Category Archives: the body

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.

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#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!

waking up skinny

possible trigger re weight loss talk

Remember when you were younger and would go to bed and think, “what if I woke up skinny? Like, what if magic actually exists and I wake up tomorrow morning looking exactly how I wanted to look??” Anyone? No? Was that just me? I remember thinking just how amazing that would be. Well, that question has started to pop back into my head lately and my answer increasingly is, “holy shit that would be amazing.”

As in, sometimes I wish I could magically wake up tomorrow and look like a different person. It just seems like things would be easier.

I’ll just let that sink in for a bit.

What I wouldn’t give to not think that. I feel such shame for thinking that. I HATE that I think that. I don’t even like typing it here. It makes me feel ashamed, feel like a failure, feel like I’ll never get to where I want to be regarding my body image. And shouldn’t I be much further along in this journey, as I started writing publicly about it over two years ago? I know, I know. I answered my own question…this is a journey and some days are better than others.

I have no deep thoughts here, only a renewed promise to post here more often, and that means posting some dark shit sometimes. Folks who know me would likely agree with me when I say that I don’t like it to appear as though I don’t have my life together. I’m much better at being a public mess than I used to be (yay public messes!), but my default is certainly to clam up and be all “lalala, no no, everything is delightful! puppies and rainbows!”

So yes, I’m owning it. Owning the fact that I want to live in a magical world where you could just shut your eyes, open them, and see a thinner person staring back at you. Intellectually I get where this is coming from. I do. I think that if I was skinnier, I would have loads of dates, I would have awesomer clothes, I would I would I would. And clearly there is no use wishing for THAT world, when I live in, you know, the ACTUAL world. But if there’s one thing I learned through this process of fat acceptance (I’m actually starting to not use that phrase as much anymore, but that’s for another post), it’s that trying to suppress the thoughts you wish you weren’t having doesn’t do any good. In fact, it often does more harm than good, so go on, let that shit out! *aaand scene

Update: fabulous reminder from commenter G about the amazing “Fantasy of Being Thin” by Kate Harding. It was one of the first FA blog posts I read, back in 2007. I’m gonna go read it again right now.

a rite of passage – my first troll

So, I got a comment the other day from my first troll. I’m a big lady blogger now! It actually makes me feel a little like I’ve “made it,” so to speak. It happens to most of us (and for an absolutely epic takedown of trolls, please see Fat Heffalump’s piece from a couple weeks ago), so I can’t say I’m surprised. I should say I don’t want to make light of the situation. I have been extremely lucky in that they are few and far between for me. Some folks get this drivel on a daily fucking basis and I can’t even imagine how that must feel. So I’m also sending a special shout-out to any other folks out there who have to deal with mean-spirited, small-minded people who spew hatred in their direction. I’m sending you happiness and sunshine! And the occasional “fuck you” to the trolls on your behalf!

I won’t give him or her (I don’t know the gender of the commenter but for sake of ease, he’s a he in this post) the air time and paste the comment here, but basically this person is seriously, truly concerned that I am a huge massive fatty fatty 2 by 4. I’ve been compared to an animal of the sea (hint: an awesomely fierce and beautiful whale of the killer variety) and have been told that I shouldn’t post pictures of myself. Among other things.

And you know what? I’m not even mad. Are you kidding me? While anger can be an absolutely fantastic outlet for people (and it certainly has been for me, I’m not knocking the anger!), this time all I felt (well, after I laughed) was sorrow for the commenter. What must be going on in his life such that he feels it necessary to take time out of his day to tell someone they shouldn’t do what they obviously enjoy doing. Is he unhappy with his life? Do I intimidate him? Does my obvious comfort with how I look make him feel like shit about his own body? I don’t know, but on my best days (and fortunately I read the comment on one of those days), all I want to do is send good vibes out into the universe so that this person can feel better about himself and not feel the need to post what he perceives to be mean things about some random person on the internet. On my bad days? That’s where the anger comes in handy.

And if the person who sent me that comment is reading this? To you I say: I hope whatever is going on in your life rights itself, because life is too god-damn short to be an asshole about what other people choose to do with their bodies. peace.

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?

it’s about to get heavy

Possible triggering re: weight loss.

