Morning Television: Part One

I started out with the idea of blogging about one particular thing, but when I went looking for clips of that one thing, I found something else that I hadn’t seen.  So this will be a two-part post.

Part One: Georgia Davis

From the video description: Georgia Davis weighs 33 stone [462 lbs] and is only 15.  She talks to Kate about her weight battle.  (Disclaimer: I’m not sure if everyone will be able to access the video.  I know some television websites will only allow IPs from the same country access the videos on their site, and I just don’t know whether GMTV is one of them.  So my apologies if that ends up being the case here.)

GMTV is on ITV from around 6 or so until just before 9 a.m. out here in the UK.  It’s the British equivalent of a Good Morning America, basically.  I don’t normally watch it.  For one thing, I’m too busy in the mornings to watch tv at all, but if it’s on, the kids have their cartoons and whatnot on.  So I didn’t actually see this until I went to the website looking for something else.  As soon as I saw the title, though, I knew I had to watch it.

What I saw filled me with so many mixed emotions I can’t even count them all.

First of all, it opens up with the female presenter talking about a “normal” person’s breakfast.  And then it pans to a spread of food.  6 sandwiches, 4 donuts, at least a dozen chocolate digestives, a slice of chocolate cake, a bowl of what looks like tortilla chips, and finally, a bowl of what looks like bran flakes.  The female presenter then goes on to inform you that all of this is what Miss Davis has for breakfast.

Setting the issue of Binge Eating Disorder aside for just a moment, what is the point of showing it all spread out like that?  Asking Miss Davis on camera what she normally has for breakfast would have sufficed.  The only reason I can think of that they would do it this way is to humiliate Miss Davis.  Not only is she coming on camera to talk about what is probably the foremost issue in her life at the moment, but hey, let’s humiliate her a little bit more, right?  She’s a fatty fatty two by four – she couldn’t possibly have any feelings, now could she?

Once the camera finally pans away from the food spread, the presenter continues introducing Miss Davis, saying “she admits that she uses food like a drug.”

Okay, that line bothers me.  I forget where I read this, but I admit it doesn’t come from me, originally: FOOD IS NOT A DRUG.  Equating food with drugs is like saying that food is something you need to completely cut out of your life because it’s doing you nothing but harm.

Take a closer look at those words.  Completely cut out, and it’s doing you nothing but harm.  What happens when you actually believe that food has no positive value whatsoever and you have to completely cut it out of your life?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Bueller?

You DIE, that’s what happens.

Now I’m not trying to say that nobody, nowhere, has an unhealthy relationship with food.  I’m not making a judgement on eating disorders or disordered eating at all.  It’s the language that bothers me.  To quote George Carlin: the quality of our thoughts are only as good as the quality of our language.  That’s why that line bothers me.  Not because of someone who already has an eating disorder, but for those who might be easily swayed by someone else’s language.  Like teenagers, for instance.  How many teenagers do you think would watch a video clip like this and automatically think to themselves “Must. Stop Eating. NOW.??  I honestly think the numbers would be frightening.

Then it goes on to show some photos with Miss Davis explaining what they are and how she got to this point.  She says that her father died when she was 5, and ever since then, she used food to fill the void that left her with.

I’m not going to knock the “using food” part.  Comfort eating exists, and for some people it is a problem.  That is a fact, for some people, regardless of their weight.  But what struck me was the photo of herself with her father.

She was already fat!!!!

This girl didn’t just eat herself into oblivion, she was already well on her way to being fat.  And from what I saw in that photo?  Unless they were force-feeding her pounds of lard, there’s something seriously medically wrong.  Thyroid tests, anyone?  ANY-FUCKING-ONE???

But oh no, this is all HER fault, right?  Her life went down the shithole at five years old, and it’s all her own fault that she’s fat now.  It couldn’t possibly be something that is totally beyond her control, simply exacerbated by an eating disorder?  Could it?

