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Who's Fat? I'm Fat.


I need to get back to my gluten-free diet; the insomnia is getting bad.  It might help with my hair, too (though I still intend to do terrible things to it like go blonde.  Hee!  Fun with hair!).  Yes, it tends to make me lose weight and stabilize at the lower end of my weight range, but that's the last thing on my mind.  I'm feeling good about myself, and Bob agrees.

And feeling good about oneself at any size is important; fifty years of fat shaming has not made the country any slimmer, so you'd think they'd give up, but mention the idea that fat people should feel good about themselves, and it's like you farted in church.  Everyone makes this horrible face at the very idea that fatty-fat-fat-faces should dare feel good about themselves!  After all, what you weigh is the only measure of your worth, right?

My eyes, they roll so far back in my head, I can see my pituitary gland.  (It says hi, by the way.)

I think it's a good idea to help kids be healthy - but "obesity" is not one of the criteria for poor health.  Activity level, stamina, muscle tone, happiness, maximizing your abilities, whatever level they may be ('cause let's be honest, the rhetoric around exercise is profoundly ableist, shutting out everyone with disabilities), and feeling good about yourself - that's healthy.  Fat ain't got nothin' to do with it.

So when Michelle Obama launched the Let's Move campaign, on the surface it seemed like a good thing. Getting kids to be outside more, encouraging fun games and activities, promoting fruits and vegetables, trying to eliminate "food deserts" in inner cities (where grocery stores are not within walking distance, and good produce is scarce and expensive, throwing a double whammy at the poorest members of society, who certainly can't afford to shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joes).

But when she uses her own daughters as an example of the "obesity epidemic" in kids, I go off the rails, off the reservation, and off my nut. Fuck, that's cruel - telling people your own daughters were too fat, so you put them on a diet? Caving to your fat-phobic paediatrician?  Saying that the problem is fat, not health?  Oh, Mrs. First Lady, how could you?

Here's a tip:  Pre-pubescent girls who are about to hit puberty often gain weight.  It's their body's way of storing supplies against the massive energy-drain that the physical changes of puberty put the body through.  Boys gain weight too  - then they will get taller and more muscular, and girls will then get taller and grow breasts and hips.  This uses tremendous resources - fat stores are essential to this process so that the body does not cannibalize other things, like organs or bones* for the job.  Their brains grow too - there are profound changes that happen to the brain at puberty, and fat is essential to proper brain function.  Fat is essential to body function, or else there'd be no such thing as protein poisoning.

Children often go through a "chubby" phase.  Most will grow out of it.  Children are not all meant to be the same size, or even extremely skinny.  People come in all sizes, just like they come in all heights.  But fat-shaming children does not have the "positive" effect that society seems to think it does.

Let me tell you a story.  Many of you will be familiar with this story, as you have lived it yourselves.  For those of you that haven't, it's a sad story, but educational, so keep reading.

When I was a child, I was identified by my family as fat.  I thought I was fat.  between the ages of four and five, I went from not thinking about my size at all, to being convinced I was very fat, because everyone told me so.  This is what I looked like at ages four and  five:

Age four.   Age five.

You can clearly see how much I porked out, can't you?  :P

By that time, all my food choices were being policed; even if I wanted seconds because I was starving, I knew better than to ask.  I started sneaking and hiding my food intake - since my sister and I did the dishes when we stayed at my grandmother's house, I learned to eat the leftover food off the plates when no-one was looking.  The biggest thing I remember from those years is being hungry.  Of course, since I wasn't allowed to eat what I wanted at the table, the foods I sneaked were not as nutritious - they had to be quick to grab, and concealable, like crackers, chips, or candy.  I was obsessed with food, because I was never allowed to eat as much as I wanted.

This is the point at which I think I became eating disordered. 

All the people around me got in on the food policing and shaming - to this day, I remember being mocked for even looking at food.  The constant message from everyone around me was that I was fat, and something needed to be done about it.  By age seven, I was sure I was huge. 


Clearly, I was enormous, a drag on society, so horrifying to look at that I should have hidden in an attic and spared the world my hideous bulk.

