Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

I saw something over at ED Bites that made me so angry; so angry, in fact, that I think my rage could fuel a sizable nuclear reaction. Are some people seriously judging the competency of public officials now based on their body weight? How the fuck is that even a little bit OK?

I have spent nearly a quarter of my life attempting to overcome the obsessive, pathological idea that my worth, my competence, my beauty, my intelligence were all inextricable intertwined with the size of my waist, with the number on the scale, with the amount and types of food I put into my mouth. I have suffered and toiled and railed against this thing inside of me, this monster that wouldn't let me live for a single second without thought of how much space I was taking up in the world. It is a mental illness. And now that I am better, now that I have learned how to think more "normally" about my body and try to love it despite it's lack of conforming to some random and ridiculous feminine beauty ideal, I have emerged on the other side of the abyss to a world that is basically immersed in the same pathological nonsense I have just escaped from. Fucking nonsense.

If I hear one more person lament a bite of food, if I hear one more person talk about their diet, if I hear one more person mention the obesity "epidemic", if I hear one more person make a disparaging remark about an overweight person, I really just might explode in my fury. I seriously can't take this shit anymore. It's a constant onslaught - everywhere. You're fat. Lose weight. You're lazy. Lose weight. Lose weight. Lose weight. Lose weight. Sometimes I feel this malice bubbling up inside my veins and I get a stronge and difficult to repress urge to scream, "SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP."

I realize I'm more sensitive to this shit because of the fucking monster that lies dormant in my brain, but is anyone else sick to fucking death of this bullshit? Am I all alone in my confusion? What the hell has happened? What is particularly upsetting to me is the way that not only has thinness been thrust upon us as a beauty standard, they are now insisting that thinness is a health standard. There is absolutely no evidence to support the idea that being thin means you are healthy. You can be overweight and be healthy. In fact, recent studies suggest that overweight people tend to live longer than "normal" weight people.

Perhaps the worst thing of all is the fact that we, as a society, are pushing a thin, anti-obesity agenda on our children. Kids I talk to are literally afraid of fat. They see it as a death sentence. Where did they get this idea? The other day I overheard someone talking to a 9 year old girl. This person said, "You look like you've lost weight. You look great!" I just about lost my damn mind. This child is not fat, nor has she ever been fat. So what does this comment tell her? That losing weight is appropriate, and actually encouraged, during a time of life when weight should actually be gained. Growing and gaining weight is a good thing. Are kids getting that message? I sincerely hope so. My daughter isn't a skinny thing. She's a sturdy 4 year old with a good amount of baby fat on her bones. I think she is absolutely beautiful. Even is she were to put on a little weight and look "fat" by our society's standards, she would still be beautiful. Being a little chubby is not the end of the world. There are more important things for her to focus on than that.

If she ever came home and told me that she hated her body or wanted to go on a diet, I would lay down and die a little death. I am bracing myself for that day, because I know it is surely coming.


  1. Fuck yeah, I'm gonna live forever. "Normal weight"? No. "Obese"? No. "Overweight"? Yes. I fucking rule.

    In the words of Chris: suck it, geeks.

  2. I think the whole fat = evil, bad, sloppy, gross, etc thing is disgusting, but the fact that is is affecting kids makes me sick. I am overweight, but I am healthy and eat well rounded meals. So suck it, fat-fearers.

    I don't know if you read "wide lawns and narrow minds" but she recently wrote about visiting a gym and the trainers telling her she needed to lose 40 pounds. She's currently 5'6" and 132. It's fucking insane!

  3. You know, I had been noticing lately that commercials have really skinny kids on them, like REALLY skinny and you can just tell that we are just pounding this shit into our brains even starting with the really little ones. It's sad.

    I like a little extra stuff to grab.

  4. I'm with you on dying a little death if my daughter comes home before she's even a teeanger (and even when she is) saying she needs to lose weight. It's so hard to think about our kids being raised in this misogynistic, body-obsessed, cruel, selfish society.

    Keep raging against it. I know I will be.

  5. It breaks my heart when young children, who shouldn't even be self aware enough to consider their body in relative terms, have poor self images. It's frightening.

  6. Last week, my four year old daughter (who hasn't gained a pound in a year despite growing several inches taller) asked us if having another cookie would make her overweight.

    It's a pandemic.

  7. This just makes me want to make someone a giant pancake. Especially an elected official or minister, for some reason.

  8. I agree with you that kids shouldn't be trying to lose weight or have that ingrained in them. However, obesity is a dangerous health condition. There's just no way around that fact. But I think the public health message should focus more on eating right and being active than size alone since some people are going to be bigger than others based on genetics.

  9. You know what? I think it is putting so much pressure on people to be thin that they are actually getting heavier because of the pressure! Just my opinion, but I see it everyday.

    Also, there is a flip side to this. People look down on "skinny" people for being skinny. Or malnourished. Or OMG YOU MUST BE ANOREXIC. Or, you skinny bitch! It must be so easy for you! I know some people wish they had this problem, but trust me, as a person who did not struggle with her weight EVERY until a recent 25-lb weight gain, it really hurts my feelings when people either point out my increase or say things like, "HA! It's about time!" Or tease me with something similar. I hate it.

