up with a magic pill that did work with my body's particular weirdness, I'd take it. It's not exactly fun being this size even beyond the social bullshit it earns me.

But if you or someone you know did get un-fat, please don't assume that whatever method was involved is going to work for me or anyone else. One size does not fit all, y'know?
textualdeviance: (skwirls)
Weird contrast when we got off the plane in MN: Suddenly, a heck of a lot more fellow fat folks around.

I loved the trip, of course, but had had quite a few instances in which I felt uncomfortable because I was the largest person in the room. Got more than a few rude stares, etc., unrelated to the tourist thing (we mostly dressed like locals, and this often happened before we spoke) which kinda dampened my mood a time or two.

This happens to me a fair amount in general, of course. The Northwest has its share of chubby folks, but we also have a lot of tree-climbing health nuts who are of the opinion that my ass is going to single-handedly (double-cheekedly?) destroy the planet. So I do get the occasional bit of flak here at home. But it's a trade-off, because every other weirdness I have is generally accepted well enough. We have a high enough geek population that open-mindedness WRT the queer, atheist, gender-non-compliant thing is pretty common, so long as you're West of the mountains.

I did get to thinking in MN, though, about how much more accepted my body might be if I lived somewhere that it weren't so unusual. If I'm 1 in 100, instead of 1 in 1000, I'm not going to stand out as much. Flak would still happen--it always does--but I wouldn't always feel like the sole target of it. For a moment, the lure of being able to walk around in public without always worrying if someone's going to harass me was pretty strong.

The problem, however, is that most of the areas with a higher population of fat folks also have a higher population of anti-queer religious folks. And they're quite often the same people. I won't speculate on why that is (though I have ideas) but the fact remains that while most of the folks I'd run into in, say, Texas might accept my surface existence, once they got past that, it'd be a whole 'nother story.

I do sometimes wish there were a magical land in which I could be a fat, queer, atheist, gender-non-compliant, progressive geek (etc.) without having to constantly worry about whether a given stranger was going to have a problem with one or more of those things. It wouldn't even have to be everyone--as long as I felt like at least half the population had my back for all of those things, I'd feel better As it is now, though, there's no guaranteed place or group of people where I know I'll be safe, so I feel like I have to keep my guard up at all times. And that's a pretty sucky way to live.
textualdeviance: (Beardy Connor Not Amused)
Dear healthcare professional:

If a patient comes to you with symptoms of a potentially worrisome infection (fever + lethargy + pain in alarming places), being condescending about it means you're an asshole.

I didn't come in because I hoped I had the infection, but because I wanted to rule it out. Oh, and BTW? You didn't actually do that. You just blew me off because you assumed a fat chick who used actual medical terminology was probably an attention whore making shit up.

Fortunately for my health, I'm also stubborn bitch, and made you give me antibiotics anyway.

Oh, and the dig about my blood pressure? Totally uncalled for, jackhole. Yes, my blood pressure is a bit high today. I'm in fucking pain. If you'd like, I can send you 20 gigs of pics of my (basically normal) at-home readings.

Y'know, it's almost like some doctors get angry at me for being fat and yet not about to drop dead. It's like they can't deal with the cognitive dissonance, and so want me out of their offices as soon as humanly possible, rather than taking the time to fix the totally-not-fat-related problem I came in with.
textualdeviance: (Beardy Connor Not Amused)
Perused this article about FB/isolation/envy earlier. Found it interesting, maybe even somewhat enlightening.

Until I got to the end, and the bit that reminded me that it's not all in my head.

For the record, it gets really fucking tiring to constantly be on the business end of (theoretically) socially acceptable "humor." Not to mention the mocking, disdain, discrimination and out-and-out hatred.

Hi. Human fucking being here, thanks.

The thing that gets to me is that it's next to impossible to tell whether a given person's going to be a bigot about this. For the queer stuff, it's easy: I just avoid conservatives and hardcore religious folk, and I'm usually safe. But there's really no safe space for this. Yeah, avoiding fashionistas and gym bunnies is a start, but only that. Even some of the most theoretically progressive folks out there can suddenly spout some of the most hateful garbage on this count, and that can be a really nasty slap in the face when it comes unexpectedly. (And then there's the self-hating crowd, too, who can be some of the worst.)

Sometimes, I feel like it's safer to just assume a given person's going to be an ass until they prove otherwise. Which is no way to go through life, no, but it's better than the alternative.
textualdeviance: (skwirls)
Woke up in a bad mood thanks to a good dream.

