THE TRUTH REVEALED: the entire United States is FAT because we are guilty of being clueless of how many calories [we] do or should eat (according to a totes accurate and representative INTERWEBZ survey of 1,024 people). THX USATODAY!
Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak of the International Food Information Council Foundation (Jesus, what a name), “an education group supported by the food, beverage and agricultural industries” (who are TOTES not involved in making tons of money off of diet food),
Having some frame of reference could be an important first step in tackling your weight, she says.
Unless I was in a VR chair during my formative years – in which case I didn’t actually live them and my brain is filled with false images of people I’ve never met and places I’ve never been – when I was a teenager, I carried around a notebook. In that notebook, I would write down the calorie count of everything I put in my mouth. I would tally up all of the calories and, using the average amount of calories burned while jogging for someone of my height, weight, and age, I would subtract the calories an average body burns in a day and exercise until I’d burned off the rest. I wouldn’t feel “balanced” until I’d done so, even if it meant working out until I was exhausted, sick, and shaky.
I did not lose weight.
But but but Wendy says “Your output must equal your input or you’ll gain weight.” How could I have been so wrong?! There must be something wrong with me – my body doesn’t work right, maybe I’m just not working hard enough, I just need to exercise more and eat less, and then I’ll be healthy and not a disgusting lazy fatass!
Oh, wait. That’s not right. I’m not lazy. I do hot box yoga, and swim, and hike. And sometimes I don’t. I weigh less now, eating when I get signals from my body and not restricting my diet, than I did when I was a teen and only eating fat-free ranch dressing and SnackWells cookies. There must be something else amiss here.
Oh yeah! I remember! Calories-in/calories-out is a LOAD OF FUCKING HORSESHIT.
And show me a goddamn fat person in the United States (especially a ladyfatz) who is not conscious of their food intake and the burning judgmental stares of bystanders. If there is a reason fatties are still fat, it is NOT that we are unaware of what awful people we supposedly are.
I haven’t in a while, but once upon a time I used to read fan fiction. I actually read a lot of fan fiction. I would keyword search on my favorite characters and read whatever came up on my screen, which meant I read some of the worst drivel ever mashed out on a keyboard. On the other hand, I read some amazingly well-crafted, engaging fan fiction that made me totes happy and, in the case of After the End, kind of confused me once the actual canon came out and it didn’t match up.
So, when I say that the Twilight series is on par with that former category, know that opinion comes from a place of experience.
Which is not to say that I didn’t read them. I did. I admit it. I read them all in a few days, ravenously, like a little kid who finds herself alone with her Halloween loot and goes to town. And I kind of felt the same afterward, too – overfull and nauseous, but with that tinge of regret that comes with knowing you blew through it so fast, and there isn’t anymore left.**
So, I’m torn between two interpretations concerning Bella. 1st, obvious interpretation: Bella is an inanimate object, like a tennis ball, being volleyed back and forth between two men who do nothing but seethe with hatred at one another when the ball’s not in their court. This is shitty from a feminist perspective, because CHIVALRY, and, Bella makes virtually no active decisions in the entire series. Even when vampire-types want to kill her dead, it’s not because of something she did (her personality didn’t attract Edward [her smell did, not something she can control], she didn’t actively provoke James, she didn’t kill James, she didn’t choose to be pregnant, and jeez, even her vampire superpower is passive and keeps her from fighting as her heinous newborn self).
The 2nd, more complicated interpretation: Bella as a Mary Sue. This should not be complicated – everyone knows that Mary Sue stories categorically suck.*** BUT WAIT, there’s a great discussion happening on Mary Sue policing. There is a dearth of strong female characters in source material so what the hell is so wrong with writing a few in? “It’s wish fulfillment!” shout the self-proclaimed Serious Writers of Fan Fiction. “It’s lazy writing! Stop trying to include characters you can relate to in worlds where they do not belong!”
As Margaret Lion points out in comments, Captain Kirk and James Bond much? I’m pretty sure Gene Roddenberry and Ian Fleming wished HARD that they could be the womanizing, action-hero characters they invented, rather than their lackluster, everyday selves.
Yes, Bella’s not strong or bad ass or interesting. The few traits Stephenie Meyer emphasizes (clumsiness, ho-hum run-of-the-mill talent, “plain” in a culturally lauded [thin, blemish-free] way) are easy to relate to, and familiar, and desirable, and make her a placeholder for girls who live in a patriarchal culture and wish their life was fantastical and exciting and dramatic and tragically beautiful.
