Archive for March, 2012

Loving my body

March 15, 2012

I no longer accept that fat equals unhealthy, ugly, lazy or any of the other negative adjectives that are foisted on fat people, and most of all on fat women. Increasingly I also question our perceptions of what is fat. While I don’t deny that I am fat, I am very aware that the social images of “slim” and “fit” are incredibly unhealthy themselves.

At the same time I am coming face to face with the realities that obesity does come with quality of life draw backs that could, if left unattended, become health problems. I am deeply skeptical now of the hysteria around the obesity epidemic, but I do not believe that the concerns about obesity are unfounded.

At my last physical I was given a clean bill of health. Everything is in working order and all of my blood, cholesterol and other levels are appropriate for a woman my age.

This could be a great reason to tell myself that all of my body concerns are in my head. That I am sucumbing to the relentless media drive that fat is bad.

After two years of reading an incredible amount of body size/ body image / feminist / media literacy literature it is difficult to reconcile wanting to lose weight / size with accepting a positive sense of self. What I am coming to terms with is the idea that focusing too much on the size acceptance can be harmful, maybe not as much or in the same way as obsessive dieting, but still harmful.

Recognizing what my body needs is about finding that balance which includes loving my body at the size and shape that it is and still honouring my body when it sends me signals that I need to do something to care for it, which may include losing weight.

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Loving my curves!

March 14, 2012

For the past three years I have bounced between 200 to 220 lbs. When I crossed the 200 lb for the first time around 2003 I was horrified. Crossing that mark, I think, sent me into my most unhealthy years since having been hospitalized for anorexia. While anorexia was unarguably unhealthier physically and psychologically, my response to crossing the 200 lb mark and struggles to get back below it have been unhealthy emotionally and intellectually.

I never abused myself emotionally as an anorexic as much as I have now that I am plus sized. Anorexia was very much about control, success, achievement and receiving validation for my efforts… well at least until it almost killed me.

Being fat however, is about failure, guilt, shame, ignorance, laziness, greed, ugliness. I can be made to feel like a pariah, someone not deserving of love, kindness, hope or charity.

Like many plus sized women I have been successful in other areas of my life. I have a good education, I am making progress in my career, I am in a committed relationship of over 10 years, I have strong family connections and close friendships, I have interests and hobbies that keep me busy and entertained. In short, I have a very good life.

So, why was I letting myself get so down about my body size?

I don’t really know.

It is hard to be self-evaluative about media influence, peer pressure, pop-culture medicine and how much all of this does or does not affect self-image. I could claim, as many do, that I am not affected by advertising. But, working in communications, I know that is simply not true.

What I have been able to understand is that my low self-image had less to do with how I felt about myself and more to do with what I thought others were telling me I should feel about myself.

Luckily for me I’m friends with a lot of free thinking women (and men) who are are good at pointing out toxic pop culture trends. I went down the rabbit hole and began to explore fat acceptance. What did it mean? Why would anyone do that? Didn’t they know that fat was unhealthy and unhealthy is bad?

Turns out there’s a lot that I didn’t know. Like epigenetics. Like the role the food industry plays in emphasizing fitness as core component of weight loss. Like the huge changes in the fashion and modeling industry. Like the existence of Photoshop Fluid.

On this journey, I learned to accept my fat body. To even love it. I am more comfortable, as a person in my fat supple soft skin that I ever was with my rib cage and hip bones sticking out. I’m warmer for one, and I have less body hair for another.

My partner who is a wonderful insanely-high-metabolism skinny boy (well not so much a boy anymore at closer to 40 than 30) also helped with this. He met me when I was over 200 lbs. He has seen me at weights ranging from 172 lbs up to 260+ lbs. My weight has never been an issue for him. No… I didn’t believe him either, but I did have to agree with him that after more than 10 years and me having no evidence that he has ever thought my body was not sexy I might have to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

WhenI look at women, the ones I do find attractive certainly fall into the plus sized category. They are round, soft, sassy, charismatic, and wonderfully erotic in a way that I simply do not find the super-skinny models on billboards and magazines to be.

So, I’ve reached 30, I’ve come into myself as a person, and I have accepted my curves. But, I’m still thinking of losing weight — does that mean I’m a hypocrite?

I know that I don’t know

March 13, 2012

My challenge, when it comes to hopping on and off the diet/weight loss/lifestyle change/nutrition/fitness/healthy body/healthy mind bandwagon(s) is that I really don’t know what is right and what is wrong.

Not knowing what is right and what is wrong is so much more than not knowing how to make the scale go in a downwards direction and then stay there.

As women our identities are so immersed in body size and body shape that it’s difficult to define what is and is not success. Are lower numbers success? If so, how low? What about higher numbers? Like more pay at my job, being able to afford more expensive foods, clothes, entertainment? Is it about numbers at all? What about happiness? Fulfillment? Sense of self? Accomplishment?

Isn’t it better to focus on self acceptance rather than weight and body size? Are the two mutually exclusive? Can fat acceptance exist at the same time as a weight loss plan? Can losing weight be a positive, empowering process or will it always be body-centric and objectifying?

I don’t really know what the answers are to all of these questions. I know what I hope for.

Oh FFS! Not again!

March 12, 2012

Image

In 2005 I reached my heaviest body weight ever at 260+ lbs. I say plus because I simply couldn’t face the scale at that point.

In 1996 I was hospitalized for my lowest body weight ever at 88.1 lbs. I know that weight exactly since I was obsessively weighing myself ever hour or so.

In 1990 I was a relatively normal weight kid, who ate healthy food, prepared at home by a stay-at-home mum, who was into whole grains, whole foods, organic foods, no processed foods etc. I was active and not too concerned about body image.

Today I am heading back towards my heaviest weight ever having climbed back to 237.8 lbs.

What happened between 1990 and 2012?

How have I spent the last 22 years developing a horrible relationship to food and my body swinging wildly from one end of the eating disorder spectrum to the other?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I don’t want to be writing this blog entry again in 2015, 2017, 2020 and 2024 and so on.