Men and Their Diets

People in my life like to not conform to gender standards. I like this, but sometimes it presents interesting challenges.

Today, I had three conversations with male-folk. One was about Halo Reach and the other two were about how they want to lose weight. Now, as awesome as Halo Reach looks, I’m the high end of bad or the low end of mediocre at FPSes and this blog is about my path to body acceptance, so sadly that’s not going to be the subject (though if you like that kind of thing, the extended trailer for that game is just breath-taking).

I’m getting better at being anti-diet pro-body love when it comes to talking with the people who normally talk about these things AKA women. I can say “Check out these great FA bloggers!” though I usually don’t. But I could. Interestingly, I have not had a conversation about weightloss with any of my female friends recently. But if I were to point them in the direction of any of the FA bloggers that I know about or even read, those friends will be the target audience.

But that’s not the case with my guy friends. It’s not that I don’t think they should be exposed to feminism, but FA is baby steps. Feminism brought me to FA so seeing all this feminist rhetoric mixed in isn’t something that strikes me as at all weird. But anyone coming at FA without feminism (without even being female) is now approaching two concepts. I don’t mean to say that men cannot be feminists, but often their feminism isn’t as active. I know at least one of the friends I mentioned tends to agree with my feminist ideals, but sometimes the idea is new to him. So it isn’t that they now have to both accept gender equality and body acceptance, but they have to actively participate in the dialogue of these ideas, even if it is just by reading.

Not only that, but anyone who hates their body, is dieting, whatever is probably going to be touchy on the subject of their body. And when you mix new concepts with even more new concepts going back to the status quo has a lot of comfort to it. And then there’s seeing a post called “Vagina Friendly; Make Friends With Your Area“. This makes it clear who the target of these entries are, but weight loss commercials often have at least one token man, so they get to be all inclusive! And commercials for muscle building equipment are not only targeted at men, but almost always mention weight loss (and they don’t always pair that voice over with the token woman).

To be fair, The Rotund also has her most recent post (as I’m typing this) titled “What about the Mens; Gender, Gender All the Way Home”, but even that is seeped in feminist ideals. It’s not just Marianne, either. Fatshionista and Kate Harding also mix and alternate between FA and feminism.

I don’t think it’s wrong that FA is mostly targeted at women. I think a lot of points about space and women and feminism and society are all very important ideas to get across to the dieting women out there. And maybe there isn’t as much feminism as I think, after all, that’s who I am and so that’s what I’m gong to find. However, the size issue is not an approach that is even relevant to men. They’re allowed to big, they’re even supposed to be big, they’re just not allowed to be “sideways” as one friend put it.

This post is both an observation and a call for help. I know I mentioned something about not responding to comments at some point way earlier in this blog, but I would really love some now. Word Press is still insisting I get a few hits. Who and/or where can I point my friends the next time they talk about how they feel fat and how they want to lose weight and how eating is totally ruining their diet?

One last thing. I know there are a lot of FA blogs that focus on a lot of feel good self esteem exercises. This is not what I’m looking for. My generation grew up on self esteem building and being special snowflakes and how everyone is wonderful and deserves to be loved. I cannot speak for everyone else, but I know I have witnessed too much disconnect between this kind of discourse and the “real world” to do anything but roll my eyes at these ideas. I know my peer friends have expressed similar sentiments when this kind of topic comes up. Blogs that like statistics are preferable.

Note: I’m at that awkward age where people are no longer “girls and boys” and while technically “men and women” identifying as such is uncomfortable and not quite fitting. So any odd gender nouns in this entry is due to that.

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September 14, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Pants and Gender

I was going to start this entry by apologising to you, my (hypothetical?) reader(s) for disappearing. But I changed my mind. Instead I’m going to restate that my primary reason for doing this is for me. I hope this helps someone or gives someone something to think about, and I think I may have done that already, which makes this wonderful. I think part of accepting my body is accepting that I can do things for me and not feel guilty about it. I know this next sentence is going to take some of that power away. But, I do hope you don’t mind the lack of apology.