But they never even talk about that part.  The way they talk about this, it’s as if she was thin as a rail until she started doing this to herself.  To be fair, they never used the words “doing this to herself,” but that’s the meaning behind the language they DO use.  But they never even bring up the fact that in some of these photos, she’s obviously younger than 5 years old, and yet she’s already fat.  They never talk about her medical history whatsoever, other than the fact that her doctor told her she had to lose at least 20 stone (140 lbs.).

Oh, and another thing: her father?  Fat.

She goes on to talk in a pre-recorded segment about her eating patterns, and another woman appears on camera – they never explicitly say who she is, but I would guess that it’s her grandmother.  She talks about how they used to go on walks together but they can’t anymore, as Miss Davis can only walk a few feet before she’s out of breath.  But guess what: Grandma?  Is fat, too!

Then they show Miss Davis in front of her school, and she tells the camera that she was BANNED from the canteen at school because she was “eating the wrong things.”  I can just see the conversation now.

Head Teacher: Mrs. Davis, your daughter is too fat for our liking, and we’ve noticed she eats the “wrong” things, so we’ve decided she’s not allowed to eat at school at all.

Now, assuming that this is all 100% accurate and not this young girl’s self-hate blowing her eating habits all out of proportion (because that does happen), is going all the way to the other extreme really the way to go here?  Is this really the solution?  To completely deprive her of ALL food at school?

Then they finally go back to the studio, and they give you your first good glimpse of the girl and her mother.  And hey – wouldn’t you know it?  Mom’s fat, too!

So, let’s see…. Dad was fat… Grandma is fat… Mom’s fat… and yet we are still told that Miss Davis has done this all to herself?  We’re still meant to believe that her “misuse” of food is the ONLY reason she’s gotten to this point?  Seriously?

Am I the only person with eyes?  Are my glasses REALLY that good?

Oh but then it gets really good.  Now it’s the mother’s fault!  “Why didn’t you do anything to stop it?” the presenter asks her.

The mother goes on to explain that after her husband died, they were on a limited income, so their food choices were limited to bread and potatoes and the like.

So EVERY PERSON who eats bread and potatoes gets to be 460+ pounds?  Really?  Wow.  I guess the whole world is hallucinating my underweight husband whose favorite foods happen to be bread and potatoes.

“Was there a point where you said ‘okay, she’s TOO overweight now,’ and tried to make some changes in her diet?”

Like any mother who watches her child gain THIS much weight would just sit back and do nothing.  I mean seriously, folks, regardless of the outcome of the situation, it’s safe to assume that the mother did try.  But, contrary to popular brainwashing, weight is NOT a simple calories in/calories out equation.  If I were the one asking the questions?  It would be something along the lines of:

What did you do when you realized how far this was going?  And what was the outcome of that?

Apparently the girl is traveling to the U.S. to enroll in some sort of fat camp-cum-boarding school.  In theory, this sounds great.  She’ll be able to keep up with her schoolwork, she’ll get counseling (and if the death of her father seriously brought on B.E.D?  Counseling can’t be anything BUT a good thing), and she’ll learn about “healthy” eating and exercise.

I just wonder what it’s going to be like in reality.  I’ve seen some American “fat camps” on television, and they’re far from ideal.  The kids end up coming out of there worse off psychologically than they were when they went in.  They are beaten down in an effort to “help” them.  You know the kind of thing I’m talking about – telling these kids that their entire lives are already ruined simply because they happen to be fat.  That excess adipose tissue is the worst thing that could ever happen to them.  That they are worthless, unworthy of anything or anyone simply because of the number on the scale.

I really hope that doesn’t happen to her.

Here is a girl who needs medical attention – because she couldn’t have gotten that fat at 3, 4, and 5 years of age without there being something medically wrong as well.  But all anybody has said is that it is her own fault for “using food as a drug” and her mother’s fault for “not stopping it.”  Nobody nowhere has even brought up the possibility of there being a medical issue ON TOP OF her probable Binge Eating Disorder.

