Creatrixsblood's Weblog


I quit dieting and lost weight
August 27, 2014, 7:29 pm
Filed under: Weight Loss

As some of you who follow my blog already know, I have struggled with my weight for nearly all of my life. For most of my life, (including the present) I have been classified as obese. My feelings toward the extra flab and general thickness of my body can be crippling: socially, professionally, and cognitively.

While I have lost the weight before, the way I did it was neither healthy, nor a program that most adults have time to engage in. (It included 6 days of 4 hours of walking and 5 of those included an additional 30 minute weight lifting and yoga routine.) In the years since then, I’ve done a lot of emotional eating and struggling to stay active.  Simultaneously, I have been attempting to fight off my negative inner monologue which says things like: “You know you’ll never lose it, doesn’t an entire pint of ice cream sound better than a 3 mile walk?”

Over the past year, I have tried a few different kinds of diets, which ultimately failed. In the last six months, I stopped dieting, and during that time I have gradually lost 22 pounds. While this certainly isn’t the fastest method of weight-loss, I know this approach is more sustainable than any method I’ve tried yet.

Now, when I say I stopped dieting, I don’t mean I sit down with a box of oreos whenever I feel like it. I mean that I stopped counting calories, stopped denying myself my favorite foods, and made health my primary goal instead of weight-loss.

The shift in thinking is why it works: When I diet, I am not allowed to eat a host of my favorites including ice cream, fried foods,and chocolate. Even when I give myself “reward days” this results in binge-eating my favorites in large quantities and undoing my hard work. Furthermore, when dieting, my main goal is to lose weight, so I am focused on consuming fewer calories and not how balanced my meals are.

However, when I am not dieting, but trying to be more healthy, I am “allowed” to eat these things any time I want, but am much more likely to eat smaller portions and to balance them with healthy food like veggies and fruits. As a result, I tend to eat junk food on more days of the week, but drastically less of it, and when tempted to binge, I am much more likely to eat an entire bag of baby carrots than an entire bag of chips.

The first thing I did was make it a habit to buy, grow, and eat more fruits and vegetables. At first I carried on eating the same things, but I also worked at least one fruit or vegetable into each meal, and made an effort to also include them in my snacks. Another thing I had to do was start eating breakfast and start consistently eating lunch.When I first wake up, I almost never feel hungry, and once I got started on my activities for the day, I would frequently not eat until I was very hungry in the mid-afternoon. Then, I would scarf down one huge meal- usually composed of junk because it was there and convenient. Over the last six months I have eaten at least a banana or strawberries for breakfast, and a normal sized meal for lunch, and it makes a big difference in my energy levels.

Another big step in controlling my binge-eating behavior was to stop beating myself up! Being healthy meant changing my thinking too! I won’t lie, when I look in the mirror I still see things I don’t like…but when I catch myself noticing these things, I practice thought-stopping, balance the negativity with positive observations about my appearance, and remind myself that I am more than how I look. I also told some of my close friends about my inner-monologue so they can help me with my thought-stopping when they see me poking my fat with a frown on my face.

The second step was downsizing the junk food and adding in more convenient and healthy choices. Living with three other people- including a 13 year-old picky eater, has made eliminating the junk food (particularly fried, frozen foods) virtually impossible. However, as I mentioned above, having some around doesn’t have to be a bad thing as long as I can limit myself. There are certain things that I do not buy anymore because once I have them, I find it very difficult not to eat them all at once. Things on the chopping block for me included: bulk candy, specialty ice-creams, and large bags of potato chips. I will still buy these things occasionally, but never packages that contain quantities larger than two servings unless I plan to share them right away.

The third step was to get active! I found myself dragging my feet about exercising..so I don’t call it that. I do stretches, I take leisurely walks- detouring frequently to checkout wildflowers and culverts along the road, I weed my garden(which involves a lot of squatting), I help out with a local non-profit, and I dance in private.

The fourth step was one I should have done in the first step, but I am pretty addicted to soda and decided to put it off. I started making it a habit to drink 64 ounces (a half gallon) of water a day. Since I am a soda addict, this is pretty challenging as it makes less room in my belly for soda. Honestly, some days I still struggle with this, but I know I am consuming a lot more water than I used to even on the days I fall short. I stopped getting three packs of diet soda at a time, reminding myself it is not actually better for my wallet and it is definitely worse to my body to take advantage of sales like that because I will drink more soda when I know there is plenty on-hand.

