thin

All posts in the thin category

Living Large

Published May 12, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Well you can take the fatty out of the blog but you can’t take the blog out of the fatty!  I still don’t have full internet access, waiting on it to be connected by my Telco, but I can’t stay away.  I’ve got stuff burbling around in my head and I need to share it!

As you probably know, I moved house a week ago.  I’ve moved to a lovely seaside suburb, mere metres from the bay.  Every morning when I wake up, the first sounds I hear are seagulls and other water birds.  At night, other than the occasional passing car, all I hear are the sounds of ocean breezes and lapping water, punctuated occasionally by the chime of the town clock.  It is so peaceful here, and so beautiful.  It was a hard wrench to move from the place that had been my home for almost 15 years (in fact, I only did it because I had to), but now that it’s done, I am so glad I have.

I mean, look at this place:

This is the first time I’ve had a major lifestyle change that I haven’t attached the goal of losing weight to.  In the past, every time I had a major life change, I would convince myself that this time, it would be the thing I needed to help me get thin.  That new job with the higher pay, meant that I could afford more weight loss programmes and gyms.  Moving away from the country meant that I would have access to more options to help me lose weight, and I could find more diet foods in the supermarkets.  Every time I changed my life somehow, I would desperately cling to the notion that it would be the change that would make me thin.

Of course, I know now, that it just doesn’t work that way.  My body is a fat body, and no matter what I do to it in an attempt to lose weight, there is a 95% chance that it will fail to actually make me thin.  I would say a 100% chance for me – after all, I’ve spent over 25 years trying to make my body thin – and no matter how extreme or whatever I did, nothing made me thin.  This is my body, and it is a fat body.  I am very comfortable in my body, more comfortable than I have ever been in my life.

But it’s funny, but after a week, I can already feel changes in my body.  For the first few days I think my body was desperately trying to shake off all the negativity, and toxicity, that I was carrying around before.  A few lungfuls of clean ocean air and my body seemed to go “Right, let’s shake all this shit out.”  My skin broke out in patches, and got terribly dry in other patches.  I seemed to produce copious quantities of snot and ear-wax.  My fingernails got all brittle.  And I was SO DAMN TIRED.  Some of that can be attributed to the exhaustion and stress of moving, but I really do feel like I was getting something out of my system.

A few days ago, I came good.  My energy levels came back.  My skin is starting to settle down.  I’m sleeping really well at night, but am not feeling tired during the day.  I’m off work at the moment so I am getting a lot of rest, but I think it’s about more than just time off work.  I think I’ve cast off the stresses of living in my old place, plus the new place doesn’t have carpets that I believe hold a lot of dust and stuff either.  Not to mention that I’m getting those lungfuls of fresh sea air.

There are other changes afoot too.  When I go back to work on Monday, I have a slightly longer trip, and now on a train instead of the bus.  That will give me 40 minutes each way that I can sit and read (I can’t read on the bus, it makes me pukey), which I think will be really significant on the trip home each day, in helping me let go of work for the day.  I have access to a really large supermarket which has much more choice than my old options, and is very close by.  Not to mention a lot of other small shops that I had no access to before.  Besides, groceries are significantly cheaper up here than they are closer to the city.  Don’t let anyone tell you that the big supermarkets don’t vary their prices by neighbourhood!  But most of all, I have daily access to this:

A beautiful foreshore where people walk, cycle, rollerskate, scoot, get dragged along by their dogs!  I have a beautiful bicycle – you’ve all seen my bicycle Iris haven’t you?  Here is an old photo of us together:

I now can go for a ride in my favourite place, every single day, without having to worry about being mowed down by traffic (I was always terrified to ride in most areas around my old place).  Not only is it my favourite way to move my body, but it’s also incredibly relaxing.  I always sleep so well after a bike ride.

But most of all, I feel relaxed an happy here.  My anxiety and depression is feeling lessened already.  It’s amazing what being somewhere you love and letting go of stress can do.

