The girl on the street.

While walking down Fawcett Street Friday, I saw her.  I’d say she was in her late teens/early twenties.  Way on the small end of fat, she looked cute.  Black jeans that fit her perfectly, the most adorable black & white striped (horizontal stripes!!!) top, and a bright red jacket.

But it wasn’t her clothing that drew my attention to her.  It was her smile – that trepidatious smile that I know so well.  I’ve worn that smile myself many a time.

You could see it on her face.  The fear, the nervousness.  You just knew that she would rather be anywhere than in such a public place.  Please, her smile said, please just leave me be.  I’m scared and you’re armed with the vicious words that cut like a knife.

Part of me wanted to run after her.  To say something nice to her, something that would transform that nervous smile into a genuine one.  Something that would show her that not everyone in the world is a fatphobic idiot.

But I didn’t.  I can’t really explain why; I have become less and less outgoing in the past 5 years, and I would guess that that’s the main reason why I kept silent.  But as I walked in the opposite direction from this girl, I couldn’t get her out of my head.

I know that smile.  As I said, I’ve seen that same smile on my own face more times than I could count.  To be honest, most of my life I’ve hidden behind that smile.  And it’s only been in the last year that I’ve come out from the shadows of that smile.  It’s only recently that my smile, as I walk down the street, is a genuine one.

And it hit me:

This is why I believe FA is so important.

Not just for me, but for every girl that walks down the street, hiding behind a nervous smile because she knows how cruel and twisted the world can really be.  For every normal-sized girl that cries in secret because she’s convinced that she’s fat, and fat is the worst thing she could possibly be.

For every healthy fat person who is constantly bombarded with the notion that they’re going to die for no other reason than that they happen to be fat.

For every unhealthy fat person whose ailments continue to go undiagnosed – or ignored/disbelieved – because their doctor has bought into the fatphobic fairy tale.

For every person that has become convinced to hate themselves because of the way they look – fat, thin, and everywhere in-between.

Their religion – or lack thereof – doesn’t matter.  What side of politics they support doesn’t matter.  None of that matters when a young, beautiful girl can’t walk down the street comfortably for fear of being verbally and emotionally abused.

That girl on the street was a living, breathing reminder of why I won’t give up on FA.  For myself, for her, and for every person out there.

I honestly believe it’s one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.  All of us.

Misconceptions about Fat Acceptance

Why oh why is it that some people see the words “Fat Acceptance” and automatically assume that what we’re promoting is sitting on the couch all day, eating baby-flavored donuts and Mickey Dee’s, and very little else?

The most recent post over at Eat a Cheeseburger got me thinking about this again, but it’s come up before.

I’ve read some of our most common trolls talk about us using the words “nuts” “crazy” and “insane.”  You know the ones – the ones that seem to pick one of us at random, blast us with as many troll comments as they possibly can, and then (seemingly) get bored and move on.  Almost like they have some sort of awful rotation they use or something.

They honestly seem to think that’s what we’re all about: gorging ourselves on any and every UNhealthy food available and never – under any circumstances – getting any sort of exercise.

Really?  I mean, come on… REALLY???

These are the same people that went to great lengths to find a blog that I started nearly 5 years ago, find out my children’s and husband’s names, and tried to scare me with comments mentioning something that I know I’ve never blogged about here at The Long & Winding Road.  You would think that if they’re going to go through all that trouble, not to mention time, that they’d be able to find a little more about what we’re really all about.

They’d see that most of us espouse Health At Every Size – healthy eating and exercise for HEALTH’S sake, not weight loss.  They’d see that the vast majority of us are actually quite healthy and active.  I mean REALLY, how many of us blog about keeping ourselves healthy EVEN THOUGH we happen to be fat?  Most of us, if not all of us.

It makes you wonder: just WHO are the crazy ones here?  The ones who say “eat right and exercise and if you still happen to be fat, that’s okay”?  Or the ones who read the words “Fat Acceptance” and automatically get visions of supersized people sitting on a couch in their sweats with a baby-flavored donut in one hand and a Big Mac in the other?

