Category Archives: intentions

sometimes you just need a break

I haven’t posted in about two weeks, which is the longest break i’ve taken since perhaps November of last year. And this past week is certainly the first this year that I didn’t meet my new years intention of posting once a week in 2011. And you know? I’m totally ok with it. I was gettin’ pretty bummed there for a little while, what with the constant shit-storm being lobbed at low income folks, women of color, fatties, etc. And while my instinct is generally to dive into the FA movement head first, spending glorious hours online in this community of awesomeness, I felt myself pulling away a little bit. I’m still not exactly sure why, but my first thought is that i was simply tired. This shit takes work. It takes work to care, and it takes work to fight a system set up to frankly push anyone who may be on the margins away, so far away that they don’t have a voice. I don’t mean to pretend like I’m a martyr and that my problems even come close to the struggles others face on a daily basis, and I am privileged in all sorts of areas of my life, but it does just become really heavy on your soul after a while.

Last Friday, my office had a retreat and for the afternoon we had a training on how oppression shows up in the body. Essentially (truly, this is a 30 second breakdown of what took the instructor over 30 minutes to explain to us, so please know that I’m sure I’m leaving out some pretty important stuff, but I’m trying to nail the basics), our bodies are conditioned, through hundreds of years on this earth, to do one of five things when we come into contact with oppression, in whatever form: fight, flight, freeze, appease, dissociate. Apparently our bodies deal with oppression (racial, class, gender, ability, size, etc) in much the same way that they deal with trauma, as oppression is a form of social trauma. How we react has almost nothing to do with our “thinking” brain and almost everything to do with our “animal” brain. It’s our gut reaction, one that has worked for our ancestors for years and years. In order to start to dismantle that animal reaction (if one chooses to do that), a hell of a lot of work must be done such that we can choose which of the five reactions to use at any given time, depending on the circumstances.

Up until recently, whenever I dealt with oppression because of my size, my animal instinct was to dissociate from my body. I’m fairly certain this is common among the fats. If you can remove yourself from your physical body – the body that is being oppressed when it tries to fit into a seat and can’t, the body that is being yelled at on the street for being “unattractive” – you can protect yourself. You can protect your heart and your soul from just getting crushed. But this, for me, was dangerous, because it allowed me to talk SO much shit about my body because, you see, it really wasn’t even my body. It was just…something else. Not even someONE else. Just a thing. And it’s easy to say awful and mean things to a thing, isn’t it?

So I think this is what I was doing when everything just started to feel like a bit much. I went back to my historical animal instinct and dissociated, I can’t point to any one particular incident, I think it was just an aggregation of a bunch of little things. And it must be said that our animal instincts aren’t ever really wrong. They’re what has worked for us a thousand times over, otherwise we likely wouldn’t do them! We’re smart creatures. Our ancestors were smart creatures. We want to survive. So we do what allows us to survive. For me, it was pulling away from examining my body in the world, from engaging in the FA community and movement for a couple weeks.

Fortunately, I have another tool in my toolkit when it comes to dealing with oppression, and that tool is to fight. So I’m back to fighting, and I think it’s because of my dissociation for a little while that I am able to say the following. Bring it.

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putting myself first – growing pains

*possible triggering re food restriction*

Recently, I got a comment on one of my earlier posts that I decided not to approve, for a variety of reasons. The commenter mentioned that she only eats one meal a day in order to try and lose weight because she feels that’s what her doctor wants her to do.

This is the first comment that I haven’t approved and it’s been sitting, quite uncomfortably, with me for a few days. I reached out to the ever so fabulous Fat Heffalump for some advice, as I don’t currently have these conversations with the people in my every day not-virtual life (sidebar – this is one of my favorite things about choosing to blog about FA, it has introduced me to some awesome people that i get to have amazing, nuanced, and challenging discussions with!). I think I have figured out what didn’t sit well with me about the comment.

Well, I think it’s two things. First, the comment was a bit triggering for me. I haven’t actually ever restricted my food to one meal a day, but I’ve certainly counted calories, food journaled, and obsessed over every little thing I put into my body (followed by mind-numbing guilt and telling myself some pretty horrible, awful, mean things that I would never say out loud).

And second, this work I do has been one of the first things (only things?) i’ve done JUST for me. I get to set the stage, I get to set boundaries, and I get to focus first and foremost on how I feel about things. I’m not saying I was some total saint who ONLY thought about others around her (yeah, how awful for me. i’m just TOO amazing a friend. /sarcasm). What I’m saying is that when it came to my body, my size, my health, I let every one else be the expert/steer the ship. Doctors will tell me if I’m unhealthy (and because I’m fat, I must be unhealthy), my friends will discuss their dieting habits even though it makes me uncomfortable but I say nothing because who wants to be THAT person who wants the conversation to go according to HER beliefs?, and on and on.

This though? This work? In this work, I get to make the decisions. And while it may sound like I’m totally on board with that idea, sometimes it’s really hard. Because I do things like disapprove of someone’s opinions or thoughts and I mostly hate the idea that someone has to abide by my strict rules to play. But I’m hating that idea less and less, which I think is good because this work is hard – it’s energy-sapping sometimes, and the only way that I can sustain it and maintain my health (mental or otherwise) is to set some ground rules that ensure this stays my happy place (not “happy” happy all the time, b/c there’s certainly some sad shit going on here, but you know what I mean). Other bloggers have “no diet/weight loss talk” caveats on their blogs and I may follow suit. We’ll see. If anyone has good examples of those caveats, send ’em my way!

new years intention

i hate resolutions. i’ve never really made them for a variety of reasons: i certainly like the idea of self-assessment, but feel that it needs to happen more than once a year for me and focusing on setting resolutions on a set day seems a little disingenuous; my relationship with food and dieting has been all-consuming for much of my life and setting up resolutions to then not meet them is very triggering to me, it feels like yet another weight loss goal that i set for myself and fail to meet; i feel like i’m taking part in The Great Lose Weight/Look “Better” Challenge that most folks set up for themselves through new years resolutions. For a lot of people (and certainly showcased in the media through commercials, advertisements, gym specials, etc), new years resolutions are about looking “better” through weight loss. Inherent in this resolution is the idea that we look like crap if we’re fat. You can see where I’m going with this. Not a fan.

Instead, i’ve spend the last couple days reflecting upon my FA journey. Many days it’s all I want to do. I want to read books voraciously, engage in fantastic conversations with other FA bloggers, educate my loved ones, and spend hours getting inspired by the countless fatshionistas out there. And some days it’s exhausting. I get tired of squeezing into small spaces, of going straight to the accessory and handbag section of most straight-sized stores when i shop with friends, of needing to be the cultural ambassador for fatties when talking to my family, of defending my size, of of of.

Don’t get me wrong. Choosing to do this work and to blog about it has been the best decision I’ve made in my 30 years.

Enter one of my intentions for this year. WordPress has introduced a challenge called The Daily Post. It’s pretty much what it sounds like – one post a day for the year. That seems a bit on the daunting side to this new blogger, so instead I will be partaking in their “post a week” challenge throughout the year. For the last couple months of 2010 I posted about once a week and I like the idea of carrying that practice through this entire year. To a wonderful, challenging, inspiring, and intention-setting year!