Stephen Fry, HIV, and Bipolar Disorder

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry

I would like to preface this by saying that I realize that some of this may not be “news” to some people. I purposely stay away from the news as much as possible. Honestly? It’s because I’m depressed enough as it is and I don’t need more to bring me down. So I would have absolutely no idea if some of the things that shocked me have been reported by the media. Please keep that in mind as you read.

I have to admit I have a thing for Stephen Fry. Not only is he ridiculously intelligent, but he’s funny, and handsome* to boot. I admit I was more than a little disappointed when I realized he was gay (honestly, I thought he was just stereotypically British, not gay). I’ve been working on a crochet project and I prefer to have some sort of “background noise” – television, a movie, that sort of thing. So I’ve been periodically sitting here at the computer desk, playing YouTube vids. Eventually I surfed my way into some Stephen Fry territory, and found the documentaries he made on HIV and Bipolar Disorder.

I missed these when they were originally aired.  I don’t watch all that much television any more, and what little I DO watch is rarely, if ever, BBC.  Had I known about these at the time, I probably would have wanted to watch them, though.

Stephen Fry: HIV and Me

I originally thought that the HIV documentaries (part one and part two) were just going to be about his experiences with HIV as a gay man.  Because of course, a person’s life experiences are going to color their view of any major event.  A gay man’s experience of HIV is going to be different than a mother’s, etcetera.  What I saw shocked me.

  • The levels of infection in Britain have risen by something like 400% in the last ten years.  (I could be remembering wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s what Fry said in the documentary.)  There are more people with HIV living in Britain than there were 10 years ago.
  • A large percentage of the population are having unprotected, risky sex – gay, straight, and everything in between.  Fry went out to the bars and clubs in one particular city and found that the majority of women would ask that their partner wear a condom, but most of the men would refuse, even when asked.
  • There are large numbers of young gay men purposely going to sex parties to become infected.  They call it “the Gift“.  (See another good clip about it here.)  One interviewee goes into great detail, explaining how these parties work.  I try my hardest not to be judgemental as a rule, but I have to admit that hearing about these parties made my stomach turn.  Not from the thought of gay sex; from the perspective of why in the hell would somebody want to go out and get themselves infected with HIV ON PURPOSE??? While science and medicine have made it easier to live with, and not such a quickly killing disease, HIV is still deadly.  Why would you want to subject yourself to that?  If you’ve got a death wish, there are other, quicker, and less painful ways of killing yourself!
  • There are African goverments that won’t allow certain types of medications for HIV/Aids because they actually don’t believe that Aids is caused by HIV.  They have huge numbers (one statistic I remember hearing was 300,000+ deaths in one year attributed to Aids alone) of people dying from this disease, people who could live longer, healthier lives if given these medications, and they’re being denied them by their own governments.
  • Also, because some parts of Africa are very Catholic, promoting the use of condoms to help prevent the spread of Aids is actually seen as taboo; abstinence only.  There is one interviewee that has made it his mission in life to educate his people about the truth of Aids and to try to help prevent the spread.  So he took it upon himself to start distributing free condoms to the men in the area.  Because of The Church, he is only allowed to distribute a fraction of what he was handing out just a few years ago.
  • While the panic surrounding Aids might have died down a little bit, the numbers are ever-increasing.  People are constantly putting themselves at risk, thinking it could never happen to them.  Society has become complacent with the idea of Aids and is reaping terrible consequences.
  • I wasn’t alone in mistakenly thinking that the Aids epidemic was getting better.  Because these things aren’t reported as often as they were 10, 20 years ago, people are coming to the assumption that things are better.  When that’s the farthest thing from the truth.
  • There is still a social stigma surrounding Aids, and some of the fallacies that took root 20 years ago are still being spread as fact.  There’s a part about a 60-something-year-old woman who is very vocal about her status and has been harassed several times because of it.  Fry says in the documentary that he would have thought that being open about one’s HIV status would garner sympathy and kindness, not hatred.  So would I.  But apparently we were both wrong.

