Saturday, March 19, 2011

I've looked at body politics from both sides now...

I find myself a little blue today.

It's not because we didn't have a nice day yesterday.  In fact, we had a lovely evening, though I managed to forget to take a picture of the new blouse. Dinner was delicious - the best corned beef I've ever tried.  (Yes, I can eat corned beef if I choose to. I can eat anything I choose to... it's just that I choose to eat it in moderation.)  Our friends' home, which we've never visited before, is stylish and right up our alley, with the most beautiful yard.

Last year, when Tom and I were frequenting estate sales, we fell in love with a house.  Actually, not the house at all.  The yard.  We both keep thinking back to it, and now we know what we're looking for once we're in the market.  But we're not in the market now.  We're in a condo, and we're not in a position to move in the nearfuture.  All we can do is keep thinking of that house, and keep moving forward to develop our writing career.  And not be blue about how we can't host lovely parties in a yard.  We can host lovely parties in a small combination kitchen/dining room/living room.  Sigh.

Speaking of writing, we had an excellent brainstorm yesterday, which felt good.  I also shared the plot of the Modern Family spec script we're currently finishing, with a friend who is a fan of the show.  I think our friend liked our ideas, and we're going to share the script with him once our draft is finished.  We have one more act, and editing, and then we'll be done.  By the way, are there any other Modern Family fans out there?  Just curious.

One other reason I might be a tad blue is because I did something I knew I shouldn't.  No, it wasn't food or exercise related.  It wasn't even related to my to-do list.  I read some comments on a Fat Acceptance blog.  I knew I shouldn't have.  But I did.

For those of you outside of the world of body politics, Fat Acceptance (FA) is a movement which promotes the rights of those who are overweight.  There was a time when I was somewhat active in the movement, and to be clear, I still support it.  People should have equal rights, regardless of size, race, creed, or orientation.  People should have the right to eat what they want to eat, to be active as much as they want to be active.  And people should not be so quick to assume someone who is overweight doesn't eat well, doesn't exercise, and doesn't feel ashamed of herself.

I remember a previous time in my life, when I would feel sad after reading comments on an FA blog because of the trolls who would pop in to tell us how disgusting we all were.  And those trolls are still at it, for sure, but that wasn't why I was sad.  Yesterday, I read some FA supporters making negative comments about weight loss, to a post about Weight Watchers, Jennifer Hudson, and the use of the song "Feeling Good."

The post in question was written by a very, very smart woman named Lesley Kinzel, who I knew casually when I was a member of the Fatshionista community - a body-positive group that used fashion as a tool for politics.  The post is thoughtful, and places the song in context.  I agree that without the context, it loses its power.  What I disagree with is equating weight loss with assimilation.  I disagree with some of the commenters, who say things like "dieting is usually about making a concession to oppression, not overcoming it."

Do I think that some people lose weight because they are made to feel ashamed, and want to fit in?  Certainly.  Do I think that many people diet to punish themselves?  Yes.  And I really, really wish I could help them.

But here's the thing: There are also people who have been overweight or obese, who have lost weight, who aren't punishing themselves.  Who aren't assimilating.  And I am one of them.

It's my opinion that to use language about weight loss with a negative slant ("assimilation," "opression," etc) is to disregard the people who have suffered from disordered eating, from health problems, from behavioral issues - who are working to correct them.  And disregarding them is just as dangerous as disregarding that there are fat people who are perfectly happy, comfortable, and healthy.  I was one of those people.  And then I wasn't.

I had health problems.  I realized behavioral issues.  And then I watched my very sick mother struggle during her last years, and struggle worse than she would have if she hadn't already been obese before she became got sick.  Would she have still died if she wasn't obese?  Quite probably.  But would the weight-related pain, and the physical suffering she experienced, have happened if she had addressed her behavioral issues and disordered eating?  Quite probably.

Here's the thing.  I'm going to die someday.  You are, too.  We all are.  And I could have kept on with the way I was living before, and possibly met significant struggle if chronic or terminal illness befell me.  Or I could confront my behavioral demons head-on, so that when illness finally finds its way to my body, I'm as prepared as possible to fight it.  I watched what 500 pounds did to my mother.  I watched what 500 pounds meant for my father, who had to take care of her.  I do not want that for Tom.  I do not want that for me.  And unless I changed my habits, like I did this year, I was on that path.

So I changed my habits.  And I exercise every day.  And I limit my calories.  But I never feel hungry.  I eat wholesome, healthy, fresh food - prepared in thoughtful and delicious ways.  I don't feel punished, I feel spoiled.

For me, it isn't assimilation.  It's not even life extension, because who knows how long we'll live anyway?  It's suffering prevention.  It's behavioral healing.  It's self-love. 

I'll crib from Joni Mitchell and say that I've looked at body politics from both sides now.  I really don't know body politics at all.


  1. You have just hit the nail on the head as to why I HATE (and I don't use that word often) the word 'diet'. The word diet means the way a person (any person) eats, not reducing calories or depriving oneself. You on the other hand, have it exactly right - you are changing your HABITS. I love that you continue on this journey in the healthiest way possible, not through deprivation. The gift you are giving to future Heidi (and the present one too) is the most amazing gift.

    I love being able to follow and encourage you on your journey... you will continue to move forward... and one of these days, forward will include a beautiful yard for fun filled gatherings :)

    Sending my love!

  2. I think that because your journey does involve (and stems from) self-love, you are separated quite strongly from most others in ANY area of life, not just weight loss (or gain). Self-love is such an uncommon practice that people aren't going to understand it or recognize it, and often will be threatened by it. Not to say any of that is as it should be; I just think it's the way it is, from my personal experience. It takes some dealing with, and insulation from.

  3. I loved your Modern Family stuff! :) It was so fun hanging out with you and Tom last night! <3

  4. Love you!

    This is why I can't be be involved in most FA stuff. I can't stand the people who want acceptance, but then cry out against people who choose to be (or just naturally are) slender.

    I used to be happy with my size. But, you know what? It's limited me on so many things, and like you, I watched my mom suffer in her final years of life, and become so immobile to where she couldn't even enjoy the things she loved. I recall my teen years, when my mom and I lost weight together. We played badminton in the yard, she walked around the mall with me, we went all over Disneyland on every ride, and we had so much fun. Those few years were very short-lived, because she went back to her old ways that I knew as a kid. And, it only got worse. By the time I was 19, she chose to not walk much anymore, and that caught up to where she couldn't walk much anymore. When she couldn't even step down into the boat on IASW (which was her favorite), and instead, spent most of her Disneyland days on a bench, I could just tell she wasn't as happy. And, what did she do? Self-medicated on that bench all day with loads of junk food. I can't think of a worse hell.

    Dear gods, I'd die if I got like that. And, I'm not getting any younger. My body aches from the fat. Yes, I'm losing weight now, in a way that I did when I was a teen. I don't give a shit if that pisses anyone off, or if they try to assume that I don't love myself. Because, it's quite the contrary. I have overcome SO much in the last month that I never thought possible, and my body is already thanking me for it with better sleep, more energy, beautiful skin, and a few less pounds. This is about how I want to feel - not anyone else. Let 'em make comments. Let 'em post articles. Let 'em try to unintentionally sabotage me due to their own insecurities. I know what's best for me, and no one else does, since they don't reside in my body. I just want to live and let live.

    Gee, I'm starting to fess up to my secret latest "project" huh? ;)

  5. Oh, and instead of FA, I'd like to see a Human Acceptance Movement, which accepts all people regardless of size, gender, race, religion, and sexual preference. Although, I'm not sure about that acronym. I think people might not take HAM seriously. ;)