Thursday, September 27th, 2012
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!
Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
I am fat. I am relatively unhealthy. I do not exercise more than the occasional Zumba dance, and that’s because I find it fun and not exercise! I eat what I want when I want and I am happy being this way. Recently I have been unwell, and most likely will be for the next few months due to an extended convalescence. It sucks, but I have only just realised that having this extended down time has sent me into a shame spiral about my lifestyle.
I have noticed on more than one blog that being a “good fat” comes with a disclaimer of the “health at every size” mantra, which includes looking after your body by exercising and eating intuitively regardless of how you look. Now I love the concept of Health at Every Size, even if I don’t particularly follow it past intuitive eating. It’s important for me to recognise that people can be their own versions of healthy and happy whether they are a size zero or a size fifty. It’s a great idea that is being promoted, but it’s also frustrating when “bad fats” are ganged up for not following that lifestyle to the letter.
What I think is important to remember is this: if you are fat, unhealthy, eat what you want and never exercise then that doesn’t make you a bad person. You are you and that is just that. Being unhealthy and being fat are not synonymous but even if they were? It deserves no moral judgement. You may be fat. Society doesn’t want you to know this, but that’s a morally neutral place to be. It’s the same as having curly hair, or large feet. There is no such thing as a good fat person or a bad fat person any more than there are good thin people or bad thin people. We are individuals and should determine what is right for us and nobody else. The way someone looks should not determine what we think of them because that’s no better than discriminating against someone because of the colour of their skin, or their gender, or their religion.
If someone is trying to tell you that you should look, think or act a certain way then try and discover their motives. Ask them why they think it’s important and really listen to their reasoning. Tell them the reasons for your lifestyle choices, regardless of what they are. And if they use the “we’re concerned for your health” comment, i suggest calmly stating that you are in control of your body and can do what you want with it. Be confident in your choice, but not defensive – you know what is right for you, and calmly stating that will help them see that you are in control. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your decisions, as they are yours and yours alone. Unless you are incapable of making those decisions for yourself, you have a right to choose your life. You are the only person who knows what is right for you!
These are all just my opinions, obviously. What do you think?
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.
Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
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.”
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!