Heh.  Like that question actually requires any thought at all.

What *I* want for Fat Acceptance.

Quite a few blog posts have had me thinking about this.  One of which I have to admit, I sparked And because we’re not a monolithic group, because we’re made up of many different people from many different walks of life who have many different personal goals regarding FA, I decided I needed to be completely clear about my wishes for FA.  These are my opinions only and do no reflect on FA as a whole.  Please do not read this as me speaking for the whole group.  This is just me, one person in that group, saying what I want to happen.

I want Fat Persons to be given the basic human rights they deserve. No one should have to worry about discrimination or harassment.  No one should have to be fed fatphobia in such quantities that it makes their lives miserable.  The bullying, emotional torture, and harassment needs to stop.

I want this for every fat person alive. Able-bodied and not.  Black, white, and every color and shade of color in between.  Neurologically normal or not.  Whether you exercise every day or prefer to spend your days reading (as an example).  Whether you eat a “good, balanced” diet or you eat junk food.  Whether or not you have an ED of any kind.  There is no reason on earth that you should be subjected to having your basic human rights taken away from you just because you happen to be fat.

I want to dispel the misconceptions and unfair stereotypes of fat people. That doesn’t mean that if you are lazy and do over eat that you don’t have a place in “my” movement.  Not at all.  But just because _______ fat person overeats and doesn’t exercise doesn’t mean it’s true for all fat people.  But those of you that do overeat? Don’t exercise? Are lazy?  You all deserve respect, too.

I want the world to wake up to the realization that thin =/= healthy and fat =/= unhealthy. Being fat in and of itself does not make one unhealthy.  There is a wide spectrum of fat and health, just as there is with thin and health.  But being healthy is not a moral obligation.  Whether you are fat and healthy or fat and unhealthy, it is no reason for you not to be treated like a human being.  It simply does not matter.

I also want the world to wake up to the realization that diets do not work. Even when you don’t call them “diets.”  Telling me to call Jenny Craig is not going to magically make me thin.  Assuming I eat like a glutton all day and telling me “just try eating less, fatty” isn’t going to work either.  There is absolutely nothing on this earth that is guaranteed to work in making a fat person permanently thin.  The key word here is permanently.  Sure, some diets work in the short-term.  I personally have known quite a few people that went from VERY fat to thin on a diet – I’ll use my Aunt D’s best friend K as an example.  Guess where her body size is now?  Yep, you guessed it – even fatter than before.  I honestly believe, had this woman never dieted in the first place, she’d probably be fat, but she’d probably be around the size I am now (which I admit is on the smaller end of the fat scale).  As it is now, the last time I saw her she was somewhere near the vicinity of 500 lbs.  I truly believe all the dieting she’s done is what has brought her to this point.  I’ve known her all of my life and have seen her go up and down and up and down.  Diets don’t work.  And she’s a great example of that.

Saying that I want all fat people to be accepted as human beings is not the same thing as saying I want the rest of the world to find us all attractive. You don’t have to be attracted to me, or any other fat person.  A person’s level of attractiveness should not factor in to whether or not you treat them with basic dignity and respect.  You don’t have to like me to be respectful to me.  Shit, I can’t stand my mother-in-law, and yet I still treat her with respect and courtesy.  Why?  Because she’s a person.  I don’t have to like her to be polite to her.

However, beauty and attractiveness are two different things. You can find the beauty in a person without wanting to jump their bones.  It might not even be physical beauty.  And you know what?  That’s okay!  It’s okay to say that you can find a person beautiful for one reason or another and not find them attractive.  It’s a good thing, even.