I’m still reeling in a state of shock over the HIV & Me documentaries.  Some parts made me sad, some parts made me angry, and some parts just made me sick to my stomach.  But I honestly think that this is something everybody should watch.  It’s illuminating, if nothing else.  And I think it’s something people should talk about more.  Because we’ve stopped talking about it, we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking it’s something that’s going away.  It’s not; and it’s not going to until we are honest with ourselves.

The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive

The first time I had an inkling that Stephen Fry had Bipolar Disorder was when I had gone to a doctor’s appointment.  While giving my name to the receptionist, I noticed a little pamphlet on Bipolar Disorder and there was a picture of Stephen Fry on the front of it.  I took one to look at as I waited, and it was one of those “don’t be ashamed!  See your doctor if you think something’s wrong!” kind of things.  Nowhere on there did it actually say that Stephen Fry had Bipolar Disorder, but I thought, “why would they plaster his picture on here if he didn’t have it?”

Then I heard about The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive (see them here and here).  I had missed them when they were originally aired, and I couldn’t seem to find a copy on DVD.  On top of that, we couldn’t find a copy to download.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find it on YouTube, in its entirety no less.

As a Manic Depressive myself, I was quite interested to see what Fry had to say on the subject.  And I was shocked to find out how many celebrities there are that have some sort of “mental illness”.  I was disappointed to see that they never mentioned the link between Bipolar Disorder and brain chemicals.  When I was diagnosed, my doctor explained to me that my Bipolar was caused by a chemical imbalance in my brain; the medication would help with that (and it did, I admit).  I “manage” it all right on my own, but I have to admit that the medication really did help.  I no longer take medication for one basic reason: side effects.  I am naturally the kind of person with little to no energy, and every drug I’ve tried so far would make me even more tired.  With the exception of Prozac; that made me LITERALLY bounce off the walls.

What surprised me was the amount of fear attached to the condition – on the part of the sufferers.  A lot of us fear being seen as a “loon”, to the point of avoiding treatment.  Which, as you can imagine, makes things worse, not better.

It made me realize something, though: while there’s no doubt that I AM a Manic Depressive (/have Bipolar Disorder), I definitely have a “milder” case of it than some people do.  My manic episodes were never as dramatic as what some of the people on there have described.  However, for ME they WERE definitely Manic.

I was a little surprised to hear the one doctor say that going off Lithium (which is the first drug I was ever on) could be disastrous.  Other than the fact that my mood swings came back, I can’t say that my depression was any worse than it would have been had I never had treatment.  And it just so happens that that particular period in my life also happened to be one of the most difficult (I became homeless; had to live in a homeless shelter [just like the ones you see portrayed on television], Number One Daughter became very ill [croup], I met and became engaged to The Little Helper’s sperm donor, and he turned out to be an addict AND abusive).  So you would think that I would have become immobilizingly depressed during that time.  I didn’t.  I can’t say that I was happy, but it felt just like every other depression I’d suffered through before.

And I’m kind of in a quandry about this question surrounding diagnosing children and teenagers with the condition.  On the one hand, I have my own experience: I was diagnosed at 15, and it was the best thing that could have happened to me.  I finally had an answer to WHY I was different, and was given tools to help me deal with it.  On the other hand, I have absolutely NO DOUBT that there are scores of children being misdiagnosed, or diagnosed without REAL cause.  So I can’t really say where I stand on that issue, because I really don’t know myself.  I can vividly see both sides of the argument, and they’re both valid.

I’m a jumble of emotions after watching these.  On the one hand, I’m infinitely grateful that these documentaries were made.  They NEEDED to be made, and now that I’ve seen them, I can’t think of a better person than Stephen Fry to do them.  He approaches the subject with respect and compassion without ever hiding the fact that he wants to learn.  On the other, I’ve seen some things that have shocked and disgusted me.  But the more I think about it, the more I think it’s a small price to pay.