That’s it so far!



Why being heckled for being fat hurts more than being heckled for being thin

As a skinny girl I hate the bones are for dogs comment. I am naturally skinny to the point I have to work very hard to keep my weight up and steady!!! I love being skinnybut it’s hard… it’s mean and hurtful when we are called skin and bones, referenced to attracting only low class guys, or called anorexic. It’s not ok to insult a plus sized woman so it shouldn’t be ok to insult a skinny woman. I have nothing against plus sized ladies. All that matters is you’re happy and healthy. And for the record, my fiancé is not a dog or anywhere close to it!!!!” -Facebook User commenting on a plus sized model’s photo.

Dear (Thin) Facebook User,

First, let me say that I agree. People should refrain from voicing hurtful opinions about the weight of others regardless of which end of the spectrum that person occupies, period. Generally, that person is aware of what their body looks like, and doesn’t need your input on the matter. Such commentary accomplishes nothing except for boosting the ego of the perpetrator by putting down the target, often in the guise of snide concern. Making fun of a fat person and a making fun of a thin person are equally condemnable. Neither is O.K..

real-womenHowever, the way this sort of commentary hurts a thin person is often very different from the way it hurts an overweight individual. Barring very low self-esteem, eating disorders, or other mental disorders that distort body image, most thin people are generally comfortable with their bodies even if they are not entirely satisfied. The above user said herself that she loves being thin. While this is becoming true for a growing number of overweight/fat/plus-sized/choose-your-adjective individuals, a vast majority of them (should I say us?) are constantly uncomfortable in their own skin.

Overweight people, especially women, tend to face a lot of imagery in magazines, television, and movies telling them their size is not only not beautiful, but not acceptable or at best, something to mocked. While there are a growing number of non-traditional models, big girls tend to have to seek out imagery that positively represents bodies similar to their own. On the contrary, thin women regularly see imagery that reinforces and reassures them that their bodies are attractive even if they hear remarks to the opposite effect. Being inundated with this sort of exclusionary imagery tends to make overweight women, and the men who are attracted to them, unnecessarily aggressive toward the idea of thin being sexy.  Often men attracted to fat women are seen as fetishists and the fat women themselves are seen as a fetish,  further increasing their defensive nature.

It is true that thin women still face the same pressure that all women feel: to have the perfect boobs, an exaggerated waist, and round perky buttocks. Disparaging remarks about our bodies hurt no matter what size we are; few people don’t inwardly long to change their appearance. The main difference here is that the remarks of peers regarding weight are much less likely to encourage or perpetuate harmful behaviors in the average thin person.

Thin women, because they tend to feel more confident about their bodies, are more likely to recognize the commentary as ignorant and hateful, label the person dispensing it an asshole, and move on. But it is fairly common for overweight women to already have an inner monologue that tells us we are unattractive because we are fat, and though we may hide it at the time, the commentary validates our negative self-image.  In women who are overweight despite vigilant diet and exercise, this can lead to starvation dieting or even encourage them to give up. In people who compulsively overeat, or eat for emotional reasons the implication is obvious.

In summation: Yes, thin Facebook user, the person who tells you to eat a cheeseburger or asks if you are anorexic is an asshole in the same way as the person who tells me I need Jenny Craig and asks me how I escaped SeaWorld. Yes, we both as women have to deal with insensitive assholes telling us that we don’t fit their ideal of beauty… But, unless you have a sense of worthlessness strongly linked to your weight…unless you have a loud inner-monologue that tells you that you are less than worthy because of how you look…please…don’t pretend you know how I feel.

 



A History of Fatness: The Weight Crept Back and Brought Friends!

In my previous installments: “The Younger Years” and “Losing Weight the Wrong Way,” I shared how I had become a plus sized child and teenager before abruptly losing ~120lbs. within the span of 4 months via eating an extremely restrictive diet while over-exercising. Over the next couple years, I would attempt to get a handle on my disordered eating before ultimately failing.

After my friend had pointed out that I was showing signs of anorexia and non-purging bulimia, I tried to rectify my habits. After a few weeks of continuing my food journal, I still had a reluctance to eat more than 1,000 calories a day. Even if I didn’t write calorie amounts down, I was still doing estimations in my head. I concluded that I needed to stop keeping it. Instead, I focused on reasonable portion sizes, while still working out at least 6 hours a week. This strategy worked very well, and I managed to maintain a weight of roughly 145lbs. for roughly one year.