All this time, my sister was a picky eater - she ate almost nothing, and it was always a great struggle to get her to eat (she's learning disabled, due to a brain injury incurred when she was very young, and that's all I'm going to reveal about her, because I don't want to violate her privacy).  She would eat for me, so I was sometimes able to get her to eat a little more, but she genuinely didn't like the taste of most food, so she was very, very underweight for a 12 year old.  Of course, this served as even more contrast for me - I was constantly told that I should look more like my sister, because being underweight and matching society's beauty ideals (for children!) is much healthier than being a little chubby.  So, by age 11, I thought I was massive:


My sister is a year older than me, but since she was so underweight, she looked a couple of years younger.  I am clearly the biggest porker around, and how dare I wear a swimsuit.

I hit puberty at 11, too - this is what a girl about to undergo massive body changes looks like.  But since society (I went through this in the 1970s, and it's only gotten worse) is deeply anti-fat, the idea that a girl too young to even think about sex (well, I was, anyway) should conform to the adult male idea of attractiveness** meant that the body police went into overdrive.

When you're fat shamed, you hate physical activities.  When people tell you you're ugly and they don't want to look at your fat, you shy away from sports.  When they then turn around and shame you for being "lazy" and not exercising, you die inside a little.  It takes a strong sense of self-worth to tell those people to go fuck themselves, and thanks to the fat shaming and hate, most fat teenagers have no self-esteem at all. When concern trolls tell me they're just trying to "help" by engaging in fathate, I know they're lying two-faced hypocrites who get off on being superior, but when I was a teenager, I wasn't so strong, and I just felt like shit.   I used to climb mountains (short ones, but still).  I could walk for hours, I was active, I loved swimming in the sea, climbing all over rocks, and playing outside all I could.  I lived next to a park, and it was nothing to me to walk over a mile to feed the ducks.  I was incredibly active, but I was still "chubby", because my body was growing.  As a teenager, I learned to hate physical activity, because it came with a massive dose of fat-shaming.  Good job, school systems in both the UK and the US.

Fat shaming is a lose-lose proposition for fat people, and that's the way society likes it.  Don't be under any illusion that society has your best interests at heart; they want you to be so ashamed of yourself that you disappear.  Hounding a teenager to suicide (trigger warning) over her size  is more in their line of business.  The dehumanization of fat people is condoned and even encouraged by shows like The Biggest Loser, who employs a trainer that hurls disgusting abuse at the people she is supposed to be helping.  This is entertainment, folks! 

Do you know what happens when everyone around you tells you you're fat every day, every hour?  You believe them, and you try to conform to their ideas of what you should look like and what you should eat, thereby completely destroying your internal hunger cues.  By the time I was a teenager, I had no idea what hungry was.  All I knew was that when presented with an opportunity to eat, I had to get as much in as possible before someone stopped me.  Binge eating is probably very common amongst fat children who have been fat-shamed all their lives; it was certainly a natural progression for me.  Hunger is a natural function, but we fatties cannot be allowed to satisfy it, even with vegetables; the damaging idea that calories in always equals calories out, and that nothing else has any effect on our weight means that people police everything we put in our mouths, even things like fruit, lean meat, and vegetables. 

Do you know what happens then?  Since all food is forbidden, then there's no point in trying.  We may as well eat the stuff that tastes really good, since it's not like we're going to be treated any different.  When the body is not allowed to follow its natural rhythm, then it becomes screwed up.  Starving "fat" children and not allowing them to eat when they're hungry causes metabolism changes, since the body flips into starvation mode, especially in young humans, for whom sufficient food is essential. 

Starving your children sets them up to be fat later.  Starving your children affects their brain function, alters their growth, and breaks their metabolism.  I firmly believe that starvation in childhood (which can be triggered by a calorie deficit of as little as 500 calories) has lifelong damage in a way that overeating does not.  I also believe that early starvation leads to serious health problems.  It causes disordered eating, food hoarding, secretive eating, and bingeing.

By 17, I was as tall as I was ever going to be, and weighed 175lbs.  I was so convinced I was the fattest person in school.  My mother kept trying to put me in shapeless clothes that made me look even more monolithic.  I went to prom in a size 14 dress, convinced I was horrific:


Small pic; sorry.  But aren't I gross?  I look so massive in that dress, I'm surprised they let me in to the prom!  I probably scared the other kids!