So you can see, I have a lot of changes in my life lately, and those changes are going to play out on my body and my health.  I hope the choice I have made to move here will mean they are positive changes, that I will feel more relaxed and stronger.  I hope that the exhaustion I suffered regularly before will be a thing of the past, now that I’m not living in such a stressful environment, am able to relax and put my head away from work, and can get out into fresh air, moving my body in a way that I enjoy, in a place that I love.

But for the first time in my life, I’m not pinning my hopes on these things making me thin.  Because to me, while being thin has cultural privileges, I now know that it is not a worthy goal to work towards.

And that is an incredibly liberating feeling.

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When “You Look Great” Doesn’t Match How You Feel

Published June 26, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

“You’ve lost weight!  You look great!”

I’ve heard that quite a few times over the past week.  I’ve been conflicted as to what to say.  I don’t want to be rude (particularly if it’s someone at work), but I feel the need to respond with something other than positive/affirmative.  Because I haven’t looked great at all.  I’ve had shadows and bags underneath my eyes, I’m still coughing a lot of the time and I frequently turn green with nausea.

I haven’t looked great.  I have only looked thinner.

It has been two-fold.  First I was sick with a cold that turned into a chest infection.  It left me as weak as a kitten and with absolutely no energy.  I didn’t eat properly the whole week I was sick.  I was either too exhausted, too sore or when I did try to eat, it just made me cough more.  I’m lucky a friend dropped by with home made soup and rolls (and some other tasty noms for me to nibble at), or I probably wouldn’t have eaten anything solid all week.

Add to this that thanks to my recent diagnosis of T2 diabetes, I am back on Metformin again.  Diabex to be particular, though it doesn’t make much difference, all versions of Metformin make me sick.  Not to be indelicate, but they make me spend most of the day going back and forth to the toilet, with the occasional vomit in between.  At least for the first month or so taking it, and again when the dosage is changed.  I’m just settling down into my initial dosage now, and I know I have to adjust the dosage soon.

But I’ve lost some weight, so people say “You look great!”  Regardless of how I feel.

I have said many times before that this whole culture of thin supposedly equaling health actually has nothing to do with health and everything to do with appearance.  People see thin as “better” so they label it as “healthier”.

I have seen people who have weight loss surgery turn grey-skinned, lose their hair, have shadows and bags under their eyes, lose teeth, become physically frail and weak, their skin break out and develop chronic shaking.  Not to mention the things you can’t see – reflux, vomiting, bowel problems etc.  Yet they lose weight, so people say “You look great!”  When they are not well at all and their quality of life is far worse than it was when they were fat.  But we are so indoctrinated that thin = better, if anyone was to show genuine concern for how they feel physically, they become the enemy, the one who “doesn’t want me to be healthy.”

A few years ago, a friend of mine had cancer.  She had a hell of a fight on her hands and underwent huge doses of chemotherapy to try to beat it.  I remember at her lowest point, at the moment it was touch and go whether she would survive, people kept telling her she looked fabulous.  Simply because she’d gone from a fat lady to a thin lady.  Of course, she was dangerously ill and it was on the line as to whether or not she would survive.  But because she had lost weight, many people deemed that she “looked great”.

This happens a lot to fat people.  Even without any solicitation, all we have to do is look like we’ve lost even the tiniest amount of weight (even if it’s just clothing that makes us look this way) and people tell us we “look great”.  I remember in my deepest, darkest eating disorder days when I starved, purged and exercised myself down to my thinnest (which was a size 16-18 – I’m currently a size 26) and I was desperately unhappy because being thin didn’t fix my life at all, and I was physically sick from all the ways I was punishing my body, people told me that I looked great.  They told me I was awesome, fabulous and amazing.  Without ever once asking me how I felt.  Which was miserable and sick.

If that’s what I have to do to look great in the eyes of the world… no thanks.  I’d rather feel good, trust my body to show me what it needs, feed it as best I can and move it in ways that I enjoy, and stay fat than do that kind of damage to myself in the name of looking good.