Oh yeah, but shaming fatties into thinness has had SUCH a positive effect so far, hasn’t it?

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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.

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!  😀

Internalized Fat Hatred Right In Your Face

Number One Daughter had a doctor’s appointment today, with her specialist.  Dr. Specialist comes to the school and takes over the nurse’s office for the day and sees the patients there – all the parents have to do is come to school.  I tell you, this is a lot easier than having to keep a kid off of school and drag them all over hell’s creation for a 10-minute appointment!

So I get to the school (10 minutes early!  considering the school is waaaaaaaay across town, this is a record for me), and I wait in the parents’ room.  Dr. Specialist is running a little bit late, so as I’m waiting, two other mothers come in.  Both of them were fat.  Other Mother One is older than me – mid to late 40’s would be my guess.  Other Mother Two is exactly one year older than I am, 33.  Other Mother One and I were talking about the area I’m living in now (we just moved here a year ago), as she’s originally from here – she grew up not 10 houses down the street from me.  As Other Mother One and I are talking, Random Female School Employee comes in and says hello.  These two women obviously know each other.  After a series of “hi, how are you?” ‘s, Other Mother One immediately says “I’m on my new diet now!  I’ve lost 8 pounds!”

Me (in my head): and how are you going to feel when you gain it all back?

Ugh.

Random Female School Employee says something to the effect of “I can’t lose weight no matter what I do.  Even when I was going to Slimming World, I didn’t lose a pound.  It’s my thyroid.”

Me (in my head): or maybe you’re at your set-point!  (Note: I’m not discounting the fact that it could be the woman’s thyroid, but I know that some people just assume that because they can’t lose weight, there must be something wrong with them.  When in fact, there’s nothing wrong with THEM, there’s something wrong with society for making them feel like they HAVE to lose weight to become an acceptable human being.)

Part of me really wanted to go all FA on their asses.  But these are women I don’t know and probably will never see again, and I just wouldn’t feel right launching into a speech like that with somebody I don’t even know.  It’s times like this when I think having some business cards printed up with some web addresses – like Shapely Prose, for example – would be a GREAT idea.  I wouldn’t even have to say anything.  I could just give it to people and let them check it out for themselves.  Let them find the clue-by-four on their own.

The thing is, since I don’t interact with other people all that much, I honestly don’t see the Internalized Fat Hatred Diatribe all that often.  I know it happens, of course, but I just don’t see it.  So when something like this happens, it seriously makes me sad.  Sad for these women, that they can’t just try to love themselves the way they are.  Sad that they feel like they’ve got to put their entire life on hold until they live up to some arbitrary, unrealistic ideal.  Sad that they internalize all this shit to such an extent as this.

Because I know what that feels like.  I talk the talk, and I’m learning to walk the walk, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget what that feels like.  And I want to tell them how amazing it feels to wake up and not feel that hatred weighing me down every day.  I want to tell them what it feels like to be able to look in the mirror and not have those messages that are shoved down our throats by society-at-large running through my head every single time.  I want to tell them that internalizing that fat hatred is worse for them than any weight they might reach.  I want to tell them what it feels like to be free!

I just hate it when I see women looking so happy about hating themselves and their bodies.  Because there’s a 98% chance they’re going to be right back where they are now, if not heavier, and their self-hating is just going to get worse.

And that?  Is just sad.

No-Diet Talk

Reading the comments on this post really got me thinking. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that having a “no-diet talk” policy is a good thing.

For a lot of us, the road to dieting is a road to crazy-ville. I know that’s true for me. Like Rachel has said, not all diets turn into eating disorders, but most eating disorders began with a simple ‘diet.’ And while I never had a full-blown eating disorder, I’ll be the first to admit that I was well on my way to developing one. My only saving grace was that I had someone who loved me to stop me from killing myself.

