Fat, Fashionable, and Feminist on what her blog IS NOT.
Sometimes you come across short, sweet statements like this that force you to analyze not only your own beliefs, but whether you have been effectively communicating them.
When I saw this, I thought… oh shit… What if I have been reinforcing that good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy.
It is possible. After all, THIS IS NOT A FASHION BLOG. It is a blog that, basically, tries to deconstruct the image of the fat woman in our society. Or so I think.
It’s possible I’m wrong. After all, there is a shockingly high amount of self-help gurus and fitness people following this blog. Which makes me worry, because I want to provide thoughtful and uplifting content, not self-help clichés, or condescending platitudes meant to force people to just accept that they are in fact crap, so their lives are crap, and they should just get over it, sit in the back of proverbial bus, and quietly disappear.
I know, that in the wider world, that is what people would prefer to see from the fat. Either we lose weight, or we disappear and stop offending others with our very being.
I want to be the sort of person who stands up and says “fuck that shit”.
I’m not “self-help” mostly because there is no way another person can fix your life. Which is what I basically see self-help gurus as, people who are telling you “take my advice and I’ll fix your life.” Every individual has to decide the best route, and self-help books usually aren’t it. People buy them, sometimes even read them… but I doubt that many people actually DO the stuff which is suggested in them. Instead, most just continue living out their lives the way they’ve always done, until some point where some aspect of life is so intolerable that the well-read self-help connoisseur seeks out the help of an actual professional: a shrink, doctor, or even personal trainer.
Whatever the case, it’s not my place to tell you when you should do that, or to not do certain things. I’d prefer to empower people to live their lives the way they want to, which means that those who say “I am tired of trying to lose weight, I just want to be” will get “and you deserve just to be, and most of all, to be happy” just like those who say “I am tired of feeling so unfit, I want to exercise, change my diet, and live differently will get” “you deserve to feel better, but most of all, you deserve to be happy.”
Mostly because the thing I believe most is that happiness equals health and health is happiness. And yeah, I know, it’s kind of hypocritical for me to say that since I am chronically depressed. But there’s still happiness to be found in this state, even if it’s not the total chipper happiness of those who seem to be in eternal bliss. Whatever your personality or mental condition, iIf you can get to a state wherein you are happy, you have already conquered the biggest health issue plaguing modern man. And no, it’s not fat.
It’s called stress, and from all the stuff I have read about it, it does seem to be not just the antithesis of happiness AND health, but the biggest threat to modern human’s physical well-being. Stress causes much more than just weight gain, and effects much more than just the fat. But, because there is so much focus on obesity, the idea that “stress” is major risk factor for poor health in a greater majority of Americans is pretty much ignored or somehow slotted in under the general “obesity” plague that is discussed so much by media.
Do I defend my habits, my weight, etc., and thus add to abeleist dialog? I try not to. I try to point out not what my habits are, but what others seem to inevitably think my habits are, which can only be to the detriment of others who have those SAME habits, and yet, because of thinness, are unquestionably “healthy.” I want to cut through the crap, to show how healthism is actually creating an incredibly unhealthy society, one that is just as likely to see the thin, the fat, and everyone in between engaging in unhealthy eating habits and unhealthy lifestyles because we are told that these will actually keep us “healthy”… as it is defined by the incredibly screwed up BMI system.
I’m sorry, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Medifast, or any of the other supposedly “healthy” diet foods that are being sold are not healthy… not in the way that fresh vegetables and fruits, eating either raw or cooked in a manner which allows them to maintain their nutrients, are. My dad was big on mistaking diet food for health food, because it would help him with “portion control.” One, eating frozen dinners didn’t prevent him from snaking in between meals, but it did jack up his salt intake, which, as he is diabetic and has heart problems, is a BAD thing.
Find me a skinny man who has edema in his legs and I bet you, he’ll be in some way “unhealthy,” though his BMI is normal.
Am I against weight loss or weight loss surgery? No, I can’t be. To be against another person making a decision about their own body is intolerably hypocritical and stupid. I want to free myself and others from the thought that we HAVE to lose weight, that we HAVE to look a certain way. Only when we are all free of the idea that we have to physically conform to what others say we should be can we truly be happy.
Any rule that includes the word “should” whether it is placed on you by yourself or another, is BAD FOR YOU. It’s what CBT programs call a “cognitive distortion” which can easily undermine personal well-being, because of the shame which inherently follows when we break these “should” rules.
Should people lose weight? No. But can they, if they choose to do so, and the choice is an informed choice, and they have very good and very personal reasons for doing so? Yes, of course. To say otherwise is to stigmatize people just as much as those who tell us we should lose weight. No one should make decisions about their own body based on what others say is right.
Am I against hyper-fitness… you know, extreme dieting and extreme exercise regiments? Yes and no. I am not going to tell any friend of mine who enjoys say running or walking or whatever, to an extent that seems sort of obsessive TO ME, to stop doing it. After all, I obsess over other stuff and I’m sure plenty of my friends find my obsessions disturbing. And while it worries me sometimes, as I don’t want anyone to hurt themselves by training so hard they injure themselves, or going on some kind of fad diet, like the paleo diet, at the end of the day, people have to do what they feel is right for them.