I want the world’s governments to stop trying to “regulate” our bodies. People are designed to come in all shapes and sizes.  And if you bureaucratic anal-retentives would get your collective cranium removed from your collective colon, you’d realize that what you’re being spoon-fed by the mainstream media is being dispelled left and right.  It’s just not being advertised as much as the bullshit you’re swallowing.  Obesity is not a disease, and there is no epidemic.  You can’t catch it, and you can’t “cure” it.  It doesn’t need to be cured.  All the regulations you could come up with are not going to get you the results you want.  It’s just not going to happen.

I want BMI thrown out with the bath water. BMI is an antiquated, arbitrary, ridiculous standard to which no one should be accountable.  It simply doesn’t measure anything except for height and weight.  Human bodies are much more complicated than that.

That’s all I can think of right now.  This is, by no means, a complete list.  This is just what I’ve come up with in one sitting.  I may decide to edit this later on, I don’t know.

Fat Positive thoughts in the oddest places.

What do YOU see?

What do YOU see?

I just got on the desktop computer* and opened up a webpage, which is set to iGoogle under my username.  I have it set to “random themes” and I get a different one every day.  This is one part of what came up today.

At first, I just looked at the colors and thought “oooh!  I like that one!”  But then I looked at it a little closer.

I do believe that this is just supposed to be some abstract pattern, but when I looked at this one part that I’ve sectioned off for you to see, what do you think my brain saw?

A beautiful fat body, that’s what.

Now what’s so strange about that, you might ask?  Of course I’m going to tell you, that’s the whole point of this post!  🙂

You have to remember that I’m still fairly new to FA.  It hasn’t even been a year yet since I read my first FA post.  The change in me has been fairly slow, in terms of that <year.  However, when you consider the entirety of my life, it’s been fairly quick.  Especially when the changes in me go unnoticed until one day, it jumps up and slaps me in the face.  Like today.

I, like probably most fat people, internalized the fatphobia just as good as the next person.  Oh yeah, I didn’t just hate myself, I hated fat in general.  Of course there were always fat people that I saw and looked at and thought “wow… s/he’s fat AND beautiful” but I have to admit that it was very few and far between.  For the most part, the internalized fatphobia dominated my thinking.

Now I’ll admit that I’ve gone out of my way to try and change that thinking.  Not for anyone else, but for me.  I didn’t want to think that way about anyone, including myself.  But it was only today, when I saw that design on my iGoogle page, that I realized just how far I’ve come.

Never before finding FA would I have been able to actually think the words “beautiful fat body.”  I might not have reacted to a fat body with disdain or contempt, but those three words would have eluded me no matter what I did.  But today, I see that, and I am immediately overcome with an image of a beautiful fat woman, all roundness and curves and sensuality.

The whole thing.

The whole thing.

I realize that you might look at it and see nothing.  Or you might look at it and see a beautiful fat man instead of a woman.

But you know what?  I like the fact that I saw a beautiful fat woman.  I’m glad.  When I realized the change in my thinking, I smiled and got the warm fuzzies inside.

🙂

* – we have 3 computers here at home.  The desktop is commonly referred to as “Daddy’s” computer, the laptop is mine and mine alone, and the other computer is The Little Helper’s.  Lately, though, Daddy’s been spending a lot of time in the bedroom on my laptop, so I’ve been using “his” computer almost exclusively.

The calm before the storm?

Tuesday, Lindsay wrote about the lack of oomph in the Fatosphere lately:

Whatever the case… things have been slow lately. The fatosphere isn’t nearly as busy as it used to be. Or maybe it’s just that i’m not seeing it – it’s happening somewhere where i’m not.

I’d noticed the same thing.  That’s partly why I’ve been so quiet myself lately: nothing has come up that has spoken to me enough to write about it.  Or, in some cases, I’d want to write about it if I were the first one to come up with it, but because somebody else already said everything I’d want to say, I didn’t see the point of simply echoing someone else’s post.

I got to thinking about what Linsday said at the end of her post, about wondering if it’s “time to move on.”  I’d had fleeting thoughts along a similar vein lately.  But the more I thought about it, the more I think it’s a bad idea.

