Janey

Because of this entry, I crave pastry encrusted twinkies. Mmmm.

 

Ah, Health. It’s one of those things that, as a fat person, I am often berated about. “Janey, what about your health? Don’t you know being fat is bad?  FOR YOUR HEALTH I MEAN, OBVS, and not the socially imposed stigma that fat is the worst thing in the world.”

 

First off, if you’re going to give me the health schpiel then you’ll need to back it up with some current research, some hard proof, and/or some studies that aren’t funded by Weight Watchers (or equivalent).  What was that?  It’s well known that fat is unhealthy? Well lemme tell you something, ignorant person. Up until the 1973 being gay was “well known” to be a mental illness in psychiatric circles, and leeches were “well known” to be the best way to cure most ailments well into the 1900s. Always know your facts, sure, but also know that technology advances, and research becomes more sophisticated – particularly with regards to our health. Correlation does not equal proof, and that’s something many people need to realise. On top of that, it’s none of your fucking business if a person is healthy or unhealthy! Stop imposing what you believe to be correct on other people, or I may just have to pelt you with twinkies.

 

Last week I was given this magazine with an all too knowing look, along with a “maybe you should read this, Janey.”

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OH MY GOD, IS WORK MAKING ME FAT?!?!

….Jebus, I’ve been working for a really long time, if that’s the case. I remember being fat when I was four. I’ve seen pictures of me as a baby, I was always a chub. No wonder I want to retire already. The article in question uses the phrase “studies have shown” so many times that it makes my head spin.  Nowhere in the article does it have the name of any studies so I could fact-check.  For all I know these “studies” were arbitrarily made up, given the amount of information I could find about them. The article talks about a number of scenarios that will MAKE YOU FAT including stress and corporate functions. Their solution? That we should try not eating at functions (yes, really) and running around the office when we get a chance (yeah, suuuuure) to stay healthy. Who cares if you look like a total fruitcake, because at least you’ll be thin. Oh, no, i’m sorry, “healthy”.  People who equate less weight with health should take a trip to the anorexia/bulimia ward sometime. What I’m saying here is that thin people can be just as healthy/unhealthy as fat people – and either way it doesn’t fucking matter.

 

To be honest, I don’t really care that much about the HAES movement. It’s just not my thing. I know I’m probably pissing off people everywhere by saying this, but I don’t care.  More power to you if that’s your shenanigan, everyone should do whatever makes them feel good as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. But for me? I do not enjoy most conventional exercise. I like eating what I want to eat, when I want to eat it, and cooked in as much butter as I see fit. It irritates the bejeebers out of me that people (both fat and thin) talk about exercising like it’s some magic solution to my socially imposed problems.  It’s difficult for me to express to conflict I feel over this whole issue properly.  On the one hand, I truly deeply hope that some day soon, fat people aren’t judged and ridiculed the way they that they are right now. I hope society begins to realise that fat or thin, you can be healthy. Conversely you can be fat or thin and UNhealthy. I like to think I’m quite happily in that range.  And that’s okay!

 

More important than health (or lack thereof), I think that regardless of a person’s size, health, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, gender, race or anything else, everyone has the right to live a judgement free life. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.  And imposing your beliefs (whatever those may be) on others is a shit sandwich that I refuse to take a bite of. I guess this all comes down to the fact that I don’t give a flying fuck what most people think about my weight, my “health” or my eating habits.  I am the only one who is responsible for my mental or physical well-being, and if someone else tries to take that on then I will tell them to get the fuck out of my shoes. If I want to eat two whole cakes every day with a cask of wine and pastries slathered in butter and cream, it’s my right to choose that. If I don’t want to exercise, I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission.  It’s my life, my body, and I’ll choose to do with it what I see fit. Because frankly, it’s nobody’s business but my own.

