Posts Tagged ‘body image’

Weight Stigma Awareness Week

If you’re not already aware that this week is weight stigma awareness week then  you’d better hurry up and jump on the wagon! Especially since the organization, BEDA (the binge eating disorder association), sponsoring this week has suggestions on how you spend each day. Yesterday was to make art that helps you in your body acceptance journey. Me, I made a painting (primitive, but nice, yes?) According to BEDA, their goal is “to bring awareness to a common and entrenched social injustice that often results in serious physical and mental health consequences for those affected”.

Serious physical and mental health consequences. Let’s get serious for a moment.  Teens who even think they’re fat are more likely to attempt suicide and, let’s face it, the fat  hate starts early  and children as young as three years old show weight bias against heavier people, attributing things such as being ugly, lazy, and stupid. By three years old, people. That’s some seriously early weight hate indoctrination. One study shows that children 5-11 prefer underweight friends and react more positively to underweight stimuli than overweight stimuli (which they, of course, reacted negatively to).

So today is “reclaim” day. Reclaim your body image, reclaim your mental health. Reclaim yourself. Post sticky notes on your bathroom mirror. Make a pin board as BEDA suggests, lf body love quotes and images. Surround yourself with fat art, with fat blogs, with fat people, whatever! Just remember that today is a day for loving yourself absolutely and unconditionally. And don’t forget to look at the upcoming days: recommit and celebrate! Recommitting means committing to take care of yourself, to challenge thin privilege and the weight based industry, to challenge negative thoughts about yourself and others and to recommit to being a fat acceptance activist and participant. And, finally, end the week by celebrating you. Simply you and how wonderful and amazing you are. Get your spouses and friends and family and children involved! Make a list of all the great things about yourselves and pin it to the fridge or in your office. Or just take a you day and relax with some hot tea.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to tell people about weight stigma awareness week- that’s where the awareness part comes in!

Hello world

Hello world, I’m the latest member of the Axis of Fat . I’m a mother of 2 boys who are 4 years old and 1.5 years old. I’m 33 at the moment and had my first child at 29. It was a pretty big shock for me in more ways than one. I’d always been a professional working in high intensity, very make dominated fields with little though to the ‘feminine sphere’ – house, family, child rearing.

As some one who had tended towards chub (at my skinniest I sit around a sz14-16, currently I sit around at 18-20) , I wasn’t as alarmed as many women are about the changes in my body during pregnancy. They all seemed very alarmed about stretchmark, but fuck that noise, I had stretchmarks at 14. Now my stretchmarks had friends. The mind uck for me came after my kids where born. You see my oldest boy was skinny. Really skinny. And having a baby is a through the looking glass experience for anyone who has struggled with weight because it’s all about getting your child to gain weight healthily and this was especially true with my first son who was born slightly prematurely (at the same gestation as myself, which is relatively common for children of prematurely born mothers). And instead of women boasting or commiserating about weight loss they boasted about how much weight their baby had gained that week. Weird. And my kid, somehow given both his parents build, was tiny. I had no end of doctors telling me to make him eat more and offer him more food. Our house has no shortage of food and it’s not like we ration I felt like yelling. Somewhere along the line, at about 18 months old I realize that my kid has stayed about the same weight percentile (and indeed height percentile) no matter what I did. Huh.

Then I got pregnant with baby 2. And this child cooked a longer and came out looking plump. He fed well and had rolls on his rolls on his chubby thigh rolls. People stopped me to tell me “That’s what a baby should look like” and the nurses told me what a good job I had been doing.

Now the boys are eating (or at least being offered) the same food. And it continues. They are both very active and eat pretty healthy meals. But I have one boy who nibbles everything on the plate, squirms and talks until he’s allowed to get down from the table and one who eats everything in front of him then scavenges his brothers left overs, anything from his parents plates, anything he can find in the kitchen! One is so slim the doctor comments on how he has no meat on the bones while the other boy, well, the doctor comments on how much he looks like his parents.

And then I realized;
I love them both with no regard to their body shape. They are beautiful and the size they will be, and their beauty to me is not in spite of their bodies but due to their perfect little bodies.
And then I realized;
That must mean that I have beauty in me. Not in spite of what I look like, but because of what I look like and who I am.

And here I am talking about body image. Not accepting yourself in spite of, but finding the beauty that is in you. That was always into you. That we can all see.