My last diet – just last year – ended the day my husband lost it, screamed at me, and smashed my scale to smithereens with his bare hands. What set him off? Well, for one thing, I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t even eating enough to keep a baby alive. 2 pots of yogurt (low-fat, of course) and 1/4 of a meal was pretty much all I would eat – and that was on a good day. If I was having a bad day, I would eat even less. I would drink water to try and fill up my belly, so I wouldn’t feel the hunger. And after a while, I would become immune to the hunger pains anyway.

He watched me starving myself and weighing myself 3.. 4… sometimes even 5 or 6 times a day. It became an obsession. I was obsessed with becoming thin. It was all I could think about. I ate, drank, even breathed ‘weight loss.’ It was the sole purpose of my existence at the time. Nothing else mattered. Not him, not the children, not the house (I’m a housewife, so the house is my ‘job.’) All I could think about was becoming thin. Or at least thinner.

I was weak, I would get dizzy spells, I was cranky as hell (okay, I’ll admit it: I was a bitch)… and yet the only thing that mattered to me at the time was becoming thin. Losing weight. Taking up less space.

Until one day he found me in tears in the bathroom. After all my hard work, the scale actually said that I’d gained five pounds. GAINED!!! I was hysterical. No amount of dieting was ever going to work. I was going to be a fat, ugly, worthless pig for the rest of my life. That’s the really sad part. I really believed – at the time – that fat = ugly/worthless/pig. At least for me. (That’s the strange part. I could look at another fat woman and not think those things, but to look in the mirror always brought those thoughts. It was like those particular slurs were meant for me and me alone.) When he saw just how distraught I was, and knew that no amount of trying to support me was helping, he lost it. He couldn’t stand to see me literally trying to kill myself just in the quest to become thin. He started screaming – not so much at me, but at his own frustrations regarding the situation – took my scale, and broke it. It was in pieces. Several pieces.

At first, the thought of not dieting, not knowing how much I weighed? It scared me. It fucking terrified me. I, like a lot of fat people, had the irrational fear that I was going to keep gaining and gaining and eventually take up the whole world. And I feared that he (Hubby) would one day become disgusted with me and would leave me for someone thinner and infinitely more beautiful.

But that didn’t happen. I didn’t gain weight. I haven’t taken over the world. My husband hasn’t left me. If anything, he was the catalyst that led me to FA. Not directly, of course, but I don’t think I would have been ready to accept the concept of FA if I was still in full-blown dieting mode. I don’t think my brain could have grasped the concept.

And, if anything, finding FA and realizing that I don’t have to lose weight just to become an acceptable human being, has made me a better person. Trying to accept and come to love myself just the way I am, without trying to change myself, has improved almost every area of my life. It’s certainly improved my marriage, and I can finally see that my fears over losing my husband just because of my weight were not just unfounded, they were downright ridiculous. Because he’s always loved me just the way I am. He’s attracted to me because I’m fat. (I have to tell you, that knowledge is still mind-blowing. After spending 9 years terrified that he’d ‘settled’ for me, I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around that one.)

So… no-diet talk? For me, it’s a must. It would be SOO easy to fall back into that mindset, that thinking that I will only become an acceptable human being once I take up less space. And that thinking? Is crazy thinking. In-fucking-sane. I realize now that I deserve so much better than to think that I have to be something I’m inherently NOT just to become “worthy.” Worthy of what? Of whom? And who says? Who the hell crowned himself king of the world and decided that I have to be X to become a worthy human being? And why in the hell did I ever believe it?

So… yeah. NO DIET TALK. It’s much better for my mental health. And, reading the comments on Paul’s post just proves to me that I’m sure as hell not alone.

On Comparisons and Food

I found myself quite busy last night, due mainly to it being that time of the month.  I was feeling like shit much of yesterday, and spent most of the morning sitting on the couch doubled over in pain.  By mid-afternoon I was feeling much better, so I ended up doing all my chores late, which took up pretty much my entire evening.  I managed to do some reading, but lacked the mental capacity to compose a coherent comment.  But these issues are things that I deal with daily – even if only in my head – and I feel a pressing need to comment, even if it is on my own blog.