The dream itself was quite nice--a naughty little romp with a random cute actor (not Andrew.*) But then when I woke up, I got depressed because I realized that such a thing would never, ever happen in real life. Not for the legitimate reasons--fame, distance, not actually knowing each other--but because said actor is fatphobic.

Generally speaking, it doesn't bother me too much when I'm just not someone's cuppa in romantic/sexual terms. If someone tells me I'm just not their type, fair enough. That sort of thing can happen to anyone. Hell, I've said it a time or two myself (I tend not to go for really bearish men, not because of prejudice, but because of bad memories/associations.)

No, what bothers me is when someone wouldn't even consider being a friend because they have such a problem with fat people. Or, when they might consider having me around a bit, but would never cross the line into a closer friendship because of that (people who, for instance, might be cuddly with their slender friends, but don't want to touch me because they're disgusted or think the fat's contagious or something.)

And then of course there's also the problem with total strangers who, beyond the friendship question, think I shouldn't go out in public, or share transportation or even exist because I'm so hideous.

It all gets really tiring. It's frustrating as hell to have to constantly have filters on, worrying about whether a given person might harbor a secret hatred or disgust for me. It's bothersome to have to hold back, not being gregarious or throwing myself into getting to know someone until I know for sure that they're going to be OK with me. It's depressing to have to avoid certain categories of people (fashionistas, for instance, or other kinds of people who are obsessed with artificial pretty) because chances are so very good that they're going to have a problem with me.

And even when I think I'm in the clear, sometimes people can surprise me. I recently had to unfriend someone on Facebook--a casual friend I've known for years--because of something horribly fatphobic he said. I've also had to drop other friends from time to time because of their constant talk about diets, or ongoing negative comments about their own bodies that make me wonder: If they hate their own (perfectly normal) bodies so much, what must they think of mine?

Occasionally, people will wonder why, given my otherwise-friendly nature, I don't go out and be social more, or get to know people around here instead of online or whatever. Well, this is why. I have to be careful, and choose only those people with whom I have a reasonable expectation of acceptance. I once had a professor ask me why I socialized so much online, instead of, for instance, trying to strike up a friendship with the kid sitting next to me. Said kid? Was a 19-year-old baby douche who was into monster trucks and muscle car magazines. Yeah. Not exactly going to be excited to be friends with an old fat lady.

Of course, it's not just the fat thing, either. I have to be careful about religious folks, for instance, until I'm sure that they're not homophobic or have a problem with atheists (and until I'm sure that any "tolerance" they claim to have for those things is for real, and not just a token thing they do to be able to pat themselves on the back.) I have to be careful around people whose politics might not support my right to, say, health care or non-discrimination or whatever.

I really envy people who don't have any of these potential pitfalls--people who could go up to just about any random stranger, and have a reasonable expectation of becoming friends so long as they got along in general. Having to go through life with these constant filters up is a giant pain, and I really wish I didn't have to do it.

Because y'know what? It really sucks to get excited about a seemingly nice actor and follow what he does for a while and then suddenly find out that if he ever met you, he'd probably recoil, or at least mock you behind your back later on.

Meh.

* )
textualdeviance: (Boom.)
Don't remember where I saw it, but I saw a comment earlier today from a guy who was defending a slender actress against accusations of eating disorders. His point, which I found interesting, was that the woman in question was naturally slim, as opposed to someone who's using artifical means to try to get to that size when that's not what their body is built like.

Given my general feelings around body image issues and fat positivity and all that, it probably surprises some folks that I do get the hots for people who are average size or even downright tiny. Most of my hobbitses, for instance. Handrew (and lovely sister Sarah). And, lately, Neillison.

Something that all of those small folks have in common, though, is that that's the size they naturally are. That's how they're built. You can tell from their bone structure that they're not meant to be broader or curvier or whatever. They undoubtedly do stuff here and there to keep healthy, but they're not doing something terrible to themselves to get to the size they are.

On the other hand, someone like Christina Hendricks would have to do some pretty awful things to her body to get as small as Allison, and she'd end up looking really weird because that's not what her body is supposed to be.

I have no animosity toward naturally slim folks for being what they are. What bothers me is that their body type has been held up by our culture as the ultimate ideal for everyone, because that robs people of their individuality.

It would be criminal if, say, Lucy Brown tried to do something to herself to look more like Hannah, or if Hannah got it into her head that she should get implants to have boobs like Lucy's. I should hope that neither one of them ever feels that she is in any way inadequate because she doesn't look enough like the other, because they are both stunningly beautiful in their own unique ways.