 

So what are your thoughts on this, fats? I occasionally worry that as an ambassador of Fat Acceptance, I’m upholding the stereotype of what many consider fat people to be, thus doing the movement a disservice.  That being said, I’m not willing to change who I am (and who I would be regardless of my size) purely because of what people think I should be doing. Tell me your opinions in the comments!

 

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  • http://lolitaofmoderntimes.blogspot.com/ lolitaofmoderntimes

    Thank you for this great post, and I totally agree with you. I was talking about Beth Ditto on a fashion forum, and some begun saying: she can't be anything near a fashion icon, she's too unhealthy for that! Gosh, it really pissed me off: I saw her on stage, and I doubt that many “healthy” people could have as much energy as her! She is fat, yes, but not unhealthy! So to come back to your post, I could not agree more!
    Some people will also judge “healthy” or “unhealthy” in regard to the BMI… I hate that, because of course any curvy girl will be judged unhealthy, but what about the underweight…who will claim that half of the actresses in hollywood (sorry, 3/4, not half) are unhealthy, or almost all the fashion models? Almost no one… So why being fat would be unhealthy, and being skinny would not be? Because you can be skinny AND healthy (one of my best friend, god knows she eats, but never take one pound!), so yes… you can also be fat AND healthy: why is it so difficult to understand for so many people?

    Being overweight, being underweight, driving too fast, base jumping, driving by night when it's raining… that may lead to some 'unhealthy” problems… but that doesn't mean that they are.

    I'm not saying anyone shouldn't lose weight, or that it's better to be overweight!!! I'm just saying that the assumption that being overweight is unhealthy is, well, quite wrong…

    So thank you for writing in a better english than mine (I'm french ^-^ but living in New Zealand) what I've been trying to explain around for so long!

    Sarah
    ~ Lolita of modern times ~

  • http://lolitaofmoderntimes.blogspot.com/ lolitaofmoderntimes

    “It irritates the bejeebers out of me that people (both fat and thin) talk about exercising like it's some magic solution to my socially imposed problems”
    ==>'make me think that maybe if these people would not look at us like freaks, it would be easier going to the gym and exercise… not in order to loose weight (I've stopped fighting a long time ago, my body suits me perfectly), but just to feel good, for tonicity…. but as soon as I would put one foot in… gosh, they look at me like…. And even if I won't change neither because of what people thing, I sometimes just prefer avoiding so many “u're freak” regards at the same time…

    Sarah
    ~ Lolita of modern times ~

  • nitrojane

    I hear you, sister. The sheer irony of when fats are mocked for exercising…. it floors me. Sometimes I feel damned if I do and damned if I don't!

    It's sad that there aren't more gyms out there with a positive attitude. Curves drives me batshit insane with all its measuring/weighing/whatnot, Healthy Inspirations endorses meal replacements, and places like Fitness First and Fernwood seem to be full of meatheads or gym bunnies.

    That's just in Australia ofcourse, though I suspect the rest of the world has similar problems!

  • Vixen

    Totally agree with the headdesking re: but fat is so UNHEALTHY; don't you care about your HEALTH? How many tanning addicts have to hear that ALL the TIME? How many people in high-stress jobs? Yeah, that's what I thought.

    OTOH, consider the context. It's possible that some of the people who are shilling for exercise are doing so irrespective of any presumed weight loss benefits. I'm still plenty fat on the outside, but damn if I don't love what exercise does for the inside of my head. Whether I always enjoy it or not, whether I lose weight doing it or not is, for me, immaterial.

    I don't see where you're doing the movement a disservice. I'm getting well tired of the model of the “righteous fatty”, who is tolerated by society only so long as they continue to heap mea culpas upon their own heads and are “trying to do something about it”. It's nobody's business but yours if you're healthy. There are a bazillion 'unhealthy' things that all manner of people, fat or thin, do on a regular basis. Unless we're going to start commenting on all of them, people need to quit cherry-picking on the chunky.