A photo of me with my fantabulous car in my senior year in high school.

I have to admit, that year was pretty great. Even though I still wasn’t totally happy with my appearance, I felt empowered. I did a lot of things I had previously been scared to do. I joined my high school’s Speech and One Act teams as well as participating in Quiz Bowl. I wore attention-getting clothes that my old self would have never worn.

I was still getting used to all the appreciative attention for my looks from the opposite sex, and often reacted to it badly. Example: While exiting a music store, some guy whistled at me. As it was unexpected, I laughed loudly and closed the door after me. Only after I left did I realize how mean that must have seemed.

Since that guy was obviously not quite a charmer, let me give another example: In my junior year, I was approached by the little sister of one of the few boys who had been nice to me all through grade school despite my weight. He had sent her to ask if I would go to a dance with him. Dumbstruck, I just kind of stood there blinking. She made a knowing face and said, “Ok.” Then she left, and I slowly parsed together what had happened. Although I certainly would have gone, I was too shy to say anything to either them after that.

Then, half way through my Senior year, I started dating a goth boy who fancied himself a romantic. He regularly took me to dinner, bought me little gifts, made me photo collages, and (this is the cincher) talked to my mom even though she’s so brain damaged she mostly only said no. (Unfortunatelymy mom’s condition hasn’t improved since then.) While I had dated previously, I think half of my motivation was just to be able to tell people I had a boyfriend. I never did really let my guard down around the guys I was seeing. However, the goth boy’s patient devotion and acceptance allowed me to let him into the tangled web of emotion I usually kept between myself and word document. He was the first to get my crazy. I still feel sorry for him.

One thing he did for me was help me embrace my body despite it’s imperfections. For the first time ever, I felt comfortable in a swimming suit.

While we dated, I gained 15lbs. We spent all of our spare time with each other, and although we went on long walks and got –ahem- other forms of exercise, all of the dining out went to my waist line. I went up a size, but I wasn’t too worried about it. My ideas of small portions steadily grew.

After graduation, I moved an hour andhalf away for college. Goth boy and I had made plans to get an apartment near campus, but those plans fell through after he failed to save enough money. As a result, I was poorly matched with my roommates. There were two girls from a private, Catholic high school, and a cheery former cheerleader. They all kept everything super-tidy in a specific way, loved reality tv, and country and pop music. I was in hell.

<3 the chick with me.

On the bright side, I got to dye my hair magenta.

Aside from a few bright spots and a wicked wardrobe, my first year in college wasn’t much fun. I was an outsider in my own home, I didn’t really have any friends going to the same school, and I got to see my boyfriend 3 times a month if I was lucky.Although I did get out occasionally with the help of a few area friends or my twin aunts who lived in the same city, it wasn’t frequently. I coped by immersing myself in class, books, cartoons and junk food. Some days I would forgo meals entirely in favor of junk food. Other days, I would I sit down with a half gallon of ice cream and a spoon, eat it all, and then purge. The change in eating habits didn’tshow, probably more due to the fact that walking was my primary mode of transportation (I had elected to leave my car at home to cut costs and the bus frightened me)than my burgeoning bulimia.

In my second year in college (I was 19), things had evened out a bit emotionally. I lost the boyfriend, brought my car from Dad’s place, got a work-study job in the library archives, had friends on campus, and had cool roommates whom I got along with reasonably well. Although I began smoking cigarettes and drinking occasionally around this time, I was generally more well-balanced, and as a result I mostly didn’t binge-eat. Between my work, school, social life, and romance, I didn’t have time to. Once again, dating led to poor food choices like fast food or sit down restaurants with enormous portions, but I managed to stay around 160 lbs.with an intermediate amount of exercise.

Things didn’t really start to go downhill until I was living alone for the first time in my third year of college, but the decline didn’t take long. I shared a story about my childhood clepto-mania with a party cohort I had idealized as a buddy flick-like friend. Long story short: After activating the bad influence, I carried on by myself, landed myself in legal hot water, lost my job, was sentenced to jail time, and moved (while still going to school) rather than deal with it. The resultant stress led me to binge everything: food, alcohol, cigarettes, basically anything enjoyable I could get my hands on.

An image depicting how my 20 year-old self felt about law and auothrity.

An image depicting how my 20 year-old self felt about law and authority.

