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tl;dr - Faith was a scaredy-pants. Now she's not. I'm over the moon about it.
- My house.
- Uh...oddly, nothing.
So, I know, I know. I’m a slacker. Real life has interfered. Whatever. One of my resolutions, though, is to blog more. Mostly because I’m doing so much crafty stuff these days, I want to show off. Yes, I said it. I’ve made a lot of awesome stuff, and I think people should see it. Not that I’m going to switch completely to a crafting blog, but I have to tell y’all – that’s going to be the primary focus here.
I’m just not as comfortable sharing my life anymore. Part of it is that my kids have reached an age that I think is…crap, I don’t know how to articulate this precisely. Okay, I guess I worry that their friends could traipse across this sucker and read things that my kids wouldn’t want them to read. So, sharing about my kids is out. They haven’t asked me to do that; it’s just my own comfort level, I guess.
So, if I’m not sharing about my kids (who are a GIANT part of my life, obviously), that doesn’t leave a whole lot for me to discuss. I won’t discuss my marriage anymore (Anonymous, you’re an asshole)…what’s left? The awesome shit I make, that’s what. So, that’s what you’re gonna get. And probably some body acceptance stuff occasionally. Maybe some stuff about HAES if I’m feeling it that day.
I guess what I’m saying here is that I’m posting about whatever I want. I hope you stick around.
- My house.
So, on Friday, I wrote this on Facebook:
Here’s the thing – if you want to diet and exercise and hate your body, fine. Whatever. You’re grown. My issue is when you want ME to hate my body or my daughters to hate theirs. Fat, thin, somewhere in-between, I’ve been all those things, and size has yet to affect my value as a human being. Skinny or fat or somewhere in-between, I’m still a goddamn rock star. (And so are you, regardless of what your scale says.) Word to ya mutha.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I write a Facebook status in the heat of the moment, I leave things out. I say things less clearly than I could have. So, I want to clarify the above – I have no issue with diet or exercise, per se. My own approach is to eat what I want, when I want and however much I want. I listen to my body about how foods make me feel physically. I follow my own hunger/satiety cues. With exercise, I move my body in ways I enjoy and ways that feel good to me. Period. Your approach might be different, and that’s cool.
It’s cool right up until I see you body policing or shaming others, even if you don’t realize that’s what you’re doing. But think it over – every time you pin some bullshit “thinspo” on Pinterest, you are telling the people who follow you, “Yup, I believe size matters. I believe girth determines worth. I don’t think I’m good enough because my scale gives me a number that other people have told me is too high, etc, etc, etc.” And my friend, I’m done buying that particular pile of crap. I’m also done with people who think body policing and fat shaming are good ideas, even when they’re only doing it to themselves (and I’ve yet to meet a motherfucker who confines that shit to their own bodies only, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt here).
I’ve spent too long as the rhino on that picture up there. I’ve spent too many years wanting a different body and different hair and a DIFFERENT ME ALTOGETHER, OMG WHY DO I SUCK SO MUCHHHHH? I HAVE TO TRY HARDER!! I don’t want to spend any more time doing that. Instead, I’d like to eat the things I like that make me feel delightful. (Gluten is still my enemy, FTR, but it’s not because I view it as “bad” or “good.” My body simply doesn’t respond well to gluten. I’m listening to my body when it says, “Hey, this stuff? Makes me sick. Really!”)
I want to run because I feel like running. I want to run because running makes me feel good. Not because I’m looking at some thin broad on a magazine and wishing to look like her. I want to dance because I love to dance, and it makes me feel awesome. (Even if I look horrible while doing it.) I want to move my body to feel fabulous, not because I want to look like someone else.
What’s more important – I want my GIRLS to do these things. I want them to eat things that make them feel good. I want them to treat food as the absolute pleasure it should be while also nourishing themselves. I want them to understand that food doesn’t address anything but hunger and that exercise is designed to make you feel great, not to make you look a certain way. I also want the world at large to understand these things.
Further, I’d like the world at large to acknowledge that weight means jackshit. All you can tell about a fat person is they’re fat. You don’t know if they exercise or eat right or anything else. All you know is they’re fat. So stop the judging, okay? Plus, we live in a country where the majority of folks are overweight. So…like…really, Americans? REALLY? But I digress.
TL;DR – stop hating your body, and start listening to it. Girth says nothing about worth. Etc, etc, etc. Just love yourself, ‘k? ‘K. Oh, and SAY NO TO THINSPO. Please.
- My house.
