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.

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.

WTF ever happened to “ooh, your baby looks so fat & HEALTHY”????

Yeah, apparently now the quacks that brought us the (nonexistent) Obesity Epidemic are now finding “obesity” in infants.

As a mother of 4, this totally pisses me off.  For one thing, for thousands of years it’s been known that a fat baby usually equals a healthy baby.  Obviously not all of the time, but a good majority of the time.  It’s one of those things that we didn’t have proof of, it was just something we knew.  Like we knew the sky was blue before somebody went to the trouble of finding out the scientific reasons why.

But it gets worse.

The findings are based on two studies. The first involved 2139 infants not older than age 2 who were admitted for any reason to the Bnai Zion Medical Center in 2004 and 2005. The second study was community-based and used parental interviews to assess the problems seen in 79 overweight infants and 144 normal-weight infants.

The infants were considered overweight if they had a body mass index (BMI) above the 85th weight-for-height percentile on 2 or more measurements taken at least 3 months part. This means that 85 percent of children their age and gender have a lower BMI, which is a measure of weight in relation to height.

In the first study, the researchers found that infants between the 85th and 94th weight-for-height percentiles actually had fewer hospital admissions and repeat admissions than normal-weight infants. However, higher than expected admission rates were seen in the most overweight infants (95th or higher percentile).

In the second study, overweight infants were more likely than their normal-weight peers to have developmental delays and snoring. There was also evidence that asthma and other breathing problems were more common in overweight infants.

When surveyed, only about 32 percent of mothers with an overweight child believed that their child was overweight.

Parents need to be aware that even infants are at risk for problems related to excess body weight and, therefore, should strive to achieve a normal weight in their young children, Shaoul and colleagues conclude.

Emphasis mine.

So because the infants in one particular area had a higher than “normal”rate of developmental delays and breathing problems, the rest of the world faces the same fate??

What, babies should now start looking like those Ethiopian children the media liked to plaster all over our televisions in the 80s and 90s??  And since when did starving our babies putting our babies on a diet sound like a good thing?  There used to be a word for that.  Neglect.  You got your children taken away from you for that.

Where is this “community” used for the second study?  Why do I get the feeling it’s probably either a low-income area or one based near some sort of industrial site?  One where either the residents don’t have access to the kind of medical care that could catch and prevent these sorts of problems (and probably don’t have access to proper nutrition, either), or one where there’s something in the air or water that’s causing these problems.

Obviously I have no way of knowing that, but it just seems odd to me that one study showed that fat babies ARE healthy babies – the one study that probably had a broader range of subjects from all walks of life.  And then they do another study, in an isolated area, and the results are dramatically different.

Something smells fishy to me.

*Credit should go to Sarah at Big Fat Dynamo.  She found the story first.  🙂

Mother, you’re breaking your Daughter’s heart.

nuff said.

'nuff said.

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to write this.  I knew I wanted to write about it, from the moment I had this conversation with her, but I just didn’t know how to approach it.  I’ve decided to make it an open letter to my mother.

Mother,

My heart is breaking for you.  This year has been terrible – first the thing with Baby Sister and Nephew, and then Stepfather died in the Spring.   I’ve been amazed at how strong you sound every time we talk on the phone.  I wouldn’t blame you if you just broke down, but you just keep going, no matter how hard things get for you.  You truly are an inspiration.

But then you talk about having lap-band surgery.  And my heart breaks even more.

You say that you “need” it.  That your health is just “so terrible,” and it’s the only thing that’s going to save you.

But Mommy, you’re going to do yourself more harm than good.

You say that it’s going to cure your diabetes, high blood pressure, and back problems.  All of which you know are inherited.  Grandmother had every single one of those problems, and Grandfather has at least two of them that I remember.  You say Grandmother was once as big as you are now – and honestly, I haven’t seen you in 5 years, so I don’t know how much you’ve gained – and you use that as an excuse to prove to me that you have to have this surgery.

But Grandmother wasn’t always very heavy.  I remember her being roughly the size I am now.  And I know that when she died, she was pretty small.  Just because she was heavy at one time in her life does not mean that one time caused all those health problems.

Having the doctor close off part of your stomach is not going to do you any good.  You’re going to become malnourished.  Sure, your diabetes might get better.  Because you’ll be starving yourself. Your body needs more than just a few ounces of food a day.  And it would even if you were thin.

I know it’s hard to fight the fatphobia that you see every day.  Even people who are well meaning are a lot of the times, unknowing fatphobes.  It’s institutionalized and it’s almost impossible to get away from.  I understand that, I really do.