I’m Not Convinced the Leopard Has Changed It’s Spots

Published March 8, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Today over on The Discourse, Dr Samantha Thomas announced a MAJOR win on her behalf for the fight against the stigmatisation of fat people, when she shared that Obesity Prevention Australia had removed all images and references equating childhood obesity to child abuse. I am incredibly impressed that Samantha, and all others who spoke out against these disturbing messages and images, were able to have them removed and the collection tins bearing them recalled by Obesity Prevention Australia (OPA), and major kudos go to Samantha for spearheading it.

However, I’m not letting OPA off the hook that easily.  While I think it is excellent that they have removed this ignorant tripe from their site, and recalled those highly offensive collection tins from circulation, I still have lots and lots, and LOTS of problems with them.  Let’s make a list shall we?

  • In the response from Levi Walz, the CEO of OPA, he said “Firstly, I would like to issue my deepest apologies to anyone who has been offended by our awareness slogan.”  Well there’s your first problem.  There is no apology for the actual offense, merely a “sorry you’re offended”.  Which is a false apology – the onus is placed back on those who are offended rather than OPA for engaging in offensive behaviour.
  • Secondly, Mr Walz states “this upsetting feedback is truly new for us however, as since OPA’s inception the response we have received nationwide has been nothing short of completely positive (governments, health professionals, schools, program participants, other organisations, local business etc).”  All this illustrates to me is that fat hatred is deeply entrenched and OPA are actually contributing to it by adding their offensive campaigns to the already hostile environment for fat people.
  • Mr Walz then says “I have felt sick in my stomach at how our organisation has been interpreted by your readers”.  There is no “interpretation” of fat stigmatisation, by equating childhood obesity with child abuse, OPA were directly accusing parents of fat children of abusing those children.
  • He then states that he also feels sick in his stomach at “and how many of the people we aim to help have been hurt.”  The assumption that a) fat people either want or need any help from an organisation like OPA is both patronising and dismissive of the experiences of fat people at the hands of those who insist on stigmatising fatness as dangerous, deadly or abusive.
  • He then says “maybe people have been offended prior, however have just kept it to themselves” which makes me wonder if there has been any thought by he and the OPA into just how shaming, bullying and stigmatising fat people silences them.  Have they put any consideration into how much courage it must take for someone to stand up to a large organisation who are promoting the idea that “Childhood obesity is childhood abuse.”?

So that’s the response that we have seen with regards to this immediate matter.  I have noticed a general change in tone to the website since the piece by Dr Samantha Thomas (and she has lots of screenshots on this piece), which is a good start.

However, there is still a whole lot of wrong with the site, the organisation and the messages it sends out.  So let’s have a go at those too:

  • The name.  Obesity Prevention Australia.  As though obesity is a) something that can be prevented, b) something that should be prevented and c) something that is “other” than a human being.  “Preventing” obesity implies that one has control over one’s body size, which is erroneous to start with, and implies that obesity is someones fault.  Well, we’ve already seen them imply that obesity is the fault of parents.  Obesity isn’t a thing or a disease, it is a medicalisation of the state of being a fat PERSON.  I feel that naming your organisation “Obesity Prevention Australia” implies the eradication of fat people.  Be it through fat reduction by any means, or simply removing fat people from our culture.
  • While we’re on the topic of this being an organisation, I am wondering why they are using a .com.au web domain, which by law in Australia can only be registered by a registered BUSINESS (not organisation) with an ABN and the domain name must have some connection to the name, or the business type, of that registered business.  Surely a non-profit organisation should have a .org.au domain name, which are reserved for registered non-profit organisations?
  • Let’s talk about Shannon Ponton’s involvement with OPA.  Why is a physical trainer who works on a television show famous for bullying, shaming and humiliating fat people for entertainment, while promoting unhealthy extreme dieting and exercise practices, in a “lose weight at any cost” mentality, a member of an organisation that is supposedly concerned with the health of Australians, unless to add to the message of fat stigmatisation in a highly public manner?
  • How about OPA’s statement that they are an organisation “committed to reversing the obesity and inactivity epidemic that is debilitating our nation.”  Have they got any evidence of this supposed debilitating epidemic?  I can’t seem to see them citing any references anywhere on their site to go with their statistics and claims.
  • Actually have a look around the site at all of the “statistics” and claims.  I am unable to find any of them reference to anything.  They could be made up for all we know.
  • If you delve into their “Who we help” pages, they claim that “It is estimated that if current trends continue, close to 70% of all Australian adults will be overweight or obese by 2020!” – can we have some kind of evidence to this claim please?  They even follow that sentence up with “(If this does not scare you please read it again).”  This is meant to aid in healthfulness of  ALL Australians how?  It sounds far more like an “OMG THE FAT IS CATCHING AND IT’S GONNA GET YOU!!” than a positive message of raising health in Australia.
  • I’m rather impressed by how many ways they suggest that you can give them money.

