Today on Twitter: Body Acceptance

I don’t plan to write a lot of posts about things I say on Twitter, because I figure if you want to read it you’ll read it on Twitter.

But I have a couple today I’d like to share to a wider audience.

Today, Polimicks (of http://www.polimicks.com/ and http://polimicks.livejournal.com) decided to tweet about body acceptance, using a “#bodyacceptance” tag (which in twitter searches for things with that tag).  Some of the things she tweeted were:

Polimicks#bodyacceptance Don’t know if this tag exists, but it does now. I have some griping to do about diet culture today.

Polimicks#bodyacceptance Diet policing in general, and I know it’s mostly subconscious for a lot of folks.

Polimicks#bodyacceptance The constant, almost subconscious body and diet policing we all do. “Should she be wearing THAT?” So hard to stop.

Polimicks#bodyacceptance Oh, and if you’re only polite to people you find fuckable, you’re an asshole.

I decided to join in.

Living400lbs Why do yet another weight loss resolution? http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art11830.asp #bodyacceptance

Living400lbs #bodyacceptance RT @JeromeGlassman My “resolution” for the year is to continue practicing #HAES and to try to be kind to my body and myself!

Living400lbs #bodyacceptance RT @HarrietBrown 5 New Year’s resolutions actually worth making: http://bit.ly/hoRIIx

Living400lbs You only have one body. Why is making peace with it a radical act? #bodyacceptance

So…thought y’all might like the sentiments (or links) and those of you on twitter might want to join the party ;)

Things I Would Like To Not Care About

I would like to not worry about:

  • Whether a medical professional will consider my symptoms before making a diagnosis.
  • Whether a job interviewer will not hire me because I’m fat.
  • Whether the friend talking about her diet is doing so as a way of passive-aggressively commenting on my body size, eating habits, or perceived dieting status.
  • Whether I will be seen as an equal partner in my friendships and family relationships, or seen as “stuck” with whoever will have me.
  • Whether a bathroom stall will be wide enough for me bend over and wipe everything, or if I’ll end up squatting “sideways” in the stall.
  • Whether the person who keeps looking at me while I eat is actually engaging in voyeurism without my consent.

I’d like…

  • I’d like my breathing hard walking uphill to be seen as a function of exertion, not fatness.
  • I’d like my periodic wheezing to be seen as a symptom of asthma, not fatness.
  • I’d like the fact that I’m married to not be a shocker.
  • I’d like the fact that I have sex to not be a shocker.
  • I’d like people to treat my exercising as about function and pleasure, not as “a major life choice deserving of applause” OR about weight loss OR as a reason to shout insults at me.
  • I’d like my food choices to be about nourishing my body, about helping my body function well, and about pleasure — not about weight OR being a “bad fatty” OR being a “good fatty”.

I sometimes joke about having “dieting PTSD” from my teenage years, but really, a lot of these buttons were installed by my family (which is not at all uncommon).   I am trying to decouple weight from food and exercise.  I’m trying to decouple health from weight.  I’m not perfect, but I’m working on it.  Most of the time hearing other people talk about diets isn’t a problem, per se — it may be uninteresting, but doesn’t always and automatically start a round of self-recriminations or a visit from The Ghost of Failed Diets Past, and I consider that a win.

I also realize that some of these buttons — like someone commenting on my food choices — are going to get pressed, simply by living in this society, so I’m trying to “disconnect” them.  (This would be easier if there were an actual wire leading from the “button” to my brain that I could reroute or disconnect!)  Again, I’m not always successful, but I’m working on it.

Some of these, like how employers perceive fat applicants or how medical professionals’ biases harm fat patients, do affect my life in very real ways.  I can advocate for myself, I can overdress to seem “more professional than thou”, but all I can do is the best I can.

What about you?  Does this strike a chord for you, or not?

Thoughts on the solstice

North star guide my love to me
Through times spent in good company
Smouldering eyes around the fire
With stories tall and spirits higher

Stoke the fire up bright and strong
Verse to verse and song to song
The day grows shorter by the hour
Close the circle
Feel the power

Winter solstice tends to touch me stronger than summer.    I’m grateful to both, since both tell me my SAD won’t get worse.   But winter solstice feels more … there, somehow. Maybe it’s that it accompanies Christmas, or that Seattle is far enough north to get over 15 hours of darkness during the winter solstice. Maybe it’s that many people I know are celebrating a holiday now (I personally have friends who celebrate Hanukkah, Yule, and Christmas, but there are certainly others).