  • http://zaftigchicks.wordpress.com/ Bianca

    Totally OT, but am I the only one who misread 'Coping With Fussy Eaters” on the cover of the magazine as something else kinda dirty?

  • Abbenormal

    Haha, I thought the same thing.

  • NoelleC

    Damn, girl, I was hoping you had a source for pastry-coated Twinkies, cuz those sound good to me.

    I'm not a FA ambassador, so I'm off the hook with eating whatever and ignoring HAES (and other commentors before me have noted how annoying it is to try to be a “good fattie.”). So, I think the best way to be is to let everyone just MYOB and fuck off.

    Btw, this is my first visit to your site and I'm grooving on it.

  • minearebiggerthanhers

    omg me too! But moving on it really bugs me when my mom says you shouldn't hang out with so and so and that girl because they are fat and if you do you will become fat too. I admit this is more of the fat is contagious crap but still. I've always been “skinny” and now I happen to be “slim with curves.” I exercise but I don't always eat healthy albeit I eat cups of raw sugar and when I can I will eat 4 chocolate chips muffins or 4 pieces of chocolate cake and then make myself some popcorn and slather it in butter and watch tv. But I am still 147 lbs at 5'9 (or 149 when I get my period) I'm right in the middle of healthy BMI. (I was anorexic and became underweight but thats a story for another day)However my friends eat lots of lean protein and fruit and very little sugar. So my point is my fat friends eat a lot healthier than me but they are by the BMI “obese” and I'm “healthy weight” Once again proving the bmi is bs.

  • http://fatfu.wordpress.com Meowser

    Mental health is part of HAES too. I don't think too many pro-HAES bloggers are on the “I'm a good fatty, I eat salad” trip at all. I'm certainly not. I think it's more an “I eat everything I like, including salad if I want it” trip. I think people have a perfect right not to eat vegetables; not everyone likes or can tolerate them. (And what of all those people who live to be 100 and say they love pork rinds and hate exercise?) And the HAES vegetable eaters are always talking about how much better veggies taste with butter, cheese, and/or plenty of dressing. I move around because I actually get sore if all I do is sit or lie around. I'm not telling anyone else what to do or trying to assert my superiority because I “exercise.”

    Their solution? That we should try not eating at functions (yes, really) and running around the office when we get a chance (yeah, suuuuure) to stay healthy. Who cares if you look like a total fruitcake, because at least you'll be thin.

    Hah! These silly yuppies, they have no idea that most fat people who have jobs a) work at places where they would get written up for “running around the office,” or b) are on their feet all day anyway. (I don't understand how anyone who works as, say, a nurse could ever be called “sedentary,” that's more yuppie BS.)

  • lilabris

    Awesome post!

    In my biomed science degree, we were told that over half of the ~facts~ we will learn will be proven to be wrong! New discoveries are constantly coming and to say anything definitively about this topic is preemptive. We don't know everything. We like to think we do, but we don't.

    Being healthy is usually defined by being free of disease. BEING FAT IS NOT A DISEASE. I wonder how long it might take for people to realise that. Bodies change all the time. Just because you gain 5kgs at one point in your life that pushes you into ~overweight~ (according to BMI which is the biggest load of BS ever) doesn't automatically mean you're bloody diseased.

    I do however, believe that exercise or just getting your body moving is a wonderful thing. I never did any exercise at all up until the start of the year when I did a 'Revitalise Your Health' program run by the Uni gym. The feeling I got from being able to run, doing intense cycle classes, pilates etc was amazing. I think it was helped by a great atmosphere at the gym and incredible trainers but I love it now. HOWEVER that's me. That's not everybody. Some people love knitting. Does that mean I do or I should? NOPE!! No-one should ever be shamed into having to do something because others think they should.

    And I do NOT think you're doing anything wrong being who you are. Other people create stereotypes, it;s not up to you to prove them right or wrong. You love yourself. That's more than some ~healthy~ people can say.