I wish more people understood that one size simply does not fit all. There is a very wide range of natural variation in how humans are built, and stupid, height-based calculations like the BMI are useless, unscientific trash that tell us nothing about what our own individual body's needs are. Sheepdogs, after all, may be roughly the same height as a Saluki, but they're built completely differently, and it would be absurd to try to get them to look like that.

Humans, like dogs, are an extremely physically diverse species, and setting up any one body type--whether that's bone structure, muscle development/definition, eye shape or skin color--as some sort of goal that we're all supposed to try to reach is not just unfair and unrealistic, but actually causing people to do violence to themselves and each other when someone deviates too far from that standard.

Contrary to what industry wants us to believe (so we'll buy their products), neither beauty nor health actually has any one particular look or shape. What's definitely NOT beautiful or healthy, however, is an expensive, body-attacking pursuit of looking like someone else, which in the process helps to fuel a hateful cultural standard that makes other people feel compelled to do the same thing.

These pressures being what they are--pervasive, relentless and often with consequences attached--it can be very, very hard to resist them. I know some people can't, because the cost is too great. But for those of us who do have a choice, we really ought to be choosing to let go of that pursuit, because it helps lessen those pressures for everyone else, so they themselves can have more choices.

Of course some people are going to naturally fit those cultural standards, and yes, they get unfair levels of social perks for it. But skinny little bitches aren't the enemy. Many of them, in fact, are lovely people for whom I have great affection and attraction. The real enemy? The asshats sitting behind a desk counting the scads of money we give them because we've been told that unless we try to look like said skinny little bitches, we're worthless.
textualdeviance: (skwirls)
To briefly summarize this fantastic article about research into the effects of stress on health:

Stress is deadly, yo )

All of this? Is stuff I've been saying for years. Yet stress is almost never actually addressed in the cultural information flow about health, in favor of the latest superfood or diet craze or magic snake oil that's supposed to make everything better.

It's heartening, therefore, to see that there are at least some researchers out there who are focusing on trying to fix this.

It's also heartening on a personal level. Mostly.


Sucky childhood = crappy adult health, and there's not much I can do about that now )

I also have to wonder whether the screeching health brigade will pay any attention to this stuff, and start changing how they address health issues. I wonder if they'll ever come to the realization that, for instance, berating fat people for being fat is not, in fact, helping them become healthier and is instead making things worse.

But... Probably not.

Addressing the key cultural factors involved in stress-related illness A) requires addressing the worst parts of capitalism B) Can't be marketed/profited from the same way diets, gym memberships and the latest superfoods and magic vitamins can and C) Requires holding the larger culture responsible instead of blaming people for their own problems (which is, of course, the Proper American Way to do things.)

Besides, it's really not health that these people care about anyway. If it was, diets and gyms wouldn't market themselves as the sure ticket to a more socially acceptable body. What they really care about isn't cardiovascular health, but maintaining the existing social rank by making sure lower-status people feel rotten about themselves so they'll never get strong enough to pose a challenge to dominance.
textualdeviance: (WTF Tasty Bite)
Going along as normal, enjoying my day, and something reminds me of that whole bit about how I'm a second-class citizen (if not further down the list) because I'm fat.

Do people even listen to themselves? People who wouldn't dream of such casual offensiveness toward other oppressed minorities just toss that shit out there without a second thought.

Clue: Even if it's directed at yourself, going off in a fat-negative way only reinforces the idea that every fat person is somehow bad. When you bitch about the size of your thighs or the fact that you've gained five pounds, or how you really shouldn't have had that cupcake because you might "blow up," you're adding to the overall cultural message that tells me that I ought to just go off myself so I stop offending other people with my body. You're not just getting down on yourself, you're furthering the idea that it's OK to treat me and others like me like absolute shit.

We get that abuse enough from pop culture and the zillion-dollar diet industry. We don't need it from people who should know better.

Stop. It.
Mar. 7th, 2010 08:31 pm

Tradeoffs

textualdeviance: (More You Know)
Keeping up a bit with what's going on with the Oscars tonight, and y'know, as happy as I am for the success of Precious and Mo'nique and Gabby, I do wonder when we're going to see more attention for a broader range of big gals in American entertainment media.

It certainly doesn't make up for racism or any of the other awful things that black and Latina women endure, but it's still a little unsettling to me that the greater acceptance they seem to get from their communities and the public eye in general is more or less completely absent for bigger women of other backgrounds.