I could go on, and on, and on with the ways in which this “organisation” make me question their intentions, their fund-trails and those who are involved with the project.  But I have to get up and go to work tomorrow and to be honest, the fat shaming on the site is starting to wear me down.  I invite anyone else reading to wade into the website if you have the spoons to do so (I will warn that it is full of fear mongering with little to no sources of information cited, that may be triggering to some) and add some more points of concern into the comments if you wish.

While I am very pleased that Obesity Prevention Australia INC (the INC is only mentioned in their prospectus page) has listened and removed the “Childhood Obesity is Childhood Abuse” propaganda, and some of the more disturbing images that were featured on The Discourse in response to Dr Samantha Thomas’ fantastic exposé on their methods, I am not ready to believe that they have the best interests of fat Australians at heart.  So long as they use the name “Obesity Prevention Australia”, spout unfounded death threats and continue to focus on and stigmatise fatness, they are doing more harm than good.   It is going to take some RADICAL changes of their entire organisation to rectify this, and I will be watching to see if this actually happens.

If they truly wish to improve the health of Australians, their focus needs to be on the availability of health education and resources for ALL Australians, not just the ones who don’t pass as “thin enough”.

Accepting The Reality of Fat

Published September 26, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I just have to share this.  I was just reading a bunch of posts and links that I’d saved for later, and found this piece on thin privilege.  It’s a list of things that people who are not fat experience every day, and many take for granted:

Everyday as an average sized person …

I can be sure that people aren’t embarrassed to be seen with me because of the size of my body.

If I pick up a magazine or watch T.V. I will see bodies that look like mine that aren’t being lampooned, desexualized, or used to signify laziness, ignorance, or lack of self-control.

When I talk about the size of my body I can be certain that few other people will hope they are never the same size.

I do not have to be afraid that when I talk to my friends or family they will mention the size of my body in a critical manner, or suggest unsolicited diet products and exercise programs.

I will not be accused of being emotionally troubled or in psychological denial because of the size of my body.

I can go home from meetings, classes, and conversations and not feel excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped, or feared because of the size of my body.

I never have to speak for size acceptance as a movement. My thoughts about my body can be my own with no need for political alliance relative to size.

I can be sure that when I go to a class, or movie, or restaurant that I will find a place to sit in which I am relatively comfortable.

I don’t have to worry that if I am talking about feeling of sexual attraction people are repelled or disgusted by the size of my body. People can imagine me in sexual circumstances.

People won’t ask me why I don’t change the size of my body.

My masculinity or femininity will not be challenged because of the size of my body.

I can be sure that if I need medical or legal help my size will not work against me.

I am not identified by the size of my body.

I can walk in public with my significant other and not have people double take or stare.

I can go for months without thinking about or being spoken to about the size of my body.

I am not grouped because of the size of my body.

I will never have to sit quietly and listen while other people talk about the ways in which they avoid being my size.