The “Tyranny of Normality”

I had grand plans for my first blog post, but then I read this article and, frankly, grand plans gave way to annoyance.

The article begins by suggesting that “when it comes to health, Australians are fat, unhappy and leading the world in self-deception,” citing a study that, according to Melbourne GP Dr Bert Boffa, shows that “sixty per cent of Australians are overweight or obese but only about 30 per cent realise they are.” The study also suggests that men are less likely to realise that they’re overweight than women; and older Australians are also less likely to realise that they’re overweight. I think that the gender gap in ‘self-deception’ is particularly interesting (and probably deserves its own post), but that’s not what I’m going to focus on here.

There are a lot of details missing from this article and I think that it’s important to acknowledge this before continuing. How were participants sourced? On what basis was someone deemed ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’? How was the ‘self-deception’ (or, conversely, self-knowledge?) of participants guaged? How many of the 13,000 participants in this international study (including people from 12 countries) were Australian and can this number really be used as the basis of claims about a country whose population is projected to be over 22,000,000 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics?

These questions aside, there are some definite problems with the way this data has been presented in this article.

Despite the fact that Dr Boffa acknowledges that “we’re one of the most long-lived nations on the planet,” and that the number of deaths typically associated with obesity-related complications and health issues are decreasing, as far as he’s concerned fat is still the problem here. Why? Because of the risks of a “tyranny of normality,” of course!

See, we’re meant to believe that in a country where the ‘obesity epidemic’ is not only the topic of a new scare-mongering media exposé every other day of the week, has been the reason for any number of changes in how we live our lives and view our bodies (willingly or otherwise), and has also been a topic of discussion in our Parliament as recently as February of 2011, being fat is not only seen as normal, but has become dangerously mainstream! The fatties have all but taken over, thrusting their bulging bellies upon the poor, disempowered minority of truly normal-sized people! Sure, a majority of people in Australia are meant to be overweight, but “people are sort of fooled by what’s normal.” In other words, just because there’s more of them that doesn’t make it okay for them to be that way!

Look, I’m not saying that there isn’t anything important to take away from this type of study. The fact that “Australians are suffering more chronic and disabling health problems” is definitely something that should be looked into – although the assumption that there is necessarily a ‘correlation is causation’ style of relationship between fat and diabetes is kind of silly, given that you don’t have to be fat to be diabetic. I do, however, see it as being highly problematic to couch these results in a conclusion that not only fails to acknowledge that thin people can – and do – also suffer from all of these very same problems, but that also tries to argue that fat has become normalised in a culture that, in reality, is actually quite vigilant and at times even downright vicious in its policing of our bodies.

This last point seems particularly important when you consider the second part of the study’s findings that are discussed in the article – “that depression is increasingly prevalent in Australia, with one fifth of respondents saying they had it.” Dr Boffa obviously assumes that people are depressed and anxious because they’re fat. Putting aside once again that there’s nothing to say that only fat people are depressed and anxious, isn’t it just as – if not more – plausible to suggest that overweight people are depressed and anxious because they’re constantly being told that they’re not normal? That, to me, seems to be where the “tyranny of normality” really comes into play!

80 Calorie Princesses… BARF~!!!!

Hello my Fatabulos Princecesses and Princes,

The last few weeks I have been culminating an ever growing list of things I wanted to share with you as my emancipation from size-ism is asserting itself in ever greater ways and with firmer resolutions that indeed this is the path that is the salvation of my fat soul.
I am going to Masters classes full time, I graduate this May AND working on my thesis proposal which includes research AND working more than full time… needless to say blogging take some time management finagling of a fine degree.
So while telling myself I just don’t have the time until semester ends in early December, something crossed my path that I just HAD to share with you. My incredulity about what I witnessed… led me gaping in the granola bar aisle…

So in the midst of shopping for the week and enjoying my new HAES lifestyle (buying peanut butter and more than 150 kcal cereal in YEARS… because I, you know in my logical dysfunction, thought that was somehow maintaining my weight… ha but I digress) I turned from my granola bar perusing to see a series of chocolate snack packs marketed for children.
When you look at the box here (snapped from my cell phone) you can see its three very skinny very white  under BMI Disney “Princesses” who have even greater disproportionate hip to waist ratios than Barbie by the way… standing approvingly under a HUGE ribbon-entexted ’80 CALORIES!’ In fact that 80 calories sign is greater than any other text on the damn box. Under it in much smaller text is Chocolate pieces snack packs.