But I hate to see you taking all of that fat hatred in and turning it on yourself.  Don’t you get enough hatred pointed your way from others?  Do you really have to hate yourself, too?

Part of my reaction is our relationship.  Since finding each other again six years ago, we have developed the kind of relatioship I only thought we could have in my dreams.  I have been able to turn to you when things got bad, and you supported and encouraged me.  I never thought I’d have that.

Part of it is my own rising self-esteem.  I can hear the self-loathing in your voice even when you don’t outwardly express it – because I’ve been there.  And I know how good it feels now to be able to say I like myself just the way I am.  I want you to know that feeling, too.

And part of it is that I’ve learned so much in the last few months, and hearing that you’re seriously contemplating surgery – to fix one thing that’s not broken, and to fix others that it simply won’t work for – seriously terrifies me.  You just don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.  And while I know that there are serious statistics – X amount of people have serious health problems, X amount of people actually die as a result of the surgery, X amount of people will actually end up gaining all their weight back – I never thought to save the URLs of the blog posts/studies/news articles I read, so I can’t “prove” it to you.  I know what I know, but without that “proof” I know you’ll just dismiss me as being a worried daughter.

And I am a worried daughter, no question.  But I also know that what you’re contemplating doing is going to be so much worse for your health than doing nothing at all.

And it makes me want to cry.

Some wishes DO come true!

Somewhere, over the rainbow....

Somewhere, over the rainbow....

When I first found the Fatosphere back in October of last year, I wasn’t looking for a place full of righteous indignation.  I wasn’t looking to become an activist.  No, my initial reaction was much more self-centered than that.

I just wanted to like myself.

I had spent so long absolutely abhorring myself that I was exhausted with it.  I was just so tired of looking in the mirror and saying those hateful things to myself.  Some part of my brain knew that this wasn’t a healthy way of thinking, but the rest of my brain said “but we don’t know any other way to think!” When I found the Fatosphere, and saw that it was filled with people of all shapes and sizes saying that being fat was actually okay, and that liking myself as I was wasn’t a crazy thought, I seriously thought I’d found my lifeline.

Here were people that were saying that I didn’t have to lose weight to become an acceptable human being – even to myself.  I didn’t have to hate everything about myself simply because I didn’t fit some unrealistic, unattainable (for 99.999999% of the world’s population) “ideal.”  I had the right to expect to be treated with respect and dignity just because I exist.  Because I am a human being.  I am a whole person, with strengths and weakness, with thoughts and feelings.  I just happen to also be fat.  That fatness is only a physical characteristic – it is not now, never has been nor ever will be the sum total of what it is that is “me.”

But all I wanted was to be able to say “I like myself.”  And mean it.

Very slowly at first, I started to feel better about myself.  But choosing to immerse myself in the on-line presence of people like me was bound to do that.

Then the rollercoaster that is my life took a downward spiral for a little while, and I didn’t even touch my computer for 4 months.  Not even to check my email.

Then in the spring, something in my head just snapped and part of my brain said to me: “you KNOW what you need to do.  You need to get back in the Fatosphere and back into blogging.  You’ll feel so much better about yourself if you do.”

And I did.  Part of me felt apprehensive – I’d suddenly dropped off the face of the Fatosphere for months and here I was, about to jump right back in with both feet.  How was I going to face the inevitable questions* about why I just disappeared like that?  But I knew that I had to just let come what may, because for my own mental health, I needed to get back into it.

Around the same time, I joined the Fatshionista community on LiveJournal.  Posting pictures of myself took a lot of courage, but it was so good for me.  Again with the mental health.  Seeing all these women – of all ranges of fat; from what I would think of as “totally NOT fat” to the higher end of the fat spectrum – and realizing that they were ALL beautiful, all in their own way, went a long way in re-programming my brain to think “well, if they’re all beautiful, why can’t I be, too?”

And there’s the crux of the matter.  “Why can’t I be beautiful, too?” Short answer: I can be.  And so can you, and you, and you.

Long answer: beauty, in the sense that I’m talking about it, is an intangible thing.  There is no set formula for what is beautiful and what isn’t.  As opposed to physical attractiveness, most people can’t pinpoint down to the slightest detail what beauty means to them.  One person might find nature beautiful, while another might find something like architecture beautiful.  Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder – because each person’s particular likes and dislikes are all different.