I gained more weight in my first marriage, and by then, it was definitely a case of calories in, because I binge ate almost every day.  I'd try to diet, because by then the fat-shaming was deeply internalized, but starving all day then bingeing at night is not exactly healthy.  I would make a meal out of a family size bag of chips, a tub of dip, and a box of Andes mints for dessert.  I wasn't working - I didn't even have a car - and though I exercised every day, my then-husband mocked me for trying, and I didn't lose any weight.

I was disgusted with myself.  I believed everything people had fed me about how ugly and gross and smelly and stupid and repulsive and unsexy and dirty and sweaty and graceless and uncontrolled and undisciplined fat people are.  I hated and shamed myself far more effectively than anyone else could, but that didn't stop people from trying.  By age 21, I weighed 200lbs:



And I had no health problems.  I was not on medication that caused weight gain, I was free of any condition that would make me gain weight.  I was fat because I had never been allowed to trust or love my body and its needs.  I was one of the few people that genuinely gained weight because they ate too much.  And I ate too much because I was never allowed to fill my hunger.  I was never told I looked fine just the way I was.  I ate to fill the gaping void that should have been filled with self-esteem.

Then I met Bob.

Bob loved me just the way I was.  When I decided to use a commercial diet program, Bob made it easy for me, because he wanted me to be happy with myself.  He encouraged me every step of the way, while making absolutely sure that I knew that he thought I was beautiful and worthwhile no matter what I weighed.  He never once policed me. Without his support and love, I doubt I'd have been able to make it through two years of weight loss.  All my previous experience was that I could not lose weight.  All my previous experience of diets was everyone around me policing what I ate, which threw me right back into the panic of childhood.  Bob made it clear that it wasn't my size that mattered; it was me, and me was wonderful and deserving of love at any size.

I'm 40 years old.  I've maintained a 60lb weight loss for over 15 years now.  I am one of the lucky freaks that don't have lasting medical problems from early starvation.  I have only briefly been on a medication that caused uncontrollable weight gain.  I don't have diabetes or PCOS, or thyroid problems, or pituitary problems, or depression, or mobility issues that prevent me from being active.  I am an outlier, the exception that proves the rule.  Because If I could do it when so many can't, including my husband, then it is because I am the freak, not them.  And it does not mean that anyone who cannot lose weight is a failure.

And I am still "overweight" according to the BMI charts.  I am at a very healthy weight for me, but society still considers me fat.

Who is the wrong one - me, or the fat-phobic culture that thinks this is fat:



You tell me.

And First Lady Michelle Obama?  Leave your kids out of your "health" project.  Don't do to them what was done to me; you'll regret it.

Take it from a survivor of fat hate; shaming doesn't work.  Love at every size.

Note:  I should point out that I don't blame my mother for any of this; she was honestly trying to protect me.  Who do I blame?  A cultural narrative that says there is only one acceptable size for women, and one for men, and that even babies need to be kept thin.  The narrative that says fat people are public property, and that it is acceptable to be foully rude and hateful towards them with a clear conscience.  The narrative that says abuse is fine as long as it's cloaked in "it's for your own good".

That's some pretty sick stuff, and it's amazing that any of us make it through with any sanity about our size.  I love my mother, she's a truly amazing person.


* Studies show that women who have been underweight all their lives have a much greater chance of developing osteoporosis in later years.  Your body will leach not just calcium, but the fat that helps your bones utilize that calcium, from your skeleton if you don't give it enough food.  Be kind to your bones - eat a cupcake!

**And how fucking creepy is that?!!

Comments

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maricelt
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
I always admire you for your honesty and willingness to share your experiences. This post just reinforces that admiration. I'm starting to realize just how lucky I was as a child that weight never seemed to be an issue in my family. (We had issues, just not around weight.)

I do wish that society could celebrate the variety of genetics out there. Not every person conforms to the same phenotype. And raising any one phenotype above another devalues so many forms of beauty.
hakerh
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this post - I was never really a skinny kid to start with, but my father put me through a lot of the same stuff you mention (ridicule about size, strict food policing, etc). I think a lot of my weight issues came from the fact that my mom died when I was 8, my dad had no idea how to cook, and my grandmother is a candy-fiend who passed it out at every chance. (And when all you're getting at home is frozen pizzas and spaghetti, you chow down on anything else in range when it's available.) I'm amazed we didn't die of malnutrition.