* – Stephen Fry is EXACTLY the kind of man that makes my head turn.  As a matter of fact, he reminds me of my high school sweetheart, and I’ve ALWAYS thought he was good looking.

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.

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.

Fat Family: an Observation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to preach FA? Get drunk!

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

Done?

Okay then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I definitely was NOT sober.

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

Fatphobia Scarily Close to Home

Angel of the North, GatesheadAs Sandy reported last night, Gateshead City Council is joining the Fatphobia Brigade and thinking up the most ridiculous measures they can think of to fight OMG TEH FATZ!!!11!!!ELEVENTY-ONE!!. I’ll get to what I think about that in a moment.

But what really scares me?  Gateshead is the next city over from me.  Yup – I can walk out the door right now, hop on a bus, and be there within 20 minutes.

I mean, granted – none of us is immune to The Fear of Teh Fatz.  We see it everywhere we go – in movies, on television, in the media, walking down the street… but a lot of the time, it seems like it’s something that happens over there – where “there” is an intangible place, that just isn’t “here.”  To know that the stupidity of fat fear is coming this close to home… it’s very disconcerting, to say the least.

But Oh. My. God.  Can these people really get any more stupid?  Forcing chip shop owners to change their SALT SHAKERS in an effort to “trick” customers into consuming less salt?  Can they not think of a better plan?

As Sandy pointed out, it’s a ridiculous idea anyway.

Another local chip shop owner, Carol Ackerman, who runs Carol’s Plaice in the suburb of Acklam, said: ‘People will just put on more salt if they want more.
‘In fact, we have had some people unscrewing the lids to do so.’

If people like my grandmother* – who like a little salt with their salt – want more, they’re going to FIND a way to get it.  Putting fewer holes in the damned shaker isn’t going to make one bit of difference one way or the other.

And I’m not alone in my indignation.  Just check out these comments from the Daily Mail article:

So the Health Gestapo have decided that a recommended amount has suddenly become an enforceable allowance. If these interfering busybodies have enough time to exercise their minds with such rubbish they obviously have too little to do and should be got rid of immediately to save the public money.
People such as them do far more to damage my blood pressure than any amount of salt.

When I buy fish and chips and find inadequate salt when I get them home I shake on some more. Are these imbeciles going to have people following customers home to make sure that they don’t do the same? After all, they have all sorts of other totalitarian rights under “anti-terrorism” measures that they can use. Still, it’s good to see that UK local governments are continuing to fulfill their major function, namely render a once-great nation the world’s laughing stock.

I’ll let these brain dead morons into a secret. If it ain’t salty enough, just shake for longer and add more. P.S. Where’s the firing squad?

Now, educating people on the over-consumption of salt?  Fine.  Seriously, folks, you’d be surprised the number of people out here that actually don’t know that too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure and kidney disease.  (Hell, there are ADULTS out here that can’t name vegetables when they have them right in front of them.  No joke.)  But this is going beyond ridiculous.

And the worst part?  The fact that they spent loads of taxpayers’ money to do this.  I could give you a LIST of things better suited for that money… but we’d be here all day.  So I won’t do that.  But this? *headdesk*

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear these people got their brains sucked out by aliens.  It’s a better thought than the alternative.

* – I used to nag my grandmother to death about the amount of salt she used.  My other grandmother’s husband (not my actual grandfather, her 3rd husband, I think) died of a heart attack, and the one thing I always remembered was that he couldn’t have too much salt, because of what it would do to his heart.  So it made me a little paranoid.  I didn’t let up on her until she came home from the doctor and told me that her blood pressure was perfect – even with the amount of salt she eats (and yeah, it’s a lot – more than twice what I eat).  So again – there is no one-size-fits-all equation of good health.  My step-grandfather?  Too much salt = death.  My grandmother?  Too much salt = nothing.  Get it straight, all you fatphobic pricks… THERE IS NO “ANSWER” TO YOUR SO-CALLED “OBESITY EPIDEMIC.”  It’s all in your fucked up heads.

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?