Housekeeping

I have lots of things to say that may or may not be really worth saying, but I’m in the process of completing a lot of thoughts. The Rotund‘s latest post on her internet handle reminded me that I had actually been wanting to do one of those so here’s mine.

When I comment, I go by PG because I’m a busty gal. And PG is a nod to Power Girl. A DC super hero whose powers are pretty much her huge breasts. Okay, so not really, but that’s what she’s known for. And while I’m not a fan of misogyny in comics, Power Girl is almost a parody of that. Sometimes, well, usually, she’s just the most blatant example, but sometimes the writers and artists turn her character into something pretty great. I don’t read as many comics as I’d like ’cause they’re pricey and I’m too lazy to hunt down scans. So Power Girl in my head is kind of the potential I could reach to embrace my curves. And sure, she’s usually really thin and that does not fit with my image, but there’s something about her. I was also thinking about being Gert, another (Marvel) comic character who has an interesting body. In the bit of Runaways (the comic she’s from) she had her own body issues and was kind of the “fat girl” and I could identify with her. She was even drawn rather “thick” for a while.* And then I was reading one of the comics and in the back they had pages for all the main characters with their basic stats and Gert came in at 5’1 and 125lbs. Which means she’s not even medically overweight. I mean, I know the line for fat is placed differently for different people, but to me, that was just a slap in the face. Like I was just told I was too fat to identify with the fat kid. Considering one of the entries I’m stewing on is one about being not fat enough to be considered fat by some of the more prominent FA bloggers, I feel like I really need to revisit this point.

The other name I wanted to explain was the name of this blog. I feel like it almost doesn’t need an explanation, but I’m going for it. Basically my mother has this theory that there are “fat” mirrors and “skinny” mirrors. I think physics supports this idea. Anyway, the point is, is that dressing room mirrors especially tend to have these properties, probably because they’re so cheap. And since this is a blog where I reflect on my weight. . . well, some days I feel like I’m standing in front of a fat mirror and some days I feel like I’m standing in front of a skinny mirror and if I just keep writing about it, maybe I’ll figure out what image I should actually be seeing.

Finally, I would like to say something about the comments on this blog. Word Press insists I actually get a few people reading this thing. And every time I get a comment, I’m shocked and pleased, but I don’t think I’m going to be doing a lot of replying. I originally came up with different identifiers and this blog so I could divorce my body acceptance from any familiar audience and any conscious or unconscious pandering I may do toward them. Or any information I might want to not share. So while I do read the (few) comments I get and I appreciate them, I don’t want to start catering my writing toward a new audience when I still am trying very hard to figure out what I have to say to myself.

*I wish I could provide some links and better facts, but my Google skills are seriously lacking right now.

June 12, 2010. Tags: , . Current. Leave a comment.

Bad Day

I’m reluctant to write about today, but I keep reminding myself that the whole point of this blog is to publicly (and I use that term loosly) reconstruct my ideas about weight and body image etc.

Today was the first time I stepped on a scale in five months. It didn’t suck. Five months ago, I weighed less, but six months ago I weighed a lot more. I’m pretty much where I always am, and I’m fine with that.

The problem came when my mother was like “But you’re going to lose weight this summer right?” When I offered her a skirt that didn’t fit me and I don’t particularly like anyway. I said “No.” She said “Why not?” I said “Because I haven’t lost any the last four summers.” And then she offered to take me to an endocrinologist because clearly that means something is wrong with my thyroid*.

She also told me I had gained weight since the last time I was home (not true). To me that “No” was hugely emotionally … something. I’m still not over it and it was an hour ago and she apologised for hurting my feelings. I then did 50 crunches. I don’t know if I’m going to eat dinner tonight. I’m going to start jogging tomorrow with my mother since her apology was “I’m sorry but it isn’t like you can’t fix it with exercise.” Since I’m doing it with her, I want to get it over with ASAP. She might be thin, but she’s not in very good shape.

I’ve done this before. Being the friend someone chooses to go running with because they assume since I’m fatter than they are, I’m in worse shape. At the very least they assume I’m not in better shape. It doesn’t make people feel very good when I am. I wanted to play that time. This time I just want to get this over with. I’ll play your game, I’ll play by your rules, but don’t blame me when you quit because I’m winning.