I pretty much read everything in the Fatosphere every day, but Shapely Prose is always where I start out.  Kate and Co. always write enjoyable, thought-provoking posts, and since they update the blog so regularly, it’s just become a habit.  So when I made my daily visit, there was Kate, pointing everybody to Deniselle’s latest entry at Fatly Yours.

And there she was, saying the things I’ve been thinking so often, but saying them so much more clearly than I’ve been able to. 

I have to admit, I’m not gay and wouldn’t presume to say that I understand what it’s like to be gay, dealing with gay-centered prejudice.  But as an outside observer and supporter (just because I’m not “one of them” doesn’t mean I can’t support their right to live full, complete lives just like the rest of us *cough* “normal” *cough* people!), I have noticed the correlations between a lot of what Gay People are subjected to and what we Fat People are subjected to.  And if you happen to be Gay AND Fat?  Bonus!  You get twice the bigotry directed at you!  Aren’t you lucky?

What I don’t understand is how some people can get upset with other people making comparisons.  Comparisons between Fat and Gay or Fat and Race or Gay and Race.  By making a comparison, or using one as an analogy, you’re not taking anything away from either party.  You are simply looking at the things that ARE similar, and acknowledging what is different.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t get upset – who the hell am I to tell someone how they should or shouldn’t feel?  What I’m saying is that I don’t understand it.  I don’t ‘get’ what it is about making comparisons that gets some peoples’ panties in a bunch.  And for someone like me, I need comparisons and analogies.  They help me understand issues so much better if I have X to compare with Y.  (And I would like to point out that when I say “I don’t understand what they’re getting so upset about”, I’m not in any way trying to invalidate their feelings.  I understand that they are upset, I just don’t understand why.)

Like Rachel said in the comments on Kate’s post:

I don’t think playing the “But my oppression is worse than your oppression” game is beneficial for any marginalized group. When we make judgment calls on which groups are more “deserving” of social justice, we’re only perpetuating the very foundations that form the bulwark of all social injustice.

When I DO make comparisons or analogies (and I do), I’m not saying that one is better than the other.  All social injustice is wrong (hence the injustice part).  But it helps me, in trying to get it straight in my own head and in trying to make what I’m trying to say clear.

And Kate had another good point shortly after Rachel’s comment:

Deniselle isn’t saying, “It’s exactly the same!” She’s saying there’s a lot more overlap than there seems to be at first glance — and it’s useful to look at that overlap, because it shines a light on how much different forms of bigotry have in common.

When I look at it in that view, it makes even less sense that people get all up in arms about it.  But I don’t live in their heads, and I can’t say that I know where their anger is coming from.

(I realize that some people might find this hypocritical of me, considering my post regarding animal rights.  But there is one fundamental difference: Deniselle and 99% of the people I see making comparisons between Gay Rights and Fat Acceptance are not saying that they are exactly the same.  The person I referred to in that post, however, DID come to the conclusion that animal rights and fat acceptance ARE the same.  Big difference.)

But then, just as I thought I had enough food for thought (haha!  I kill me!), I click back to the Shapely Prose main page, and there’s another post by Kate regarding food and the morality people try to put on it.

It really touched me, because although I’ve gotten better at ignoring the evil voice in my head that constantly puts me down, the voice that attributes moral value to food is still there, going strong.  I ate a slice of walnut cake for breakfast?  Bad Fattie!  I had cream cheese and pate on crackers for lunch?  Oh, I’m going to go to hell!!!!

I hate to admit it, but I really am that bad.  Sometimes.  There have been times when I’ve been hungry but refused to eat because… I’m FAT!  I shouldn’t NEED to eat!  I can just live forever off of my fat stores!

