Thursday, August 15, 2013

Am I "fat enough" to be a fat activist?

Last month, I posted a blog about shame.  You can read that post HERE.  It caused all kinds of trouble for me in real life on the family front.  What I wasn't expecting was an anonymous comment that appears to be from someone I don't know in real life.  I debated whether I should respond to the comment on the actual blog (wouldn't really matter since the person wouldn't get notification of the response since they posted anonymously) or delete it or just ignore it.  I decided I will respond to it here instead.  I did remove the ability to post on my blog anonymously.  I have heard of the horrific hate mail other blogs receive and I feel like cowardly bigots should not have the option to stay in the dark.

Here is the comment:

 
To be upfront, I am a very judgmental individual. I enjoy people watching and over the years have associated different dress attire, talking styles, etc., with different judgments.

I also don’t think it is at all practical from a societal standpoint for judgment to not exist. Society relies on there being a common culture of shared values, principals, beliefs, etc. for the society to revolve around. The notion that a society can exist of multiple cultures with competing values, principals, beliefs, etc. is among the most mythical ideals that I commonly hear. Hence, there are “norms” and if you do not meet to those norms, you are subject to being judged for that. Furthermore, within any society, there are subsets that will judge certain actions harsher or less harsh than other subsets of society. Nevertheless, there are societal norms which, if you do not subscribe to, you will be judged for.

One norm that has developed in our society is that obesity is unpleasant to see and exposing it constitutes “indecent exposure.” Another norm, for which I am very judgmental of, is that, when you wear something that is intended to accentuate what you have, but you don’t have anything to really accentuate, you shouldn’t wear that. It’s indecent exposure and/or relays a message that you are full of yourself. Common examples are overweight men who wear tight-fitting tees that are meant to accentuate muscle that they don’t have and women who wear halter shirts to display a back shape that they don’t have.

My sense is that much of your talk/advocacy of folks developing confidence in themselves and society being more accepting is very retrospective upon some strives you have made. I think that, in light of your lost weight, you have discovered a new you and have found greater interest and enjoyment in being outgoing and enjoying life in ways that you previously didn’t. You also appear committed to keeping much of the weight you had removed “off,” as having it “on” prevented you from enjoying these things. When two and two is put together, it’s hard for me to envision that, if you went back to the same weight you once were and were uncomfortable with, you would feel as outgoing and showcasing as you do today. I think that telling others who are in the place you once were that they have a beach body is not genuine. When you were there, Lori, you would never say that about yourself. I can also assure you that many of them don’t think it’s genuine either. Many of them view such suggestions as contradicting of your progression (i.e., you didn’t feel that way when you were one of them) and when they compare your body to their body, you’re not exactly one of them – at least not anymore!

I think it would be inappropriate to convince the women in this picture that “everyBODY is a beach body.” Perhaps if they kept it to a one-piece; but definitely not a two-piece…

With regards to your campaign against folks passing judgment, I think your efforts would be better spent convincing people who are where you once were that there’s a way out rather than trying to change society’s judgments and sponsoring a chip-on-the-shoulder and “hell with social ‘norms’” agenda.

That all being said, I don’t know what I may have thought of you prior to your losing weight, but I can assure you now that I and many other men find you greatly attractive. You’re thick and curvy; not obese and “blobby.” The former is something to accentuate; the latter is not ;). You’re a great role model for what others who are struggling with being overweight can become and I thank you for being accessible for those individuals.

PS:
I am overweight and do not have a “beach body,” so typically wear a t-shirt to not offend others. But getting a beach body is achievable for me and whenever I choose to make it a priority, removing the t-shirt will be all the more practical.

I have many issues with this comment as a whole, and realize it is a long one so I won't respond point by point.  But I, of course, take most offense to the paragraph I put in bold. 

Of course it is "easy" for me to put bikini photos of myself up on Facebook or Instagram.  I lost a bunch of weight, had a ton of plastic surgery to remove loose skin and use careful angles and filters to smooth everything else out.  Does it make me a "bad" fat advocate?  Hey fatties, be like me and put your bikini photos up...oh sorry you don't have a flat tummy...I guess I'm just a lucky chunkster!  I have put my body through hell to be "thin."  I would know more than many the lengths to which some people will go to be society's "norm."  Yet I'm still not thin enough to be in the thin crowd.  Sure, I'm thinner than some.  But not thinner than others.  It's like I have no place.  Fatties don't want me because I don't quite have enough rolls.  Skinny people don't want me because I do have some rolls.  But at the end of the day, this person is still talking about my body.

