In which I might get a bit rambly…

I’ve been kind of… “out of it”… mentally the last couple of days.  I’ve been reading, but I’m having a hard time really gathering my thoughts in a coherent manner.  I’m going to give it a shot, though.  But be warned: I might go off on a tangent.  It happens.

I keep going back and re-reading Kate’s latest thinky piece.  For a lot of reasons, really.

The biggest reason, probably, being that I have four children of my own.  And they do stuff like that.  I remember when The Little Helper was about 3 or 4, and I’d taken her to the supermarket with me.  We were in one aisle, and a large woman walked across the end of the aisle.  If I had to guess, I’d say she was probably about the age I am now (early 30’s) and roughly a size 26/28.  I’m not even going to try and guess how much she weighs, because as we well know, nobody knows what a certain weight looks like.  Suffice it to say that she was definitely larger than I was.  Anyway, The Little Helper sees her and yells – and I mean YELLS – “Mommy, that lady is FAT!!”  She said it so loudly that people in the other aisles came into ours to see who she was talking about.

Needless to say, I was mortified.  I told her “shh!  You shouldn’t talk about people like that!”

Now what I really wanted to say was that she shouldn’t be pointing out any specifics about anybody’s body – that’s just plain rude.  But like I said… she was only 3 or 4 at that point.  She wouldn’t have understood what I was talking about.

I sometimes wonder if I might have had something to do with her outburst, though.  I’d just had The Little Chatterbox not too long before hand, and I was desperate to lose weight.  (Never mind the fact that I actually weighed less at that point than I had when Hubby and I first married, I was just SOOO Fat.  [Excuse me while I go barf at myself.])  But I know that, at that point, I was very vocal about wanting to lose weight and how disgusting I was.  So sometimes I wonder if it wasn’t just a little kid making a (very loud) observation, but her clumsy way of saying “but Mommy, you’re so much smaller than she is”.  (That’s the kind of kid she is and always has been – she always wants to help people, whether that’s physical help or emotional.  Hence why she gets the nickname The Little Helper.)

But children are curious creatures – and they will point out any differences they see, usually without malicious intent.  I remember when my youngest cousin Eric was little – about 4 or 5, I’d say – and I had gone over to his house (I was there a LOT back then… a couple of times a week, easy).  I was about 12 or so at the time, and when I walked in, he looked up at me and said “You’ve got some BIG boobies!”  I was already a D cup at that point, so what he was saying was simply true.  D cup boobies on a 12 year old ARE big boobies!  My aunt and then-uncle (they divorced about 2 or 3 years later) gave him hell for saying it, and I’ll admit I was feeling really uncomfortable at the time.  But now?  I can look back on it and realize that he wasn’t trying to be naughty or anything… he just couldn’t help but notice how I was built (few people could) and remarked on it.

So on the subject of children remarking on the differences in people… be that fat or something else… I have to say that the way we REACT to those remarks has a lot more to do with teaching them whether they’re right or wrong.  If a little child comes up to me and says “you’re fat,” the way I react to it is going to tell her whether it’s an okay thing to say or not.  That’s part of where my re-educating my children comes in.  When they were younger and would say something like that, my response would usually be a resigned “yes, I know.”  But now that I’m trying to view fat in a different light, my responses are so much different.  We tend to talk a lot about physical differences in our family – partly because we have a blended family and we don’t all look alike.  (My oldest 2 both have brown hair and brown eyes while the rest of us have blond hair and blue eyes.)  So the subject comes up a little more often than it does in most families, I think.

But that’s where we first learn this whole fat=bad dichotomy.  From other people.  It’s not something we’re born with – it’s something we learn from listening to and watching other people.  Now in older children… yeah, I think the “we shouldn’t remark on other people’s bodies, PERIOD, because that’s just rude” talk needs to be had.  But when you’re talking about young children who are just expressing their curiosity about the world around them… then really, it’s your own reaction that’s the most telling.