Anyway, I have a billion stories about doctors deciding that if I just lost a little weight, all my problems would go away. Never mind that I have a couple of conditions which CAUSE weight gain. Conditions that I, in fact, diagnosed for myself and only asked the doctors in question to confirm. If you’re fat, well, lose weight. It will all magically clear up. But I’m only going to share a couple of stories because I think they illustrate perfectly what’s wrong with the medical establishment today.
First, when we lived in Houston, I had to find a new doctor. This is never a fun thing for me. After years of dealing with doctors who were convinced I was lying about my diet and exercise habits, meeting new doctors who are likely to provide more of the same stresses me out. But I have a condition which requires prescription medication to treat, so go I must.
I walked into this doctor’s office and explained that despite the fact I was on medication for my thyroid, I was still experiencing many symptoms of hypothryoidism. I was still losing hair, feeling like crap, suffering extreme joint pain, etc, etc, etc. This doctor’s response? “Well, I know it hurts when you walk, but you need to do it anyway.” Do what? Did you really just tell me that even though a particular activity causes me a great deal of pain during the activity and extreme exhaustion afterward, I should do it anyway?
I went off, y’all. I. WENT. OFF. Because I knew if I weren’t overweight, she would never, ever have said some ridiculous shit like that. She would have offered some alternatives for exercise that would let me get the activity I needed without causing pain. (Like how about swimming? Or strength training? What about an elliptical which is no impact exercise?) Because after all, if I were thin, I wouldn’t really NEED the exercise, so it would just be about retaining joint mobility. But since I’m fat, well, I should suck up the excruciating joint pain as that isn’t as important as losing weight. God, I’m pissed all over again.
A friend of mine had taken up jogging as part of an effort to lose weight. She hurt her foot pretty badly, so of course, she went to the doctor. The doctor told her it was no big deal and to keep on jogging. So my friend did this, and her foot kept getting worse and worse. The doctor told her it was fine, so my friend sought a second opinion. The second doctor, the one who wasn’t bigoted, told her that continuing to jog on that foot had only exacerbated the problem. He told her to stay off it until it was healed. And maybe the first doctor wasn’t a bigot, but I honestly don’t think she’d have said that to a thin person who was in pain. Because in our culture, weight loss is first and foremost. It’s the holy grail of health. If you just lose weight, everything will be okay.
Don’t believe me? Well, I’ll tell you what happened at my last doctor’s appointment. I went in having lost about 30 pounds. He was understandably pleased by this. I told him I’d like to quit smoking, so I wanted to talk to him about alternatives. He looked at me and said, “You understand that quitting smoking will slow down your metabolism to the point that you can gain about 20 lbs per year; right? You have a plan for dealing with that?” I’m not lying, y’all. Whitey can verify that this is EXACTLY what was said.
My last anecdote is about a friend who went in to have a mole removed. Her regular doctor was out of the office, so another physician (one she didn’t know) stepped in to do the procedure. He then proceeded to berate her about both her weight and smoking. He told her, “You’re a college graduate. You should have more sense than this.” She went in for a fucking MOLE REMOVAL, y’all.
Don’t get me wrong – I understand that doctors have to discuss this stuff with their patients. I get that there are going to be things that patients don’t necessarily want to hear. However, giving someone shitty advice solely because losing weight is the primary focus isn’t good medicine. I’m going to assume that most of you have read the literature about the effects of yo-yo dieting on both health and long-term weight management. Focusing on weight loss and the perceived problems accompanying it rather than on ACTUAL problems a patient has is just shitty, if you ask me.
Also, we’ve learned that shame and blame aren’t effective tools in raising healthy, productive, happy children. Why are we still using shame and blame when we deal with health issues? Why do we think that something that absolutely does NOT work in kids is going to be magically AWESOME for adults? Really? Are we really this stupid?
So, probably you’re wondering what the outcome was with the above situations. Well, with my two friends, they’ve chosen other doctors. With myself, I’ve chosen to speak up and speak out about this kind of thing. I give doctors a chance to get educated and get over their preconceptions about obesity. If they don’t get on board, they get gone. I don’t have time or patience for haters, no matter what letters are behind their names. (Are you sensing a theme here? Heh.)
- My house
As an example, I’m a great knitter. I can knit with the best of them. Since I really, truly accept this as a fact, I have no need to compare my knitting to someone else’s. There are better knitters in the world, I’m sure, but hell, what do I care? I do the job pretty damn well, and that’s enough. So, let’s apply this to our looks because God knows, we’re told and told and told that our looks aren’t good enough…unless we’re buying someone’s makeup or lotion or whatever. THEN, we can be the sexiest bitches ever. But that’s another rant.