That said, I worry because I know that we ALL need to do mental checks to make sure that whatever we are doing, we’re doing for the right reasons. Happiness is a good reason to exercise a lot, or eat a certain diet, when these activities are actually enjoyable. If that’s the truth, then more power to the totally fit.
And am I against eating or gaining weight? Hell no. I have a male friend who is petite, and he eats and eats and is very focused on what he is eating, because he wants to gain enough weight to look “normal”. I was proud of him, and cheered him on, until it became obvious that he really was eating bad foods, fast food, fried foods, and other things filled with empty calories, instead of nutritional foods. I talked to him about it, not in the way others did which included chiding him for gaining weight, but in a way I hoped would be constructive: I pointed out that he can still eat well, maintain his heavier self, and eat right. I told him that’s what he really should be doing, because he shouldn’t have to have the body he wants at the cause of the health of his heart and arteries.
He took what I said to heart, I think, because I wasn’t judging. I wasn’t telling him what to do. I was just pointing out to him one very important thing, whatever you do, make sure you are giving your body the food it needs to be healthy.
So am I ableist? I really don’t think so. I don’t think that is the agenda I am pushing. Nor do I think I spend too much time dwelling on good fat people versus bad fat people. After all, there are a lot of different ways in which people can be unhealthy, regardless of weight, but since I’m not a doctor I’m in no position to say that group X are inherently unhealthy.
I am in a position to try to point out all the things I come across when I research the subject of weight gain, such as insights into how the human body works, and sometimes works against all of us. Do some people eat too much fat and others eat too much sugar? Yes. But from what I have found, there are very good, underlying biological reasons for these behaviors, and it can empower those who have these problems to know them, while also taking the wind out of the sails of those who stigmatize us for having them.
We are all able. We’re just not able to do the same things. And that’s a problem with society, not a problem with us. In a world in which psychology recognizes that there are different personalities and different types of intelligence, it is a wonder that we still have those who seek to put limitations on people like me, and others, based on the idea that we CAN’T do anything. After all, Helen Keller learned to read and write! Humans are very good at finding ways to overcome; and regardless of what the able may say, I doubt there will ever be a disability that is “impossible” to overcome.
I feel sure that the people who have chosen to mistreat me over my weight, lack of exercise or perceived diet flaws would not be able to live a day in my shoes, especially if that day has seen me hurt my back in some fashion. Other people, if they were forced to live my life, would sit down and give up. My boyfriend reminds me of this often. He says I am much stronger than I give myself credit for, and a survivor.
I say that, like intelligence, there are a lot of different types of strength.
So am I the sort of blogger that was described above? I don’t know. It is up to others to determine whether that is what I am saying or not.
At the end of the day, we cannot be in control of others’ perceptions of us. Those who are fighting for body liberation aren’t fighting to change individuals, we are fighting to change the social structure and language that teaches individuals that they should enslave their own and everyone elses’ bodies.
We can all work to control our own perceptions, however. Which is why I have made arguments in the past to promote the idea of engaging in proverbial “shock therapy” against emotional triggers, so that the insults and attitudes which hurt us no longer hurt us. Triggering a trigger until it won’t fire anymore doesn’t hurt a person in the long run, but it does strip all the power from those who seek to stigmatize us.
And we can all push to end dichotomies in general. Good, bad? What do these things mean. They are pointless as discussion tools. When you break down the best of us and the worst of us, you find complexity, incongruities, and a never-ending set of unanswered questions. Even figures that are generally accepted as capital E Evil, like Hitler, are not in and of themselves black and white. Unfortunately, the worst of the worst still have “layers.”
Most importantly, we all need to redirect what I call the logic of emotions away from the way we are taught to express it, toward that which is more helpful to us and others. One of the worst parts of emotional logic is its need to scapegoat personal misery, to turn that misery outward, release it from the inner self, and blame others. We stigmatize and scape goat to keep from hating ourselves. But only because we live in a world that only gives us those two choices, self-hate or external hate. Instead of being defensive and attacking others when we perceive that they want us to hate ourselves, we should instead simply see them as people who have likewise been taught self hate or external hate. We need to accept the supposed “bad” in people. After all, trolls may be idiots and assholes, but if they aren’t out murdering, raping, or physically assaulting others, then its up to us to make sure that we just don’t let their emotional abuse bring out the worst in us.
So no, I don’t think the above applies to me. But it’s good to work through such statements. It’s good for each of us to see something, on a daily basis, that challenges us right down to our soul. It is only in this way that we can continue to walk a better path to recognize those aspects of ourselves which are less helpful, less positive, and begin to truly desire and work on changing these things.
I know it sounds self-helpy. But at the end of the day, common sense has brought me to these conclusions. I suggest to you that you go out, on your own, challenge yourself, and work things out for yourself.
The only way to truly learn a lesson is to live the mistake.