But this quote:

actually acknowledging your body and inhabiting it, instead of keeping your mind — the good part of you — comfortably separate from its housing.)

really got to me.  Because that’s essentially what I did.  It was part of my Fantasy of Being Thin – this wasn’t the “real” me, because the “real” me was thin, sexy, and beautiful.  The “real me” was obscured by all of my fat.  Um… no.  The REAL me is and always has been RIGHT HERE.  She isn’t THIN, sexy, and beautiful… she’s FAT, sexy, and beautiful.  She already is almost everything I’ve ever wanted her to be.  And those things she hasn’t achieved yet… well, she’s only 32.  Chances are, she has a lot of time to grow and change.  But the more I really LIVE in my body (as opposed to EXISTING in it, like before), the more my perception of myself has changed.  Do you know… in the last 8 months (since I found the Fatosphere), my eyes have lost a good 30 or 40 pounds?  What do I mean by that?  Well, it’s like this: my BODY hasn’t changed much at all in those 8 months.  My hair is shorter and has been a couple of different colors since then, and I’ve developed some ROCKING thigh muscles, but my weight?  Hasn’t budged.  Nor did I expect it to.  But when I see myself, I see someone that looks a good 30 or 40 lbs. less than what I saw before October of last year.  I say this fairly often, but I really think it’s true: I think I have/had undiagnosed body dysmorphia.  Because when I saw someone who was easily 100+ heavier than me, or 10+ dress sizes larger than myself, I thought I looked like that.  My EYES were fatter than my body.  I have always seen myself as larger than I am.  Until recently, that is.

It’s like finding the Fatosphere and actively taking steps to try and accept (and eventually love) myself has pulled the wool from my eyes and I’m really and truly seeing myself for the first time.  What’s really there, not just what *I* think is there.

And honestly?  Trying to become more comfortable with the word “fat” and developing different ways of responding to that word has had a lot to do with that.  And since the topic seems to come up so often in my house, it’s actually helped to speed it along a little.  Each time the topic comes up, I take a few more steps down the road to full self-love.

A couple of the comments on Kate’s post really got to me though.  For example:

Not that anyone here has done it, but I do have to say that some folks who are on the smaller side of plus piss me off, because they talk about their experiences of “being fat” as if catcalls and a lack of dates is all that we have to go through. They talk about all the cute clothes that finally come in large sizes and don’t realize that even plus-size shops don’t carry things in my size (hint: if your clothing line stops at size 28, you’re still cutting off millions of potential customers.) When you’ve lived several years of your life not even being able to fit in restaurant booths or airplane seats, you start to realize that the “problems” of being a size 20 or so really aren’t problems at all, and you really start to wish that people that size would stfu about how bad they have it.

That one shocked the hell out of me.  Not that I’m trying to play “one-uppance” or anything… but it just really surprised me that someone larger than I would actually think those things.  And honestly?  She has a right to her feelings.  But for most of my life I have thought of myself as insanely huge (for the record, I’m a UK 20/US 16-18), so to read something like that is just like…. whoah.  It just never occurred to me that someone would think that I, at that size, wouldn’t know what it’s like to “really” be fat.  It’s a learning tool, though.  Now that I know that there are people out there that think that way, I can be a little more aware of my language and the effects of said language on people.

And I have to give props… A Sarah wrote a couple of very well-written responses from a parent’s perspective.  I couldn’t have said it much better than she did.

The whole “queer” and “Aspie” sidetrack made me cringe just a little bit.  One of the last responses on that said something to the effect of “THEY’RE allowed to use that word, but *I’M* not.”  Yup, pretty much my take on it, too.  If People With Unconventional Sexualities feel comfortable calling themselves “queer,” then good on them!  Seriously.  But I could never bring myself to use the word.  I guess it’s because I was growing up in the 80’s – and People With Unconventional Sexualities were just beginning to have the opportunities to reclaim the rights they deserved all along.  And “queer” was still seen as an insult then.  I couldn’t bring myself to say that word to someone without having flashbacks of when people would use it as a slur.  And I don’t want to be slurring anybody.  Ya know?  Like the n****r word.  NO WAY IN HELL am I ever going to use that word.  But if they want to use it?  Who the hell am I to tell them they can’t reclaim that word for themselves?

Okay, I think I’m done rambling for now.

… but you never know! 😛

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Blog Post Comment of the Day

Comment by Time Machine regarding post You have an eating disorder?  You still need to lose weight at First, Do No Harm:

“Look, unless my GIRLFRIEND has a secret penis and she never told me, I’m pretty damn sure I’m not pregnant.”

It’s a serious subject, but that particular line made me laugh out loud.

Plug: Go read the blog.  You might learn a thing or two, you might have your own experience validated, but you certainly won’t be disappointed.