Southern Cross guide family
Chosen or hereditary
See them safe where they may roam
Remind them of the journey home

Rising sun guide future plans
Though life’s strange chaotic dance
Let them truly prove their worth
Of the spark that gave them birth

Setting sun guide memories
Keep them safely here with me
Let them fill the sky with light
Each time I pass from day to night

As memorably argued in this Dykes to Watch Out For strip, the solstices are cyclic — the light returns at one solstice, the dark at another. The solstice isn’t a permanent change. Still, I’m glad to be returning to a more balanced day/night cycle.

Lyrics quoted are from Lifespell, by Chris Conway.  Vixy & Tony performed the song at 2:20:10 in this livestream, dedicated to a friend who had recently passed on.

Thankful Thursday

I think it’s time to do this again.  See, my job was eliminated.  Not fun, but I’m at the stage now where I’m thankful it happened, because:

1) Much less stress.  The old job was changing and had become a bad fit, and now it’s OVER.

2) I qualify for unemployment.

3) …also, we have money saved.  I’m touching wood as I type this, but we’re okay for a while.

4) …and, really? I didn’t want that job anymore anyway.  I started looking for a new job, sporadically—like once a month—in June.    Maybe if I’d rolled faster with the changes I’d still be there, but the “not wanting the job anymore” was a big part of why I didn’t roll with the changes well.  I didn’t mean to be obstructionist, but I became obstructionist because I didn’t want to do heavy lifting to change a job I didn’t want.   It became a negative spiral that I’m glad I’m not in anymore.

5)  Finally, I’ve been able to enjoy the time I spend with the man of the house more.  His support has really helped.

I’m also thankful that my blue blazer I got 5 or 6 years ago still fits and looks great with various tops.  ;)    I’ve had a few interviews, but no offers yet.

Quote of the Day: Healthcare Providers and Expectations

From an article on healthcare providers stigmatizing fat patients:

Healthcare providers also need to readjust their expectations. Getting individuals who are obese down to a normal weight isn’t realistic: Research shows that most people can’t expect to lose more than 10% of their body weight and, more important, to maintain the weight loss over time. Instead of viewing that as a treatment failure and growing discouraged with patients, doctors and nurses need to recognize that even relatively small changes in weight represent real progress and can have very important implications for health.

I’ve written before that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines for treating obesity recommends a 10% weight loss goal.  Not to diet down to “normal weight”, or even to just “overweight”.   Ten percent.    I also noted that I never had a medical professional (or parent or teacher) be satisfied with a 10% weight loss.   I was still fat, so obviously 10% wasn’t enough.

Just to be clear? If a 10% weight loss puts you in the “normal weight” category, you weren’t in the “obese” category.

Most readers know I disagree with the emphasis on weight loss; not only are most losses not  maintained in the long term, but dieting is associated with long-term weight gain.   I do believe in bodily autonomy, though, and that those who choose to diet should use resources like the NIH guidelines and the observations of others who are maintaining losses to maximize their chances.  And I get angry that someone could work hard to lose 10% of their body weight, could work hard to maintain that loss, and still have a healthcare provider berate them for being fat.  Or refuse to treat them, just because they’re fat.

Skip the fat shaming.  It doesn’t help anyone.

(Checking out Health At Every Size doesn’t hurt either.)

“In My Day…”

Today’s Pickles is, of course, meant to be funny.  But for me it dredges up memories of my mother’s anger whenever I didn’t “appreciate” anything to her satisfaction, from getting to go to school to having my own room* to crying because of an earache despite having actual medication for it.  And my guilt over having things my mother didn’t.

Looking back, I wonder if she intended to slap on guilt with a trowel or if she was just expressing her own pain and not caring how I took it.

I first saw Bill Cosby’s classic video Himself as a teenager, and, oddly enough, I found it proportion-making. “The man ate dirt til he was 30 years old. That’s all there was, was dirt. And he was thankful to get it.”

Odd how both are mining the same comedic vein, but one brings me laughter and the other doesn’t.

*Mom had two older sisters. I was an only child.  Wonder why she shared her bedroom and I didn’t?

Gowns and Gowns

A couple random thoughts:

The hospital gowns at the doctor’s office are always too small.  I know I could buy my own, but that seems like overkill.  Today, though, I was just going in for a pap smear, so I wore a dress that could easily hiked up and just removed my panties and shoes.  Yay for simplicity.

Realized why many fashion shots seem so strange to me: they look like kids playing dress up.  I mean, yes, young teens can and do have fresh, lovely faces, but if the designs are aimed squarely at women in the 30s and 40s or older (which they often are, since that’s who can afford them) then the models are far too young for the clothes, and … yeah.  Toss in teens trying to look “serious” and it’s a wee bit too close to hysterical for me.

