Tag Archives: fat

For Lent, Give up Dieting

For Lent, I’m giving up dieting. Well, not really. I haven’t dieted for quite a few years, based on my own reservations which the fat acceptance movement helped me put into words and even back up with scientific research.

But I want to encourage everyone to do this. For Lent this year, give up dieting. Give up on hating your body. That’s 40 days, 40 nights and absolutely NO food guilt, diet products, or self-flagellation related to the body that you were born with.Don’t give up chocolate or carbs. Give up the notion that foods carry moral values of “good” or “bad.”

Now, you Catholics know the irony of this suggestion. Lent is originally associated with fasting, sacrifice for God and avoiding the temptation of Satan. Now, I have no problem with folks fasting for religious purposes, but since Vatican II, Lent has been less about fasting and more about giving up a vice or a temptation and replacing it with something that brings you closer to God.

My challenge is that eating normally is not a temptation or a vice and that loving your body and yourself is the first step in having a closer relationship with God, the Divine, the Universe or however you represent your highest authority.

And it’s okay to engage in the practices of Lent even if you’re not Catholic. I was only Catholic for a few years and I still give things up for Lent. Sacrifice is often healthy for the soul but sacrificing food to lose weight is not healthy for the body.

So go without dieting and obsessing about food for Lent and see if you come out on the other side any worse for wear. Something tells me you won’t. Something tells me you’ll discover a freedom unlike any other–the freedom to improve yourself in ways that really matter.

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Art and Beauty

An amazing thing happened in my life.

I learned to love my body.

And one of the driving forces that helped me to do this was my art. I’ve always dabbled with painting and I am by no means a talented renderer. But I’ve dabbled so long that I finally figured some things out.

I started painting women that looked like women are expected to look. And that was okay. But then I started wondering what other body shapes would look like. And I started painting those too.

It freaked me out at first, when people started asking if they were self portraits, mainly because they are so explicit. They’re not self-portraits–at least not in the sense that they represent anything specific about me. I was not thinking of my vagina when I painted them. But in another way, they are portraits of how I see myself in a positive manner and how I view the beauty standards of the majority of Americans.

My painting lately, much like my writing, is buried underneath my mound of other priorities at the moment. But since I have a lot of new readers lately, I thought I would share my art with you all.

Oh and FYI, my art is generally NSFW! That means don’t click on it while you’re boss is standing behind you. Unless she/he happens to be very open minded.

You can see the whole gallery here.  Please note that I have made this gallery public for a short time only. Go check it out now before I protect it again.

The thing is, we can talk all we want about fat acceptance–and talk we should. But we have to see it too. Not just in ourselves but in others and we have to show others how beautiful we really are.

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Less calorie intact + more calories burned = weight loss. Simple?

I got to thinking about the primary argument that anti-fatties make when fat acceptance gurus unload their pile of flaming logic upon them.

Basically, every argument boils down to this: diet and exercise work, I’ve seen it. How dare you say that diet and exercise don’t work!

Okay. So, in my life, the people who make this argument are the very same people who pump hundreds of dollars annually into the diet industry trying to force these things to work for them.

So I have a challenge, if you will. Not an us vs. them type of challenge. Its not a challenge that is about proving anything because its not safe or responsible to diet for those reasons. (I don’t believe its safe to diet for any reason but I’m trying to make this argument from the perspective of those who believe otherwise.)

The challenge I offer is a personal challenge for anyone who believes that diet and exercise are parts of that ever-simple math equation that less calories eaten, more calories burned will lead to weight loss.

The challenge is simple, too. Go on your diets, if you must. But I challenge you to diet without putting a single dollar into the diet industry. This means none of the following:

  • Diet books–healthy recipe books are okay as long as they are not published by major weight loss companies such as Weight Watchers or South Beach. But no water chestnut diets, no cabbage soup diets, no self-help books on weight loss, no inspirational weight loss stories.
  • Diet websites
  • Diet meetings such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.
  • Special exercise equipment–beyond the simple treadmill, weights etc. I’m thinking of things like the Thighmaster.
  • Foods bought at the grocery store that are made by diet companies or marketed specifically to dieters. This includes but is not limited to:
    • Smart Ones
    • Lean Cuisine
    • South Beach
    • Slim Fast
  • Exercise videos, health magazines, reruns of the Biggest Loser or any other media that perpetuates beauty ideals

Because if it really is just as simple as diet and exercise, if being fat is really all our faults, then shouldn’t YOU be able to do it without having to put money into an industry that makes its living on telling you you’re not good enough?