But you want to know something ironic?  During my longest diet (which lasted nearly five years and resulted in a total loss of about fifteen pounds), I learned something that I’ve found to be true: when I don’t eat, my body thinks it’s starving.  And it holds on to every single calorie I DO put in my mouth as if it’s going to be the last calorie my body is going to get.  And guess what?  I DON’T LOSE WEIGHT.  So why the hell that voice in my head keeps telling me that I can live off of my fat stores is beyond me.  If I ever actually DID live off of my fat stores, that would result in lost weight.  After over twenty years of dieting and almost never losing weight (or losing very minimal weight), you would think I’d know better by now.  You’d THINK.

It’s become so ingrained in me that a question from The Hubster along the lines of “have you had anything to eat today?” is commonplace.  If I’m dizzy, he asks that question.  If I’ve got the shakes, he asks that question.  If my stomach hurts and it’s not that time of the month, he asks that question.  If I just feel generally ill, he asks that question.  And, I hate to say it, any combination of the above happens pretty much every week.  Knowing that, you’d think I would get it into my head that I need to eat.  But no, the idea that I don’t need to eat simply because I’m fat runs through my head like a broken record. 

I have to say, though, that as I read the post and the comments, I realized another reason why The Hubster is made of awesome.  Whenever we go out to eat (which isn’t all that often, unfortunately), his attitude towards what we eat is wonderful.  If I want a burger, he says “have the burger, then!”  If I want a salad, he says “have the salad!”  He’s one of those “like to see a woman enjoy her food” men.  Besides, if we’re paying for this meal, we ought to get some enjoyment out of it.  And if I ordered what I thought I should have rather than what I truly wanted, I’m not going to truly enjoy it, am I?

He’s the same with desserts (and that’s whether we’re eating out or at home).  If I want some, I’m allowed to have some.  I’m an adult, I pay for my own food, so I can have what I want.

I know it almost sounds like I’m getting permission from The Hubster, as if he’s some sort of controller, but that’s totally not the case.  It’s just that it helps – especially when I’m trying to learn how to not diet and not obsess over my weight and the food I eat – to have someone around me with that sort of attitude towards food.  It would make my life a whole lot more difficult if he thought he was a card-carrying Officer of the Food Police and tried to tell me what I should or shouldn’t be eating all the time.  He doesn’t care – not for me, and certainly not for him.  If I want to make some of my aunt’s chili cheese dip and have that for dinner… so what?  I don’t do it all the time, so why should once in a while be a big deal?  (Now if I make something he doesn’t want and he actually has to *gasp* cook for himself *endgasp* — that’s a whole ‘nother story.  But that’s a rant for another day.  😉 )

But that’s the whole point.  It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is.  In today’s society, it is.

(You know, it’s funny how it takes something like this to remind me what an awesome guy The Hubster really is.  There are times when something he says surprises me – like saying that it really is okay for me to eat whatever I want – but it shouldn’t.  If he’d had a problem with my weight, he would have had a problem with my food.  But he didn’t have a problem with the former, so I don’t know why I would ever think he’d ever have a problem with the latter.  I guess it’s just societal brainwashing that would make me think something like that, but it’s totally unfair to him.)

One of the comments on that post reminded me of something I’ve seen in Number One Daughter.

I find that as my monthly friend is preparing for a visit that I can eat continously. I’m hungry for something, but never find out what that something is. So, I just eat and eat. It’s a little scary sometimes.

Number One Daughter does that.  She and I both started ours on Sunday (oooh!  Lucky us!!!), and while I’ve been doubled over with pain, this kid just wants to eat.  I’ve kept her home from school the last two days, and she’s done nothing but eat and sleep the whole time.  Today she had four bowls of cereal between 9:30 and 3:00.  FOUR!!!  (She must really like that cereal though… ‘cuz she was actually asking for it over and over and over and over again.)  But that’s not “normal” for her — the only times she’s ever done anything like that have been either when she’s about to go through a growth spurt; or when she’s on her period.  When it happened the first time, I couldn’t figure out what the problem was.  But then I started noticing a pattern, and when it finally clicked… I figured if it only happened once a month, during that time of the month, then it must mean that for some reason she needs more food during that time of the month.  And I will never deny her that — especially when I can see the reason behind it. 

