Re-Educating My Children

Little Miss ChatterboxSitting in a doctor’s waiting room for two hours with three children ages 6, 7, and 11 is… interesting, to say the least. Especially when the 7 year old is a voracious reader and will read anything she can get her hands on. Books… magazines… health leaflets… bank promotions… I mean anything.

Little Miss Chatterbox must have read something about healthy eating and losing weight, because she turned to me and said:

Mommy, you cook us healthy meals so that you can get healthy and skinny, right?

Now, if she had said something like that to me a few months ago? It wouldn’t have bothered me in the least, and I would have told her that she was right. That Mommy is an ugly, huge person and would give anything to be skinny and attractive.

But I know better now. I know that I don’t have to hate myself because of my size. I know that my size is and always has been largely out of my control. I know that my size is nothing to be ashamed of, because human beings are supposed to come in all shapes and sizes (and colors, and shades of colors). And in a split-second, I saw that I needed to re-educate my children. Not just The Little Helper, whom I blogged about a while back. But all of them. Because obviously my self-loathing – as much as I’d hoped it wouldn’t have – has made an impact even on the children that I thought were immune to it.

So I looked at her and said:

No, I cook healthy meals to be healthy. Period. Skinny doesn’t always mean healthy, and healthy doesn’t always mean skinny. You can be healthy AND fat.

I hate that I’m going to have to re-educate them about what is healthy and what isn’t. They’re constantly talking about food that is “bad” for you – and because I’m trying to get out of that “good food/bad food” mindset, I’ve been correcting them as well. I tell them that no food is inherently “bad” for you, it’s eating one particular food all the time – even if it’s a universally accepted “healthy” food – is UNhealthy for you.

But I’m glad that they’re still young enough that it might work. They might not grow up believing that they’re a bad person just because they ate some junk food. They might not grow up feeling superior to those people that eat junk food if they don’t. They might not grow up hating their bodies. I’m not dumb enough to think that I’m the only influence in their lives, so I can’t be sure that my re-educating them is going to eradicate all the other messages they’re going to get in their life.

But I can hope, right?

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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 it’s competitive eating’s fault.

In yet another episode of The World Has Gone Absolutely Loopy, apparently now the OMG OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!!!!11!!!! minions have started to go after eating competitions.

This fall, the University of Iowa canceled its annual corn-eating contest, held the week of the Iowa-Iowa State football game. Many saw the contest as a fun nod to the state’s hallmark crop, but Phillip Jones, Iowa’s vice president of student services, viewed it as an act of gluttony.

“It was something I thought was reasonable based on the data and stories I’ve seen about obesity and the proportion of people who are overweight,” Jones said. “I don’t know … if it is dangerous, but it was a symbolic gesture to get people to address changes in our lifestyle.”

 [engage clue-by-four]

What the FUCK?!  Have you ever SEEN the people that compete in eating contests?  99% of them are “normal” sized at best – some of them most likely bordering on underweight.  I forget the name of this lady, but there’s one Japanese lady that I’ve heard of several times who wins the top prize in some of these eating contests – and she’s probably about 4 feet tall and 60 pounds!  Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration… but you get my point.  She’s tiny.  Teeny, even.  Eensy weensy.  And she’s not the only one.  Hell, go look at the article yourself.  Those two people on the photo?  Do they LOOK like they’ve got weight problems to you?

Now, I have to admit – most of the people quoted in that article seem to have a pretty good take on the whole eating contest thing, even if they fall into the fat-hating, brainwashed-by-the-media idiot category.  But STILL!  The fact that people are even contemplating cancelling these kinds of contests because of our so-called “Obesity Epidemic” is absolutely in-fucking-sane!

Don’t believe me?  Go check out that article – there’s a poll linked to it.  At the time of this writing (and after voting in the poll myself), 50% of people who voted on MSNBC’s online poll said that “With a third of Americans now obese, these contests are in bad taste.”  Ugh.  (Don’t even get me started on that whole ‘third of Americans are now obese’ bullshit.  LIES.)

*I should credit Shapeling Sharn for the link.  She posted it over at Shapely Prose, and when I read it I was so dumbfounded that I just had to write something.  Jesus H. Christ.  The world is going insane!