People have been fighting for acceptance and rights for fat people for longer than I’ve been alive.  Undoubtedly, in that time, there has had to have been calm periods, periods when you’ve ranted and raved about every topic imaginable, and you’ve done everything there is for you to do, and you’re kind of stuck.  It’s a logistical impossiblility to think that’s never happened before.

What did people do then?  Did they think to themselves, “okay, I’ve done my bit, everything’s going to be fine now?”  Somehow I doubt it.  We wouldn’t have organizations like NAAFA (imperfect as it is) if they did.

We aren’t going to change society’s view and treatment of us overnight.  It’s just not going to happen.  I understand that, and I can live with that knowing that I’m not alone in wanting to be treated with respect.  Knowing that there are others out there fighting the same fight I am, day after day, helps.  And having the Fatosphere – even in the “slow” times like now – so that I can get online and “feed off others’ energy” so to speak, helps immensely.

And I can’t help but think that this is just the calm before the storm.  I can’t help but think that if we get comfortable and complacent, that something is going to happen that’s going to knock us down on our collective asses.  I would much rather face it prepared, armed, and feeling like I’m one soldier in an entire army of people willing to fight.

Even if there isn’t all that much to talk about right now.

Fat Family: an Observation

Yesterday was my best friend’s (May) daughter’s (Hayley) birthday.  As I’ve said before, my best friend and her family are like my own second family.  And apparently the feeling is mutual, because Charlene (May’s 2nd daughter) said practically the same thing to me the other night.

While we were all out together, we ran into her cousin, Adam, and it got the gears rolling.  I was just too drunk to be able to make heads or tails of it until today.  😉

I’ve met pretty much every member of their extended family.  There’s my best friend May, and her sisters Joan, Celia, and Carol.  All of them are fat.  All of them started out relatively thin.  As far as May’s children go, they’re about half and half.  She has 4 kids: one boy and three girls.  Danny, momma’s boy (and I mean that affectionately – he’s very close to his mother) and Charlene are both on the fat side.  Hayley is what I would consider thin (she wears a UK size 8 ) and Tiffany is downright skinny – a UK size 2.  She’s so skinny that when we first met, I asked May if Tiff was anorexic.  But she isn’t – this girl can EAT.  She’s just naturally skinny.  But Charlie, May’s ex and the father of her children, is also very thin.

But looking at her sisters and their children, I see something similar happening.  I met (Joan’s son) Adam when he was still in school, somewhere around 15 or 16.  Now he’s old enough to be working in a bar (which is what he was doing last night when we ran into him).  When I first met him?  Definitely in the thin – average range.  Now?  Yup, the boy’s fat.  Joan’s daughter Lindsay was the same way.  Thin all the way through school and then got fat as an adult.  And I see the same things happening with Celia’s and Carol’s kids.  They all seem pretty thin until they hit adulthood, and then about half of them get fat.

But all of these women have (or have had, in some cases) thin – average partners.

While there might be a lot of dissention from the “medical community” on the validity of the nature v.s. lifestyle debate on fat, I personally think it’s a lot more valid than they would like to admit.  (And lord knows there’s never been an actual objective study done on this subject.)  Mostly from my own experiences, but the more I observe others, the more convinced I become.

Not every single fat person in my best friend’s family could possibly have the same sort of lifestyle.  They can’t all be eating McDonald’s every day and laying on the couch until they begin to become one with it.  Shit, I know that May herself was NEVER what I would consider an inactive person.  Not even now that she’s battling terminal leukemia is she inactive.  Sure, she’s not as active as before, but her stamina never ceases to amaze me.  And she doesn’t over eat.  Hell, she doesn’t eat ENOUGH.  Her 3-year old grandson eats more than she does.  So all these stereotypes about fat people?  Are bullshit.  (Although I really don’t have to tell most of you that, but I wanted to put it in there anyway.)