Dieting Changes How Bodies React To Stress?

At least that’s what seems to happen in mice.  As summarized in US News and World Report,

Shaving calories triggers molecular changes in the brain that make mice more susceptible to stress and binge eating long after the diet ends, researchers report in the Dec. 1 Journal of Neuroscience. The finding could explain part of the yo-yo dieting phenomenon, in which people repeatedly diet and lose weight but then subsequently regain even more than they lost.

Researchers found that the dieting mice were more stressed than the non-dieting mice.  They also found that even after ending the “diet” and regaining the weight, the former-dieting mice were more susceptible to stress than the non-dieters.

The team traced lower activity of the gene that makes CRF to a chemical modification called DNA methylation.  DNA methylation and other modifications to genes help to regulate gene activity. Dieting mice had lower levels of methylated DNA near the gene for CRF than did animals that continued on the high-fat diet or ones that ate as much regular chow as they wanted. This change was essentially locked in for the dieting mice. It did not increase even two months after the diet ended—a long time in the life of a mouse, and equivalent to years, maybe even decades, for a person.

Researchers mildly stressed the mice for a week with things like damp bedding, cage swaps or putting a marble in the cage—mice are not big fans of change—so that the animals didn’t know what was coming next. Under this mild, but chronic, stress the former dieters snarfed down far more of the high-fat food than the nondieters. And the ex-dieters also had higher levels of hormones that prompt eating.

I DID find it rather eye-rolling that the article suggests that “dieters may need to cut stress as well as calories”, given that being fat is itself stressful.  And, of course, it remains to be seen how much of this applies to humans.  But this may help explain the mechanisms by which dieters so often regain the lost weight.

Abstract is here.

Working Wardrobes

During a phone interview today I ended up saying “No, this wouldn’t work” because their corporate dress code is Business Professional, defined as suits or suit-like combinations; ties for men; no athletic shoes allowed.   Refusing to dress up every day for work isn’t all that uncommon a stance for a software person to take in Seattle, but my reasons are a bit different.

You see, in the past 10 years I have found ONE standard Business Professional suit jacket that fits me.   It’s a medium “business” blue, which I pair with black slacks for interviews.  Size? 34W.

Do you know how common suits are in size 34W?  Heck, in anything bigger than size 28?  (Hint:  They’re not.)  I could get away some coordinating jackets and slacks.   Even if I’m just focusing on blazers, though, they’re hard to find.  Oh, and I usually need to go up a size in pants/skirt size than top/jacket, and 34W is really a ballpark; sometimes I can wear a 32W, sometimes I need a 36W.

So, it’s not just that I would have to buy a totally new wardrobe for this job. I have the money in savings, if I felt the job was worth the cost.  It’s that I would have to FIND the appropriate clothing IN MY SIZE for this job.

Yes, some catalogs carry suits in size 34W or 36W.  Making It Big has some suit-like separates, and Plus Woman will make a custom blazer (and skirt and pants to match).  That’s assuming the time lag of ordering, delivery, trying on, arranging alterations, and/or returning clothes that don’t fit doesn’t cause problems.

But what I’d actually want, for that sort of job would be this suit, or possibly this jacket or this one.  None of which are made in my size.  Possibly Rochester Big & Tall could make some serious alterations to a man’s suit … or I’d have to have suits made for me, either by Plus Woman or someone local.

Then there’s shoes.  I wear “walking shoes” because they’re comfortable and supportive.   I only own a couple pairs of dress shoes, and I don’t want to wear them daily.

Fortunately?  Most software jobs in Seattle are strongly influenced by Microsoft.  “Business casual” is often regarded as dressing up.   But if I weren’t in software? This could be a serious drawback to getting work.

Update: I had previously posted about what I usually wear to work here.

Virtual Window Shopping: Holiday Lingerie

[Looking at nifty supersize clothing, which is to say, clothing I can wear. Preferably modeled on actual fat people.]

Santa red bra & skirt with white feather trim

Santa red bra & "skirt" with white feather trim

You guys.  I cannot believe this.  Lane Bryant has Santa-themed lingerie in my size.

The bra?  Comes in 36C to 44DDD, which, y’know, I’m wearing a 44DDD bra right now.

The matching thong or skirt?  26-28, which, I’m wearing LB briefs in size 28 right now.

I am seriously surprised.

Meanwhile, Catherine’s has a red seamless bra (without the trim) up through 50DDD.  And Woman Within has holiday-themed outfits, including a bunch of snowflake and other “themed” sleepshirts in “Mommy and child” sizes.