The solution to this conundrum, I think, is not demonizing young girls for being “Twihards.” It’s working to change the culture that dictates the only thing a woman can be is attached to a man, and writing fiction with interesting female characters that do more boulder-crushing and lightning-zapping and puzzle-solving and battle-winning and awesome-being. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a few sparkly immortal men in there too, if that’s your dish, as long as they don’t mansplain ass-kicking.
*even though there isn’t an eclipse in the movie and I know that the book titles are supposed to be clever plays on daylight and all that but the plots are so thin that the “moon cycle” series metaphor doesn’t even work, y’know?
**I have a history of liking source material that sucks, and picking out the few meaty bits to elaborate on myself: the characters of Rosalie and Jasper intrigue me, and Carlisle is just damn hot. Can someone with more talent than me write some backstory for these folks?
***I wrote a Mary Sue character series. Over 240 pages of it. No, you can’t read it it is gone forever THANK GOD.
Fatties aren’t supposed to wear shirts with horizontal stripes so I went out and got one HA HA HA.
That was supposed to be the end of this post, but then I got to thinking about my fashion choices before and after Fat Acceptance. Many other writers are covering the topic of fatshion already (and pleez go partake of their eloquent wisdom!) but I thought I’d throw out a few personal specifics, y’know, for realness purposes.*
According to those closest to me, I am boring. I don’t go in for patterns (except for, apparently, HORIZONTAL STRIPES), I like jeans, I like black (even my tattoos are black and gray), I wear flat shoes, and I have some kick-ass accessories but only wear them once in a while.
All of that is not so different from when I hated my body, except for 2 crucial things: CUT and QUALITY.
My aesthetic preferences are, no doubt, due in part to my demonization of femininity in favor of being “one of the guys” (which is another topic for another time, and which has also been covered elsewhere), but the plain t-shirt of today and the plain t-shirt of 10 years ago have some differences, which I have conveniently laid out in a table:
So what role has FA played in all this? Well, now I like trying out different styles that highlight my body instead of hiding it. I also invest in higher-quality stuff because a) I think my body is worth it, and b) I don’t think it will be obsolete in a year because I will somehow miraculously become thin and have to start my wardrobe over from scratch.
I will now meander over to Etsy and drool over the drop earrings with vintage glass beads.
*I have the privilege to purchase brand-name clothing, though usually from discount stores. (Why the hell would you pay 40 bucks for a t-shirt even if you could, anyway?) This was not always the case, and is not possible for everyone. Trying to find current, stylish, cheap fatshion is almost always a nightmare, so there is no reason to police anybody, including fatties, about their wardrobe choices. So don’t do it!
The thing is, LH (may I call you LH?) I can easily spend an hour catching up on all of your posts in my reader, and the amount of actual advice I’ve utilized from them is, well… actually, I don’t know if I have successfully utilized any of it. I want to build my own moss terrarium for work, but both of my jobs are ending in a few months and I don’t know if I’ll have a place to put them after I leave. I want to create my own pot rack out of a chain hung from the ceiling, but I’m moving in a month so what’s the point in doing that?
I don’t blame you, Lifehacker. This hurts me more than it hurts you. Maybe one day, when I have steady employment and stable housing, I can visit with you again. Right now, we just need some time apart.
*Though it cuts me deep, CRAFTzine may not be far behind.
A few days ago, I had an interesting experience. I met up briefly with a friend that I spent every day with in college, but only see every 2 years or so now. Let’s call her Martha. And – Martha did not like my jump to the dark side. Oh no, not at all.
You know. That dark side where you don’t laugh at rape jokes. Where you are disgusted by being harassed at bars, instead of “having fun” with it. Where I, as a white person, try my damndest to not be complicit in the racism of other white people, which more often or not involves becoming the aguafiesta.
In school, our favorite bonding pastime was “people watching,” aka Body Police. We’d sit outside, or walk outside, and make casual (and high-larious) remarks about the slovenly state of so-and-so, look at that dude’s sideways hat what a douche, and various riffs on the ever popular, “she shouldn’t be wearing that.” See, the thing is, she’s very thin, and I’m fat. Actually, I was fatter then than I am now. And I had Issues with that, materialized in the form of social isolation, constant hand-wringing about others’ imagined perceptions of me, and a vacuum where my self-esteem should have been.