I know I’m being irrational because I was thinking of doing this anyway (without my mother), but the way this came about does not make me happy.

I don’t know if the “No” is a small step, or a step forward accompanied by several steps back.

*Granted, thyroid problems are not unheard of in my family.

June 3, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Current. 1 comment.

Two Setbacks

So updating is something that maybe I should do at times when I have a blog and all.

Lately I’ve been much more accepting of my body. Partially because it’s been shorts weather (for me, anything above 50 is shorts weather), and I’m so much more comfortable in my shorts than pants. This is because pants have to fit thighs and bellies and butts and then also preferably not extend past my feet too far. Shorts are easier. Shorts have to be baggy, have pockets and comfortably fit my waist. All the other nonsense is covered by their excess bagginess and the fact that they’re short. They’re like skirts without the chub rub (’cause my shorts are also knee length.) I guess it comes down to the fact that I know what I want with shorts but even though I’ve basically been in this body for at least five to seven years, I don’t know what I want in pants yet.

I had one really good week. Every day that week I felt more and more confident in my body. But then it got cold and I was changing in front of a full body mirror and I feel like all the body love I managed to accomplish that week managed to fall apart when I was standing in front of the mirror in those pants. While, as I’ve mentioned before, I generally fit in straight sizes due to my height and what might actually be a tenuous status as a fatty*, I feel like this setback in clothes has made me feel even more strongly about all bodies being able to find clothes that fit them. It isn’t just a question of visibility and versatility, though those are probably the two most prominent reasons. It’s the fact that accepting our naked body is one thing, it’s something only you and those you let in (and also medical professionals) are allowed to see. Accepting my clothed body seems to be a lot harder than accepting my naked one. Because clothing doesn’t always fit right. Because clothing impacts how everyone else sees me. Trousers of all sorts seem to create a roll that wasn’t there before. They seem to highlight the size of my thighs. They throw all the proportions that were fine a second ago into some sort of weird shape I don’t want. It’s not that I’m wearing the wrong size pants, I’ve considered it. It’s that I’m not comfortable with the uniformity my legs get. All the muscle and the fat just gets lumped into one casing. Or maybe that I’m just not comfortable. When I notice this happening to me when I have all the options that I do, I can’t imagine what someone who is solidly plus-sized has to go through.

My other large setback has to do with the fact that my temporary apartment is soon to become my former apartment. This means that I’m having a hard time cooking or going grocery shopping and again, limiting my calories to an unhealthy number. This is part to do with the fact that I keep odd hours and partially because I’ve eliminated meat from my diet for moral reasons and this makes finding a decent sandwich a bit more difficult. I’ve already felt the mental/emotional side effects of the self-imposed starvation** kick in this morning when I had my breakfast with me on the subway and I absolutely did not want to eat it in public. I am pretty far along in this whole body acceptance journey, I think, especially considering that my active and reflective participation has been happening for fewer than six months. That said, I would be a liar if I weren’t hoping I’d lose a few pounds and keep it off for a while if I’m going to do this silly diet*** anyway. I am far enough along though, to say that when I am back in a more permanent residence, I will stop this nonsense. Which is a huge step for me. Usually I’m promising myself that as soon as I can, I’ll halve my calories and double my exercise. It’s liberating going the other way (well, for the food anyway, I still plan on exercising more ’cause it helps me sleep better). So while this is a setback it’s one that’s let me see how far I’ve come.

*I still don’t have enough body and cultural awareness to actually make this call.
**I believe my current caloric intake is around 1,200 kcal a day. So still within “normal” diet rules and starvation might be too harsh of a word, but I’m kind of hungry right now, but nowhere is open and I don’t have any food.
***Diet in this particular instance means what I eat, not a means to lose weight.

May 28, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Apology #3

Dear Skinny Friends,

I don’t think you should have been expressing a desire to lose weight, but I do understand that you were uncomfortable with your bodies when you said that. And I should not have said “If anything, you should gain a few pounds”. I was out of line. I just hope you understand that you made me uncomfortable. The time that comes to mind, you probably weighed thirty pounds less than I do, and the comment about needing to lose the five or seven pounds you had gained lately felt like a dig at my body, even though I know you didn’t mean it that way.

