ack! don’t tell me about your weigh-in

on

spinster summer is going really well, but i have been kind of cranky & easily irritated lately anyway. i decided to follow through on the plan to go back to boston for my birthday. i had this more grandiose idea to fly into philly the week before & hang out with friends there for a few days. the weekend before my birthday, bart & jared would drive down to hang out, & then we’d all go back to boston for my birthday, & then i would fly home again. but the lady i would have been staying with/mainly going to visit in philly didn’t return my calls or texts in time, & plane tickets were getting more & more expensive, so i had to make a decision, & i knew for certain that i had ride from the airport & a place to stay in boston, so…i’m just going to boston. which is fine with me. i am really just going to see jared anyway. but it would have been nice to see other friends.

i hit my wall with another zine acquaintance in terms of language that is kind of body hating. this lady is very into fitness stuff, which…that’s cool. i am dating a former bike messenger who still routinely rides his bike out into the country on the hottest summer days & then proceeds to go running. i myself take water aerobics (more for pain management than for fitness, but it is still technically a fitness class in the parks & recreation catalogue). i am all for people pursuing health & fitness! i am less pumped about dieting. i personally am not not a healthy eating guru by any stretch of the imagination (i’m not dawn schafer), but i’m generally of the opinion that eating whole foods that haven’t been super-processed in quantities adequate to supply your body with energy & nutrients beats the pants off of counting calories or weight watchers points or any of those other gimmicks.

but i also try not to get too involved in the fitness/eating choices of the people around me because i am also of the opinion that other people’s bodies are not really my business, just as my body is not their business.

this becomes more difficult when someone constantly talks about their fitness/eating choices. they are then making it my business, whether i want to know about it or not. & because we live in a fatphobic body-hating culture, fatphobic body-hating language often creeps into these conversations…particularly when the ultimate goal of the fitness/eating choices is to lose weight. even if a person is only using that language to describe their own body & no one else’s, i feel that it helps create a culture where it is normal to say body-hating things about yourself, & then we are on a slippery slope to saying body hating things about other people. how do children learn that something is “wrong” with their body shape or size if their parents or classmates aren’t explicitly telling them that something is wrong? usually by hearing their parents &/or peers saying body-hating things about themselves. & we are not immune to that transference when we are grown-ups.

i have another friend who is really concerned about trying to lose some weight. she routinely says things like, “i went out for dinner & ordered a basket of fries & then i ate them all! i know i shouldn’t have, it was so wrong. hahaha!” what exactly is wrong with a grown woman eating a basket of fries while she’s out to dinner with her friends? if she says this when i am out to dinner with her, it’s hard for me to believe that she may not be passing judgments on me if i order a basket of fries, & i may sub-consciously try to beat her to the punch by curtailing my food choices or judging myself for making the “wrong” choice.

i wouldn’t be friends with someone who was racist or homophobic. why should i be friends with someone who is body-hating? it contributes to a toxic culture that damages people’s mental &, sometimes, physical health. it makes me feel shitty. it makes me feel angry & sad. & the “i’m doing this for my health” argument only reinforces the perception that chubsters & fat people are inherently unhealthy because of their size, & that slim people are inherently healthy because of their size. as a physically disabled person, i can definitely speak to the fact that health trolling is almost always a function of moral judgments that condescend to people that are fat (in the case of fitness/diet commentary), disabled (in the case of patronizing “tips” about pain management & mobility), pregnant (in the case of all the gazillions of scare tactics inflicted on pregnant women)…i could go on.

we’re planning to discuss body image & fatphobia at feminist book club next month. my friend jaimie has been looking for readings, but she says pretty much everything she’s found says something along the lines of, “i’m fat, but i work out & eat right! i’m healthy!” jaimie said she didn’t like the way that all this writing about positive fat self-image was founded in justifying the existence of fat bodies. “fuck that noise! i’m fat because i love cake!” she said. love it! when someone justifies the sharing of their fitness/eating choices, particularly when throwing around added commentary like, “if i lose thirty more pounds, i’ll be normal & not overweight!” or, “i did a weigh-in & i’m not obese anymore!”, they are justifying their actions. in a culture of self-love & body acceptance, none of us would have to justify the amount of space our bodies take up or how we are caring for said bodies. it’s a tall fucking order, but i would really like to try to move toward that & away from living in a goddamn “cathy” cartoon strip.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Obviously some of this is about my Facebook posts. Remember, you do have a choice to read those. My Facebook is set to a “Friends Only” status. People who do not support my choices or language I use to describe my body that comes from medical terminology do not have to read it and aren’t subjected to it. It’s not a public blog.

    That being said, my weight loss is not a political statement. I do not want to change language in order to appease others. It is actually for my health. I was put on cholesterol medication last year and it scared the shit out of me. I thought (keyword THOUGHT) I was a healthy fat lady since I stayed fat but I did things like run. I was wrong. The cholesterol in my blood was too much and could now start to clog my arteries. It took a year, but I made the decision FOR MYSELF to lose weight and change my eating habits to attempt to lower my cholesterol without drugs.

    I went off of cholesterol medication 2 months ago.

    I am perfectly happy if people are happy with their bodies at a higher weight, however, I decided for my own cholesterol (and now for other personal reasons such as faster running time) I wanted to lose pounds. If by taking care of my own situation makes you feel as if I am guilty of fatphobia, I am sorry you feel that way.

    1. ciara says:

      i do feel that the language you have used around your weight loss stuff is body-hating & fatphobic. i tried to tactfully mention it in a response to one of your posts, & i was met with a lot of defensiveness. it is totally possible to write about fitness stuff & even weight loss in a way that is not body-hating. my friend cait does a great job of this on her blog at http://radracer.com. you do not. i know about your cholesterol issues & i totally understand that sometimes people have medical issues that can be addressed by weight loss. but remember how you were all, “‘normal’ is the category the CDC uses to describe the weight i’m trying to get down to. i’m not going to make up a whole new language just to avoid offending people.” i thought that comment was really offensive, as well as ill-informed, because plenty of body positivity activists have already been working–for years–on body-affirming language that can be used when talking about this stuff. your refusal to educate yourself about that language or implement it…well, i think it sucks, & it’s one reason (of several) that i have already defriended you on facebook. i do not support your language choices. i don’t support your cheap justification that you are using “medical terminology”. & i do not support your over-the-top defensiveness (which i acknowledge is not in effect in this comment, but has been your modus operandi for most things i have said to you for a while now). this is a public blog, but you are welcome to stop reading it if you wish.

  2. Maybe the problem is if you are reading me as if I strive to be a “body positive activist” but I’m not. Yeah, I am all about getting people into taking control of their health and what is right for them, but that is where it ends. I am not interested in any political statement about it. I am relieved that you are no longer reading my FB posts, as I was not really into some of your comments, as I just use FB mainly for keeping family and friends (mostly running friends) up to date with me. I am defensive and perhaps overemotional when feeling like I am being judged. Yes, I have self-esteem issues and want people to like me (and not think that I am stupid because I use a word incorrectly). I will continue to read your blog, I like the BSC posts and some of your other snark. I’m just not into the interaction we’ve been having lately.

    1. ciara says:

      from where i sit, it’s not even about being an activist. i don’t really consider myself a body positivity activist. but i do think it’s important to consider language & try not to use language that is oppressive. that’s just a basic fundamental to me. your refusal to do it, your insistence that you’re not an activist so you shouldn’t be expected to do that, reads to me like you just don’t care if you’re using oppressive language that contributes to body hate. & yeah, that is a big problem for me. i am super-relieved to have made the choice not to read your FB & be exposed to that kind of stuff every day.

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