Archive for March, 2013

fat as political.

Posted: March 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

now i’m not sure how many feminists are in the house, but for those who aren’t familiar, let me give you a 5 second summation of the movement: the personal is political.

when it came about this was revolutionary and it continues to shape the way we move, fight, conceptualize, write, think.  recently there were two articles that brought the importance of personal issues into the public sphere.

the first is from chloe at feministing.com, discussing having an eating disorder and being a feminist writer.  the second is a response to the piece, and puts forward the idea of gaining weight as political.  they are best read sequentially.

its hard to write about these issues and have a concurrent eating disorder.  i started my eating disorder therapy last week, for the first time in years, and i found myself struck dumb when i was asked if i was “restricting.”   wait a second, i found myself thinking. i’m not thin, that’s a question for anorexics.  and yet, the question remains.  am i restricting?

this is a better but a more loaded question than using words that are accepted in our culture, works like “dieting” or “cutting back” or “trying to avoid [eating this].”  yes, i am restricting.  i don’t know anyone who doesn’t, in the back of her head, think at least a little bit about what is going into her mouth.  but maybe that’s part of the problem.

and i, like the woman who was brave enough to write the second piece, don’t want to admit that my eating is still disordered, because i’m now getting more compliments and attention than ever.  my mother told me i have “such a cute little body now.”  my self-esteem is apparently still tied to my body, even though i know i’m not “supposed” to do that.  and to stop restricting – is that to give up on the idea of being thin forever?

it’s a terrifying concept, and one that speaks to addictions of all kinds.  picture the alcoholic thinking about giving up going to the bar forever.  this is why 12-step groups focus on “just for today”, a concept less terrifying than forever.  but can just for today turn into political protest?  is being fat, or voluptuous, or thin, or very thin, political?  is being fat in a magazine political?  is eating how you want without worry political?

i think it is.  but getting there personally is a struggle we all fight alone.

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prevention and potato chips.

Posted: March 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

It was while I was sitting on an airplane flying home from Texas that I had another moment of truth.  I was traveling with a friend and she nudged me and pointed to the woman sitting in the row next to us.  She looked to be somewhere in her forties, blond hair, next to a significant other of some kind.  We had seen them share pizza earlier in the flight, and my friend had noticed this woman was reading a prevention magazine while eating potato chips.

 

We both had a hard time figuring out why exactly this hit us as being funny.  It was funny like a person sitting on the couch watching Tae Bo DVDs.  Or Liz Lemon walking on a treadmill while eating an ice cream sundae.  Why?

 

Personally I try to avoid health and fitness themed magazines about as vehemently as I avoid celebrity gossip; critiquing bodies of famous people next to chocolate recipes next to diet tips tend to make me a bit irate.  The beautiful juxtaposition of the magazine and the chips worked to underscore how absurd these magazines are.

 

Growing up I was told by either my mother or another significant relative that no diet or pill or exercise is actually magically effective.  If such a thing existed, we would know about it, because the creator would be millionaires and we would all be taking it.  Every month when I read about the flat belly diet or the next big exercise to make your abs appear or your butt tighten or whatever, whatever’s going to fix the newest and most hated parts of our body, it’s absurd to think anything will actually be that effective.  Sometimes you just have the body you have.

 

A while back I read this article talking about how people get frustrated because they don’t understand that weight loss and fitness are hard work and don’t come within three months or weeks.  It’s unfair to blame this on people.  Magazines and shows and diet books make money by promising the quick fix.  For some people these tips and tricks really do work (although as someone whose whole family is big in the middle, I have doubts about the effectiveness of the flat belly diet etc).  but I go back to the woman eating chips and reading about fitness.

 

Is part of this like The Secret effect where we visualize change and it happens?  No doubt a large portion of the issue is our refusal to acknowledge the existence of differing body types and how effective dietary and exercise changes will be.  Sometimes you have the body you have.

Why is this phenomenon so funny and so jarring?

addictive food.

Posted: March 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

ice cream sundae resepas i was in my kitchen this morning, slowly losing control of my eating, i was thinking about the idea of willpower.

i’ve worked in addictions my whole career and alcohol and drug addictions are frustrating.  there is so much relapse, so much lack of control.  at the heart of it i was always fairly jalous.  alcohol and drugs are ridiculously addictive.  but at the end of the day, there is no cocaine in your corn flakes.  you don’t have to drink alcohol to sustain yourself.  i was jealous of their ability to just give up their addiction, to avoid it.

this morning i was reading this article by david katz about food being addictive, and it makes instinctive sense to me.

if we have an addiction to something you need to live, is there ever recovery?