I am not sure exactly how long I was “on the lamb,” but it was only a few months.  By the time I weighed in when I went to jail, I was something near 180lbs. (I was pretty stressed out, so I don’t remember an exact number.)

Contrary to popular opinion, I found it quite easy to lose weight in jail. The food was disgusting. I didn’t care how hungry I was, I found most of it inedible. I lost 15 pounds during my 28 day stay, but that weight came right back when I moved back to Dad’s house for the summer. Dad was understandably frustrated with me, as I had hidden the entire ordeal from him until I was physically in jail. I internalized ever little thing he said in anger. I felt worthless.

With the help of my generous Aunt Corrine, I returned to college in the Fall and proceeded to make a huge mess of everything about six months later.

Next Installment: Coming Soon



A History of Fatness: Losing Weight the Wrong Way

In the last installment, A History of Fatness: The Younger Years, I cut to the root of my emotional relationship with junk food. I shared how I spent the latter half of my childhood in the plus-sized section, and how I began to lose weight.

At first, my methods of weight loss were pretty sane. I began losing sometime in March, and at the beginning of May my average rate of weight-loss was a manageable and healthy 15lbs per month or about 2 pounds per week. I kept a food journal, I walked between 2 and 4 miles each day, and I did body weight resistance exercises 3 times a week.

Then, with the help of weight-loss books, I calculated my frame-size (medium framed at 5′ 6”) which based on bone positioning and created a goal of weighing 130 pounds (the lighter end of healthy for my frame size)… by my birthday. At the time, I weighed 220 lbs. I wanted to lose 90lbs in 2½ months.

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In these photos, I weigh between 220 and 230lbs.

After school was out for the summer, it was crunch time in more ways than one. I made weight loss my main goal. In addition to the body weight resistance exercises, I began weight lifting and walking longer distances. I began calorie counting. I ate 1,200 calories each day, about 500 less than was recommended for weight-loss according to my books. I was obsessed with creating calorie deficits. I wasn’t satisfied in the morning unless I weighed at least a pound less than I had the previous day.

By the end of May, I weighed about 180 pounds, 50 pounds less than I did at the beginning of the month. The women’s size 16 jeans I previously would lay on the bed to squeeze into fit perfectly. Some were even baggy. My friends and family were impressed. No one worried that the weight was coming off too fast. They made every effort to encourage me. I, however, had hit something of a weight-loss plateau and was still 50 pounds from my goal-weight of 130 lbs and a month andhalf from my goal-date of my 16th birthday.

I made my diet more restrictive. I cut my daily consumption down to 800 calories with two, 1,000-calorie “cheat” days. I would spend somewhere around 4 hours each day walking ( I covered an average of 17 miles) in addition to an hour-long anaerobic work out. I would go to sleep exhausted and hungry.

On my birthday I was 10 pounds shy of my goal-weight. Although I was glad to no longer shop in the women’s plus-size section, I was wearing the largest size most store’s junior’s sections carried at the time- a size 13.

It is worth mentioning that my perception of my size at the time was skewed in part to the arbitrary sizing in womens‘ and teen girls’ clothing and my own refusal to admit to being any bigger than a size 16 when I was younger. At 250 lbs I was squeezing into size 16 pants when I probably should have been wearing a size 22. When I weighed 140, I wore a women’s size 10 or 12, but that translated to a junior’s 13..so basically I perceived a loss of 10 dress sizes as a loss of 3. Also, since I was wearing the largest junior’s size in most stores, I must still be fat.

Because of this thinking, it seemed like my aunt Corrine was almost more excited about my smaller body than I was. She bought me a new wardrobe that summer, marveling over how cute and tiny everything was. Even though I weighed 110 pounds less than I did in May, I still wasn’t happy with my body. I still hated how I looked in swimming suits. My belly was still lumpy, my arms were still flabby.I cut my calories further.

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In this photo I weigh 140 lbs.

When school started, I imagined kids would whisper that I’d gotten liposuction. That didn’t happen. There were (almost) none of the mean comments I’d grown accustomed to. For the most part, the boys didn’t treat me much differently, but I wasn’t prepared for how differently the girls would treat me.

Even among friends, I was suddenly part of the group; I was invited on shopping excursions to neighboring cities, to water parks. Girls who had previously snubbed me treated me with respect. The older girl I mentioned in the previous post who bullied me, despite being a year behind in math class, decided I had become her mortal enemy. However, the most threatening things in her arsenal were telling me I dressed like “a hippy” and that I would marry for love and be poor while she would be a gold-digger. As usual, my biggest obstacle was internal.