I have a very, very hard time accepting that I’m pretty. I do NOT accept this as a fact. Not way down deep where it counts. So I’m forever comparing myself to others. Sometimes, favorably; mostly, not so much. Now, if I were to accept that I am beautiful as a fact, I wouldn’t bother with the comparing. It simply wouldn’t matter to me if someone were prettier or thinner or whatever. Conversely, I wouldn’t have to look for ways I’m prettier/thinner/whatever with someone else. My own prettiness would be enough.
And right there…did you see it? THAT is how you deal with haters. Well, most of the time. (I plan on talking about how to get appropriate health care in tomorrow’s post which is already written, so NO WAITING THIS TIME!) You remind yourself that you are enough. Your looks, your brains, your talents – all enough. Then, you remind yourself that someone who is being ugly and hateful is doing what they can do to survive. They’re trying to make themselves feel better. It’s not healthy, but they don’t know another way.
Now is this an excuse to ignore that type of shit? Of course not. But it IS a way to remind yourself that you don’t have to take on someone else’s issues. Anytime someone is nasty to you, treat that shit like “The Watchtower,” politely refuse and hand it right back. (“The Watchtower” is the Jehovah’s Witness magazine. I mean no offense to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The ones I’ve met all seem like nice people. But I still don’t want the damn magazine.) And by “hand it back”, I do NOT mean tell them all the ways they suck. Just let them know that whatever is THEIR problem, not yours, and you’re not going to MAKE it your problem, thank you very fucking much.
I want to say something that might be upsetting, but I’m going to say it anyway. If the haters in your life are friends or family, let them know the hate stops or they go. Period. If you find your sister/aunt/mother saying shit that would have you punching a stranger right in their gonads, tell them to knock that shit off immediately. Let them know that you’re ALL DONE with feeling like shit about yourself. If they can’t get on board, they can get the fuck out.
Does that sound hardcore? Yeah? Well, it is hardcore. But from experience, I’m telling you – as long as you allow people in your life who shit on you, you will never get hold of this idea of loving yourself. Every time you try to lift yourself up, they will be there to knock you right back down. Again, this is a lack of self-love on their part, but knowing why doesn’t make it acceptable. It just makes it easier to take it less personally.
The biggest part of dealing with haters is to remember they are human beings in pain trying to find relief and to LOVE YOURSELF. I feel like I should make a macro that says LOVEYOURSELFLOVEYOURSELFLOVEYOURSELF over and over and over here. Heh. So. There you go – how to deal with haters. (At least in part.) Tune in tomorrow for some anecdotes about shitty doctors and how I dealt with them.
- My house.
So I promised I’d give you a how-to post yesterday. I want to reiterate – these things are the stuff I’m doing that’s working for me. Your mileage may vary. (If you’re really struggling, there is absolutely no shame in getting help from a professional. I’ve had excellent results in therapy.) With that out of the way, let’s get started, shall we?
First, let’s talk about self-talk. In my head, there’s a voice that tells me all sorts of things about myself that are either flat-out lies or gross exaggerations of the actual facts. I’ve dubbed this voice the Lying Bitch because that helps me put it into perspective. It helps me remember that this voice is a voice designed to drag me down and keep me down. The “why” of this voice doesn’t matter.
That’s important – the why of it does. not. matter. You can analyze where this voice comes from, why it says the things it does, etc, and there’s certainly a benefit to that. In my experience, though, knowing the why of it didn’t help me accomplish shit as far as shutting that bitch up. It gave me an excuse to not take responsibility for my self-talk. I could tell myself WELL IT’S NOT MY FAULT I TALK TO MYSELF THIS WAY!! And that’s a victim mentality right there.
Don’t misunderstand – we’ve all been through shit. We need to deal with that shit, but the thing is – until I accepted that, no matter what happened in the past, I’m responsible for my life, my life didn’t change. As long as I was looking to blame someone else, I wasn’t able to take the reins and actually get my shit together. I was still letting the people who treated me badly have power over me. Uh, no. No, thank you.
So, once I got my head together about the fact that I really could and SHOULD do something about this voice, I started with simple things. The very first thing I did was to say nice stuff to myself every single day. Yes, it’s very Stuart Smalley, but it really does work. Sure, I laughed myself silly the first few times, but after a while, I started feeling better. (As funny as the Smalley bit is, it’s sort of irritating as it’s ruined a perfectly legitimate therapeutic technique for a generation of people.)
Next, every time I thought something negative about myself, I stopped and forced myself to list five things I liked about myself that were directly contradictory to whatever negative thought I’d just had. As an example, if I thought “Ugh. I’m so fat,” I’d list five things I like about my appearance (I have pretty eyes, my hair looks good, my legs are pretty amazing, I have good tits, etc.). At first, it was HARD AS HELL because…well, because there just wasn’t a lot I liked about my appearance. But it’s gotten easier over time, and now? I rarely have a negative thought about myself; it’s just too much damn work really. Heh.
