Category Archives: anger

It starts so early

Yes, I haven’t blogged since April of 2012. Let’s just call that out and then move on. Hoping to change it, but can’t promise anything because my life has been work work work since then, and I don’t see that changing for a little bit.

I have a friend who is a nanny. She is an awesome nanny. I couldn’t come close to being as awesome at it as she is. She looks after four kiddos, all girls. The oldest girl is starting to get shit from her dad about being fat. SHE IS EIGHT. And she looked in the mirror the other day and asked my friend, “Do I look fat?” When my friend told me this, my heart just broke. Broke. This sweet little peanut hears from her dad that she isn’t wonderful the way she is. She hears that there is something inherently wrong with her and that she needs to actively try and change that thing every day. What the ever loving fresh hell. I know most folks have probably read the studies (or read about the studies) , and we don’t need to be reminded, but we can’t ignore the fact that girls as young as THREE worry about being fat. When their biggest worry should be whether they’ll have enough time to color that day. Or build tree forts. Or run in sprinklers. Whatever kids do these days. Probably Facebook and snapchat?

I think part of what tore me up when I heard the story was just how familiar the story was. My own Dad asking me, “are you sure you want that second [fill in the blank]?” as he looked at me with disapproving eyes. “Let’s just run another 1/2 mile!” as we were out for a jog. I’m not saying my Dad didn’t love me. I think he loved me (and loves me still) so much that he just cannot shut up. That may sound twisted, and yes, it is. But understanding that has helped me to recognize that problems he has with my weight are just that. HIS problems.

He came for a visit a little over a week ago specifically to talk to me about things that were bothering him over the holiday break when I was home. I knew what he wanted to talk about; it was pretty clear most of the time I was home that he was a bit uncomfortable and that he wanted to say something but just couldn’t. I wasn’t particularly excited about re-hashing our problems/his concerns with my weight (we’ve had the talk before), but it turned out to be one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. And I think it was mostly due to the fact that I was 100% honest with him, which meant being vulnerable. For so long, I have refused to show him even a hint of vulnerability, for fear it would mean that “he won” (whatever that means). If I voiced my concern over my knee aches, or told him that I was hoping to move my body more this year, it would prove that he knew what was best for me all of those years. So giving that fear up was, for me, one of the toughest and most amazing things I’ve done in this fat activism journey. I’m hopeful that my pops is coming along for the journey as well.

#ihavecellulite!

I ran across a brief post on Jezebel today about how Lauren Conrad feels that the paparazzi ruined going to the beach for her, because they took pictures of her in a bikini and OMZG you could see her cellulite (for the uninitiated, Ms. Conrad was a regular on a reality show about Laguna Beach, a wealthy town south of Los Angeles, and all of the, you know, rich people problems and hilarity that ensues as a result of said money. I’m not sure what else she was famous for, except she then got her own spin off and now makes clothes or something? anyway.) She says:

On [a recent] vacation to Cabo, I wore a bathing suit on the beach for the first time in years. Usually I’m just petrified. A couple of years ago someone zoomed in on my cellulite and it was so mean. I took it really personally. I haven’t worn a bathing suit in L.A. in years because of that.

So, yes, that is some sadness right there. She didn’t wear a bathing suit for YEARS because of a pic of some cellulite? Yes, sure, we could all wax sarcastic about “ohhh, it must be so hard to be a rich white blond girl who enjoys thin privilege!” but honestly? I’m mostly just sad. What in the fresh-hell kind of fucked up culture do we live in that people refuse to go to the beach when it’s warm out because they are so ashamed of something that nearly EVERY woman has? To be very clear, I don’t want to lambast folks who feel the same way as Lauren Conrad does. This is not your fault (cue Good Will Hunting clip). It isn’t. This is a god-damn sad illustration of just how good we are at shaming people about their bodies. It’s mind-boggling how good we are at it. Yay us!

So, as soon as I got home from work today, I snapped this pic.