In general I felt more confident about my body, but I couldn’t stop comparing it to other, thinner girls. Unable to obsessively exercise, I cut my calories to 500 or less a day. This behavior continued for a little longer than a month. I only managed to lose 15 pounds, and squeeze into a junior’s size 9.

Finally, one of my friends who had been quietly observing my altered eating habits at lunch talked to me. She said that she had also been exhibiting anorexic and non-purging bulimic behavior, and that her mother had pointed it out to her.

“You are skinny, Claire,” she said. “You have to eat.”

I managed to keep the weight off for several years in varying degrees of health. However, I never was really happy with myself. Eventually, my body began to reflect it.

Next installment: The Weight Crept Back and Brought Friends!

 



Beauty comes in many forms, and they envy each other.
March 19, 2014, 3:45 pm
Filed under: beauty, emotions, essays, love, Weight Issues, writing | Tags: , , ,

Last night while getting groceries, the checker paid me a random compliment. She was a cute, short, thin young lady with what appeared to be natural light-red hair: the sort of girl who effortlessly looks good in unforgiving uniforms of form fitting white button-ups tucked into khaki pants, the sort of girl whose waist I stare at enviously.

“I love your look,” she told me, scanning my diet soda. “It’s probably a weird thing to say, but I think it every time I see you come in.”

“Thank you,” I said awkwardly, “I like compliments.” I was wearing form-fitting ripped jeans, (which have these wrinkles where my belly ends that I absolutely hate) a black camisole under a pink accented zipper hoody, lots of random bits of cat hair, and no make-up. I let my barely-brushed naturally curly hair frizz out under my skull and cross-bones bandanna.

She smiled, and related an instance in which she noted that her sister had gained some weight, and she said something about it, meaning it as a compliment. “It’s just that I’m so small,” she concluded, briefly glancing at my cleavage.

We continued talking while she finished scanning my items, and we smiled warmly at each other before I left.



A History of Fatness: The Younger Years

My most-used clothes are the ones I can hide in. Such as the large, soft black faux velvet shirt I am wearing in the photo below, and have owned since the summer I turned 13.  Although it is a little worse for wear, (it has oil paint stains, missing buttons, and a cigarette burn in the sleeve) it is still a staple in my wardrobe.

ninja

The bandanas are another article I love hiding in. I currently have 4 different ones, but this one is my favorite.

For me, the body-image thing started when I was 7 years old. Before then, I saw myself as pretty and had no second thoughts on the matter.  I can remember my dad saying that I was getting fat around then.  I am not sure if he was the first to do so, but it is my first memory of being referred to as the dreaded F word.

Of course, I knew from television and movies that fat people were a thing to be mocked, and at best could provide the quirky comic relief.  (The internet was not available to me outside of school for the majority of my formative years.)  It was obviously a BIG DEAL.   I responded by favoring over-sized clothes.

My mother did little to reinforce good eating habits ( and truthfully, I didn’t help, fussing over anything green);  we frequented fast food restaurants, my favorite of which was Long-John-Silver’s. To this day when I go there I always order extra crumbs. Before that, I favored a little mom and pop place (which closed, sadly) called the “Y Not Cafe.”  There were phones at every booth to order.  I always got a sloppy joe with curly fries and a chocolate milkshake.  The milkshakes were so good. They brought you the whole metal mixer along with your nice glass with whipped cream and a cherry, so it was like having TWO milkshakes.  I digress.  In any case, we ate out multiple times a week, had since I could remember, and it contributed to my waist-line.  

Third-graders can smell weakness. My baggy clothes andself-conscious posture made me a target for bullying.  I remember a boy on the playground calling me “Godzilla” and falling in time to my footsteps. Even through this, when I see pictures of myself from that time, I was only a little chubby.

I believe this photo was taken the summer I turned 8. The dog, Jack, loved to attack fireworks and running water.

I believe this photo was taken the summer I turned 8, and I entered 3rd grade in the fall. The dog, Jack, loved to attack fireworks and running water.

After my mom fell ill, I turned to many of the comfort foods I remembered enjoying with her. I did’n’t really do it consciously.  All I knew was that I wanted foods like chocolate, icecream, french fries, fried chicken, and lots of it! I recall my fourth grade teacher stopped me from going up for seconds telling me that I was too fat. (She really meant well, but it was in front of the entire school, essentially, and added to the teasing.) Other kids in the class would say that the one boy who was cubby in our class of 22 and I must like each other because we were both fat.  But honestly, what I remember hurting the worst was that after I had dealt with name calling and embarrassing public interventions, I had to deal with comments at home.