Wow…where the FUCK do I start here??? When we hear studies which show that girls the  AGE OF FIVE are already worried about their weight. Where girls the age of 8 are in proto-dieting mode. Where girls are placed on diets by their very mothers…Where most women hate their bodies, are ashamed of their bodies and the first predictor for girls is to count calories and restrict foods… this box seems designed to not only  make eating disordered thinking OK but in fact enables it where it may have not existed previously;  it teaches girls it doesn’t matter what KINDS of foods are healthy but rather its all about the calorie count, the waist, the looks, the CONFORMITY pounded into young precious minds and hearts be it fat or thin. When I was young I loved the Little Mermaid, thin, beautiful Ariel vs. Fat, undulating BAD Ursula… back then at least it wasn’t fucking spelled out but the absolute DISGUSTING, LOATHSOME AND VILE marketing of Disney and Frankford Candy Co just to make a BUCK…The pressure to be thin will be greater than ever before. The pressure to hate and shame oneself will be greater than ever before. My friend who has little girls tells me Disney Princesses are more for the girls 2-6 years of age…. really? So…either… lets break down the levels of horrid dysfunctionalism, shall we?

Little girl equates dieting and calories with acceptance before they start school. OR if they cannot read the box then MOM is worried about their TODDLER and PRESCHOOLER gaining weight enough to start them on a calorie regimien. Really? Reallly?!?!?!!?!? I am flabbergasted.
Protect your girls. Protect them with all your might. The candy above is being produced and marketed by… a company outside of Philadelphia. I suggest you email them and tell them how horrible this candy is and let’s get it pulled from the shelves!!!!
Where is the social outrage? Would this marketing have been ok in our feminist late 60s hay day? Or 70s? 80s? No, only under the junk science hubris that weight is linked to death is linked to unhealthy is linked to epidemic which you and I know is (and I do not have hours to site all the scientific studies which completely and absolutely debunks these politically driven agenda) this kind of hysteria…. enjoys a diplomatically immune place which endeavours to damage very souls.
It’s just when my disgust and saddness level feel full to overbrimming, sweet serendipity blows my be calmed boat back on the course aright. I went to Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey today. If you are within mild driving distance, really you MUST go to this wonderful play land full of sculptures and secret hammocks where you can shut the door and make out in a hillock of pines. Also there are curve loving works like this one. Which again brings me back to myself…sigh… yes this is the right.

Please email comments or call Frankford candy and let your outrage be known!

Excuse me while I punch the screen

Yep, I’m watching Oprah again. And yep, her show is the catalyst for another post. I’m watching an episode where Oprah talks to Geneen Roth, author of the book “Women, Food and God”. Oh man, this episode has some hardcore mixed messages. As a disclaimer, I have not read this book, I’ve only perused excerpts on the web.

Look, Geneen Roth’s book is probably pretty accurate as to how a lot of people feel when they eat. Our society has attached moral value to food that I find truly bizarre. That it’s bad to eat cake, it’s good to eat vegetables, that kind of thing. And then when we eat the “bad” foods, we shame ourselves. When they read excerpts from the book, I fully agreed with it. Fat people (any people, actually) need to stop equating their self-worth with how much they weigh, and/or what foods they eat. Everyone needs to stop judging themselves as ugly, bad, or not the ideal.

It was actually a comment by Oprah that make me want to punch the TV. “Any time you better yourself, whether it’s losing weight, or getting a job or improving yourself in any way, and the people around you are not happy for that. It is their self loathing, it is their insecurity, it is their dislike and disrespect of themselves that they are reflecting out to you. It has nothing to do with you.”

I say this to you, Oprah. Any time you equate being thinner with improving oneself, you are perpetuating that same culture of self loathing, shame, and hatred over your appearance. It belittles the hard work people put into improving their self esteem. My appearance is not an indicator of my health or wellbeing and especially not my worth as a human being. We  need to stop beating ourselves up. We need to stop the shaming. This is completely irrespective of weight.

I don’t understand this episode. First they say that you should love and respect yourself, and look past all your “flaws” and see the real you. And then it’s all brought back to losing weight. How are you loving yourself as you are if you’re still trying to change the way you look?

So conflicted. Have you seen this episode? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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