And as a discriminating consumer, why would you ever trust any diet industry product when they would make more money off of you if you gain the weight back? Don’t you remember the tapeworms in the diet chews in the 70s? Corporations have no morals and will stop at nothing to make money. What makes you think that they don’t design these programs and food for failure–to keep you coming back.

So, if you refuse to believe that it is far healthier to learn to love yourself as you are and if you refuse to believe that being fat is more than just a lifestyle choice, then I challenge you to reach your own self-improvement goals without the help of the $30-40 billion diet industry.

Because if it really is that simple, then why would you need them?


No, ya’ll, I don’t really advocate dieting at all, for anyone. This is tongue in cheek. This is an example of how clinging to these ideals of weight loss are so heavily influenced by the diet industry and the media. As much as people believe that it is a moral imperative to hate your body and diet, they also believe that they can’t do it without help. What a racket!

And hey, people are going to diet whether I like it or not. I’d be a lot happier if they would do it without pumping money into the industry.

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Thank you, Kate Harding. Thank you, Shapelings!

I typed this originally as a comment, but it got long so it became a post. This is in response to Shapely Prose’s triumphant stand against Dan Savage’s GodHatesFatties religion. This is a big thank you to Kate, Fillyjonk, Sweet Machine, Joy Nash and all the other sisters and brothers of all sizes taking on the diet-pushing, body-hating, money-churning self-hate machine.

This has been a weekend of me realizing how desperately people need to cling to their self-hatred.

If people admit that you can be healthy at any weight, that being fat is not a sin, that it is NOT OKAY blame, moralize or mock people for their size–whatever it is–then they have to admit that they can’t change the way THEY are.

I know that people at least my age (27) have grown up our entire lives with these standards of self-loathing during every commercial break we’ve EVER watched. Not to mention the magazines, weight loss books and water-cooler conversations.

And what we have the hardest time realizing (and I’m so glad that I have) is that there is no diet, no amount of cocaine (via post secret today), no amount of surgery and no amount of hating other people that can make us love ourselves.

Thanks for getting the message out there, Kate. For taking all the negativity and dealing with the trolls that think being behind a computer means they can call someone fat and be any less of a sad, immature pig.

And thanks for holding up a mirror to people like Savage and the others who hold so strongly to their ideals of beauty–disguised as health–so they don’t have to face the long, hard journey of learning to love themselves.

True self improvement can only come from self-love. It takes a hell of a lot of courage to go down that road.

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Can mothers love their fat daughters?

Last night, I fought with my mom…again.

I was telling her about this survey that I read on Shapely Prose. I told her about the four factors of health: little to no alcohol, no smoking, exercise and eating fruits and vegetables that can lead to a longer life regardless of weight. On the surface, she agreed with the article, which was cool. But does she take note of the fact that I’ve got three out of the four healthy factors down pat?

No, she focuses on the one that needs more work and harps on it. I kinda lost it and went off and she got mad and hung up on me.

In trying to figure out how I felt about the whole thing and looking for the underlying issues that caused me to react the way I did, I came to a very important realization.

My mother can never accept me as the beautiful, healthy, active, happy fat woman that I am until she stops hating herself.

And I will never feel like I measure up in her eyes until she sees me for what I am, instead of what I’m not.

Now, I just have to figure out a non-accusatory way of explaining this to her. *sigh*

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What is fat?

I have almost over-trained myself to not comment on people’s appearance. I hate it equally when an “average”-sized woman (or man) claims to be fat or needs to diet or when anyone tells a skinny woman that she needs a sandwich (and yes, I have been guilty of the latter). I don’t believe that someone’s body is a valid topic of conversation or criticism.

But sometimes, I find myself unwilling to state what seems obvious to others. She is fat. She is skinny. She is average. Our eyes can pick out of a crowd who is different and who is similar. But what does all that really mean? And what language should we use to describe ourselves and others in a casual, size-positive way?