Flash forward 4 years in the future. I spent 3 of them living far away in hip hip Seattle becoming all cosmopolitan and confident and independent and such. Last summer I downed the red pill and had my feminist awakening (thank you blogosphere btw), and she hasn’t seen me since then. Our mutual friend, herself quite an activist, visited Martha a few months ago, and did a little bit of that awkwardness-inducing stoic silence stuff. Since our mutual friend was my roommate for a time, Martha decided to plumb the depths and see how much I’d been “indoctrinated.”
I don’t think it worked out quite as she’d hoped.
And I was disappointed too; I didn’t expect to play race bingo with one of my best friends.*
I know this is just the beginning, the first of many: as I start to see people I used to be close to, I’ll start realizing just how fucked up some of the things they say are. I used to say those things, too.** When I see them again, no matter which action I choose, I will be different. I won’t be fun anymore. Even if I turn a blind eye to offensive shit and change the subject, they’ll still notice I’m not participating, and their perception of me will change.
Which is good, if it makes them think. Here marks the beginning of my journey to Keep Friends and Influence Them To Start Thinking About Their Privilege Without Driving Them Away Totally.
Which would’ve totally been a way better book.
*This round’s winners: “Well, it depends on the context.” “Won’t people just find a reason to hate each other anyway?” “Well, my 2 black friends don’t talk about race so it must not be an issue anymore.” “Well, where I live, I’m the minority, so I understand what it feels like.”
**And I’m sure I will again, since privilege rears its ugly head even when you’re conscious of it. That’s how it works.
I don’t know how you could pack more awfulness into a single article, under the guise of science.*
I’m just going to list them out, as bulleted lists are a shortcut around actual thinking:
- OBESITY CRISIS
- Calories in/calories out: “Perceptions of neighborhood safety are important [when considering child obesity] because children have fewer opportunities for physical activity if their parents fear for their safety outside the home.”
- Making mothers solely responsible for their children (‘S PROBLEMS), a la controlling for variables such as “mother’s weight, smoking during pregnancy, and depression as well as the child’s television viewing and bottle versus breast feeding.”
- Placing the onus of domestic violence on mothers’ shoulders (you are a BAD MOTHER if you can’t simultaneously suffer domestic abuse from your male partner and make braised kale with roasted garlic for dinner).
- I’m going to stick with this one for another bullet, because, seriously? The first line of the article? “Children whose mothers said they were chronically abused by their partners were more likely to be obese by age 5 than similar children whose mothers did not report such steady family violence.” So, it’s not the abusive father that’s messing up the kids – it’s the mother who is chronically abused that is responsible.
- Completely eliminate links between socioeconomic status and food options. And domestic violence. And the roles of women.
- Being flat-out confusing. We start with, “Children whose mothers reported intimate partner violence” and end up with, “children exposed to abuse of their mothers.” Kindly clarify what in the hell it is you are talking about, plzkthx.
My friend elaborates, “[…] how nice it must be to be so privileged that you have never had to think about what an abused woman might go through, to the extent that you’re hypothesizing that intimate partner violence, where one partner exerts sometimes total control over the other, *might* “change the way mothers care for their children.” Indeed.
The frosting on the failcake is this: “[…] researchers urge doctors and public health specialists to be aware of domestic violence and neighborhood safety when thinking about ways to prevent childhood obesity.”
Fuck working to end domestic violence! Just make sure the kids don’t grow up to be NASTY FATTIES!
*I’m depressingly sure someone will enlighten me.
ETA the link to the actual article. Jeebus.
My left hand as a guinea pig from Sunday afternoon. Practice makes perfect.
The number one oppression, hands-down, that I see in my workplace every day, is fat-hatred.*
I’ve started, just as a way to keep my head from exploding, to document how many times I interact with a woman eating, or discuss something food related with a woman (i.e., “Should we get Nip ‘n Sip for lunch?”) and she does not engage in fat-hatred. So far, I’m 0 for 7. Okay, I had one short interaction sans DEATHFAT but it got canceled out with her coming to me 20 minutes later to confess to me her entire caloric intake that day, while self-loathingly poking herself in the stomach.
Fat-hatred is insidious and all-consuming. It manifests itself in men policing women, women policing women, and women policing themselves. In fact, it’s an awkwardness-producing behavior to not shame yourself in a conversation. The first one is easier for me to take because I can just say “keep your fucking trap shut” or something a bit politer, and be done with it. The second is more complex but offers itself to “it’s none of our fucking business what anyone else does with their body.” But that last one, that last one is hard – how do you respond to women who are proclaiming that they are the largest creature since the blue whale and they’re going to burn for all eternity because they couldn’t say no to that last potato chip?