By the time I was a teenager, I had no idea what hungry was. All I knew was that when presented with an opportunity to eat, I had to get as much in as possible before someone stopped me.

THIS. I still remember switching to a new school in 8th grade that actually had a decent school lunch program (one that included vegetables that weren't out of a can!), and how I would fill my tray with as much as the damn thing would hold. And the other students made fun of me for it. They didn't know I wasn't getting enough at dinner. (I was allowed one small serving of whatever was for dinner, no matter what I'd been doing that day. And my father chose the portion size.)

I was a chubby kid, but all I remember about high school is just how damn hungry I was. Going home at the end of the day was a miserable option, so I stayed for all the afterschool programs and didn't even get the option of dinner. Those were the days where I'd hoard an apple or bag of trail mix from lunch and eat it slowly for dinner. That wasn't too bad if I'd been able to find any change under the vending machines and could get some chips or candy to go with it. "Real" food cost too much. I first started studying herbalism in high school, because I'd walk in the woods in my spare time and eat just about anything that wasn't poison ivy. (I never ate anything I couldn't identify as edible.)

Nowadays, I'm still fat (about 225lb and 5'8"), but I live a fairly hardcore active existence. I live on a farm, and my day routinely involves snowshoeing, moving firewood, and carrying 50lb bags of grain. And I only get winded when I forget to take my iron supplements for a couple of days. But people still determine my health by the fact that I could stand to lose a few pounds.

Whoa, that got long. Your post really hit a nerve for me. You are beautiful in all your photos, and shame on anyone who told you otherwise.
hsifeng
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
I live on a farm, and my day routinely involves snowshoeing, moving firewood, and carrying 50lb bags of grain.

I grew up on a ranch, where almost everyone in my house would have been considered 'overweight' by medical standards. We all did a stack of chores every day, rarely had time to "just sit around" and could run circles around most of our urban friends.

There is something just *wrong* about this equation.
(Deleted comment)
fieryredhead
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
I'm not going to be able to contribute much to this post as I am

1) SEETHING that Mrs. Obama has implied her girls are overweight. SERIOUSLY?!?

2) Have just relived my childhood with you.

Currently at the heaviest I have ever been I am miserable but am doing something (several things) about it. My world has been so crazy for the past year (and especially in the last few months) I am just now feeling back in control.

BTW, what commercial system did you use?

Lastly, you look fabu.
attack_laurel
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
I used Jenny Craig, but they're all the same - expensive, crappy food, no real proper diet advice, and no proper follow-up. My weight didn't really stabilize properly for about four years after losing weight, and only became stable no matter what I ate when I went GF. I had to learn on my own what hunger and fullness actually felt like - that kind of subtlety was way beyond JC. They used scare tactics like "after 25, it's much harder to lose weight!" and had no real nutritional training for their "counsellors", as far as I could tell.

You'd think, with generations of people telling the same stories about the horror of shaming, that people would listen. But no, shaming the fatties is more fun, I guess.
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fiberferret
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing. As Stah said you are beautiful and perfect in every photo. It should not be surprising to me how messed up parents can be about their kids, but still I am livid that yours did that to you. I am so glad you found Bob to give you love and support!
attack_laurel
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC)
My mother has actually apologized at length for my childhood - her mother was fat-phobic to the nth degree, and she was actually trying to protect me from that by making me diet. I love her very much, and she's an awesome Mum, and I don't hold it against her. It's just history now, something that happened. :)
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tania_gru
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
Very well thought out. I love it. I am in the opposite side of the spectrum. I was always told to eat more, since I was underweight. I simply don't have a sense of when I am hungry. I eat because I have to and because I enjoy food, not because I am hungry. So when I get obsessed with a subject or feel depressed, I forget to eat. Since I am 5'1" and normally weight around 110, loosing weigh is not healthy and makes me look like a starvation victim ;-) I always lose weigh on my upper body and face, never on my hips where I might be happy to lose an inch or two.