Although I was praised for good grades and a generally more mature demeanor than many of my peers,  ( I was constantly reading, drawing, or writing) school nurses mailed my dad notes twice a year to remind us that I was obese.  My dad would  say things like “We’re poor, and you’re fat.  It makes no sense,” and  My Grandpa would occasionally pat my belly when he saw me eating.  For her part, my Grandma Sue recognised stress eating when she saw it and tried not to give me a complex, shooing my Grandfather’s concerned, but condescending hand.

By the time I was 10, I was regularly comparing my body to the bodies of my peers and worse, women in television, movies, and ads.  The resultant depression led me to bouts of stress-induced binge eating.  I would frequently eat when no one would see me- finding the privacy for it wasn’t hard as I found it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep. Given the opportunity,  I would eat so much that my stomach hurt, and then I would eat more.  By the time I turned 11, I loathed my body.  I mostly hid from cameras.  I don’t have a lot of photos of myself from this time. Bullying at school continued to escalate.

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As you can see, this photo of me (which I think was taken the summer I turned 12) was neglected in the care of my younger self. I hated how round my face was, how bulgy my belly was, and how my thighs rubbed together.

If memory serves, my Uncle Clifford took the above photo while I walked across these rocks, pretending they were much higher, and miles away from the world of 35mm cameras.  I would often avoid mirrors.  My Aunt Corrine saw me struggling with my body image.  She helped as much as she could, taking me to the mall so I could chose my clothing from the same stores as my friends (whenever possible) and introducing me to new stores. It wasn’t all bad either.  I allowed myself to cut loose and quit caring with the right friends.

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This photo is from my 13th birthday party. Myself and 4 close friends (including the one taking the picture) are playing balloon baseball.

  In the summer I turned 13, a month before my birthday, my Grandma Sue died.  I got bigger than ever.  If there was no junk food in the house, I cooked it.  ( I had been cooking for myself for a while before-hand and used to bake with my Mom.)   My mom’s twin sisters, my aunts Amy and Ann, took me on couple trips after the passing of my Grandmother, in part funded by my Grandpa. The summer I turned 14, we spent a week in L.A. and visited several family members living in California. I had a great time there despite getting an awful sunburn and having to wear a swimming suit on the beach (loaded with tar!).  I entered high school.

In high school, the bullying was different.  Most people didn’t bully me to my face, they just avoided me.  Some people would actually move if I sat near them at lunch.  Pairing off for whatever reason was generally difficult, especially in Gym class.  My most vocal bully was a girl a grade ahead of me, but in the same math class…to this day I don’t know why she decided to hate me.  I spent most of my time alone.

The following year my twin aunts and I went to Spain for a week, tagging along with a school in Omaha that Ann worked for just before I turned 15, but I don’t have many photos of myself there because I was so self-conscious.

Here I hid in baggy jeans and a t-shirt that came down to my elbows.   This is, sadly, the best photo I have of myself in Spain.

The girl on the left was named Rachel. We bonded over body issues. I’m the one in front of the fountain. I hid in baggy jeans and a t-shirt that came down to my elbows despite it being upwards of 90 degrees. This is, sadly, the best photo I have of myself in Spain.

The self-conscious theme continued through my sophomore year only I defended myself. I cursed more often at people who called me fat, including my own father. – “Oh Shit! Thanks for telling me, I thought it was an allergic reaction!”- I didn’t go out for any sports, or activities.  I did attend the occasional friend’s party, but avoided any situation where I thought I was likely to be picked on.  The bullying happened less frequently, but I still had problems finding a place to sit at lunch.  By then my internal monologue was worse than any bullying I received.  I would write disparaging words on myself, and at my worst, I would cut words and designs into my skin on places I never showed people.  ( Some of these, unfortunately, I still have today. )

I had gained a substantial amount of weight and crammed myself into jeans that were too small and hid everything else in giant t-shirts.  Then, toward the end of that year, when I weighed 250lbs, I came down with the flu.  Unable to eat or drink anything of substance for a week, I lost 10 lbs.   The prospect of weight loss suddenly didn’t seem so impossible.