The number of successful black and Latina celebs who are around a size 12 or bigger isn't significantly greater than the number of white and Asian celebs that size, but when you consider it as a percentage of overall numbers from each racial group? Or as a percentage of overall population? Yeah. Bigger white and Asian women are woefully underrepresented in American movies and TV compared to our numbers here in the offscreen world.

It's been 12 years since Camryn Mannheim won an Emmy and dedicated it to all the fat girls, and we've been basically invisible since then (and so has she, for that matter.) We had Sara Rue for a short time, but then she lost weight, went blond and subsequently vanished. About the only time you see a fat white chick on TV, she's either the butt of some joke, or she's a contestant on some horrid weight-loss-via-torture show. And forget seeing fat Asian women at all. Seriously, folks: Name one.

I imagine that there's certainly racism involved here: There's a popular notion that black and Latina women are generally "wilder" and thus that may mean they're less bound by the constraints of cultural asceticism that keep white and Asian women under greater pressure to be thin. (And obviously, this notion does a disservice to all the women involved.)

I've also heard people say that they feel that lighter-skinned big people look more vulgar somehow. Like, seeing Queen Latifah in a body-hugging, cleavage-baring dress is no big deal, but put the same dress on Christina Hendricks, who has a rack of similar generous proportions, and suddenly people think she may as well be walking around naked. And that's for someone who, aside from her boobs, is otherwise average size. It's like a vast expanse of pale flesh is, in and of itself, somehow more attention-getting and therefore more offensive. Weird.

Whatever the reason, though, it sucks. I'm very happy that we fat chicks are getting any pop culture recognition at all, and I'd never trade the awards these two are getting for their wonderful work for anything. But I also can't help but hope that this might help open up Hollywood to a broader range of women in general, of all sizes, all colors, all ages.

We should be seeing a female Jack Black, or Seth Rogan. We should be seeing women of William Shatner's and Alec Baldwin's ages who have put on similar amounts of weight since their early career days having just as successful a go. American TV should have even half the number of talented, larger women that have been gracing British TV screens for decades. We should have our Dawn French and Ruth Jones. Hell, we should at least have a Fern Britton. And we don't. Heck, many of the curvier women we do have we borrow from the Brits anyway (Polly Walker and Judi Dench, for instance.)

Don't get me wrong: I adore those beautiful, curvy women of color. I'd certainly never turn down a night with Sara Ramirez, that's for damned sure. ;) But it's a really odd color barrier, IMHO, and one I wish would go away.
textualdeviance: (Bridal Illusions)
"Abstinence-only lunches"

It's also hilarious not just because of the thing it's satirizing, but because of how true the article really could be, too. It's no accident that the same sort of paranoid asceticism pushing against sex ed is also pushing against having a healthy relationship with food--and backfiring in exactly the same way.

A bit of commentary )

I wish that I could say this kind of ridiculousness was limited to the tightly wound soapboxers from the religious right, but a massive segment of American secular culture has absorbed these notions of sin and shame with regard to our bodies and what they need and want. It's just barking TV talking heads scolding us for these things instead of clergy.

Still, with all this pressure, it's no surprise that so many of us have deeply troubled feelings about these issues. Some of this is generic fear of mortality--knowing that our bodies have needs reminds us how fragile they really are--but some of it is just constantly competing messages between righteous deprivation and sinful decadence. Between obedience and rebellion.

The truth, of course, is that there is a happy and healthy middle ground; a place where our bodies are satisfied regularly enough that we don't feel the need to go to extremes. But it's very hard for most of us--especially those with backgrounds that include strict religion or parenting--to settle in there. And I deeply envy those who have managed to do that.
textualdeviance: (Default)
I apparently missed this piece when it came out last month.

An interesting bit:
When WHO defined the body mass index scores constituting normal, overweight and obese, they appeared to be the result of an independent expert committee convened by WHO.

Yet the 1997 Geneva consultation was held jointly with the International Obesity Task Force, an advocacy group whose self-described mission is "to inform the world about the urgency of the (obesity) problem."

According to the task force's most recent available annual report, more than 70 percent of their funding came from Abbott Laboratories and F. Hoffman La-Roche, companies which make top-selling anti-fat pills.


(emphasis mine)

In short:

* No, adults aren't significantly more overweight than they were before. And kids aren't at all.

* What has changed is the definition of overweight. The BMI mark, for instance, slid down to 25 from 27, suddenly turning millions more people from healthy to fat overnight.