It’s not the best shot of cellulite that ever existed, but you get the point. It’s certainly about as risque as I’ve ever gotten in terms of posting things to the interwebs (I know, I lead a very dangerous and salacious life, watch out). If I had more followers and was more savvy regarding social media, I’d try to make this “a thing,” but instead I’m just putting it out here in this little corner of the internet world. I will also be Tweeting it under #ihavecellulite! and I encourage any and all of you to do the same! Show us your cellulite! Because fuck this noise, people. It’s important that those of us who feel comfortable doing so help spread the word that cellulite isn’t something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It isn’t inherently evil. It’s part of us. So hug it or something!

throwing the fatties under the bus

i work in the reproductive justice movement. As such, my facebook & twitter feeds are generally chock-full of news, comments, and status updates about the (more often than not) horrendous state of affairs in the US regarding a host of reproductive health, rights, and justice issues (see: the shackling of pregnant and birthing prisoners, infant mortality rate as a result of systemic racism, environmental toxins and their disproportionate impact on the repro health systems in communities of color, etc). Needless to say, it can be a real bummer sometimes. But I love this work so very much.

I get to work with some of the brightest, most passionate, kick-ass, radical women and men to help push this country forward when it comes to fighting for reproductive justice. But sometimes I get a big reminder that just because folks work in social justice does not mean they don’t carry with them some seriously fucked up notions of fat bodies.

A couple of weeks ago this video made the rounds on my facebook feed. If you can’t view it, basically it’s a rant by a rather social justice minded comedian about a website put up by pro-life/anti-choice folks. The website is a place where folks can let readers know what they’re giving up “until abortion ends” (I think the website is called until abortion ends, but I don’t want to give it traffic) by uploading their own videos. So people make a video about, say, giving up ice cream until abortion ends. Or soda. And so on. Ok, yes, it’s a slightly odd take on the issue, but I see where people are going with it. To them, abortion is evil. They are taking a stand, as it were, by giving up something they love in order to save fetuses. I can wrap my head around that (that doesn’t mean I agree with the sentiment, I’m just saying it makes sense).

So, this comedian is lambasting the people who upload videos to this site; he says something like “hey, big deal you’re giving up ice cream and soda! this isn’t a stand! you’re giving something up that you should give up anyway.” (emphasis added) He talks for a little while longer about how it’s not a sacrifice when you’re giving up something that isn’t good for you. You see where I’m going with this.

Anyway, quite a few of my facebook friends (and organizations I like) put the video up and made positive comments about it. I ignored them, until it just pissed me off. So I put it on my page and wrote: “this video has been making the rounds on my news feed…and i gotta say, i find it interesting that people and organizations that advocate for a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her repro health care are in the same breath telling her what she should and shouldn’t put in her body. #saynotofoodshaming!”

I thought more people would respond, particularly because so many folks had also posted the video but with glowing reviews. I did get one response, someone who, in my eyes, missed my point entirely. She said: “I see it as less food shaming than pointing out that the people on this site aren’t really making sacrifices because the things they’re pledging are really just making healthier choices. Pointing out that giving up McDonald’s or Taco Bell is something good to do anyway isn’t dictating what a woman puts on her body.”

I find this line of reasoning fascinating. It contradicts itself in the same sentence! twice! “I see it less as food shaming” and then “making healthier choices.” WHO decides which choice is healthy? (in essence, that was my response to her) “Pointing out that X is something good to do isn’t dictating…” UM, how come YOU get to decide what food is good?

So there we go. A reminder that fat oppression and fat & food shaming exists even in social justice circles. But that doesn’t surprise me. Food shaming is sewn into the fabric of our existence, and it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than the odd facebook conversation to overturn it. Also, this happened just a few weeks after I learned that a panel I proposed at a reproductive justice conference discussing the intersection of reproductive justice and fat acceptance/oppression wasn’t accepted. I’m just feeling a bit let down by a movement that exists, in part, to lift people UP in regards to their bodies, their sexuality, and their health (however they define it to be).

learning to be my own advocate

I’m really good at speaking up for others. I’m still learning to speak up for myself. It helps to get super pissed. I was sad and upset at first, and while I still am both of those, I’m really starting to get pissed.