I started keep a food journal, despite getting strange looks at school over it. In one of the nicer incidents, a girl in Spanish class was incredulous that I wrote down a small handful of m&ms  I won in a round of educational bingo.  One of my friends copied pages of beginner-intermediate body-weight resistance exercises from her mom’s workout book. They made me sore at first, but I did them.  By the time the school year was over, I had dropped another 20lbs.

I was determined to not be fat by the time I turned 16, and I would succeed.

To be continued (In A History of Fatness:  Losing Weight the Wrong Way)

 



On beauty ideals, advertisement, and body image

Jezebel featured an article almost a year ago which bluntly sums up the below ad in two sentences. “The message: your wife, though she’s clearly gone to some effort to look sexy and seduce you, is too fat. Solution: adultery.” Since then, the ad for the website Ashley Madison  has been periodically resurfacing on blogs and Facebook pages, stirring outrage. Most recently, Volup2., an online magazine geared toward female body acceptance, posted it to their Facebook page.

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Another offensive ad from Ashley Madison

What I find most appalling about this ad is my initial reaction. While after regarding it for a moment I can dismiss it as just another hateful ad, my first thoughts are clearly influenced by being inundated with these sorts of images and ideas about what a woman can look like and still be considered beautiful.

In actuality, I admire all women who are brave enough to put themselves out there like this and am envious of their self-confidence. I am especially impressed with women who are working to make the public idea of female beauty more inclusive such as Jacqueline aka “Juicy Jackie,” the plus sized model who was featured in this ad without her knowledge.

But, for just a split second after seeing these women (particularly in the context of this ad) I am momentarily glad that I am smaller than the plus sized woman, and I hate the woman who is thin yet buxom. This is clearly sick thinking.

So what is going on here? I consider both of these women attractive, and don’t mean either of them disrespect. If I think about it, the hate I have for the thin model isn’t actually directed at her, but rather that I don’t have a body like hers…something ads like this suggest I should have. In this ad, the message to women is pretty transparent. Unless your body looks like this (possibly airbrushed) model, you shouldn’t necessarily expect your mate to be sexually attracted to you.

Women, and men to growing, but admittedly lesser, extent are overwhelmed with similar images on advertisements like these, as well as in television and movies that not only push certain ideals of beauty, but also actively shame those who do not fit it.

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While both a woman and a man are body-shamed here, by the rules television he would still be allowed to marry someone “out of his league”

For women, it seems these ideals are especially narrow in media representation. Think about the sort of woman most often featured in advertisements, catalogues, television, and movies. Not only should a woman be smaller than a size 6, (or size 12 for plus sized models) but she should have an hourglass figure, not too much muscle tone, an angular face, and professionally done hair and make up. While these standards don’t always carry into the real world, body shaming certainly does.

A thin woman might hear “eat a cheeseburger” which implies that she must be thin because she doesn’t eat enough. A plus sized woman might hear, “like she needs that” implying she must be fat because she eats constantly. A woman with defined abs and arms might be called “manly” or even told, “Stop working out so much and have some icecream,” implying that well toned bodies aren’t feminine. Of course, not everyone engages in this sort of behavior, but just a few comments can be damaging. The worst part is, sometimes people aren’t even aware they are doing it.

Once, while sharing my body insecurity woes (for the umpteenth time) with a past boyfriend, he told me, “You’re no Natalie Portman, but you’re acceptable.” He went on to say something along the lines of, “just like I’m no Johnny Depp.” I realize this response was not meant to be hurtful, but the wording certainly compares both of us to people famous for their good looks..and finds us lacking. For you guys who are wondering, the correct response to a woman shaming herself would have been: “I think you look great, and there are more important things to me than just how you look. I feel like you should stop talking down to yourself.”

Jacqueline said of the ad she was featured in, “Not all women are necessarily insecure, but it’s no secret that body insecurity is endemic, regardless of size. This kind of message is extremely damaging to self worth…A size 2 woman who sees this ad sees the message: ‘If I don’t stay small, he will cheat.’ A size 12 woman might see this ad and think ‘if I don’t lose 30lbs, he will cheat.’ A size 32 woman could see this ad, and feel ‘I will never find love.’ It’s horrific.”

She said the photograph was taken before she began her modeling career, and she was unaware the photographer would sell it as a stock photo without regard to its usage. “I am a size 32. I am beautiful..Beauty is not and has never been one-size-fits-all. I do not appreciate my image being used, without notice or permission, to tell women I have never met otherwise.”