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!
Friday, June 11th, 2010
I have a friend who hates the way he looks. He hates that he is fat. He thinks women aren’t attracted to him sexually because he is short and fat. He sees men in relationships who are thinner or taller or more muscular and he thinks the fault is his. That he needs to change physically. He thinks that women will want to date him if he is thinner. Every time I see him he talks about being lonely, and if he loses the weight then someone might finally want to be with him. I wish I could help him see his worth. I write this entry for him.
First off, I hate that we live in a society which devalues people who don’t fit the cultural ideal of attractive. Fuck that attractive, seriously. A person’s worth should not be judged on what they look like. All people are intrinsically worthy whether they are fat, thin, short, tall, young, old, black, white, brown, yellow, or fucking polkadot. Or anything else! You are worthy of love just as you are. You are beautiful just as you are. You do not deserve to be judged by yourself or others because you are better than that. You are worth more than that.
If you think you should lose weight so you can date more people, you should be asking yourself if those people are really worth dating. If they only want to get to know you when you are thinner then they do not deserve the brilliance that is you. They don’t deserve you – it’s not the other way around if they are judging you on how you look. If they can’t see how fucking beautiful you are, then hold out for better because you deserve it. You deserve the best. You deserve exactly who and what you want. You are worth more than your body, even though your body is more beautiful than I could ever convey.
Losing weight isn’t going to make you any more attractive. It’ll just to make you thinner. Real attraction comes from loving who you are, as you are. Real beauty comes from within.
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
I have been quite unwell recently, and have subsequently spent a large chunk of my time watching gloriously bad trash television. E! and the Style Network have become an unusual crutch in my down time. And when I say crutch, I mean hopeless addiction that may never be cured. Because I don’t currently have the mental capacity for anything too thought-provoking, I have seen both of these channels as beacons of entertainment. It’s basically makeover shows and celebrity happenings, as far as I can tell. Chewing gum for the mind most definitely. That being said, I did learn something today.
I was watching a recap of Joan Rivers bashing celebrities for what they wear. Joan being Joan, I can’t hate her – she’s caustic and cynical and downright mean sometimes, but there’s something about her i find truly endearing. It made me think, though. How often do I go out and mentally note other people’s clothing/demeanour? I know that I’ve done it before. I remember thinking “Oh no, she should NOT be wearing that!” as someone walked by me at the shops once.
And now it hits me how much this attitude SUCKS. What right do I (or anyone for that matter) have on saying what a person should or should not be wearing? Why are fashion “rules” so deeply ingrained in me? Have I just been watching too much Trinny and Susannah? Is society to blame? Family? The media? Am *i* to blame?
Lil’ Kim has graced many a “worst dressed” list during her years as a celebrity. And I don’t think I’d ever wear an ensemble like the one above, but fuckdammit! She should be commended for having the courage to wear what she wants, and not what someone told her to wear. (If that’s the case, which let’s assume it is for the sake of this argument.) It’s fucking ridiculous to judge anyone based on what they’re wearing – if I do that then I’m no better than someone judging me because I’m fat.
So tell me, readers – what’s your opinion? Have you ever judged someone based on what they’re wearing? And are celebrities asking for it, since they are the ones who put themselves in the limelight? What about people who post their own pictures on a blog? Leave your thoughts below.
Saturday, April 10th, 2010
So things have been pretty quiet around the Axis of late. I speak only for myself, not the other members, when I say that I am exhausted.
The constant barrage of negative messages, encouragement of self-hate, fat hatred, body hatred, you name it – it is so hard to keep one’s head above water when fighting this kind of thing. And I’m tired. I have recently changed jobs, and will probably be changing again soon. I’ve moved house. I’ve been supported my sister during the split from her partner (which involves children and domestic violence, amongst other things). I am worn out, and there is only so much headspace I can devote to fighting the good fight without drowning in the negativity.
I find myself thinking diet-y thoughts. Self-hating thoughts directed at my body, chastising it, maligning it. And I don’t like it. It’s an uphill battle that never gets easier, but I’m trying.
So I’m taking care of myself. I’m buying pretty clothes. I’m looking for new ways to exercise and to enjoy that exercise. I’m eating good food that I have the luxury to able to afford. I’m reading books. I’m studying Japanese. I’m playing videogames.
I’m giving myself permission to take a break. And if the world is getting you down, or your activism is becoming too draining? You should too. Rest, recharge, and come back to it. Rest assured, it doesn’t look like fat hatred is going to disappear while you’re gone.
Saturday, July 11th, 2009
(Note: May be triggering for some readers – diet/weight loss/self-harm).
I have a rather shocking confession to make. Brace yourselves.
I am fat, and happy with my body.
I don’t mean fat in the sense of “wah wah oh I can pinch more than an inch oh woe is me”, while dramatically flinging my hand against my forehead and waiting for all my friends to chime in and bolster my self-esteem by decrying my tirade of hating myself. Fuck that noise.
I mean in the sense that I regularly wear plus-sizes (generally an 18-20, for the curious), have a protruding, bifurcated belly, and for medical purposes, fall somewhere between obese and morbidly obese.