People are supposed to be different.  Different colors, different heights, and yes, different weights. The mere fact that I happen to weigh more than what society tries to force me to think is “acceptable” does not negate the fact that I have my own unique beauty.  And again, so do you and you and you.  You over there?  Yeah, you too.

In the last few months, since I jumped back into the Fatosphere with both feet, I have come a longer way in accepting and liking myself than I had in the 32 years before that.  Let me repeat that:

I have learned more about accepting and liking myself in less than five months than in thirty-two years of existence on this planet. (Nearly half of which have been spent in some sort of counseling.)

I have finally gotten to the point where I like myself the majority of the time.  No, I haven’t found self-esteem nirvana, but I have come so far in such a short time that I’m still finding it odd.  I find it odd when I look in the mirror and I don’t immediately put myself down for some flaw or another.  (I still have flaws, of course, I just don’t feel the need to put myself down because of them.)  I look in the mirror and I finally see me – not some warped, hate-filled version of me that has never been accurate.  And me?  Isn’t so bad, really.

Other people have noticed it, too.  My rise in self-esteem has been one of the major factors of my marriage becoming what my husband and I both want it to be.  I finally started to see myself the way my husband always has, and it has brought us closer in ways counseling (which we tried once) never did.  Nothing has ever worked like my learning to like myself.

Friends have noticed it.  I’m so much happier now than I ever was before.  In my life.

Even strangers notice it.  How else would you explain the fact that I’m suddenly getting hit on left and right?  I can’t remember the last time somebody hit on me before I started feeling better about myself.  Now, it’s every time I go out.  It’s surreal.  I almost feel like I must be in someone else’s body, because these things just don’t happen to me.  So I just take it as a tangible sign that this internal change must be visible externally, in some way or another.

I started out this journey just searching for a way to like myself.  What I found was so much more than that.  But that one wish, that I wished so very hard and very long for?

It came true.

Well how do you like them apples?

* – I don’t want it to sound like I’ve got some huge massive ego and the whole Fatosphere was going to be sitting around wondering “where did nuckingfutz go?”  However, I had been so active – commenting on pretty much everybody’s blogs, practically every post – that I was sure somebody would have noticed my absence and would ask about it.

Jesus Christ, the stupidity astounds me!

fa pride!
alxherrera@xxxxxxxxx | 70.110.244.42

Try losing 100 pounds. You’ll see that back pain go away.
dummy.

From Friday Not-So-Fun: Back Pain Sucks!, 2008/07/25 at 11:45 PM

I don’t even know where to start.  Shall I start with the fact that I didn’t have any consistent back pain until I tried to lift my THIRTEEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER???  Obviously somebody needs to go back to third grade and learn reading comprehension.

Or should I start with the fact that when I was eleven years old and only mildly overweight, I had backaches from an old, unsupportive bed then?  I mean Jesus… just watch bed commercials!  Even those people tell you that unsupportive beds will give you backaches, no matter what you happen to weigh. (And for the record, I have had this bed for 10 years, and it was old when I got it.  Beds just get less and less supportive with age.)

Or should I start with the fact that if I WERE to somehow manage to lose 100 pounds, I’d weigh less than the thirteen year old daughter that I lifted and hurt my back?  That if I lost that much weight, I’d be little more than a skeleton?  That if I lost that much weight, I would DIE.

Not to mention the fact that nobody knows how to make a naturally thin person fat anymore than they know how to make a naturally fat person thin.

Jesus H. Christ… what the fuck?!

Although I consider myself to be uneducated (the only “education” I had past high school was an office skills training program), I do consider myself to be intelligent.  And honestly?  I didn’t think I was the only one.  In America, “education” costs money.  “Intelligence” is free.

Is this what America has come to?  (I know this individual is American, because its IP address comes up as Verizon.)  Is this obesity epidemic bullshit really sucking the intelligence out of the American Public?

Or have I been giving people too much credit?

Edit: I have just gotten two more troll comments, both from the same person, one saying that my daughter looks like a retarded Furby.  You know what?  I LIKE Furbies!  I had a collection of the things!  The other comment said something to the effect of “you have a daughter?  Who in their right mind would stick their dick into a piece of jello like you?”  WELL… not only do I have ONE daughter, but I have FOUR, from THREE different fathers.  So not one, not two, but at LEAST three men (and believe you me, there were plenty more than that altogether) wanted to stick their dicks in me.  And I’ve been married to the same man for coming up to 9 years now.  Not only did he want to stick his dick in me once, but over and over again.

😆  Insults: YUR DOIN IT RONG!