I’ve been feeling…off lately. Scattered. Uneasy. Skittish. I think it’s because I’m about to really get into some shit. Some heavy mental lifting, if you will. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact I’m looking forward to it. But I can tell I’ve been preparing myself because I’ve been pretty withdrawn the past couple weeks (as evidenced in part by my complete lack of presence on this here blog). Not really wanting to go out for drinks, not particularly interested in meeting new people, in fact not wanting to be around people at all. I went to my parents house last weekend when they were away and it was simply delightful (love the ‘rents, but damn I wanted some alone time!). Which is interesting, this concept of wanting some alone time. I live alone. I haven’t made tons of friends here yet. I’m gettin’ plenty of alone time. But I needed something a bit more. So off I went with my dog and two bags full of dirty laundry (seriously Sabrina? You’re 30. time to stop taking dirty laundry home to your parents house. does anyone else still do this?) for a weekend full of close to nothing. Just me and three dogs, some horses, and chickens:

I sat outside a lot, just kind of staring at the pretty trees, talking to the animals, soaking up the sun. and I started Dr. Linda Bacon’s “Healthy at Every Size” which is blowing. my. mind. I’ve had the book for quite a few months now, but for whatever reason, didn’t pick it up until I was packing to go home. And I am so glad I brought it. I’ve spoken before about HAES, so I won’t go into detail again here. And I’m not going to turn this into a book review, at least, not until I’ve read the whole thing. Suffice to say, when a friend of mine asked me what I loved about it so much, I responded, “it’s like someone telling me it’s not my fault.” So powerful. And honestly? I think maybe I wasn’t ready to read it until just now. Because it’s bringing up all sorts of stuff for me, mostly around my relationship with food.

Historically, I’ve examined my relationship with food as a bit of a passing hobby. Sure, it came up in therapy (note to self: find a therapist here), but I haven’t dedicated a whole hell of a lot of time into really examining how I interact with food.

I think I’ve been withdrawn so that I could shore up energy, if I may get super touchy feely hippie for a moment. This shit ain’t easy, and the idea of spending real focused time examining, pulling apart, and staring at my relationship with food is utterly terrifying. But the best part is it is simultaneously the clearest thing in the world to me.

***so I wrote all of that up there about 3 weeks ago and then disappeared again. And I think I know why. I had quite the solitary and meditative Sunday this past weekend, and it just sort of hit me like a ton of bricks. I want to lose weight. This may not seem like much of a statement to most of you, but let me tell you in that in the fatosphere, and for those of us who call ourselves fat activists? Them’s fighting words. Or at the very least, they’re words will get you some attention.

But let me explain myself.

“I want to lose weight.” Even saying those words out loud to myself shook me. Why? Why all of a sudden am I starting to go there? It felt like going backward. If I’m all “hooray, fat activism, I love my body!” then how can I want to change it simultaneously? This tension has been with me from the beginning of my FA journey, to be sure. It’s just starting to come up a bit more. But then, on Sunday, I REALLY sat with that statement. What do I mean? What about losing weight is appealing to me right now? And it was as clear as day: I don’t necessarily want to lose weight, I want to feel better. Those are two very different things, but historically, they have NOT been two different things to me. The answer to the question “how can I feel better” was always, without fail, 100% of the time, to lose weight. So now, when I don’t feel right in my body, the answer that comes to me right away is: lose weight. The next step in this for me was to unpack it and go from there.

For the last few months, I haven’t been paying attention to my body when it comes to feeding it. It’s sort of been all processed, all the time.  As I have made abundantly clear in this space before, I am not interested in labeling foods as good or bad. Before we came in to fuck everything up, food didn’t have moral value. It was. just. food. Anyway, the food I’ve been eating lately hasn’t been the most, shall we say, whole and natural. (disclaimer: I don’t give two shits what anyone else eats. Eat Taco Bell and Cheetos every single day for every single meal if you want, I will not judge you for it, this I promise) Instead, my diet has consisted of foods on the more processed side of the spectrum. And it doesn’t make me feel good. Sure, it may make me feel good in that moment, but I’ve been feeling off for a while and it’s due, in part, to my dissociation from my body and my diet.

I joke that my diet (as in, the food I eat, not “DIET” in the way most of us use the word) only works in extremes. I’m either throwing back frozen pizza and no veggies or I’m cooking gourmet, locally-sourced, free-range whatever. There isn’t much in between for me. The time has come to head toward the more whole foods side of things (foods that are whole, not the store). I’ve been focusing on this for the last few days and it’s incredible how much better I feel already. I should also note how appreciative I am that I can make this choice. Cheaper food isn’t necessarily the food with the most nutrients, and there are millions of folks every day who don’t have the opportunity to choose the more expensive/more nutrient rich option.