I don’t have to worry that won’t be hired for a job that I can do because of the size of my body.

It really resonated with me because every single one of those list items are things that I’ve never experienced.  As a woman who is deathfat (yeah, morbidly obese by the redundant BMI scale), every single one of those items on the list above would be an absolute luxury for me, and a totally new experience.

When those who are not fat say they don’t understand what we Fat Acceptance activists are “going on about” and suggest that we should just “move on”, they’re ignoring the fact that we cannot ignore our fatness and move on, because every day we’re reminded by the behaviour of others towards us.  We don’t imagine this, this is our reality.  Those with thin privilege need to accept that this is the reality that fat people have, and acknowledge it.

Until all bodies can experience the above items, whether they are fat, thin or somewhere inbetween, I can’t just move on.  I have to keep doing what I do.

It Works Both Ways

Published July 20, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

This morning while reading tweets on the bus on the way to work, I spotted this tweet from the @PostSecret, which led me to this article from the Huffington Post.

One thing I think we have a bit of a duty to do as Fat Acceptance activists is challenge when negative language and connotations are put on to thin bodies as well as fat ones.  In the case of both the tweet from @PostSecret, and the article from the Huffington Post, while I agree we need to be questioning the body image messages sent out by these very thin mannequins, I don’t think it’s fair to refer to them as either anorexic or emaciated.  Both words imply that being very thin is by default unhealthy – and as voices calling out for positive body image for ALL bodies, I feel it’s important that we challenge these implications as well as those that suggest fat bodies are unhealthy.

In the long run, it benefits all of us, regardless of what size or shape we are.

It is important that people know that very thin does not by default equal either anorexic or emaciated.  The definition of anorexic is a person who suffers anorexia nervosa.  Not all thin people suffer anorexia nervosa.  Not all people who suffer anorexia nervos are in fact, very thin.  Likewise, the definition of emaciated is “wasted away”.  Again, not all very thin people are wasted away – or in any way unhealthy.  Instead, people who are on the extreme end of thinness can have many reasons for being so. Yes, from ill health or eating disorder, but also because they are just naturally built that way.  Like fat people, thin people have many factors in determining the shape and size of their body, from genetics, environment, to diet and activity levels.  That’s the thing about bodies, you cannot tell very much about them at all just by looking at them.

When we challenge people about the language around fat bodies, we also need to be mindful of our own language when referring to thin bodies, especially those on the very thin end of the spectrum.  For example, that old chestnut “real women have curves”.  As I’ve said before on this blog, all women are real, unless they are robots created by an evil genius, or perhaps figments of our imagination.  A woman who is thin and angular is just as much a woman as one who is fat and curvaceous.  Plus, who’s to say that fat bodies are necessarily “curvy”.  I have curvy bits on my very fat body, but some parts are pretty damn boxy too!

It’s important that we do not define womanhood by any one type of body, any one shape or size or set of measurements.  Womanhood is inclusive of all of us, not exclusive to some.

There are of course plenty of other examples.  We can’t suggest that thin people “eat a sandwich” any more than thin folk can suggest we “put down the cheeseburger”.  We can’t assume that thin people don’t have body issues because they don’t have the pressure to lose weight like we do.  We can’t assume that thin bodies are thin because they are physically active and eat less than those of us with fat bodies.

This doesn’t mean that the privilege of thinness goes unacknowledged, we all know that there are plenty of things that people with thin bodies can take for granted that those of us with fat bodies do not have the luxury of, but it does acknowledge that nobody should be judged because of their body size and shape, even those with bodies that are considered the social “norm”.

What I guess is the important message is, that if we want the world to change their attitude towards fat bodies, we need to lead by example when talking about any bodies, and squash any generalisations and negative judgements on bodies when talking about ANY bodies.
Besides, as I think it was Lesley over at Fatshionista recently said – all living things have curves, that’s what distinguishes the animal and plant from the mineral.

One type of body is not better than the other.

It’s not either/or in this situation.

It is ALL.