I had an appointment last week with a new ob/gyn. I’ve spoken before about my trepidation around going to the doctor, a concern that I’m afraid many fat people share. I really liked my primary care doc. The ob/gyn I saw? Not so much. I have so many words and emotions rolling through my head right now about how it all went down, and I’m not even sure how to adequately express just how awful it was.

In short, I went in because I’ve been feeling tired lately, and just a little off. I can’t explain it much more than that-  I just felt like something wasn’t right. A friend was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and her symptoms sounded similar to mine, so I thought I’d have that conversation with the gyn. I brought it up to her and then it all went to hell.

She didn’t treat me like a person who came to her with questions. She didn’t even treat me like a person. She just went straight into the “it’s because your FAAAAAT omgobesityFAAATZ” spiel and never looked back. I’m not looking to be besties with my doc, she doesn’t need to know my life story and all of my hopes and dreams or anything, but a question here and there, especially during a first visit, isn’t out of the question. In fact, it’s expected.

She didn’t listen to me. When I told her that I knew I’d gained weight the last few months but didn’t want to know the number because I’m trying to focus on a Healthy At Every Size approach to my life, three minutes later she pointed to my weight on the computer screen. Huh, thanks for that.  She also kept extolling the virtues of their nutrition program, pointing out that they have a great team that can help you (nutritionists in a group therapy setting – sweet jesus, no thank you. that may work for other folks, and rock on for them. not for me.).

Her: “It’s expensive but really worth it. I had a patient who lost 100 pounds on it.”
Me: “I’m not interested in losing 100 pounds. As I mentioned before, I’m more interested in keeping my health front and center, not my weight.”
Her: “You need to go on a diet.”
Me: “Diets don’t work; I’ve been dieting almost my entire life.”
Her: “But it depends upon the type of diet. What I’m talking about is healthy foods and exercise.”
Me (in my head after I left and got my bearings again): “Oh my god! You mean I should be eating healthy? Like, fruits and vegetables?? This is brand new information to me! You are CHANGING my LIFE!”
Me (in reality): “…”

It felt like she was tolerating me. Like I was an imposition and she needed to just get me over with and be on her way. Maybe she was having a bad day, but I’m not feeling that magnanimous, quite frankly.

Active listening, lady. Try it sometime. “I hear you and understand that you’re wary of dieting and all that the word implies, but what I’m talking about is …”

So then as we’re finishing up I have to remind her again that I’m interested in learning more about a PCOS diagnosis. I read that one test is a fasting glucose, so I hadn’t eaten just in case she suggested that. She did, so off I went to the lab (after having to find it myself, she didn’t even point me in the right direction), blah blah blood test, moving on.

I got the results the same day and then finally heard from her today. This is when the getting pissed off part starts to really take its shape. She writes (in short), “your blood tests are normal except for low ‘good cholesterol’ and an elevated fasting glucose, which probably means you have diabetes. See your primary care physician.” I freak out and email back, asking if this means PCOS is off the table. Her response, “you probably had PCOS as a pre-diabetic condition. You now have diabetes.” Literally. You. Now. Have. Diabetes. Now I don’t know about you, but getting that news in a one sentence email from a doctor who treated like me like total shit was not the kind of afternoon I had hoped to have.

I email my primary care physician and explain the situation, and bless her heart she responds back in under 10 minutes, saying, essentially, “um, yeah, you’re fine. Make sure to do cardio. We’ll test again in a couple months.”

??????

Ok, so the problems here are hopefully very evident. Namely, perhaps an ob/gyn shouldn’t be diagnosing someone about something that isn’t in their own field house of expertise, so to speak?

Two notes about all of this: 1., it doesn’t matter if I had the most beautiful numbers on the planet, or if my glucose levels were sky-high, we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of our weight OR health. Which are, of course, two different things. And 2., I’m not denying that diet and exercise don’t have implications on our health. And as I’ve said before, I want to feel better, and I know that part of that means moving my body more and paying more attention to what foods I put in it.

