Friday, March 25, 2011

Some thoughts on fat identity

I've been mostly reading the intarwebs brouhaha over the girl who's a size 6 and had her pic posted on Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls. Personally, I don't think she's chubby, fat, or anything in-between. I think she's a thin to average-sized young girl with just a bit of belly pooch. I think it's awesome that she's learned to love herself/her body in spite of the messages our society sends girls/women about how they should look/dress/act/etc. But I can totally understand where she's coming from.
Now, before y'all start flaming me - understand where I'm coming from as a DEATHFATZ woman who, when I look back at pictures of me as a kid/teenager, wasn't really fat back then but sure as hell thought I was because that's all I heard. Sure, I never wore single digit sizes in my life (well, maybe as a baby and a toddler), and I don't remember ever wearing a size that wasn't classified as "Chubby" in girls' sizes or ever getting to wear any of the clothes like my peers wore when I was teen (I had to shop in the womens' sections of the stores to find anything over size 14/16 to fit me). But I wasn't fat like I'm fat now. If I had tried to join FA back in the 70s, at my then size of 14/16, I'd probably have been laughed right out the door. I didn't have trouble finding clothes to fit, I didn't have to worry about fitting in seats, I didn't have to worry about being mooed at or having things thrown at me for riding my bike in public or roller skating or anything else I did. Thin privilege - I had it and didn't know it because I had been told all my life that I was fat because I didn't wear single-digit sizes and wasn't petite (hard to be petite when you're 5' 9" at 15 years old).
Then life happened and things happened and diets/diet drugs/WLS happened, and I got fat, fatter, fattest. I learned to deal with it, developed a fuck-you attitude in spite of the hurt I felt at the judgmental behavior of asshats/douchecanoes who called me names, didn't want to hire me, didn't want to date me, didn't want to be my friend, didn't want to (insert whatever activity) simply because I was fat. I decided that if people were going to judge me on looks alone, then I didn't need them in my life and they could eat shit and bark at the moon (to steal a phrase from my husband).
Then I found FA and what an eye-opener that was. But ya know what? There were some people in FA that thought I didn't belong in FA at all because I had had WLS years before I even fucking knew what FA was. Even though that WLS failed and I ended up fatter than I was before the surgery, even though I'm adamantly against WLS. They still thought I didn't belong. Guess what? I'm a bitch and I don't get run out of places I want to be all that easily. There were also some people who were very supportive, and I just figured, "Ya know what, fuck the ones who think I don't belong. They don't know me yet, they may not like me once they get to know me, and that's okay. They can do their thing, I'll do my thing, and we'll ignore each other. If they don't ignore me, then I'll tell them to fuck off, no skin off my nose if it pisses them off." I started my own blog, did my own little thing, commented here and there, and life went on. I've made a place for myself in FA, in spite of the ones who thought I didn't belong, and life went on.
The other thing I was thinking about on this topic was how my now ex-daughter-in-law always used to say she was fat. Now, when I first met Tina, she was not fat by any means (not at 5' 11" and 135 lbs). And I told her so, forcefully, many times. She used to really piss me off when she would piss and moan about how fat she was and how she needed to lose 10 or 20 lbs (her nickname among my son's friends was Stick Stickley). What I didn't know at the time was that she had been called fat as a kid by her parents, sisters, and brothers. Now, I haven't seen pictures of her when she was a kid/teenager, so I don't know if she was actually fat or not, but I know what it's like to be called fat when you aren't really fat, but are just taller/bigger than other kids your age. The funny thing is, she could benefit from FA because she's actually fat now - she has MS and lupus and one of the side effects of her drug regimen is weight gain. She's really upset about it, and has been talking about getting a lapband so she can lose weight. I don't know how many times I've told her that when weight gain is a side effect of the drugs you're taking, no diet or WLS is going to make you lose weight and keep it off forever (not that diets and WLS work for permanent weight loss anyway, but still....). I told her that if she gets a lapband, what she's going to lose isn't fat, but will be muscle mass, and with MS that's not a loss she can afford. I've preached FA, lived FA, even my husband has told her that she shouldn't care what other people think, that her opinion of herself is the only one that matters, but she's still fixated on what everyone else thinks of her. Which is understandable when you stop to think about how girls/women are bombarded on a daily basis with the demand that they be perfect in every way - and just when a few women look like they might actually have a chance at attaining that "perfection", the goalposts are moved. When the images we are given to live up to are airbrushed and photo-shopped to a fare-thee-well, is it any wonder that women have a hard time loving themselves/their bodies? When everything is sold to us in order to "help" us attain that "perfection" - from clothing to make-up to soap to diets to exercise. Personally, I've never been much into perfection - it's too much work. I'm satisfied with working toward things that make me happy, and striving for perfection isn't it. My house doesn't have to be spotless, but it does have to be clean. My clothes don't have to be the most fashionable, but they do have to fit and be colors/styles I like. I don't have to be athletic, but I do want to be as healthy as I can be - so I eat as well as I can afford within my gastrointestinal limitations and I do what exercise I can with my mobility issues. I don't do any of this to satisfy anyone but myself. I don't have to live up to anyone's expectations but my own.
Remember the movie, Looker, starring Susan Dey? How they were looking for perfect women, doing computer images of them, and then using those computer images to make television commercials? Are the airbrushed/photo-shopped pictures in magazines that much different? I'm really surprised that, with the level of technology we have today, that Looker hasn't come to pass and real, actual women haven't been done away with entirely.
As for that teenager that submitted her picture/comment to FYCG, the censure doesn't belong to her, it belongs to the moderator who allowed it to be posted. If it wasn't appropriate for the site, then the moderator should have told the teenager so and steered her to other sites that would have been more "appropriate". But to be nasty to a teenager who has finally learned to love her body in spite of society's messages to the contrary, no matter what her size, well, I'm sorry, but that's not very nice, and certainly not very admirable. She wasn't being malicious, she wasn't trying to rub her thin privilege in our faces - hell, I'm betting she didn't even know what thin privilege is (well, she probably knows now, she's probably gotten an education out of all of this, and not in a good way, sorry to say). It's one thing to flame trolls and to tell them off and boot them from FA spaces, but she wasn't trolling. She was celebrating learning to love her body, and that's something we should all be celebrating, no matter what size we are.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I got my Nook - the first book I bought? I Beat The Odds by Michael Oher