I hope you’re comfortable with your body however it is now. You don’t need to change one bit, I promise.

May 13, 2010. Tags: , , . Apologies, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Brainwashed

As I mentioned in the previous post, I did a lot of walking this past week. And my feet were killing me. Hours of walking and my feet were screaming to the point where I had to sit down every 20 minutes or so even if my legs felt fine, I just could not handle the pain. And I thought to myself “You need to lose weight. Your feet cannot handle the pressure you’re putting on them. You need to carry a lighter bag. It’s all this weight.” And similar scoldings.

One of the many “fat issues” that constantly comes up a lot is the fact that our bodies aren’t meant to handle the fat we’ve accumulated. And therefore all fatties will end up with joint issues and foot issues and bone issues and various other issues due to the overwhelming medical problem that is fat on our bodies. And I must have taken this to heart.

It took my mother pointing out that my shoes were really, really old before it occurred to me that maybe there was another explanation. But I figured they were tennis shoes, how much pain could they cause? Then I thought, well, I bought them at least three years ago, and retired them from fencing at least a year and a half ago due to loss of grip*. And the sole’s heel was really worn. Half way through the week when I was putting them on and the heel split, did I finally concede my mother was right and it had nothing to do with my weight. And while I haven’t bought new shoes yet (I have a style I really like and two other pairs of shoes here that I should start wearing), I have added inserts, and the difference is notable.

Personally, I prefer running around barefoot, but I’m in a city and ew. Hopefully this has taught me that my weight might not be (and probably isn’t) the cause of any sort of body problem I’m having. Especially considering my thought last week where I realised I’m more of an inbetween, and if people much larger aren’t having this Obviously Caused by Fat problem, I should look for other explanations and it’s not as Really Common as the media wants me to think. I also need to stop convincing myself I’m diabetic and that my arteries are clogged and I’ll need some sort of heart surgery soon, which while related probably has to do with my tendency to worry over things that don’t matter and inability to apply logic to myself.

The Rotund’s post about stairs was something of an inspiration for me to post this as well as another good reminder about mental/physical disconnects.

*While this is important in any sport, it’s super important in fencing, as shoes that have no traction cause surprise splits.

May 3, 2010. Tags: , , , . Reflection. 3 comments.

Walking Doesn’t Burn Calories

My mother came to visit me last week and we did the touristy thing. The touristy thing here involves an insane amount of walking (Her: “Do you want to take a cab? Are you sure you don’t want to take a cab?”) and lots of stairs (Her: “So this country doesn’t believe in elevators?”). Also, eating delicious food. Which prompted the following conversation*.

Mother: If I lived here, I would be so fat.
Me: But think of all the walking we’ve done.
Mother: Well, walking doesn’t do anything for me. I mean, I can walk and not burn any calories.

Now, I’m not sure if I managed, but I certainly tried to convince her that walking does actually burn calories. Just like being alive does. Really, everyone needs calories so that our bodies can do their things. I know that I have, in the past, fallen into the train of thought where in order for me to burn more calories than I consume, I need to burn them with exercise. As in, if I decide to DDR for a half hour and burn 300 kcal** and then assume that a relatively inactive day added onto that would only burn 100 additional kcals so I would have to eat under 400 kcals to lose any weight.*** That was just wrong on so many levels. I’ve heard that the old diet advice “If you want to be 120 pounds eat 1200 kcals” is more like “If you are 120 pounds, you need 1200 kcals to function on the most minimal level, and then eat more if you actually plan on moving.”

And I didn’t come up with these ideas in a vacuum. My mother was a large contributor (she’s really a great mother, but still human, which is where this comes in) and she had to have heard these ideas somewhere as well. I’ve heard a lot of what she’s said about weight said elsewhere. So I’m going to try and unpack some of what she said to me this week. This time without any of the quotes.