    Why is there so much focus on this? I'm healthy. I think I look ok. I'm happy in my skin. Fuck off.

  10. This just makes me sad. Not you, but, you know, "us". All of us. Doing this to ourselves.

  11. Rassles - I think a woman can be lovely at any weight. I'm glad you are aware of just how much you rule!

    Gina - I can't believe a physical trainer would tell a 5 foot 6 inch woman that she should weigh 90 pounds. Actually I can...when I was working out 7 days a week, 2 hours a day, a gym trainer told me that my body fat was too high. Mind you, I had anorexia nervosa and didn't weigh more than 90 pounds. Ridiculous.

    Blues - I've noticed that too. Along with the fact that I notice kids are overly worried and concerned with weight and food. Kids shouldn't be worried about that. It's one thing to encourage and model healthy eating and behavior, it is quite another to instill fear and anxiety, which is what I believe is being done.

    Noble Savage - Oh, I will keep raging. I'm all fired up :)

    Lauren - exactly! Kids are too immature to filter the messages they are receiving regarding weight. Complex thought on these things is more difficult for them so they end up categorizing things as good or bad. Black/white thinking about these complicated issues can lead to some serious problems down the road for kids, in my opinion.

    Sci Fi Dad - Yeah, my daughter asks me weird things like that sometimes. I think it's frightening. I'm sorry your daughter is doing the same thing. I'm just not surprised.

    Mongolian Girl - make me one. I'm starving.

    Loretta - Is obesity a dangerous health condition really? And how are we defining obesity? There have been some interesting studies done recently (studies you can find at Junk Food Science (i.e. that call into question the common belief that obesity is a definitive health risk. Obviously, extreme weights on either end of the spectrum can be risky. Severe underweight carries as much risk as severe overweight (maybe more) but there aren't people screaming and ranting and raving about the dangers of extreme thinness. I know people who lost weight by starving themselves and have had their doctors commend their efforts to "get healthy". It's ludicrous. I won't argue that severe obesity is healthy. I will say that the definition of obesity based on the very unreliable measurement of BMI is faulty. You are right that the emphasis needs to be on healthier eating and a more active lifestyle, rather than the size. But it seems that the health of people is being judged based on their weight. I know plenty of overweight women that are more active and eat healthier than I do. I'm thinner than them, but I'm not healthier. That's all I'm trying to say here.

    Domestic Goddess - I've never had a "weight problem" either, and I know how it feels to be severely thin and have people say things to me. The truth is, though, that the majority of comments I received from people when I was anorexic were POSITIVE. People admired my "willpower", my ability to deny myself food. Yes, it's annoying to have people call you "anorexic" when you're not (in my case, I actually was). But I still think that the majority of people ADMIRE overly thin people, so the remarks have a different connotation. I'm glad you're happy in your skin. You should be. You are beautiful.

  12. Zen Mom - I know. It makes me sad, too. But also ANGRY. I just don't want to buy into this anymore. I'm done, you know?

  13. I kinda gave up on that whole gotta be thin thing a few years ago. I feel better when i exercise, so when i can, i do, about 3 times a week or so, but i hate those people that lament every bite of food. me? when I'm snarfing down a devil dog you can bet i'm a happy camper!

  14. I've had the benefit of genetics and so I have never had an issue with weight - although I'm a big Irish woman and so I've never been by any stretch of the imagination a waif. Still I remember wishing I was one of the tiny girls - short and compact and (consequently?) popular.

    Now that I am in my 50's I am doing what it takes to keep flexible and maintain a healthy heart. That's it. I know that I will get that older woman body and I'm willing to accept that. But I am appalled by all the women my age that I see - horribly thin and determined to wear young girl clothes that look ridiculous on them no matter how little they weigh. I feel embarrassed for them and their lack of ability to let go of their youth and embrace their current age and all the wonderful things that go with it.

    I have three daughters. I made it a point never to talk about getting fat or the latest diet. I never obsessed about food nor did I allow their obsessions. We didn't own a scale - no daily caloric measure of self worth. It was the best decision I could have made for them.

  15. If my fucking size four boss tells me once more about her "huge butt" or her travails with Weight Watchers, I might rip her head off and shit in her neck. That is all.

  16. Yep, what Franklin said. And Blues. And you, Gwen. Just chiming in to say I agree.

  17. I've read this post like three times now and each time have wanted to comment - but I don't like stirring shit. Actually I do like stirring shit, but not with people who I like and respect.

    The thing is that obesity is a problem in much of the West, especially childhood obesity. I don't want to call it an epidemic because that's glib and I don't want you to explode.

    That being said, the same part of the West is all fucked up about weight - overweight, obese, skinny, healthy weight, emaciated, whatthefuckever. I suspect it's worse for women.

    I don't know what I'm trying to say, maybe that it is a topic that's worth talking about. Maybe that we need to sort out our cultural food issues - largely junk food, fast food and frozen food. I don't know what to say, but this post made me think.

  18. Gwen, I found this over at a blog I frequent and thought you might enjoy.

  19. after I read this I wrote something.
    I forgot to post it.
    but it is now on the blog under weds the 22nd if you care to read it. but even though I don't think it says it, it was inspired by you.