Becoming at ease with my body has not been an easy journey. I’ve been fat for as long I can remember – always stockier than my slender primary-school friends, wearing a size 16 in girl’s clothing, and knowing deep down that I should be ashamed, and finally, when I was twelve years old, subjecting myself to Weight Watchers.
[img_assist|nid=21|title=Circa age fifteen|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=262|height=400]At the time, I weighed 79 kilograms, or about 175lbs. I dieted myself down to 70 kilograms (154lbs), but given that I’m only 5’4” tall, the goal listed on my little purple diet booklet suggested I should be around 67kg maximum. Maybe I would have got there, maybe I wouldn’t have, but I moved interstate, got a job working at McDonald’s, stopped playing netball, focused all my efforts on staying home and studying…
Yeah, I gained the weight back. And a little more, just for spite.
My life became a constant push-and-pull with my body. In high school, I remember fantasising about slicing my stomach off. I used to stand in front of the mirror and tell myself how fucking ugly I was. I actually slapped myself in the face once, after eating a slice of cake.
In grade eleven, I started walking for over an hour every day before school, eating half an apple for breakfast, purging my lunch, and picking at my dinner. I stopped purging because I was worried about ruining my teeth, but the compliments as I got slimmer and slimmer (and tired and pale and irritable and stressed and…) were so satisfying.
The shame I felt when my mother made my formal, or prom outfit, as she measured my waist and pursed her lips and shook her head, was overwhelming. I looked amazing that night. So many people told me how great I looked. All I could think was that I weighed 85 kilograms, having finally given up on the restrictive dieting while I was studying so hard for university entrance.
University is a bit of a blur. I found a boyfriend, something I was convinced would never happen because I was so disgustingly fat. I went on naturopath diet, something horrible, where she wanted me to basically be a vegetarian (no hating on vegos here, but goddammit, I love my meat). My life was a swing of highs and lows, solely centred on whether I lost or gained weight each week.
I went on a medical diet program in my final year. At the beginning, the doctors did an EKG, blood sugars, cholesterol, liver enzymes. They were noticeably surprised that all my levels were normal, and that my blood pressure was perfect. Throughout the six month program, I lost very little weight, although I went to the gym for up two hours every day. I burst into tears at the last appointment. All that had happened was that my blood sugars and liver enzymes had improved, though they were good to start with.
I went on my last diet in January 2008. A local chemist here has a meal-replacement diet; because I was working in an office, I found it very easy to stick to, and lost about 9 kilograms in five weeks. Then I moved to Japan. Of all the places one might expect to find peace with their body, Japan would be pretty low on the list. It’s an image-obsessed culture, where the cult of thin is possibly even more entrenched than it is in the West.
But there was something about it. Maybe it was the fact that my Japanese wasn’t good enough to consume the local media, so all the fat-hatred went straight over my head. Maybe it was the fact that I knew I was going to stand out for a multitude of reasons, my fat being just one of them. Maybe it was the surprising number of compliments I seemed to receive on my clothing. Maybe it was the sweet Japanese man I ended up dating for a significant portion of the time I was there, and who seemed to adore my body. Maybe it was the fact that I was homesick for Western food and didn’t care if I gained weight because I was already massively obese by Japanese standards anyway. Maybe I was just tired of fighting.
We take these bodies of ours for granted, so much of the time. They move us around, with or without assistance from aids, they house our minds and hearts, they protect us. And yet every day we treat them with utter disdain, even hatred, as they refuse to conform to the exceedingly narrow standards society has written for us.
I discovered size acceptance, the radical notion of accepting, even loving yourself at any size. I pored over Shapely Prose, The Rotund, Fatshionista.com and many more, absolutely astonished that people my size and bigger could be genuinely happy with themselves. After so long railing against it, calling it names and even physically abusing it, I wanted not to hate my body.
It’s not easy, and don’t let anyone try and tell you it is.
[img_assist|nid=22|title=Outift of the day, July 3rd 2009|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=300|height=400]I love to dress well, and I relish the compliments I receive on the clothes I wear, remembering how I used to hide in bust-compressing sports bras, baggy men’s shirts and capri pants. I wear makeup, or don’t wear it, as the fit takes me. I look to other fat people – Beth Ditto of The Gossip, Lesley Kinzel of Fatshionista, and more, for inspiration and help when the overwhelming message of fat hatred overtakes me.
I returned from Japan in April of this year, knowing that I would be thrown back in the media hysteria of obesity, the constant barrage of ‘fat is bad’ messages and the knowledge that every day will be always be a fight. Not a fight to force my body into the thin ideal, but the fight against such a pervasive message of fat hatred.
I no longer diet. I don’t purge or restrict my eating. I eat with joy and delight for the taste of food, sharing it with the people I care about, and nurturing my body. I don’t exercise for two hours every day, but move when I have the time, the inclination, and the ability to do so.
I wrote this not just as an introduction, but as a cathartic exercise to lay down in print how the misery and hopelessness of body hatred doesn’t have to be a part of my life, or of yours. Fat, thin, or anywhere in between, treat your body with respect. It’s a cliché, but it’s true – this body is the only one you’ve got, so you might as well give it the love it deserves.
I’m proud to be a founding member of the Brisbane Axis of Fat, where we acknowledge how inherently subversive it is to chill with your fat body, and are fucking upfront about it.