1. Exercise is not magic. Someone who goes from being fairly sedentary to any level of activity is not going to magically drop the weight s/he always wanted to lose. Especially if this exercise is something like “walking a mile a day”. While the increase in activity will probably**** be beneficial to this person’s health this benefit will not always show up as a lower number on the scale or even a smaller pants size. This goes doubly so for anyone who assumes that an increase in activity is permission to eat what they want. Sure, you don’t need permission to eat what you want. No one does, but if the goal is to be healthy (and/or lose weight*****) exercise is only one component.

2. Eating like a normal person. My mother said something like that and I had no idea what she meant. I don’t even know if she knew what she meant. I don’t know if I know a “normal person”. I certainly couldn’t tell you what s/he eats. There are people of varying heights, weights, metabolic rates, food allergies/intolerances, able-bodyness and activity levels. Probably other things I forgot. Someone who has IBS can’t eat like someone who has no colon who can’t eat like a lactose intolerant athlete who can’t eat like a cubical worker with really fast metabolism who chooses not to eat like a vegan. Any and all of those people can be fat. Or skinny. Or somewhere in the middle. And I still can’t figure out who a normal person.

3. Gaining a pound. Anyone who has ever had an obsession with their scale can tell you that they weigh differently in the morning when they first wake up than they do before they go to bed. Before and after they go to the bathroom. Depending on how much water they drink and food they’ve eaten. If and what clothes they’re wearing. Even the spot in their cycle if they’re female. Or at least I can tell you that due to my few month obsession with a scale (I no longer own). I can also say that my pants size and my weight don’t always correlate as nicely as scale numbers gaining means pants tightening. Sometimes it can mean pants falling off. So I can’t understand why people flip out over a single pound, especially after they mention how much better their clothes are fitting. The disconnect astounds me.

The crazy thing about these three things is that while I can sit here and type the “right answers”, it doesn’t mean that I won’t say, increase my exercise when I get back to my home country and then wonder why I can’t eat like a normal person and freak out about a pound I’ve gained. The disconnect is just as strong in me as it seems to be in the people I talk to. Hopefully just being able to return to here and see that no, I’m not being logical, will be enough. It’s harder to argue with yourself than it is with someone else, I’ve found.

*My memory recall is not so great as for this to be word for word, obviously.
**I’m really good at DDR. Not like, those crazy kids at the arcade good, but good enough not to be totally embarrassed doing DDR in public.
***Pre FA days when I was “dieting”
****I’m not a doctor, I can’t say for sure. And people are individuals and who knows what which exercises might trigger especially if someone’s doing something incorrectly, etc. etc.
*****I like asterisks way too much. Also I know FA is not an advocate of dieting but I’m not going to judge. Also, in the context of my mother, this is her goal.

May 1, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Reflection. Leave a comment.

Confession

I’m short and fat. But I’m short enough that I fit in to straight sizes. I’m also fat enough that I fit into plus sizing but if I were any taller and my body were to stay proportionally the same, I’d be shunned out of all the straight sizes. So yeah, even if I can’t reach that shelf, I’m grateful I’m short. My fat is such that I have boobs and hips (not so much of a butt and some pretty notable thighs and a belly) but if anything it would be a slightly modified hourglass shape. That means that it is easier for me to find clothes that are flattering*. It also means I’m able to smuggle novels in my waistband if I “suck it in” a little more than I usually do. It also means that when I don’t have pockets I can carry things in my bra. There are a lot of benefits to my shape and it is one that is on the border of acceptable and shameful.

There are several things I’ve been thinking about this past week. The one that has formed the most coherency is the one one where I realised I think the Fat Acceptance movement applies to me. And there’s no argument it doesn’t. I have body image issues. I’ve had doctors have an unwarranted fixation on my weight. My BMI is “overweight”. I cannot always find clothes in my size when I walk into a store (usually, but not always). I’ve had dieting issues. And I’m listing all of this because I somehow have to prove to myself I’m worthy. So yeah, FA applies to me.

But what I found odd is how I read these blogs and they speak to me deeply. Now, in a way it isn’t odd because society likes to comment about people’s bodies. And if one’s body happens to be outside society’s norm suddenly it’s open season. But it’s odd because a lot of these blogs are written by women who are in the range a hundred pounds heavier than I am. Not weird. But I have a friend, and I’ve had this friend for years. She was one inch taller and about eight pounds lighter than I was when we last hung out a few months ago. In my mind she has always been the unreachable goal.