If Kate Harding’s BMI project taught us anything, its that we can’t rely on this poor excuse for a medical tool to categorize weight. And our own experience shows us that what is considered “skinny” is a social construct that has changed drastically, even just in the course of our lifetimes. When I was shopping for clothes as a teenager, I had never heard of a size 0! Historically, harder times often meant that a person with a few extra pounds was seen as beautiful because they represented bounty, fullness and of all things, health!

But today, even though we have ample food, inequality keeps that food from getting to the places it should be. Fat, therefore, is seen as a symbol of excess, greed and injustice. The most nutritious foods are available only to those with the means, while those who are considered working poor or indigent can afford only the most processed, chemical-laden crap on the market.

Class, I believe plays a huge role in the social construct of weight. So, really when coming up with definitions, I think its important to note that anything I come up with are “middle-class” distinctions of weight. What is a fat or skinny person to me is based completely on the availability of food in my class or country and how I view others with similar socioeconomic and political circumstances.

So with those caveats in mind, what is fat? What is average? And what is skinny? And why do I think its important to even categorize people in this way?

Well, I don’t really. I don’t think we should need to categorize. But I have also read a lot in fat-forward blogs that people often feel they are either too fat or too skinny to participate in or be represented by this movement. So its got me thinking about what is too fat and what is too skinny?

There’s just too many variables to intelligently answer this question. How much do you weigh, how tall are you, where do you carry your fat, what’s your body shape, what’s your muscle mass? With all those factors, does average even really exist or is it just in our heads?

And isn’t there a difference between society telling you you’re fat and your body telling you that you’re fat? My body probably didn’t tell me I was fat until a year or so ago. My media-influenced mind, my insecurities and the people around me told me since I was in 5th grade. But my body didn’t speak up until quite recently. And Health at Every Size is about listening to your body, not the bias of other people.

I was hoping that writing this would lead me to a conclusion, but I don’t have one. Perhaps the answer is in discussion. Are you fat? What factors, social indicators or clues tell you that you are fat or not-fat?

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Corpulent Cogitation

The holidays are over and I have boxes of excess consumerism to deal with strewn all over my house. But with a quiet day at work, I’ve had some time to catch up on my Fatosphere reading.

I responded rather late to a post over at Shapely Prose and it got me thinking about how much time the average person, affected by the average (read: extreme) amount of media influence regarding food, diet and health, spends feeling guilty about the most common activity of our existence: eating.

So I decided to think back to a time when eating was a terrifying, guilt-ridden thing for me. A time when I bought into the near religious nature of food associations and the morality they attempted to apply to my choices: sinful, indulgent, divine.

Say, I ate an entire plate of spaghetti. I’d feel guilty for at least as long as I felt full, sometimes longer. So since the gastric phase of digestion takes at least 3-4 hours, let’s say I spent an average of 1-3 hours feeling guilty about my meal.

I eat three meals a day and rarely snack in between. But let’s go ahead and throw in the average two snacks per day and double the guilt there because snacking is evil in the dieting world.

So at the very minimum that’s 7 hours a day I would spend feeling guilty about my food and therefore negative towards my body and thus my entire self-image. At most, that’s 15 hours of guilt, stress, self-loathing and fear.

Think about that. In today’s stressful world of multi-tasking, helicopter parenting and financial rollercoasters, does anyone need 7-15 hours of feeling like shit about yourself for a task as simple as eating?

This is why I contend that dieting is so much LESS healthy than the industry would have you believe. When you pile all that stress and self-loathing wrapped around the basic need of eating, plus the stress on your body caused by yo-yo dieting, plus the general desire of the media to make you feel like crap about yourself without their product, I’D RATHER JUST BE FAT!

And realizing that is the most freeing feeling I’ve ever experienced. This doesn’t negate my responsibility to be a healthy person. In fact, this is me ACTING on my responsibility to be a healthy person.1

To me, getting back my 7-15 hours and spending it living is worth it. To paraphrase a beauty company’s motto, I’m worth it!


1Edited 12-27-07: I marked this out because I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a ‘responsibility to be healthy.’ That’s moralist talk creeping into my language. It sounded good when I wrote it but I wasn’t thinking about what it implied.

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