Tania
eithni
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
*sigh* I had a fascinating complication to weight-related brain weasles - at home, my dad constantly mocked me for being a "fatso lazy pig" (because I sucked at sports and they made me miserable) and at school I was mocked for being a "tiny twiggy geek" (because, well, I WAS a geek... I just own it now). My classmates were closer to having it right, but I still have underlying body issues two decades later.
hsifeng
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
As someone who was born with a 'sturdy' done structure, I know that I will never (safely) reach the mythic “healthy weight” on the BMI charts – something like 130-145 pounds for my height. The image in my icon is me on my wedding day, at my lowest weight in my adult life (155 pounds). Currently I am at my more typical weight of 185 pounds, which seems to be the weight I hover around when I am not policing my intake and exercise in a militant way.

I am active, although not in the same shape I was five years ago (although I can easily go 3+ miles a steady runners pace, lift heavy items, etc.).

My husband has zero complaints about the way I look and has never shamed me in any way about my appearance. In fact he has always said perfectly wonderful things about the way he sees me.

All this and I still feel like a lump most days.

Cellulite. Saddle bags. Inability to control my intake (“OMG! Is she eating CHIPS!?!”). Lack of commitment to exercise routines (“They say 30 minutes four times a week is enough…but we all know better – don’t we?”).

This is a sick and ridiculous cycle and has nothing to do with my actual health or wellbeing.

(*gah*)

I want off this insecurity-go-round.
sstormwatch
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC)
I would kick your hubby if he ever mentioned your weight (then he would kick me in my patoot and I would so loose). In my eye you are gorgeous, my dear. And far healthier than I. :-)
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sstormwatch
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your story. I didn't get that when a young child, but as an older teen when I quit being so physically active walking, biking, dancing as a kid, but didn't stop the eating full platters so I got bigger. My dad was the worst, or my aunt, his sister. I learned horrid diet habits to please both (yogurt diet, grapefruit diet, starvation until evening diet), which made things even worse.

Now I fear the opposite sometimes. My mom died from cancer, and we fought getting enough food into her. She had always been small, being Japanese, eating very little. She died weighing 65 pounds, 35 pds less than her usual 100. She was 5' even. And for some irrational fear, I don't want to lose more weight, wanting to protect myself ... like I said irrational.

Thankfully I have my own Bob who also loves me for me, whatever my size. I'm at a healthier weight than ever before (195-200 vs 265 high), but it is creeping back up and that also bothers me. At least I am pretty comfy in this skin in general and am eating healthier. I just don't want my problems to spill over to my own 4yo daughter. She will be a tall girl, if her current height is any indication. Thankfully my pediatrician makes no mention of her weight, which like her height is at the top end of the percentile scale. I think she's beautiful, and I tell her that every day. I hope that when she gets older, she won't worry about weight issues... a pipe dream considering it seems worse now for older girls than when we were kids.
hsifeng
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
"I hope that when she gets older, she won't worry about weight issues...a pipe dream considering it seems worse now for older girls than when we were kids."

I see my female family members obsessing about their weight starting at earlier and earlier ages. *shakes head* I wish I knew an effective means for combating the images that they are being force-feed as 'ideal', but it seems like an uphill battle with little in the way of tools to reinforce the bulk wards of their self images.

How to convince someone that being ‘just like the girl in the magazine’ is not what will make them happy?
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christianet
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your story; I think it's terrible what your parents and family did to you.





attack_laurel
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
No; it's not that simple, and I don't hold a grudge; like I said to another commenter above, my mother has apologized.

What's terrible is that all of society polices what fat people do and eat - everyone, families, friends, strangers on the street - and that people think this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Every time Kate Harding of Shapely Prose writes an article for Salon, the comments are filled with nasty trolls telling her to hurry up and die of the deathfatz already, people evangelizing about this diet or that diet, and hundreds of people saying that fat people are disgusting, and why don't they just lose weight.

Our bodies are public property. That's the terrible thing. :)
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brickhousewench
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
You, my dear, are fabulous. I so wish my mother had read this when she was raising me and my sister. Somewhere I have little diet cards that my artistic sister illustrated. My mother put the entire family on a diet one summer (to "keep her company"). I was a teen and weighed a very healthy 125. Not overweight at all. Yet she insisted that we diet with her.

Here's a tip: Pre-pubescent girls who are about to hit puberty often gain weight. It's their body's way of storing supplies against the massive energy-drain that the physical changes of puberty put the body through..