Generally, I’m not the kind to share all of my medical-y business in such a public way, but I feel like these kinds of stories need to get told so that when someone else gets treated like an inconvenience, a bother, a non-person, she or he won’t need to feel like the piece of shit I felt like.

Now I’m off to write a strongly-worded email to the doctor and her supervisor.

look, a fatty!

I was at a meeting the other day and during a break a friend/colleague of mine was talking to her high school friend on the phone about their recent 10 year reunion that she wasn’t able to attend. She came back after a while and gave us the play by play. Overall, she said she loved catching up on all their old friends. Then she said she asked her friend, “so, who got fat?” and then after what seemed like a bit of an awkward pause (to me), she said, “and also who got skinny?” I felt like that second question wasn’t actually posed and was instead stated for my benefit. “see, i’m not singling out fat people, i’m just curious about the changing shapes of all bodies!” and frankly even that is problematic. but i wanted to talk about how it made me feel. to put it bluntly, it made me feel like shit.

being fat isn’t something to be gossiped about. when you want to find out “who got fat?” you’re asking about who “let themselves go,” or who “doesn’t have it anymore.” Inherent in all of this is the idea that being fat isn’t correct, it isn’t right, we shouldn’t be it.

I am not saying it’s abnormal to notice a change in someone’s weight or appearance. We’re visual creatures, I get that. And some of the time, statements like that don’t carry with it the intention of judging someone. But most of the time? I’d venture to say nearly all of the time? Comments about people’s weight or appearance aren’t simply a statement of fact. They’re riddled with judgment. And above all, it reduces someone’s weight or appearance to a story, to gossip. Fat people are more than just a story to be gossiped about over a phone conversation. I went a while back to the a Fat Meet Up at the ever so lovely coffee shop of Not Blue At All, and we had a great discussion about being fat in public, especially around children. One of the people there said she gets the “look mom, she’s so fat!” all the time, and she sees it as a teaching moment for the children, because inevitably the parents will be mortified, pull their children away, and whisper furiously “we do NOT say things like at!” What message do you think kids get when they are simply pointing out what is, to them, just a fact? Look, she is fat. Look, he is tall. Look, I’m noticing these things as a new person in the world and it’s amazing to me! In the blink of an eye, they have fully received society’s message that fat is a bad word, that even if someone IS it, we certainly don’t point it out. And ta da, society’s boatload of shit is laid down upon some child who was just pointing out a fact. That child likely wasn’t judging her body, she was simply noticing it. Then adults come in and fuck everything up.

Here’s the bottom line…my friend’s question to her friend about who got fat in the last 10 years didn’t feel like an innocent noticing of the fact, a la kids. It felt like I, and people who look like me, was being reduced to something to be sensationalized, gossiped about. And it sucked. But I have to say that it didn’t crush me to a million pieces like it may have a couple years ago, so for that I am grateful.

Who has called this type of behavior out in friends before (nicely or not-so-nicely)? How’d the conversation go?

reason # 323496349872 I don’t watch The Biggest Loser

I’m watching Top Chef Masters right now (pirated, I don’t have tv so I gots ta get it via the interwebs) and the challenge for this episode is to re-work the favorite meals of contestants from The Biggest Loser into three meals (plus dessert) that don’t go over 1,500 calories total. Of course the favorite meals that they trot out are calorie-laden monster plates of deep dish pizza, bacon cheeseburgers, and the like. NOW, I am not judging the fact that those are someone’s favorite meal. Shit, a bacon cheeseburger? Essentially perfection on a plate. And even if I didn’t like the food someone chooses as her favorite, who the hell am I to say anything about it? Rock on with your food choices! My beef has more to do with the producers. Of course they only choose the foods that most folks would label as “bad.” Listen, I’m fat. Like, super fat. And my favorite meal is probably a caprese salad and some sort of California-style phroofy thin-crust pizza. I know other fat people who would kill someone over the perfect roast chicken. Did I see a plate of roast chicken with asparagus and fingerling potatoes in the show? I’ll give you seven guesses. Again, I’m not interested in getting into a good fatty/bad fatty discussion – of course people should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of what they choose to eat – I’m interested in the narrative that the producers wish to share with us. There is ONE fat person in this world, and she is lazy and eats everything in sight and that’s the reason she’s fat. One chef even says something like “jesus, I could feed my family for an entire week with what’s just on that one plate.” You, sir, should shut up.