Today, I went pants shopping. It was more clothes shopping in general, but I have a lot of shirts I like, more skirts than I wear (since I generally don’t) and just don’t wear dresses. I am getting older, as people do, and I somehow got it into my head that in order to step toward being a proper adult, I have to start dressing like one. To an extent, this is true. At least if I plan on interviewing in person for white collar jobs and then actually working said job. Dressing like an adult, to me at least, means dressing in something socially acceptable. Something that at the very least doesn’t “highlight” the flaws society says my body has and something that conforms to my gender identity. It also seems to require muting one’s personality. At least, that’s how I see it. Perhaps if my personality were something that conformed more to standards of “acceptable” I wouldn’t think this, but they don’t and that’s okay. If they did, that’s okay too, though I hope that goes without saying.

My current wardrobe can conform. But I don’t wear those pieces together very often. However, I still have some time while my real occupation is student and so I can exist outside of the dress code What Not to Wear tells me about. Now, I’m not saying anything against WNtW; they’re certainly on to something. When I watch I generally do think the “after” looks better than the “before”. But as I’m reading more from the areas of the internet where FA and feminism hangs out, I’m starting to think that seeing these (generally) women the way I see them is problematic. I haven’t been able to look past the “Wow, she looks so much better!” but I see the uniformity all too clearly. Today I was watching the Style network (I think? Cable has too many channels) and it has a similar show. I don’t remember the title, but one of the hosts was reading a letter from the makeover candidate’s daughter that said something like “Mom, if you wear more dresses, I will want to too” as if this were heart breaking and a reason to change the makeover candidate’s wardrobe. I found this hugely problematic.

I won’t lie. This is partially because I have a good relationship with the “wrong” clothes and a pretty bad relationship with the “right” ones. Wrong being clothes intended for men, right being clothes intended for women. Clothes marketed to women don’t fit my body. I am biologically female and I identify as such. However, up until this (fairly) recent trend of longer shirts, shirts to fit women would turn into crop tops on me because they didn’t account for breasts my size. If they made a larger size it was often too boxy and still unflattering (in the traditional sense). Pants designed for women often seem to shout LOOK AT MY THIGHS, and more often than not manage to give me a muffin top even if they’re falling off my body. I (understandably, I hope) hate this. I mentioned my clothes a bit in Two Setbacks, a previous post on here. The pants I talked about being a setback were designed for women (but I didn’t hate them), the shorts I loved are designed for men. When I was 14 or 15 I finally asked my mother if I could try some men’s cargo shorts. I consider that one of the best sartorial decisions I ever made. I haven’t gone back to shorts designed for women. I think I may own a pair and I think they may fit, but I can’t remember wearing then. Pants have been more problematic. As I’ve mentioned in Two Setbacks, pants have to fit more of the body and therefore more can go wrong, so it is harder to find men’s pants that look good on me than it is to find shorts. Men’s and women’s pants are often more similar than men’s and women’s shorts are. And if the only difference is that women’s pants are cut for my body and men’s pants aren’t, then it would make sense for me to gravitate toward women’s pants (even if another difference is that pockets are just more useful on men’s pants).

So, today I went shopping for pants with a healthy FA influenced attitude. I think I did a pretty good job at “ignoring” the numbers. I chose the size I think I would fit best in and my second guess to try on, rather than the size I wanted/hoped I was. I tried on the larger size first. The trauma I saved was noticeable. It’s much easier to go down a size than go up one. Not because of the numbers, per se, but because I didn’t have to see my body in something that squished it into something it wasn’t supposed to look like. Also, pants that are too small are uncomfortable. Pants that are too big are not. I think this new approach saved me. I tried on a lot of pants. Even the ones that were falling off made me hate what I was seeing. I almost pouted my way to jewellery and shoes several times. But I was able to see that it wasn’t my body. It really was the pants. My body wearing shorts “I look good!”; My body wearing pants “I want to cry!”. But I saw that yes, my body is in both those statements so it could not be the cause of the wanting to cry. Thanks FA!

I finally gave up and walked over to the guys’ section. As I was doing so I felt a lot of relief. I also saw a hipster boy in skinny jeans walking over to the juniors’ (teen girls’) section to look at pants. Take that society! The first pair of jeans I picked out and tried on fit better and looked better than any of the pants I had tried on yet that day and quite a few of the pants I own. I also bought a really cute t-shirt from the same section because that’s how I roll.

I feel like there should be a lesson here. But there isn’t. This is just my experience. I am lucky that I’m both willing, wanting and able to shop outside of what’s expected of me because shopping sucks.

August 15, 2010. Tags: , , , . Current. Leave a comment.