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Friday, October 7, 2011

mermaid/whale/blah blah

This post is not going to be funny. It's not going to be lighthearted. Hell, it probably won't even be entertaining. Bail now if you're just here for the lulz and the occasional underwear picture.

Okay! Am I talking to myself now? Cool. Here we go.

You may have seen this elsewhere. It's apparently being passed around Facebook and blogged and commented on in lots of places. It gets fervent praise or rabid censure. It's causing controversy, is what I'm saying.

Bit of background. Some of you may know and a lot of you may not (oh, Andrea, writing as if they haven't all gone away after you warned them to, tsk) that for a while a couple years ago, I was very into reading the "fat bloggers", i.e. the champions of the fat acceptance movement and Health at Every Size (HAES), even though I was not clinically fat myself. Except for a brief period circa 2000-2001, I have never been outside a normal BMI. I have been, at most, cosmetically fat and, even more often, just thought I was fat because of my warped body image. Reading the fat bloggers was very therapeutic to me, in seeing people who accepted, even loved, their bodies despite not looking like the media or society told them they should. That was point one.

Point two was that, even with my own bodily hatred, I had long believed--known!--that much of what the fat bloggers said was true. Not all fat people are fat because they are shoveling Twinkies into their mouths 24/7 while refusing to get out of their recliners, and treating people as lazy slobs due only to what you (think you) know about them by looking at them was both unfair and stupid. My own late mother was obese, and I knew for a fact that she ate less than I did and I weighed 100 pounds less than she. And while she wasn't running 5ks or going to the gym, she, for most of the time she was obese, worked a job where she was on her feet for 6 hours straight and at home, from spring through fall, spent hours a day gardening. It was obvious to me that something more complicated was going on than simply "calories in, calories out."*** But I'm sure people thought she ate a box of donuts a day and washed it down with liters of non-diet Coke and did nothing but sit on her fat ass all day long. Similarly, my son gained over 80 pounds in probably less than 3 months when he went on a medication that otherwise saved his life, but which is known to eff up one's metabolism. That anyone would look at him and judge him negatively because of that made my heart break a little when I thought of it.****

Furthermore, I knew that the principles of HAES were true. Some people are overweight and all their lab work is just fine, thanks. Some people are overweight and very fit. Some people are thin, have triglyceride levels of 500 and can't run to catch a bus. OTOH, I do, and did, think that the fat bloggers were overselling HAES. Many of them who were adamant that they were in perfect health despite their obesity were young women in their 20s and 30s. I'm not so sure that as many people who are obese in their 50s can say their blood tests are all stellar and they don't have any joint problems. (Though how many people in their 50s of any weight can say that? Time catches up with all of us. I do think it may catch up with the obese in the form of type II diabetes a lot quicker though.) Also, I think there's a ceiling. I don't find it hard to believe someone who weighs 250 is both fit and healthy; someone who is 450? Eh. They would be a huge outlier. No pun intended. Okay, a little pun intended.

So, yeah, this current controversy? I don't begrudge the author for loving her fat body. I also think that the people attacking her with claims that she is promoting obesity and OMG! obesity epidemic! booga booga! don't have all their facts straight, or indeed, that deep down they really are worried about fat people's health. No. Be serious. They think fat people are ugly and lazy and they hate them. Or at least dislike them intensely. Or at least need to feel superior to them to make up for their feelings of low self-worth on other matters.

However, I don't think that the message that thinner people are too uptight to eat ice cream with their children or whatever is fair. Feeling superior to thinner people to make up for one's feelings of low self-worth on whatever matters is uncool as well.

In summary: try to be happy with yourself. If there's something about yourself you dislike and you can change it, try to do so. If it turns out that even with your best efforts you can't (see: my thighs), learn to accept it, all zen-like. Exercise because it's good for you and it's fun. Don't exercise in order to chase some grim specter of unattainable perfection. Eat some really crappy food once in a while and don't feel guilty. Don't eat copious amounts of really crappy food every freaking day. Even if you're bulking. Ahem. If you're not an alcoholic and you want a beer, drink the damn beer. Don't criticize other people's bodies. Try not to criticize your own body. Live life. Have fun. Don't be a hater.

The end.

Random lolcat for your pleasure:


***Turns out, by the time my mother went into the hospital to die of cancer that could have been caught earlier had she gone to the damn doctor, she had absolutely no thyroid function al all. Like, literally. No thyroid hormone. Which obviously could have been found earlier had she gone to the doctor in the past 30 years, but that's a whole nother head-->desk. My theory is she croaked her thyroid by all the crash dieting she did when *she* wasn't fat but thought she was.

****After five years on this medication, he's been, for reasons that are unclear, recently losing weight without trying very hard. He's down to 195, which takes him out of the obese category into merely overweight. This is a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. Andrea, all very well said! I agree with every word.
    I am so terribly sorry for the fate of your mom and for the unnecessary loss.
    I hope your son is well and whatever necessitated the meds is resolved or at least under control.