I've been wanting a Nook or a Kindle for a long time now, and after doing some research, I settled on getting a Nook. I got the Nook because I can add a memory card to it and expand the number of books it will hold (and if I have more memory cards, that means even more books). My main reasons for wanting an e-book reader are that I just don't have the room for all the physical books I'd like to read, and when we travel, I can't carry enough books to read with me. The Nook solves both of those problems. Since I also have the Nook reader on my computer, and my computer has a 750GB hard drive, I can store thousands of books on it and transfer them to the Nook, take the Nook with me, and I have a portable library (and it doesn't take up nearly as much room as bookshelves full of books do).
The only drawback I have is that you don't get a physical manual with the Nook, it's loaded on the Nook itself. Not very conducive to learning how to use your Nook when you're trying to read the manual on the Nook and operate it at the same time. I solved that problem by going to Barnes and Noble and downloading the manual to my computer so I can bring up the manual on my pc and read it while I'm figuring out what I need to do on the Nook. Works for me.
I've heard some people say that the Nook doesn't turn the pages fast enough for them, but I haven't had a problem with that. And the charge lasts through a couple days of steady reading. What I really like is that the USB cable that came with it has an adapter that can be plugged into a wall outlet for charging (plug the USB cable into the Nook and into the adapter and plug the adapter into a wall outlet and voila! you're charging your Nook). The covers for the Nook on Barnes & Noble seem a little spendy to me ($29.95 is the cheapest one, and I haven't seen one I like yet). I think I've figured out a way to make my own cover for it, padded and out of fabric I like, so I'm going to do that.
One thing I found out is that any books you have in your library on the Nook have to be downloaded in order to read them. I had downloaded the Nook e-books off my computer on to the Nook, and had only downloaded one to read. When I was done with it, I wanted to read another one, and couldn't. This was because I was at my son's house, didn't have access to the internet, and couldn't download anything without internet access. So I had to wait until I got home and could access our internet connection to download another book (I downloaded all 6 books I had on there so that I can read any one of them or all of them without having to download them one after another).
Anyway, DH and I had seen the movie, The Blind Side, and I had seen on B&N where Michael Oher had written a book about his experiences and how he got out of the ghetto. I was curious to see how faithful the movie was to his real life, so I bought the e-book. Now, I know that movies take poetic license with the truth in order to make things more dramatic/interesting for the audience, but that movie did a real disservice to Mr Oher. It made him out to be a lot dumber than he really is, and that he didn't know much about football when he started playing it. He wasn't dumb, he just didn't have many teachers who cared enough to teach him the study skills he needed to succeed, nor did they really care if they taught him at all (he did have a couple of teachers who cared, but out of all the teachers he had before he got to high school, that wasn't near enough to help him). And he had studied football for years, from the time he was 7 years old, because he knew that sports and education was the only way he was going to get out of the ghetto and be able to make something of himself. He worked hard to find people who could help him do the things he needed to do, and for a kid who didn't have any positive role models in his family, that's impressive (he was one of 12 kids, had 5 older brothers, 3 younger brothers and 3 younger sisters).
I read this book in one sitting, and if you've seen the movie about Michael Oher, I highly recommend that you read his book. You'll come away with a whole new perspective on him. I know I did.