I’m not saying this was the magic bullet and now all of my problems will go out the window. But it’s been such a glorious relief to recognize the difference between “I want to lose weight” and “I want to feel better.” And besides being a relief? It feels powerful. And I like it very much.

trying to focus on being grateful

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been having some knee pain for a while. It hasn’t gotten much better and in fact, in one knee it’s gotten markedly worse. Worse as in if I walk too long I feel a sharp pain and my knee starts to click. Not awesome. I can’t walk around for more than about a half hour without big time fatigue in both legs. I checked in with my doc about it and she said that if the pain is there in another 2-4 weeks, we’ll start physical therapy. I’m frankly not in love with this answer, as it didn’t do two things. One, she didn’t acknowledge that having pain in my knee is, quite frankly, a pain in the god damn ass. She didn’t do this when I first went to her either. I’m not asking for coddling. I’m asking for acknowledgement. And perhaps some docs just aren’t like that – I really don’t know because i haven’t been to that many. And two, she didn’t even speak of the possibility of the pain coming from something other than running and then not running for a while. I know my body, and this feels like something a bit more than “you were running for a while and then you stopped, so now you’re knees are going to hurt for over a month.” I don’t know, I’ve clearly gone over into the frustrated side of the process. And I’m trying so hard to cling onto the gratefulness. Grateful that I can walk, grateful than I have health insurance such that I can just go to the doctor when I want/need to, grateful that I can afford ibuprofen, grateful that I have most of my mobility, grateful that I’ve been healthy as all get out for most of my life.

But right now it’s just fucking hard to do that.

I feel like this is all my fault. I feel like if I wasn’t so fat, this wouldn’t have happened and I wouldn’t have to hobble around and ask people to slow down when we walk together, or take so long to get up the stairs to my house. I feel frustration every day. I do believe that my weight might have something to do with my injury, but it’s tough to remind myself that it may only be a correlation, not causation. If I weighed less, there is a chance that the recovery time wouldn’t be so long, or even a chance that I wouldn’t have gotten injured in the first place. Then again, it may have absolutely nothing to do with my weight. But that certainly isn’t the narrative I choose to tell myself every day. The narrative I choose to tell myself is a bit more harsh: your fat made this happen.

The other weekend I went hunting and 4-wheeling (on a quad or All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) for those of you folks not from the country) with my dad at his step-brothers ranch outside the salinas valley. It. is. gorgeous. And to be clear, when we hunt it’s mostly tootling around on the 4-wheelers, taking in the breathtaking scenery and trying to spot as many different kinds of wildlife as possible (lots of quail, squirrels like they owned the place, a bobcat!, etc). It’s a lot of gorgeous vistas, lots of this:

With the occasional these:

While riding these:

All in all, a positively delightful way to spend a couple days. That is, unless you go down, flip the quad, and have it run over you. Which is what happened to me. The short story is: the front right tire got stuck in a rut while we were going downhill, the quad started rolling, I fell off of it and onto the ground on my back, looked up and saw it coming over me, put my hands up to get it off of me (at this point dad says when he looked back up for me, I was smooshed in half with my legs up near my forehead), sat up with the wind knocked out of me, and watched the quad take about 10 full rotations as it careened down the hill. Needless to say, the thing is totaled. We couldn’t find the seat. It got tangled up in a eucalyptus grove and dad dragged it down to the road.

When it was happening, I wasn’t particularly scared and in fact it felt a teeny bit funny to me (apparently this is how I deal with stressful situations. giggle.) I kept thinking “holy shit, a 4-wheeler is about to RUN over me. this is happening. who does this happen to? what the hell?” But here’s what happened physically: a sore shoulder for a couple of days (turns out quads are heavy!) and couple of bruises that are popping up here and there, but that’s it. This is, to put it bluntly, kind of amazing. People break limbs on quads. They get paralyzed. They die. You get the point. Shit can get gnarly, so to speak. It took me a couple days to be able to process it, but I’ve come away from it with this: damn, my body can handle some stuff. And for that I am incredibly grateful. I am amazed at my body right now.

And I’m trying desperately to hold onto THAT feeling, that feeling of immense gladness for my strong arms and legs, for my flexibility, for my health. I just wish it were easier to do that.