But you just know that if The Food Police found out that I’m allowing my Autistic daughter to *shock!* *horror!* eat whatever she wants when she wants it, especially if it’s that time of the month… they’d swear out a warrant for my arrest so fast my head would spin.

Now HERE’S an eating disorder in the making….

Note: I copied this verbatim from the current magazine.  It’s a British publication, so if you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry.  It’s a “real-life” magazine, not a tabloid or anything like that.  They pay “real” people for their stories and publish them, usually for a small fee (£500 per story is about the average).

Stop Turning into Me

Sherrell Whittaker

 Originally published in That’s Life magazineIssue 44   

She chomped on the grape happily.  “Good girl,” I smiled to my three-year-old daughter Laura.  “Now try some apple.”

I was determined to give her the healthiest possible diet.

“Don’t end up like Mummy,” I’d say.  “Promise you won’t get fat….”

At 29, and 5 ft. 5 in., I was nearly 30 stone [420 lbs.].  I’d been overweight all my life.  Some children are born with a silver spoon in their mouths.  Weighing in at 11 lbs. at birth, I joked mine had been covered in chocolate.

By school age, I was crazy for sugar, crammed down choc bars.

And as I puffed up like a marshmallow, my parents begged me to cut out junk.

“Nag, nag,” I thought, raiding the sweet shop for a sneaky fix.

When classmates labelled me Fatso, I’d laugh – pretend their comments bounced off my blubbery layers.  But by 19, with no boyfriend, I felt marooned in my 25-stone [350 lbs.] mountain.  So I consulted a GP.

“This should help,” he said, scribbling out a prescription.

Stop eating, it read.  I fled home in tears, humiliated.

Yet the shock tactics had no effect.  Over the next four years, working as a care assistant, the scales crawled upwards.  I tried diets, would lose a stone or two.  But my willpower always wavered.

At 23, I met Martin, 31, a refuse collector.  He was lean, muscular – but savoured my voluptuous body.  Desired at last.  We got engaged the next year.

“Contentment’s fattening,” I decided, when my elastic waistbands pinched even tighter.

We both wanted babies, but concerned pals issued warnings about how being overweight could affect fertility.  So I chucked away my contraceptive pills a month before the wedding.  But then I fell pregnant at the first pop.  I was nine days gone as I married in a size-30 gown.

Laura was born, 7 lbs.  “Perfect weight,” I glowed proudly.  I vowed I’d never taint her sweet, pure body with rubbishy food.

So today, clearing up after her fruity feast, I thought: “She’ll never be a chocoholic like me.”

 Only, now I was a mum, my size was scaring me.  I worried about diabetes, heart disease, strokes.  Fat could kill. 

The thought of leaving Martin and Laura made my throat constrict.  But still I couldn’t shake off the habits that had held me in their grip for three decades.

Driving home from the supermarket, I’d make sure Laura couldn’t see, and then gobble down handfuls of sweets.

Two years later, her innocent face etched with puzzlement, she asked: “Why do the boys in my class call you Fatty?”

Fear ran a freezing finger down my spine.  Would calling me names lead to her being teased, bullied?  If my weight made Laura suffer, I’d die of shame….

“They’re just being silly boys,” I breezed.

But later, when I was alone with Martin, I wept out years of suppressed tears.  “I can’t live like this any more,” I wailed.  “I want a gastric band.”

His brow crinkled with concern.  We both knew that the surgery could be risky.  But it was the only way to spare my daughter – and save myself.

This time, my GP saw true desperation.  I was referred for surgery five months later.

A silicone band reduced my stomach so only a tiny amount of food would make it feel full.