Here’s the thing that maybe will help the most – talk to yourself the way you’d talk to someone you really love. When you say things to yourself, ask “Would I say this to my BFF/spouse/child/sister/whoever?” If the answer to that is no, then don’t say it to yourself. I know, I know – that talk is habitual. But like any other habit, it can be broken.
Even if you don’t love yourself right now, act like you do. Sometimes, when we pretend something often enough and long enough, it becomes our truth. (Mel deserves credit for this idea, btw, as she introduced it to me first.) The more I pretend I have confidence, the more confidence I really have. Try it, if you don’t believe me.
Well. This is shaping up to be a two-part post. So, start with all this. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to deal with people who try to make you feel like shit.
So, Friday I wrote “You deserve to love and be loved. You deserve happiness and joy and wonder.” I want to reiterate this, especially given that I’m starting to get traffic from keyword searches like “body acceptance.” Now when I said you deserve to be loved, I didn’t just mean by another person, as nice as that is. You deserve to love yourself.
I’ll repeat that – you. deserve. to LOVE YOURSELF. Not five pounds from now or fifty pounds from now. Not when you change your nose or dye your hair. Not when you quit smoking or get sober. No matter how you look or what kind of behaviors you have that you desperately want to change, you deserve to love yourself, right now, TODAY.
Oddly, once you commit to loving yourself, you’ll find some of the less prudent habits you have will change. When you love yourself, you stop being willing to hurt yourself. You start wanting to really take care of someone who matters to you – YOU. You find that you can be kinder to yourself when you make mistakes. You’ll find that, left to your own loving and nurturing, you really will make more prudent decisions regarding your health.*
But aside from all that, you are a valuable, worthwhile person just by being you, regardless of what “bad” habits you have. There’s no one else in the entire world who’s you. No one. That makes you pretty damn special, don’t you think? So, instead of trying to force yourself to be someone else, LOVE YOU. (Wasn’t it Wilde who said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”?) Find a way to express the best you there is.
Maybe some of you are saying, “But HOW?” Welp, that’s tomorrow’s post.
*I want to clarify that I do not believe that addiction can be conquered solely through self-acceptance and love. I think, however, WITHOUT those things, addiction cannot be conquered at all. But remember – I’m just a layperson. What do I know from addiction treatment?
P.S. I want to add this caveat – I am in no way a professional qualified to offer therapy, medical advice, etc. I write this stuff because it’s what I think and what’s working for me. These posts are never, ever intended to replace treatment by a competent professional.
- My house.
I have an incredible husband, wonderful children, glorious friends and family…truly, my life is amazing, and it just keeps getting better. I’m astonished on a daily basis by how many blessings I have. Here’s the weird thing – not that much has changed really. My friends and family have always been glorious. My children are wonderful on a very regular basis. My husband has been incredible for most of our relationship.
So what’s changed? Well, Bill got a job in Kansas City, but this joy was happening before that. (I don’t want to diminish how happy and excited we all are about this opportunity [well, except Lenna who isn't so thrilled about yet another school, poor kid]; I’m just saying it can’t be the cause of this joy as the joy predates the job.) So, what is it? What’s changed?
Well…honestly? I’ve just stopped looking for the bad in everything. I’ve started trying really, really hard to assume that everyone has good intentions, even when their actions aren’t so super. As an example, it used to really upset me when my mom would give me unsolicited advice. I mean, it would PISS. ME. OFF. I AM GROWN, DAMMIT. I GOT THIS, OKAY? BACK OFF.
But I’ve started looking at it as one way she shows how much she cares about me. It’s her way of wanting the best for me, wanting me to be happy, wanting me to avoid mistakes that might really hurt. She’s still my mother, after all. She still sees it as her job to guide me through life, and you know what? I’m good with that. So many people don’t have that, and here I am being mad? What? (However, Moot, do not take this as an opportunity to mother me more. I AM GROWN, DAMMIT. lol)
I also have started taking things at face value. Period. I don’t sit and analyze what someone REALLY meant when they said XYZ. So, for the passive-aggressive folks in my life, well…sorry for you. I’m taking myself out of that particular game. It doesn’t help either of us, and it certainly doesn’t make for joy, so I’m opting out.
I WANT joy. I WANT to keep waking up in the mornings and thanking my Creator for another wonderful day. I WANT to keep loving myself and loving the world around me. (Yes, even the people at WalMart. SHOCKING, right?) More importantly, I want to be someone who inspires others to feel this way. I want to help the people in my life find that same joy.