I knew her during high school and my mother would tell me “If you just lost ten or fifteen pounds, you could look more like [friend].” And I can’t blame it all on my mother because I would have the same thoughts. I don’t know if her clothes could have fit me because I was always under the impression I was So Much Fatter than all my friends. I always put myself in this other group because of what, eight pounds?

So what’s weird is how I think of myself Exactly Like some of the leaders of the FA movement in terms of my body and Nothing At All like my friend. When I found out the fact that she was only eight pounds lighter (and one inch taller, but I knew that) than me, I realised that this person whom I had been trying so hard to be for so many years of my life might actually have body image issues of her own that I never really heard because I was wallowing in my own bubble. And FA doesn’t just mean accepting the fat people and myself as fat but actually seeing my body for what it is and where my body is on the spectrum of bodies. So while I can certainly say the experiences and the emotions these blogs are expressing speak to me, I don’t know what it’s like to the extent they face it. On the spectrum, I’m much closer to my friend than I am or have ever been to the people I’ve been looking up to lately. And that, to me, is weird.

*Where the modern concept of flattering means “doesn’t make you look as fat or fatter than you are”. This is true. This is also unfortunate. If we could get over that, there are so many more sparkly, brightly coloured clothes that I’d jump all over because my inner six-year-old is pretty strong.

April 20, 2010. Tags: . Reflection. Leave a comment.

Run, Fatty, Run.

It’s been said before but it needs repeating until it hits home. Fat shaming does not help the problem. There’s the problem of feeling bad and maybe emotionally eating to the reaction. But there’s also the fact that being fat in public is a shameful thing.

I’m a fairly active person when I’m emotionally healthy (or else I run the risk of not leaving my room/home except for the absolutely needed). I fence, when I’m not fencing, I run. I play DDR. I walk places. I don’t go to gyms. Gyms are scary, scary places. Playing Fattest Person in the Room is hopeless because if I am, oh shit. If I’m not, it doesn’t matter, because I’m sure not the skinniest. I’m in a public space and people judge. The last time I went to a gym, I made a beeline for the elliptical, spent a few minutes trying to figure it out, and then I felt shame. Every time another person got on one of the ellipticals near me I’d try and match their speed if not go faster even though none were on the machine as long as I was, but I had to prove I was better. I had to prove I wasn’t just that pathetic fatty at the gym. In shorts and an oversized t-shirt I was probably the most clothed woman there*, and that was shameful. I felt shame about sweating; I felt shame about being out of breath when I finally stepped off the elliptical one hour and a little over five miles later. I felt shame about never going back, like somehow the people there were going to remember me and think that they never saw me again because I was fat and couldn’t handle it.

I don’t own an elliptical, a treadmill or a stationary bike. So when I want to do cardio I can either DDR or run. Since DDR requires a TV and volume, when someone else might be disturbed by the noise or presence of me flailing in the space with the TV. So, that means running outside. I only run outside in the summer in my neighbourhood and even then I try and do it in the morning, when it’s raining or at night. Obviously there are practical reasons for this like heat. But it’s also because I see fewer people and therefore fewer people see me. I jog at a pretty slow pace. I tend to do about three miles in a half hour, which is about the pace of a powerwalk. To me this is laughably slow and my neighbours are going to look out their windows or pass me while walking their dogs and see me and thing “Run, fatty, run.” And this has stopped me from running (by myself) on my campus because the people who see me might actually interact with me beyond waving and asking how my mother is doing. I might see friends, classmates, TAs, professors and this scares me.

I like swimming too, but hello swimsuit. Enough said there.

This idea of being even more ashamed while exercising probably has something to do with the fact that exercise tends to involve clothes that aren’t always good at covering or flattering. But I think a big part has more to do with the fact that there’s so much pressure. In a public space, if I can’t run as fast or as far as another person, I feel like I just let down all the fit fat people by reaffirming someone else’s expectations. I also feel like people are judging me more. This might be because I’m already uncomfortable or the fact that I don’t make sense. I’m in “deceptively good shape” in that my shape is deceptive, in that I’m more fit than one would guess by looking. And maybe that unsettles people by bucking at things they thought they knew. I don’t know.