Shapely Prose also had an astonishing bit about the size-16 beauty queen. This Monica Grenfell person is a complete moron. Saying the girl should have a BMI of 20 and advocating crash diets for invisible vanity pounds? Whoa.


(For those just joining me on these rants: Yes, I know I'm fat. I'm on the train for this debunking of the obesity myth because I believe that the eating disorders, crash diets and other terrible things I did to my body when I was young not only contributed to poor health at the time, but permanently fucked up my metabolism. I'd probably be about 1/3 smaller than what I am now if I hadn't done that.)
Mar. 29th, 2008 08:50 am

Ooooh

textualdeviance: (Default)
Pursuant somewhat to my last post, I just found a very cool blog.

An excerpt from a fantastic rant:

These are the most devastating things people can think of to say to a woman in this culture. And they all come back to the same basic point: your body is not your own. You do not get to control it, you do not get to decide how to nourish it, you do not get to decide who enters it, you do not get to make statements about it. We will tell you what your body is, what should happen to it, what has happened to it.

And the second you forget that, we’ll be right there to remind you. What to do with a woman blogger who has a strong mind, a loud voice and a devoted readership? Tell her her fat ass deserves to be raped and murdered. What to do with a woman who becomes Secretary of State? Fuck her to death.


This one is also damn good.

ETA: I just created a feed for it if you'd like to read more.
textualdeviance: (avatar)
So in mousing around today, I saw where someone (quite some time ago; during The Fandom Drama) had seen a pic of me and decided I look like Terry Jones.

I imagine this was intended as an insult. I don't take it as such, though. Though I'm not particularly attracted to Mr. Jones, nor would I describe him as particularly attractive, nonetheless, I think he's great, so I don't mind looking like him.

I'm probably one of the few women around who isn't automatically insulted at being told I look like a man. I KNOW I look like a man (a very short one, yes, but still...) That's part of why I look (and feel) ridiculous with any attempts to femme up. You can put a pink bow on a bulldog, but it's still a bulldog.

I'm built like a Tolkien dwarf, minus the beard. I'm very short, very broad and have strong features. I'm almost all ribcage (frame-wise, at least; I have fairly broad hips, too, but my big ass is mostly just... a big ass.)

The rest of the world has a problem with this. The rest of the world is, in fact, not exactly built for someone who is both short and wide (seriously: try finding pants in a size 30 petite. It ain't easy.) On occasion, when I'm feeling particularly crappy, I have a problem with it, too. Though honestly, the short part is almost as annoying as the fat part. Both things get in the way of being able to go through the world with a minimum of fuss and inconvenience and at least a reasonable amount of enjoyment.

But aside from the sheer annoyance of the practical matters of physics, I'm really not that horrified to look like I do. I agonize, almost daily, about how angry I am that other people are stupid and narrow-minded and thus hate me because of how I look. I definitely agonize at the billions of dollars spent every year trying to make all women look like the vacant bimbos they get to host entertainment "news" shows. But my anger isn't directed at myself. I do sometimes get annoyed when I tend too much to gluttony and sloth, because I do want to try to stay healthy, but beyond that, this is just who I am. I'm sort of a circus freak, albeit a relatively mainstream one.

I could've taken after my short-and-adorable mom, but I didn't. I took after my dad, who's a big, Neanderthalish linebacker sort. Only I somehow ended up with Mom's short genes (either that, or I actually do have some sort of dwarfism, which wouldn't surprise me, given some of my dwarfish features, like stubby fingers.)

I don't fit into the small range of cookie-cutter shapes deemed acceptable for women in my culture. I hate feeling like an outsider because of that. But I'm not going to wake up tomorrow and be 5'9" and 120. Hell, I'm not going to wake up tomorrow and be 5'5" and 220. And I'm certainly not, barring major cosmetic surgery, going to wake up tomorrow with a soft jawline, perky nose and perfect skin. I don't necessarily like being this weird, but it is what it is, and if nothing else, at least I'm not a clone. And in a way, perhaps being a bit of a physical freak has made me a better person, because it's pushed me to achieve success in ways that aren't at all dependent on what my ass looks like or how far off the ground it is. I guarantee that I'll have a far better life at 50 than someone who based her entire career and life around what she looked like at 20.

So if someone wants to tell me I look like a very successful, funny, smart, well-respected guy, then yaye. I'd much rather be mistaken for Terry Jones than Paris Hilton.

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