Every one of you deserves that. You deserve to love and be loved. You deserve happiness and joy and wonder. Really, you do. I wouldn’t lie to you about something this important, okay? So, go. Find your joy.
- My house.
Anyway, I think a big part of my life has been learning to accept things about myself or my life that aren’t maybe so socially acceptable. For example, my first two kids – now society has come a long way re: racism, but not THAT far.
When Matt was a baby, there were comments about me being a “nigger lover” and about Matt being a “nigger baby.” Those comments happened a lot, and I didn’t give a shit. (Okay, it HURT like a sonofabitch when a relative made the comments, but from strangers? It just pissed me off.)
But I never internalized those things. I didn’t believe then (or now or ever) that having a baby with a black man made me inferior to anyone. I simply refused to accept what a few bigoted dickheads thought of me. I didn’t accept that who I dated made any statement about my value as a person. I did not accept the shame with which they tried to burden me.
Another example: I figured out pretty early on that college just wasn’t for me. I’ve never, ever known what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve fluttered from this to that to this. (The only thing I can say that I have always, always, always wanted to be is a mom. That’s the only vision I ever had for myself continuously.)
So, when people assumed that I dropped out of college because I was lazy or stupid or whatever, I didn’t internalize that. Well…maybe a little, but for the most part, it really hasn’t fazed me. I refuse to let myself be ashamed for not spending money I don’t have on a degree I probably won’t use. (See my comment re: being a mom.)
I think when I finally discovered the “Fatosphere,” (thank you, Mel) I was already prepared for the idea that what other people think doesn’t have to be what I think. I don’t have to be ashamed of myself because I’m fat. I don’t have to internalize what society says is beautiful. I can be me doing my thing, and it’s not only okay, it’s fucking AWESOME.
At the end of the day, THAT is what I want to pass on to my kids. “Be yourself; it’s enough.” (Oh. Also “Old skool rap makes life worth living.” So, those two things.)
- My house.
There are going to be days when I don’t follow these rules I set up inside my head, and you know what? That’s okay. One “bad” food choice isn’t going to put all the weight back on, but you know what will? Saying, “Welp, I failed, so fuck it – I’ma eat ALLLLL the cake!”
Another thing? I’ve quit labeling food as “bad” or “good”. I’ve given myself permission to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and in any quantity I want. If I want to eat the whole cake, I have permission to do that. Oddly enough, I don’t want the cake. I want a banana and some almonds. Or some grilled chicken. Or some salad. (God, I could go for a salad right now. SRSLY. Oh, hey – I’ll just go have one!)
I’ve also given myself permission to work out or not, to exercise or lounge, whatever. I’m not attached to some rigid system of rules for myself that mean if I “break” a rule, I’m a total failure at everything. For whatever reason, it’s worked out pretty well. I work out on a regular basis, and when I miss a day – meh, no big deal.
Part of this is reading all the lovely, encouraging blogs in the “fatosphere.” I love me some me, and that’s whether I’m a size 24 or a size 4. I’ve learned that being fat isn’t a statement about my character. It’s not a moral decision. It is what it is, and it doesn’t say a word about my value as a human being.
Now I can say that, and you’re probably asking, “So, why continue to lose weight?” Well, my knees hurt when I walk. Losing weight can help with that. My blood pressure is borderline high (which…hey! Improvement! Just a few months ago, it was well into high! Losing 10% of my body weight dropped my BP like a stone!). Mostly, I’m doing it BECAUSE I love me some me, and my weight is killing me.
DO NOT START. I’m not saying every fat person needs to lose weight to be healthy. I’m not saying fat people can’t be healthy. I’m saying that I happen to know that losing some more weight will lower my blood pressure further. I know that losing weight will alleviate a good bit of my joint pain. I am NOT saying losing weight will make me prettier or happier or anything else.
And the fact that I had to say all that pisses me off a little. If body acceptance is about…you know, BODY ACCEPTANCE, then why do I feel like I have to apologize for losing weight? Why do I see so many other “fat” bloggers apologizing for wanting to lose weight? Body policing is body policing, kids, whether it’s the thinspo groups or the fat acceptance groups.
ANYWAY. I want to thank the fat/body acceptance movement for helping me see that what someone weighs says NOTHING about their value as a person, that it’s okay for me to buy “big” clothes that I love, that I am absolutely gorgeous whatever happens with my weight. Now quit telling me I’m betraying you if I keep on keeping on. As long as we’re doing what’s HEALTHY FOR US, it’s our business. Really.
TL;DR – I love me some me. You should love you some you and let everyone else do their thing.