I do know that when I’m confident, I don’t mind the stares as much. When I fence and I beat someone and they’re surprised, I feel more triumphant. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m confident in fencing that I’m able to do it so boldly in public. I have had this body since I’ve started fencing (give or take) and I wasn’t always confident. I think part of it has to do with the fact that to me it’s not exercise. It’s not something I do because I feel like I have to. It’s something I want to do. I have to think on this more.

*There was a girl who later came in wearing a t-shirt and capri-cut yoga pants. She was heavier than me.

April 6, 2010. Tags: , , . Reflection. Leave a comment.

It’s Easy. . .

It was easy for me to start this blog because after living some of the fattest months of my life*, I was, when I made the first post heading toward what I thought might be some of my thinnest. My pants which had fit me fine when I bought them and tightly only just a month or two before were pretty much falling off. Now they’re heading back toward tight and I’ve been avoiding this place.

I’ve been snacking like a crazy person and I don’t always get out of my apartment some weekends. I’m not the healthiest I’ve ever been right now, but when my pants were falling off, I wasn’t the healthiest then either. I need to realise that I may have a weight I’m supposed to be, but I’m likely to stray from that in a range of about 7lbs either side of the middle. And I need to accept the fact that I’m fat and it’s fine even when I’m regular fat (median), or fat fat (the highest weight) not just when I’m not so fat (my lightest weight).

Right now I’ve got the superficial acceptance for the majority of my weight range and only something that even resembles a real reflection when I’m weighing less than usual.

*With access to a scale to tell me this.

March 25, 2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Food Logs

Food logs are my big evil. Most of my serious previous attempts to lose weight have come coupled with food logs. This is because everyone says how wonderful those things are. They make you take responsibility for your eating etc . etc. It’s also because my mother is a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and I’ve unofficially been on the points diet several times (My mother is familiar enough and has enough of their literature that the only thing I ever failed to get out of my unofficial version is the weekly meetings) and a huge part of said diet is writing down everything you eat.

Well, the thing with me is that my disordered eating doesn’t appear when I weigh myself every day. It doesn’t show up (as much*) when I try to restrict calories. Mine shows up with food logs. I start out writing what I eat. I also stop snacking on say, one cookie, or one chip because then I’d have to write it, and that’s just silly and not worth it, and I guess in that way the log works. But then I look at the list and go “Wow, that’s huge!” because I list every food individually because I want to see what I eat** . This means milk and cereal takes up two lines, a third for a vitamin. Sandwiches can take around four or five. And I start wanting to make the list smaller and smaller. I have a page in my “take everywhere notebook” that has several attempts at food logs, and I can always tell where a new food log begins because I am writing on the lines again in my normal (but still small) handwriting. The last day of the previous food log tends to look like a date with three things (one of which is almost always the multivitamin) crammed in-between the lines of the paper.

At this point in the log, I tend to be so super proud of myself for managing to fit all my food in one line of space (one and a half if you include the date). I’m also wacked out, crazy pants, mood-swinging insane and cannot make up my mind about anything. Which is why the log then fails.

Hopefully the next time I’m thinking of doing a food log, I’ll read/remember this post and just avoid the crazy. Or, at the very least keep a health log (including exercise, sleep and water) on my computer so I can avoid the unhealthy attitude.

*My calorie restriction is also crazy because when I don’t or cannot check something, I will assume an apple is 150 calories and an avocado has to be 375. Also, one Oreo is what, 120? And as I sit here looking at that, an apple has to be at least 200 and an avocado can’t be less than 450, but the Oreo looks right. Quick googling tells me a large apple is 110, an avocado is 300 and a single oreo is 55. I obviously have no idea what I’m doing.
**”Veg and cheese Sandwich” doesn’t say nearly as much as “Whole wheat bread (2 slices), cheddar (2 slices), tomato (half), lettuce”

March 11, 2010. Tags: , , . Reflection. Leave a comment.

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