Why is it that I – a person with only a high school education, no degrees of any kind, and no real skills above being able to type like a madwoman – can see the validity of the “naturally fat” theory and these so-called professionals, who went to school literally TWICE as long as I did, cannot?

What the hell kind of “professionals” do we have conducting these studies anyway???

Want to preach FA? Get drunk!

I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing….

Done?

Okay then.

Here’s the thing: as I said in the comments on my last post, I’m not very good at articulating my FA stance to people I know and love, let alone total strangers.  Hubby is the only one that really knows how involved I am in FA, and as a naturally thin person, there are a lot of things that he just doesn’t get.  What he does know is that since finding FA, my confidence has soared, I have begun accepting myself, and my self-loathing (the one thing about me that he really didn’t like) has all but disappeared.  (It still rears its ugly head every once in a while, but not very often, thank FSM.)

Well, I went out drinking last night.  The second time in 2 weeks, but only my 3rd time this year (I don’t go out much, obviously).  I had run into my best friend May’s sister Carol, her daughter Gemma, and her son’s girlfriend Debbie when I was on my way back from Number One Daughter’s school on Tuesday.  They invited me out, and when I mentioned it to Hubby, he was all “go ahead!”  So… I did.  🙂

One thing you need to understand, though: May’s family – even her extended family – are like my second family.  Shit, Little Miss Naughty calls Carol “Auntie Carol”.  When they were younger, The Little Chatterbox and LMN kept getting confused, thinking that May was their aunt and her children were their cousins, so what did that make Carol and Gemma and the rest of them?  They’re only now getting to the point where they understand that no, they’re not REALLY family, they’re just REALLY good friends to us.

So the relationship between us and them is… complicated, sometimes confusing, but altogether a good one.

Well, as we were making our way between one nightclub and another, talk between Gemma, myself, and Gemma’s cousin (can’t for the life of me remember her name right now; she doesn’t go out with us all that often) turned to body image.  Carol’s diabetic and so is Gemma, and Gemma related to me the horror of a doctor’s appointment.  It was the usual fatty horror: you’re going to die if you don’t lose weight; you’re going to have a heart attack by the age of 23 because you’re too fat; etc, etc, etc.  I looked at her and told her “BULLSHIT!”  I was just drunk enough that I could say what I was thinking without worrying about the consequences.

At a UK size 12 (US 10-ish), Gemma is not only NOT fat, but she’s smaller than the “average British woman” (which, IIRC, is a UK 14).  Her cousin?  Even smaller, at a UK 8-10.  And yet they were both talking about how they need to lose weight.  I looked at both of them and let them have it, from both barrels.

Oh, I wasn’t nasty.  I wasn’t all “shut up you skinny bitch”.  I simply told them that this “obesity epidemic” bullshit is just that – bullshit.  I told them that not only do they not need to lose weight, but they need to stop thinking in terms of “dieting” and “good food/bad food”.  I asked Gemma, “if you had never been told that fat was bad or disgusting, or any of the thousands of horrible things people like to say about fat people, would you have still wanted to lose weight?” (At one time, she was a lot bigger than she is now, at a size 18/20 – basically, the same size I am right now.  She has lost weight and managed to keep it off for now.  Either she hasn’t hit the 5 year mark yet, or maybe she was meant to be this size.  You know, set-point.)  Her answer?  “No!  I was fat and happy!  I didn’t care what size I was, until that doctor scared me into losing weight.”  How many fat people are there in the world that know exactly how Gemma felt?  A hell of a lot, I’m sure.

Now granted, we didn’t go into a whole lot of detail, but I was glad that I had the chance to say something to both of them, and also glad that I was drunk enough that I didn’t worry about what they were going to think.  These people are my friends, they love me for the person I am – even if they don’t agree with me, they’re going to at least listen to what I have to say and not make me feel bad for having the convictions I do.  It’s silly of me to even worry about it, but worry about it I do.  When I’m sober.

I definitely was NOT sober.

And in this case?  I think that was a GOOD thing!  😀