Saturday, May 08, 2010


A riff from elsewhere, on the general mantras regarding "you're too fat" messages, which in turn was based on this article with the shocking news that Bullies Target Obese Kids (who knew?):

I'm just thinking: the "it's for your health" crap. I mean, even besides the whole, it sort of gives the game away that someone doesn't necessarily have your best interests in mind when they also call you an ugly old hag or "bitchcunt" and other hilariously witty epithets. But, yeah, sure: health is a good thing. Eat better, if you can, get more exercise, assuming you're able. All over it. Eating more fruits and vegetables and fiber and fish. Haven't had fast food for quite a while. Doing Pilates twice a week now. Getting back into dance and yoga. Signed up for pole dancing next week, yah rly. Because it makes me feel better, physically and mentally. Health, yes. And yeah, I don't actually eat all that much, amount wise; mainly this has to do with the meds I'm on. Will it result in weight loss eventually? Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is, if I made that my priority, I'd make myself nuts, so I'm not. Again: in the interest of health. Mine.

So, but yeah, in terms of ingesting shit that's bad for you? Today it occurred to me: y'know, I could eat McChuck's three times a day and wash it down with a donut milkshake, and I'm betting it still wouldn't be as bad for me as swallowing the toxic go-ahead-and-hate-yourself-for-not-being-thin-enough (along with every other reason, of course) bullshit being shoveled at us from all sides. I mean, you can't not swallow any, fuck knows. But, just sucking it up undiluted? In the apparent belief that it's, I don't know, a health drink? Might as well go out into the Gulf right now and take a nice big gulp out of the noxious oil slick. And fuck yes, that eventually takes a physical toll, too. The more I learn about mind-body-well, that's another thread.

I got a fair share of bullying as a kid, surprise. The main theme wasn't fat, although that was certainly a motif through at least some years. I hovered around the "high end of normal" until I was 21 or so, except when I was dieting. Which, the first time I did that, I was 10. Yeah, ten. Why? Three guesses. It didn't quite develop into an eating disorder, but I have a feeling I was well on my way; for whatever reason, at some point the suggestion by a doctor that if I remained as underweight as I was I wouldn't hit puberty upset me more than the prospect of getting fat, so I started eating again, and that was that; by the end of sixth grade I was back to normal, if not well before that. There are pictures of me from that proto-anorexia or whatever it was period, though: you can count all my ribs through the T-shirts I'm wearing. I'd throw away lunch and exercise till I was dizzy and nearly passed out.

Then, when I was 17, Mom and I decided to do Jenny Craig together, (Mom's idea, natch) because we'd both hit the horrifying weight of-what was it? 138? At 5'4? My god, we were sometimes into the double digit sizes. Thank fuck we straightened that out in time, I say. Mom's instructor was a "former" anorexic who would lecture about how she trained herself out of having a glass of wine at the end of the day by chanting about how she didn't need it a hundred times. Something like that. But by the end of it I was wearing a size 4, at least for a year or so; no one made fun of me for being fat at that point.

So, instead, for instance, the same boy who'd started our acquaintance by randomly calling me a "bitch" in class back in junior high, before I'd so much as spoken to him or he knew my name (it took me till much later to realize it had happened when I knew the answer to something he didn't) prank calling me drunk in the middle of the night and making remarks about, like, the shape of my face. Seriously. Or the shoes I wore. Like that. In itself? No big deal. Years and years' worth of that kind of shit? It gets old.

I know a bunch of people who don't like the Judy Blume book "Blubber" because it's depressingly-some would say gratuitously-true to the way kid harassment works: the name calling, the hazing, the sheer thoughtless nastiness. It seems to suggest that the bullies are right, is the argument from those people. Personally, I still think it's one of her better ones. There's a point where the title character has brought a "diet" meal to school, and when the ringleader points it out she says something like, she's going to lose weight and then they won't be able to make fun of her anymore. To which the ringleader responds by forcing her to repeat that "My name will always be Blubber" and then telling her not to forget it, because "even if you only weigh fifty pounds you'll still be a smelly whale." It is rather instructive, at that. And then when the protagonist stands up to the ringleader, she becomes the goat for a while. She fights back, and she manages to get off the hot seat, but it's not really a moral victory; life just kind of goes on.

