Sunday, August 5th, 2012
Cross Post- I also posted this to fiercefatties.com. I just really felt the need to rant about it to more people! I’m tired of being told to go workout, but only in what we, the bigots, pre approve and even then you’re probably not safe. If I walk down the road and get cans thrown at me in a T shirt and long pants, then why the hell not give ‘em something to really look at and sport a hot pink sports bra while I’m at it?
As Ragen Chastain writes in her new book, Fat The Owner’s Manual,
If you don’t work out, we will complain that you are sedentary. If you do work out, we will make fun of you for how you look working out. Now, go out there and exercise because it’s good for your health!
This is a point which she reiterates often, in fact, and for good reason. Fatties just can’t win. If you don’t work out, you get treated like shit for it, but if you do, someone help you, you’re an eyesore to the world. Fatties experience stigma and abuse both verbal and physical and that’s not even mentioning the non verbal stigma such as sideways glances, looks of disgust, or man handling. I’ve been circulating some photos of me at my gym, working out. I’ve posted them and had requests to post them in several places, especially the body positive spaces on reddit.com. Here’s a sample:
You know what the number one comment I get on these photos is? Something along the lines of “My God, why would you wear that?! No one wants to see that!”. Pardon me, but I’ve never actually had a complaint. This may be because I work out at a women’s only gym or that most people are too busy with their own workouts to notice what I’m wearing. People don’t avert their eyes or avoid looking at me, but even if they did, guess who’s problem that is? That’s right- not mine! I’m entitled to wear anything I damn well feel like wearing including a sports bra which, I’ll remind people, I see thin people working out in all of the time.
I’ve even gotten these comments from supposedly body positive people. That I should dress to flatter my body- I’m sorry, I thought I was dressing to workout, not compete in a fashion show. Now, I dressed specifically in this top because it would be going on my body and fat positive blog. It’s only one thing that I wear- my collection also includes several T shirts and stretchy black shirts that I enjoy wearing. This bright pink top makes me feel confident and energetic- just what you need for a work out! There are lots of reasons for me to wear something.. but none of them are to please anyone but myself. If you don’t like what I’m wearing, look somewhere else. If you have to look where I happen to be standing, get the hell over it, I don’t exist to beautify your world, I exist to enhance my own.
If you want to see the full set of photos visit my blog.
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Today I’m going to talk about Health at Every Size and what this means to me. I’m going to mention the word diet a few times along the way. Right now so that there is no confusion, I want you to interpret the word ‘diet’ as meaning “what someone (or something for that matter) eats” not “the restriction of food intake to try to lose weight”. All animals have a diet, like squirrels live on a diet of nuts and berries (or so cartoons taught me). Humans live on a varied diet depending on which region of the world they live in and how plentiful different types of food are (or conversely, what little food is available).
What is Health at Every Size? Wikipedia lists these three components:
- Self-Acceptance: Affirmation and reinforcement of human beauty and worth irrespective of differences in weight, physical size and shape.
- Physical Activity: Support for increasing social, pleasure-based movement for enjoyment and enhanced quality of life.
- Normalized Eating: Support for discarding externally-imposed rules and regimens for eating and attaining a more peaceful relationship with food by relearning to eat in response to physiological hunger and fullness cues.
The first one is what the fat acceptance movement is all about. Learning to become comfortable within your body and accepting who you are RIGHT NOW! Not in three weeks time, or in a couple of years or “when I’ve lost 10 kilos/pounds/<insert unit of measure here>” but just as you are. I think this is something that we should all be looking to achieve. I’m sure there are skinny people who don’t accept themselves either!
The second component is physical activity. It should be activity that you enjoy and that you do to enhance your life, not because someone says you have to do it to be a better person. Many people (me included) enjoy walking or running or jogging or cycling. Some dance and jump about, or play team sports. It’s about moving to have fun and enhance your life.
The final component involves diet. Eating food in an intuitive way and trying to determine what works for you. If you feel sick after eating a packet of chips, then you probably need to reconsider that. Does fried food give you the shits (literally)? Then perhaps abstain. Do you come out in a rash when you try and eat a salad? Don’t bother!
It isn’t “thou shalt eat 1200 calories a day, spread over 6 meals exactly 3 hours apart” like I’ve seen some at work do. It means eat when your body wants you to or needs you to. Eat what you think your body wants you to, and listen to the outcome. Work out what works for you and what doesn’t work.
Due to reflux, I don’t have chocolate, coffee, tea, tomatoes, too much oil or fat and some other things. I feel sick if I have them. I might lose weight because I’m not eating these things, but perhaps I’ll substitute them with other foods that will mean I maintain my weight. The goal is to eat as much nutrient rich food as my body requires, and it takes time to work out your own body cues.
Something that I feel that the Health at Every Size movement is trying to promote (as well as the fat acceptance movement) is that just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I should be treated differently. Therefore when I go to a doctor, the doctor should treat me for my symptoms/illness and not just go “lose weight, fatty”. It also means that when you go to your doctor and they suggest a treatment option that doesn’t work for you (like weight loss surgery) that you tell them this.
If the treatment your doctor is suggesting is proven to work for the illness in question, you should consider it carefully and probably latch onto it for all it is worth. I’m not a doctor so I’m not providing medical advice. If doctors provide the same treatment options to you as to a thin person, that’s all we can ask for.
I think it is important to remember that everyone is different, so some things will work for you and some won’t. Crap happens.