My tactic to date has been to nod and say something like, “Eating [x] doesn’t make you a bad person,” or “Yep, [x] is really tasty.” I am for neutralizing: continuing the conversation about food, but removing the morality from it. I generally try to avoid using specialized terms, because people tune out when I send words like “morality” and “fat” tumbling from my mouth hole.** My personal issue with this is that fat-shaming has become one of my buttons – y’know, those buttons that when they’re pressed cause one to unleash red-bottle fury on unsuspecting passersby.
My own story is, sadly, not unusual: I was an athletic kid, then I quit sports when I was 11 because puberty hit and I became a fat girl, and fat girls get laughed off the field. Then, for 15 years afterward my reality was dominated by the idea that I was fucking disgusting, horrible and worthless, I dieted (and failed) chronically, subscribed wholeheartedly to the fantasy of being thin, and waited for my life to start in earnest. So talking with women twice my age still hating themselves, still unable to eat without judgment, still making sure everyone around them knows how much they despise their own lack of discipline so they won’t be shamed by others, makes me depressed sad exasperated furious FUCKING BATSHIT.
I think of this post as a baseline for future workplace FA updates, since it’s very immediate and meaningful for me. Maybe I’ll even invent a snazzy title for the series. But, I don’t want it to just be a chronicle of all of the fat-shaming I witness/experience, because a) it’s impossible given the frequency, and b) it doesn’t serve a purpose. My goal is to use these experiences as a learning tool to work on my FA advocacy skillz, and sifting through them after they’ve happened is a great way for me to do that.
Also, hopefully, they’ll be nice to read.
*with racism coming in a close second. Just last week, after inquiring what I was reading [answer], I had a white co-worker tell me that if we didn’t have racism, we wouldn’t have Archie Bunker, and that’s a shame because he was just great.
**Although a few weeks ago I snapped and spat “food is not a moral choice” at a particularly prolific fat shamer whom I’ve seen make fat women in my office very uncomfortable on multiple occasions. Not that effective, but I felt better.
Though long overdue, it’s time for me to present the fruit of my labors from Make-a-long 2010! I had three main projects going: hemp jewelry in honor of summer, attempting a new recipe, and the cream of the crop: my amazing screenprint.
Like leethal, I started my day by making coffee. (About a year ago I finally got a french press, and it is glorious. Plus, I just feel so cool when I pour my coffee into a cup with my hand on the lid just-so.) I made a playlist of creativity-inducing tunes and settled in on my first project, jewelry:
I have hemp and beads left over from when I lived in Seattle, and I’ve been lugging them around with me for over a year without actually making them into something. Cue the April stash-bust! Time to actually get it out of the bag and turn it into pretties.
Secondly, the gnocchi:
On New Year’s Eve I had an some amazing gnocchi in sage butter sauce, and I wanted to recreate that magic. Gnocchi isn’t that difficult to make; or so I thought.
I made the potato dumplings the day before, froze them, and anticipated my lovely dinner the next day. I set my water to boil, tossed in the tiny packets of delicious, and… they disintegrated. I didn’t have the heart to take pictures of the disaster my kitchen became; I ended up eating potstickers instead. I didn’t make those; but I’ll give myself a pat on the back for making an attempt.
My favorite part of make-a-long? My very own silkscreen. I recently attended a tutorial on this at a local women’s group, and I’d come across craftgrrl’s online tutorial a while ago, but I figured this was a perfect time to give it a go.
I went to the craft store and bought a cheap embroidery hoop, Mod Podge, paintbrushes, fabric paint, and fabric. The fabric was tricky; the only silk I found was incredibly thick, so I took a gamble and went with a cheap costume-making fabric that had a better weave.
If you recognize the icon on my screen, a thousand points to you! If not, I’m afraid I must inform you, the cake is a lie.
I printed out my image and traced it onto the screen with pencil, and filled in all of the negative space with Mod Podge. I put at least 4 coats of Podge on my screen, which is probably overkill but I had a lot of emotional investment in this project… I’ve been wanting to express my love for my companion cube for ages. I decided to let it set, so I didn’t actually print with my screen until later in the week. The result:
Given the givens, I declare my make-a-long was a success. Now I have to find more things to print on.
(I would like to mention that beer is a great addition to a make-a-long, if you’re so inclined. It definitely helped when my gnocchi fell apart.)
Sorry about that. My bad.