And then I started researching “obesity”.
You can’t see it, but my eyes are rolling and I am sighing heavily.
What I found is a lot of research, which often provides either contradictory information, or blends so much quantitative and qualitative data, that it is hard to wrap one’s head around. After all, much of the research depends on the suppositions that one, obesity has a heavy consequential link with pure lifestyle “choices” and that two, obesity has a pure casual link diseases and a higher risk of mortality. But you dig deeper and these two ideas, which seem too dependent on our social views of fatness to be effective as a basis for research (ie, one much start with a hypothesis before any true research can be done, but if the hypothesis is formed on generalizations formed from entrenched social stigma, then it seems obvious to me that what will ensue will always be skewed by the narrow-mindedness of the researchers’ first assumptions) and you will miss a lot of the picture.
I guess that’s why I appreciate the Downey Obesity Report now, though I am not sure I like the name. But so many of us who are “obese” sting at that word now. It has been taken from its context as a medical term and is now volleyed about by society and the media as a way to blatantly stigmatize those who are overweight, and in such a way that it is not only socially acceptable, but socially expected. People who defend having it flung at fat people like me the way the word “homosexual” is now often flung at gay people (I am sure you know what I am talking about, as surely you’ve come across someone using that term, which is “correct” but in a tone that suggests they are verbally expressing a sugar-coated version of what they are really thinking, which is some pejorative which, if used, would just make the person using it look like the asshat they are) do so with the idea that if fat people are beat down with “facts” (ie, the skewed conclusions which may only be half-understood by the media who disperse scientific information to others in a simplified and thus “easy to digest” form) we’ll conform to what others expect us to be.
What are we expected to be? Well, we’re expected to change our entire existence to ensure that we are no longer visually offensive to those who are forced to face us every day, those poor souls who find fat people so disgusting that they stare, comment, or otherwise treat said fat people badly for existing.
Because obesity gets tossed around without a greater understanding by many of the people who toss it around (and this includes some self-proclaimed nurses or other lower-level medical personnel, such as lab technicians, etc.) there is a high prevalence of statistics which are used against people, probably on a daily basis, that don’t reflect the actual health and welfare of the individual who is being exposed to these statistics.
I got that one from a great body positive page (devoted mostly toward reminding over weight women that yeah, as a matter of fact, we are dead sexy too,) called Voluptuous Vixens (www.facebook.com/Officialvvpg).
Why do I point this out? Simply put, those of us who want to live healthy lives will seek out sources like The Downey Obesity (www.downeyobesityreport.com) or Health at Every Size (www.haescommunity.org/) to find out real information on scientific studies into the causes of weight-gain, actual health studies that can really show a consequential relationship between fat and disease and actual ways to try to maintain one’s own health and well-being without using quantitative measurements, such as weight on the scale, BMI (which in my opinion must stand for “bullshit medical instrument” for all the good it actually does in determining a person’s health or even actual fat mass), or even clothing size and measurements.
I personally feel that studies should be done to determine whether or not fat in and of itself is a symptom of something else. I really believe it is, and can define the way it is in my own life. My weight increases the most during those times when I am having the hardest time negotiating through my depression and anxiety problems. My weight also increases when I am dealing with a lot of stress. Some studies suggest that there is a link between stress and the body’s tendency to retain weight, through the hormone cortisol. But, as I have seen others who are actively trying to change the way our country perceives obesity, seeing someone studying the effect of cortisol on the body is still frustrating because it seems like the real issue is clouded by the fact that medical research will put fat in a “cause” column, and other diseases which could be symptomatic of environment or personal psychology, like fat, in the “effect” column.
So, when you’re fat, knowledge really isn’t power, it’s a continuation of the frustration that many of us feel over our own lives, which seem so out of our control. Every time we diet and don’t lose we feel powerless. Every time we start working out more and don’t lose, or worse yet, make ourselves FEEL worse through injury because we are pushing ourselves too hard and expecting too much in terms of an immediate result, we feel powerless.
I feel so powerless for both myself and for you, the reader, right now, because I know enough to know that so much of our anatomy is just not in our control. So regardless of whether you are fighting weight, or some other injury, or pain, or disease, that disconnect between the way you WANT to feel and the way you actually DO is the worst possible thing we as human beings have to face. There are times when, no matter how much we want our bodies to change, they simply won’t! And knowing this won’t make our lives any easier, it just makes our own internal state more depressed, more frightening, because it reinforces the idea that we have no real power over our health.
What have I personally discovered which may help all of us? I will speak about this in my next post, but as a preview, I will say what I have discovered is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Used to treat depression and anxiety, it can be of great benefit to those who are dealing with health issues, because of the way it makes us think ABOUT OURSELVES.
At the end of the day, we can’t really know what causes obesity as a whole because too many things have been noted as being the “cause.” We we can know is ourselves. We can look at our own habits, what we eat, how we exercise, what we do and say to others and say to ourselves, mentally. We can look at these things, dissect them, and try to come to a better understanding of our own selves. When we do, then we can push forward to create what I will talk about next time, a Health Manifesto, which I think everyone should right as a contract to ourselves, to follow a plan that will enable us to work toward well-being, regardless of what that means on a personal level.
Thank you for reading. Once again, I am Christine and I am illfitted.