Several years ago my friend Cathy looked at her daughter and made a comment about how she must be getting ready to have another growth spurt. "How can you tell?" I asked, fascinated. "She always gets a little chubby right before she shoots up another inch or two." She'd noticed that all on her own, just by observing her kids. And she recognized it as normal, not something that she needed to "fix."

Edited at 2010-02-19 06:38 pm (UTC)
holygrenade
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
I was an overweight child/teen/adult due to the lack of activity and being an avid consumer of Hostess products. I was always the "fat chick" that didn't date much or was fixed up on a date. And felt very unattactive most of the time. But that was not done my family, but my peers.

My upbringing was not bad, my parents caring as they knew how. They never called me fat, and my mother approached my diet as being from concern for my health. We worked on it together, and she tried very hard to make sure I had food I liked within our diet program. And she celebrated my successes along the way.

Many of today's foods are lacking in the necessary vitamins and minerals that we need, so we take supplements. That has helped with some of the food cravings. And we try to go organic if we can afford it, that seems to help too.

As a parent, what you write has impacted on how I deal with my child. For her first years, she was underweight, and allowed to eat as she demanded - and I provided much i n the way of fruits & vegetables. But once she started school and was exposed to too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup and whatever other junk in fast foods and snacks, her weight has jumped significantly, but not her height.

I am trying to address that with discussions about good food choices - removing fast food from OUR diets and good food choices at home. She tends to be inactive, and I have encouraged her to go outside for a bit every day. It is a tough battle with sugar and starches, and I'm sure in time, as she grows, her body will stabilize. And I try to be an example for her as well, eating the same way.

Both my husband and I fight the constant battle with our weight. And I'm sure it will be that way with her as well. We don't use the terms "fat" and "diet" in our home and we tend stay away from fast food and sugary snacks because they are "not healthy". And we address our eating habits as a family and work on it together.

I keep reading your blog and others so that I can pass along the benefits to my daughter. I am trying to help develop a young lady confident in her abilities, clear in her thinking, ethical in her behavoir (she hates liars and thieves already), and active outside (right now her favorite activity is archery). I'm working on her self-esteem beginning from the inside, and not based on what the opposite sex thinks, or what the most popular kid thinks, or what her internet peers think. And that she is loved and respected because of who she is. And I am fortunate that her dad, my husband is right there with me on this, and he continues to make the right kind of positive steps with her.





attack_laurel
Feb. 19th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)

The biggest betrayal we perpetrate on our daughters as a society is that their only worth is in how they look. This is a society-wide thing, not an individual "bad parent!" thing, and it's a huge thing to fight against, but we must fight, we must. The young women of today need to know that they are valued for their inner selves.

I honestly think the emphasis on desireability is a holdover from our days as the property of men. We are not propety, and how we look is not important; what we do to support ourselves, live independently, change society, make the world a better place, or just make ourselves happy and fulfilled is the big important stuff.

But it takes a solid ground floor of self-esteem that can stand up in the face of heavy pressure to believe in that. :)
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reasie
Feb. 19th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)
It's scary!

My mom is 65 now, 5'4", and weighs 135lbs. She is CONVINCED she is a hippo! She gets angry if you suggest she eat something, anything. I tried telling her the story in Bridget Jones, you know where she realizes that food itself is not the enemy? She looked at me and said, "No, if you live right, you don't have to eat at all."

Okay, she's crazy, but still I wonder how far off mainstream she is with her attitudes.

sarahbellem
Feb. 19th, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
My mom is the same way. She's 62, 5'2 and probably about 135-140 now and keeps insisting she's HA-UGE.

I'd like to point out for comparison's sake, her waist is still 4" smaller than mine (me = 28", her = 24") and I'm 3 inches shorter.

Granted, when she was my age, she was dangerously underweight (grief does that to a person) and tipped the scales at 105 lbs. She's not built for 105, she's built to be where she is now. But somehow, for all the other body and age positive things she believes, she has never quite figured that out.