On to the challenge itself. “1500 calories?” i thought. that doesn’t seem like much. Apparently the suggested caloric intake for women, according to the FDA, is 1500-2000. Ok, cool. So it’s not like The Biggest Loser is in the habit of starving people, right? But then I get to thinking about someone who weighs what I do trying to get by on 1500 calories. Wouldn’t my body think it’s starving and go into survival mode? And how is that sustainable? when I plug in my height and weight and indicate that I am active for 30 minutes about three times a week, i’m told that I need to take in about 2550 calories a day. This comes from the Mayo Clinic, it’s not some super random website. The difference between 1500 and 2550 is a lot. What about folks who weigh more than I do?

I don’t have any amazing epiphanies or anything, it just frustrates me to no end that there isn’t any further discussion. CUT and DRIED, people. Fat folks eat gross food, they should severely restrict their diet (and exercise 3+ hours a day like they do during taping of the show), and voila! they will be happy, healthy (read: less fat), and ready to be introduced to the world with confetti and bells and whistles in front of a live studio audience!

Wow, I’m feeling snark-tastic tonight. Love it.

Update: So now (sidebar: I feel like I’m live-blogging this damn thing), the chefs are talking to each Biggest Loser contestant about the food that will get a makeover, and one of the chefs is trying to convince the college student who loves her a bacon cheeseburger that a veggie patty is the way to go because meat is so bad for you. I’ve had some positively amazing veggie burgers in my life, so that doesn’t concern me. what concerns me is his statement later to the camera in which he says, “I do this for a living. I work in this industry with nutritionists and I have great respect for [the contestant], so shame on me if I present anything but a veggie burger.” Ummm, what dude? SHAME on you if you DARE to serve her anything but a veggie burger? What a hero, coming to rescue the fat maiden from her life of beef and hideousness. My hat’s off to you.

Update II: Now some of the chefs are crowing about how all three of their meals were under 1000 calories. See, this is where the shit hits the fan for me. This hasn’t become an exercise in mindful eating anymore, it’s a game to see how low you can go (calories, weight watchers).

Update III: Ok, there is some justice in the world! The preachy chef got sent home because, as one critic put it, he served them a “lecture on a plate.” Awesomesauce.

an ode to self-care. and, happy blogiversary!

I started this blog exactly one year ago today (hooray!) so I’ve been reflecting a lot lately. I’ve also been feeling a bit sad and down the last few days, for a variety of reasons. My work is controversial – reproductive justice is, unfortunately, a contentious issue. For those of in the States, we’ve been dealing with some incredibly oppressive and patriarchal proposed legislation that would make it virtually impossible for low income women and women of color to access reproductive health care, including abortion. I don’t work on the front lines – I’m not a provider, i don’t do policy work, and i’m not on capitol hill. I am, however, steeped in this movement and there are some days when I just want to scream “ENOUGH!!!!” at the top of my lungs. STOP trying to exert control over women’s bodies, STOP trying to pretend that you’re “pro-life” when you don’t actually give a shit about what happens to low income families and children once they’re born and instead choose to slash public benefits and health care, STOP acting as though the decisions you would make are the decisions we ALL should make. So many of these threads run through my work in fat acceptance as well. We receive messages every single day about our bodies, our food choices, the way we present ourselves to the world. It gets tiring! And it fills me with this huge, profound sense of sadness.

Going online and into the wonderful, fabulous FA community is an incredible way for me to combat the negative messages/images/legislation because I’m welcomed into a place that “loves, without judgment”, but i’ve started to leave other forms of self-care by the wayside and that’s not good. So this is me, committing to practicing more self-care. Baths, a ‘lil facial now and then, getting outside more, reading, taking photos.

Speaking of, when I turn my head to the left and look out my window, this is what I see. little slice of happiness right there! welcome spring!