And yet, of course, it's not pure randomness that the designated goat is the "fat girl." You do get a glimpse behind the scapegoating impulse that can, in fact, land on anyone; but fact is, it does land more often on some people than others; this is was we call "structural" shit, of course.

As for not standing up for yourself...well, it's an interesting set of mixed messages out there, for sure.

Frex: vacations, I'd go to my grandparents' house in Arizona, a "safe space" for me, on the whole. I liked to read the books on her shelves-I was always a reader; most of them had been around since the year one. She had the original "Weight Watchers" book from 1960, beehive do's and pointy boobs on the front cover, glowing testimonials on the back. One of the chapter titles, as I recall:

"You Have To Hate Yourself Enough."

To lose weight, that is. Motivation to go on a diet starts through hating yourself. It was that bald.

Oh, they've softened that line since then, I'm sure, have WW. That, and bits like the inspirational little stories sprinkled throughout like:

the one of the sweet but painfully sad and alone (what else would she be?) fat woman who began to "blossom" as the pounds came off. And then, one day, she Met A Man! And it was wonderful and romantic! And he proposed to her! Swoon! But, he also told her he could "never marry a fat girl." Panic, when she hit the dreaded "plateau!" She'd "never make it to her wedding," she cried to her WW buddies! But, somehow, they got her through it, the pounds started to come off again, and she wore her beautiful size seven wedding dress to marry her wonderful husband, and they lived happily ever after^. Seriously. That was in the book. I remember it well; I read it over and over again, along with the Dr. Spock book and the ten year old guide to the best restaurants in Phoenix.

(^That is, he carried her over the threshold with one arm, no doubt, and they lived happily ever after until she gained the weight back again and he dumped her for his secretary, or she didn't gain the weight back and he dumped her anyway because she got too old for him or she got breast cancer and it was too upsetting or he didn't like the way she snored, or he didn't leave her but he beat the shit out of her or just wore her down till she took a wee fistful of Valium every day, or...yes well they left that bit out, never mind, moving on)


Comrade PhysioProf said...

Glad to see your post, belledame.

Kristen said...

Good to see you again, Belle.

Isn't the whole "hate yourself" thing just plain sick? I admit. I feel it. Call it leftovers from the perfectionism that I can't seem to ever completely kick, but it's weird how deep in your psyche that social expectation burrows. Weird and disturbing...

CrackerLilo said...

Glad to see you back, and boy, you came back in style with this post. Thank you. Everything you said!

DaisyDeadhead said...

Health, nothing. How about: being able to pay one's bills? If I didn't do SOMETHING about my ailing knees and feet, I was going to be unable to work and lose my job. I have 12 yrs to go before Medicaid/Social Security, and this isn't academic. I was desperate, but not to look pretty... my livelihood was at stake.

The truth is, losing weight has made a huge difference in my knee and foot pain, and that was my whole reason for doing it. I know, that's heresy, but before anyone criticizes me for that, I need to know their ages and job descriptions (specifically: how many hours a day they stand on their feet, for how many years?). If they are under 40, and do something fun like "student"? Hey, I might even agree with them. As it is, I can't afford to and do not have the luxury.

ALL of my foot pain is gone, left knee pain gone. Right knee? Probably never, but I can deal with just one swollen joint at a time. I think I have prolonged my working life with this measure, and I am pleased. I wish I had done it long ago.

Lucy said...

Daisy, did you read the part where belledame says there can be health reasons to lose weight? The point is to call out fat-shaming.

Oddly, you seem to be expecting skinny-shaming or something? I read the whole point of belledame's post as saying "(Body) policing is bad". For this reason your attempting to police people on age and occupation is just too ironic.

belledame222 said...

i mean i think do what you need to do for health, first. just making sure it's actually about health: the thesis here was really

"it sort of gives the game away that someone doesn't necessarily have your best interests in mind when they also call you an ugly old hag or "bitchcunt" and other hilariously witty epithets.

yes, that came from somewhere. no, it had nothing do to with blogland.


DaisyDeadhead said...

Okay, thought I was being called out. I've deleted about 5 people from my weight-loss post and another one showed up this morning, so getting a trifle paranoid at this point. Never mind, carry on.

But if you want to argue with my old ex-Yippie friend Jeff and Snowdrop Explodes about atheism, drop on by! :D

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Abigail Gonzalez said...
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