  • bri_fatlotofgood

    Health is such a loaded term and because of that, it is actually a fairly unhelpful term. There no person in this world who could be healthy in every possible way. Everyone has something. And if not right at this moment, then they will at some time in their life be considered 'unhealthy'. Add to that, that health (whatever the hell health is) is not a moral imperative and I have decided that 'health' is highly over rated and that we do what we do to get by.

  • SharonCurtis

    I think it's absolutely fine if you're not into HAES. It's your life, you get to choose what you spend your energy on.

    There are a lot of “health imperatives” directed at fat people and I think some of this accidentally rubs off on HAES, as if HAES was being substituted as the new “Thou Shalt”. I haven't seen anyone actually advocating HAES as an obligation for the individual, it's just that with all the HAES talk, it seems like that.

    HAES is actually an approach to health which is a much better alternative to the weight-centred approach. So if you *want* to concentrate on health, then HAES is a good idea. But if you don't, then that's fine too.

    I say this as an extremely pro-HAES person who is actively working to further HAES.

  • http://fatheffalump.blogspot.com/ Kath

    You know, I really believe that every human being deserves basic respect, so long as they are not harming others. If a person chooses to lead a lifestyle of eating lots of high calorie foods and not exercising, that's their choice and they're not harming others, leave 'em to it. Look at the outcry over discrimination of choice of religion (or choice to not have religion), choice of education, choice of sexual partners (which I don't believe is the same as sexuality – I don't believe one chooses one's sexuality), choice of extreme dangerous sports as a hobby… you name it. It's clear to all rational adults that discrimination against of those things is wrong, so why is it generally socially to discriminate against a fat person who chooses to lead a sedentry, high calorie intake lifestyle?

    You've hit on a couple of things I'm going to talk about on my blog here, a little off on a tangent to where you've gone but close, so I'll let you know when it's up.

  • heidi_lspooreeyorick

    I agree that everyone needs to do what works for them. And it's cool that you don't care about the HAES movement. Just as long as you're cool with fatties like me, who are into it.

    I don't love exercise, but my body just doesn't feel good when I'm not doing it. My exercising is not about feeling “superior” or making anyone else feel “inferior,” it's just about me doing what makes me personally feel stronger and more energetic, even if I don't totally love the process. Every single person is different, and what works or doesn't work for me (or what matters and what doesn't matter to me) has no bearing on what does/doesn't work/matter for anyone else. I kind of feel that the world would be better if we all understood that choice is personal and doesn't reflect on anyone but the chooser.

  • Naomi

    I find there's a healthy (there's that word again) mix of gym junkies, bunnies, meatheads, average joes and big and beautiful at the 2 fitness firsts I go to in sydney (St Leonards and North Ryde). I would happily recommend either of those 2 for friendly non “jesus christ call greenpeace to tow that one back into the water!” attitudes. Mind you this is my opinion as what I guess society would classify as average/short & curvy, but my Big and Beautiful mate quite enjoys it at these two. My dad however, is undeniably obese and as been ordered for health reasons to lose 30kgs at least, and as I would like my dad to live to a ripe old age, yeah I will defend my desire to see him get healthier.
    It is everyone's personal choice to be whatever shape they wanna be, but there are UNDENIABLE health risks at either end of the spectrum and yes, if you want, unlike that rubbish magazine you were given that couldn't reference its way out of a paper bag, I can back these up with current medical research etc. Working as a 2nd year nurse in hospitals I find it just as difficult to treat (although they're usually a friendlier crowd) to work with “overweight” patients as it is with the eating disorder patients. Least the bigger crew aren't kidding themselves or anyone else on where they are on the health spectrum, they know its not the best thing (do not get me started on the prevalence of DM 2 on the ward!).
    If you do choose to exercise at gyms I would not recommend curves, its a one way ticket to a physio's office as its too damned rushed on each machine. Slower and steady and prolonged is much safer for the muscles.

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