What I don’t get is this: a doctor tables treatment options for an illness such as weight loss or a change in diet or move physical activity where the same options would be suggested to others that aren’t considered fat. I think sometimes as fat people we get triggered as soon as the “weight loss” flag is waved. Perhaps the issue is the “weight loss” tag has a stigma.
I guess my point is that sometimes when you are unwell, your doctor is going to say “you need to change what you are eating’ or “you need to get some more physical activity” in order to get better. As long as it isn’t “ok, so since you are fat you are sick” but “you are sick and the best treatment options are…”, I have no issue with that.
The fat acceptance movement is not the Heath at Every Size movement. Many people who consider themselves part of the fat acceptance movement do not subscribe to the three components I’ve outlined above. The common ground we share is that first one; accepting yourself as you are.
Anyway, that’s probably quite enough for now. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the issue.
Monday, September 21st, 2009
In my moments of drifting off to sleep, I like to imagine that I’m running. I run all over my neighbourhood, up the hills and through the streets without regard for any body looking at me. In my reality, I am faced with many Australians who not only wish ill on me, simply because I’m fat, but wish not to see me. On nights like tonight my imaginings turn to anxiety and I am kept awake with panic, so I’m turning to blogging to express a few things on this particular topic. Hear my rage internet, indeed!
Any online news story on fat issues, or the “OMGbesity crisis” (thanks Fat Nutritionist for that one) will have a herd of representatives from the hive mind piling crap on fat people. “What about your health?” “What about my health care premiums?!!” “TRY A DIET, FATTY!” (As if we HAVEN’T!) This abuse extends beyond the URL into the IRL – many of my fat friends have experienced abuse hurled at them from automobiles while they are literally treading the footpath. Uh, hello… is there a supplement for irony deficiency?
Right now, the issue of exercise is something I’m battling with. I can’t afford a gym membership (nor am I sure I want one), home exercise equipment is too bulky for my unit, but worst of all I’m developing a severe phobia of exercising outside by myself. If I’m honest with myself, I can admit that I have never been abused while out exercising. I’ve had beeps and yells of appreciation (at least, that’s what my self esteem registered them as!) but I’ve never experienced the horrid displays of abuse that some of my friends have experienced. Yet… I fear them.
When I was trialling the services of a personal trainer (something I don’t have access to any more, much to my sadness) I felt like it was totally ok for me to be running in public. Because someone was there instructing me, someone I trusted to back me up if I did encounter that special brand of arsehole who doesn’t want people to focus on themselves and their fitness. Now and then when my husband and I can match up schedules we’ll go out together and have a clandestine run… through patches of footpath that are heavily shaded from view of the very busy main road.
But wait – that isn’t fair. It’s not fair that, in the act of doing something perfectly normal and healthy, I feel I have to shield myself from public view. It’s not fair that I’m afraid of exercising for fear of abuse. It’s not fair that making fun of fatties is acceptable, and it’s completely screwed up that people feel they are justified in making fun of a fat person when they are exercising.
Beth Ditto is on the cover of Italian Rolling Stone this month, licking her toes in a pose that requires an incredible amount of flexibility. Regardless, the Perez Hilton post is full of half-wits bleating on about how fat people are disgusting (as well as how unladylike the pose is – which is ANOTHER rant for me!) If you are honestly offended by someone exercising, stretching or using their body in any matter of ways – please GTFO off my planet. What kind of sensitive snowflake are you that you feel another person’s body should modify itself to fit your worldview?
I want to reclaim my world, my body and my health. I want to trot down the main street wearing skins (i.e: tights) and not give a shit. I know my body can do amazing things, but somehow… sometimes… I feel the world doesn’t want to see me doing them. And that’s really unfair and harmful to my mental and physical wellbeing.
Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
Health is something that I take to be very important. I am happy with being fat as long as I know I am healthy. Just like skinny Joe will want to go walking or running to improve his fitness, I have these wants too. Wanting to be fit and healthy isn’t a fat man’s problem, it’s a human problem. So why am I telling you this? Because I want to admit right now that I’m not very fit and therefore probably not as healthy as I could be.
“Woah, Nick! But you all for fat acceptance! You CAN’T say that‽” Of course I can.
My acceptance of my fatness has nothing to do with my acceptance of being fit and healthy, or my realisation that I’m not. They are not linked like the tides and the moon, or whatever metaphor you would like to go with. I can be fat and not be happy with my fitness. I don’t want to you misunderstand though and think I’m wanting to lose weight.
Exercise is important to me, even if I don’t make enough time or effort at the moment. I’m not motivated by weight loss, but by the wish to live a happy and healthy life. I’m thinking that I’ll end up losing a kilo or two while I walk my way to fitness. I’ll also gain cardiovascular fitness, stronger bones and muscles, better stamina and energy levels and a whole lot of other positive benefits.
Last night I read this short article about back pain and core strength. I thought the idea of strengthening my core muscles by sitting on an exercise ball was an interesting concept. So while on my computer last night and while watching Le Tour de France (One day I’m going to do some long distance cycling) I sat on the ball. I didn’t feel too much pain and it wasn’t uncomfortable. I couldn’t lay back and relax, but then I don’t really need to.
I noticed the difference this morning though. Slight tinges of “oh, you worked me out you bastard” were being felt in the back and side region as I wandered around first thing this morning.
Regardless of how much exercise (fun, incidental or otherwise) I do I’ll still be fat, but I’ll be healthy too. That’s my goal, not some unobtainable weight as listed in the Weight Watchers Guide to Self-Flagellation. Starting with my core strength seems like an easy one, and will kill off one of my real fun killers – my back pain and weakness.