I could consume nothing at first.  But soon I managed sips of soup, mini amounts of mash.

Delicate eating, bird-like picking…. My old appetite – that mighty, ever-needy force – was gone.  Over the next 20 months, I cast of 18 stone [252 lbs.]. 

I shopped for jeans, cutaway tops, and little black dresses.

“The clothes of slim women,” I rejoiced.  “Now I’m one of them.”

Only, as I deflated to 12 st. 10 lb. [178 lbs.], I noticed Laura changing shape too.  “Just puppy fat,” I told myself.

But by nine, her school shirts strained tight.

The bullies pounced. “They call me Fatso,” Laura wept.

Old scars tore open.  Different generation, same cruelty. 

School acted swiftly to stop the taunts and I made doubly sure Laura was eating well-balanced meals, limited treats to one a day.

But I found sweet wrappers, empty crisp packets under her bed.

Cunning – like I’d been. 

“Stop!” I cried, “before you turn out like me.”

I wanted to keep my child on a pedestal.  Fat had blighted my youth.  I couldn’t let it ruin hers.

She still loved her fruit and veg, but two hours after a huge meal, Laura would whine: “I’m hungry.”

I had to break the pattern, gave her friends’ mums strict orders not to give her chocolate.  I restricted burger-bar visits to once every other month.

“It’s not fair,” Laura would moan.

Guilt burnt like acid indigestion.  Poor darling, this is my fault, not yours.  I saw my compulsive eating as a genetic disorder.

I wanted Laura to learn moderation.  Yet I was a poor example, nibbling fairy portions because they were all I could fit in my cordoned-off stomach.

Despite my efforts Laura still found ways to smuggle fatty foods and by the age of 12, she was struggling to fit into size-18 skirts.  I’d hear her puffing up the stairs.  Her energy was sapped, her spark quenched.

If she was naughty, grounding was no punishment – just an excuse to lie on her bed.

She was 14 when I heard a howl from the bathroom.

I found Laura standing on the scales – self-disgust contorting her face.

“I’m 15st 4lb [214 lbs],” she roared.  “You’ve got to help me, Mum.”

“I’ll do anything,” I murmured.  “But you have to want to change.”

“I do,” she gibbered.  “I don’t want to get like you.”

The words I’d longed to hear.

The following month, I escorted Laura to a slimming club.  We learnt how to weigh food, count points.  Laura would fill up on grilled chicken, boiled spuds….

Burning with motivation, pounds began to drop off and her old confidence seeped back.

“I’m not even hungry, Mum,” she declared jubilantly.

 Her appetite reduced – the gluttonous dragon slain. 

Whereas I was still paying the price for a lack of self-control.  I underwent and bum and stomach lift, and then contracted MRSA.

Once fully recovered, I had further surgery to remove excess skin from my bust and sides.

Now, I’m a size 16, but I still have to live with swinging batwings and loose-fleshed legs – problems Laura will never need to face.  Today, 13 months into her regime, she’s 5ft 6in, 11st 10lb [164 lbs], a size 12 to 14.

“I’m so proud,” I tell her daily.

I encourage her exercise program, prepare every meal with precision.  “Like a personal trainer,” friends tease.

In our own ways, but together, my daughter and I have broken free from our shared curse.

My gorgeous girl is back on her pedestal.  And this time, it’s not cracking under the strain.

This girl is only 15/16, and already she’s been subjected to her mother’s disordered eating (it sounds to me like she had an actual, diagnosable eating disorder that was simply ignored by her doctors) and self-hate.  On top of that, she was subjected to what could be tantamount to emotional abuse.  (Although I certainly wouldn’t say that the mother had the intention of emotionally abusing her daughter; it all stemmed from her own self-hate and disordered eating.)

Somehow I get the feeling that, a couple of years down the line, we’ll be seeing this poor girl in a follow-up story with a headline something along the lines of “How My Mother Caused My Eating Disorder.”

Sad, really.