Somewhat related: I recently had a discussion with a woman who is in her late 40s. She was talking about how she kept a pair of her jeans that she wore in her 20s as "inspiration" to try to get that thin again. I dunno about anyone else, but I'm not that far from my 20s, and I know that there's no way in hell I would ever be able to diet down to the size I was then, even though it's only a difference in weight of about 15 lbs. I mean, duh, our body changes shape as we age. My rib cage is wider, my hips are wider, my bone structure is entirely different at 32 than when I was 22. No amount of diet and exercise is going to shrink my ribcage back down to a pre-mature 22". At least no diet and exercise plan I want to be on, anyway...
(no subject) - elfie_chan - Feb. 19th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
weaverrhi
Feb. 19th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
Your story
At 7 I was a skinny little kid in pigtails. At 9, I started gaining weight although I was still VERY active. At 11, my father started the fat shaming. By 13 I was overweight and already miserable. At 14, we moevd in mid-year to another city and I left all my friends behind. My new friend became a fridgerator filled with candy, soda, chips and french onion dip. By 16, I was tired of hearing my "friends" talk about MY weight. I quit the one thing I loved because I was tired of being "policed" all the time. At 17 I weighed 240 and heard "someone should harpoon that whale" on a daily basis. My weight stayed steady until I was 27 and married an alcoholic who was so drunk sex wasn't a possibility, but he blamed me. I was too fat, I was too this, I was too that, he didn't find me attractive.. I wasn't pretty enough, etc., so I ate. And ate... and ate.

Then I met a man who told me I was beautiful and I don't believe him. I still don't. At 43 (almost 44) I try to see myself through his eyes; but what I really hear and see is what I've heard the other 31 years of my life. I'm fat, I'm ugly, Im unloveable. That he doesn't love me and given the first opportunity he will run like hell (Thanks Mom!).

He says he loves me and I still think in a small part of my heart that I'm lucky someone does (and that he needs glasses).

I comfort myself with food; and right now, I'm going through something that I need a LOT of comfort. I don't have much family structure and to be honest, many friends; food has become that 10PM friend when I'm feeling lost, alone and scared out of my mind. I'm not that active (hardly at all).

What all of this boils down to is people do not realize how what they say affects people YEARS down the road. I still remember the words of the man whose love I wanted most as a child... my father. I remember him sitting there (all 6'1" 240+ pounds of him) telling ME I needed to lose weight yet we sat down to a dinner of POUNDS of pasta with butter and fried chicken.) The message I got was: "It'll be a miracle if you ever get married or find anyone who thinks you're beautiful, you're fat, ugly and you might as well go live in a cave." For the longest time, I thought that those people who liked BBWs were as defective as us BBW are.

I struggle with this every day; moreso lately. I WANT to make good choices but in the end, I go back to what I know.
attack_laurel
Feb. 19th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Your story
Food is not a moral battleground, and I'm so sorry you're going through stuff right now.

Since it gives you comfort, please stop beating yourself up over it. The food is not your enemy.

(((((((hugs)))))))
Re: Your story - isenglass - Feb. 19th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Your story - wulfsdottir - Feb. 19th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
hugh_mannity
Feb. 19th, 2010 07:58 pm (UTC)
My son's middle school took photos of them all when they entered the school (6th grade, ages 11 -12 all on the brink of puberty) they were all pudgy. Their last semester in the school (after 3 years of forced exercise and endless diatribes on "healthy" eating) they took photos again and told (almost) all the kids how much "healthier" the program had made them -- "look how much slimmer you all are now!"

Of course, we'd been cheerfully ignoring the low-fat high carb regimen they recommended home here. Which amused my son. Then I dug out a couple of old physiology textbooks (mine, from the late 60's/early 70's) and showed him the chapters on puberty and growth which talked about the necessity of pre-pubertal children building up fat reserves to fuel the growth spurt.

"Oh", he said, "so all that diet and exercise stuff was bullshit?"
"Yep", I replied.

We keep HFCS out of the house, I'm eating very low carb (because the alternative is diabetic meds and all the complications that go with long-term med. use) but he eats a little bread from time to time. Have to keep it in the freezer or it goes bad before he's eaten more than a slice or two.

He probably registers as overweight in this insane culture. I'm definitely overweight, but I'm headed in the right direction.
sarahbellem
Feb. 19th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
Every time I see you post on a friend's journal, I really like what you have to say. Do you mind if I "friend" you?
(no subject) - hugh_mannity - Feb. 19th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sarahbellem - Feb. 19th, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
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