Let's talk about my brain.  My sick ass brain doesn't get it.  I probably had more confidence and less mental issues when I weighed 350 pounds (my first round of anti-depressants came when I was at my lowest weight).  I really didn't feel depressed about my weight until I started the yo-yo weight loss/gain.  So MY BRAIN tells me I'm not attractive at 250 pounds.  I'm not fishing for compliments when I call myself fat.  I'm telling you that I "get" it.  I get how you can wake up hating your body, regardless of what the scale says.  I've been fat, I've been as close to thin as I could possibly get and I've been somewhere in between.  My brain finds fault in my body at every level.  I'm not comparing myself to the girl who weighs 150 pounds or even to the one who weighs 500 pounds.  That girl who weighs 500 pounds doesn't make me feel better than myself.  I don't look at myself and go, oh well at least I don't weigh what SHE does.  I only ever look in the mirror and say, hey look at those chubby arms.  Oh wow, my thighs are so dimply.  I am too busy judging myself to worry about judging everyone else's body.

Would I have posted a photo of me in a bikini when I weighed 350 pounds?  I don't really know.  Ten years ago, social media sites weren't so plentiful and I was in a different place mentally than I am now.  I am in an odd place.  Less confident than I was years ago, yet now with all of the access that I have to many fat acceptance groups on Facebook, I also weirdly have more confidence than I did back then.  I can't answer the question because I honestly don't know.  I am where I am at this exact moment in time so I guess we can do what if's all day but no one truly knows.  I do know that the more time I spend talking to ladies who talk about how fabulous we all are is rubbing off on me and I certainly FEEL more fabulous every single day. 

In response to the comment that I am committed to keeping the weight off, I do admit that I am trying to maintain some weight loss.  I don't think that makes me a bad fat activist.  Health At Every Size would tell me that they are my underpants and I may choose to do whatever I want to my body.  I really have attempted, though, to shift the focus off of severe calorie deficits and the scale, and on to healthy food choices and exercise (as much as I can do with this stupid foot injury).  I am a compulsive eater, which means I eat when I am not hungry, because I am trying to soothe anxiety.  Those are not healthy eating habits.  I am in therapy to deal with that and am reading Overcoming Overeating to help.  If by "curing" my eating disorder, I lose weight, I will certainly take it.  If I didn't lose a single pound but started to feel healthier, I can live with that too. 

So I'm sorry if my public journey makes anyone feel bad.  It was never my intention.  I certainly hope that by using the hashtag #myfatwashere that someone who is larger than me doesn't sit and think that I'm a dumb bitch for trivializing his/her issues with his/her own fat.  We are all on our own journey for sure and my intentions really are to help lift people up to feel better about themselves.  I can't change the journey I have been on.  I DID weigh 350 pounds.  I DID choose gastric bypass surgery for myself, as I believed it to be the best choice for me at that time.  I DID initially lose 165+ pounds.  I DID gain 65 pounds back.  I DO choose to post publicly about my struggles so that other people can see that they are not alone.  And I also have to be prepared to receive comments like the one above.  I certainly can't say I will always choose to respond so publicly to every comment but, as I'm off work for a month after my surgery, I guess I had plenty of time on my hands to do it.  

I also realize that much of this comment has more to do with this commenter's confidence and self-esteem issues.  I wish him the best and hope he finds someone to look up to (like I have in Ragen, Golda and many others in the size acceptance world). 

P.S.  The link to the photos of the ladies in their bikinis is straight up fat bigotry.  It looks like those ladies are having a blast and I am sorry that the commenter couldn't just look away if he didn't want to see them.  Trying to publicly shame them doesn't do anything for anybody.  Please sir, remove the t-shirt, show off your beach body and go freaking enjoy your life!  

7 comments:

  1. I love that you campaign for health at every size. That you promote that pole dancing is for everyBODY. Theses are important issues. And I do not think that you need to be one size or another to see that and to campaign for it.
    Regardless of my own weight or body type or size, I will always promote that weight or size is not indicative of health.
    I will also always work to promote self love and body acceptance.
    I do these things because I believe in these issues and they will always be important to me. Regardless of where I fall within society's interpretations of health, weight or size.

    I admire the hell out of your campaigns and the work that you do on yourself, through your blog and in our on-line community.
    I hope you keep following your passion and promoting your beliefs.
    P.S. I hope your foot heals up quickly!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! Healing is going pretty well. I got to lay on the floor today, which means I can do some exercising finally! :-D I really am happy that people understand where I am coming from. I do believe that weight doesn't have to limit what we do and I'd rather be out living my life than waiting to lose a few pounds to try all the fun things I want to try. Right now, it's my foot injury limiting me. I can't wait to be better so I can get back to doing all the fun stuff!! :-)

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  2. So I’m the anonymous poster. And while a name takes the place of “anonymous” now, I’m still anonymous ;). I anticipated your response and looked forward to it and being able to offer a rebuttal. We'll see what, if anything, follows...

    Let me make something very clear: I don’t have confidence issues as you suggest, Lori. I’m pretty content about myself and am able to enjoy a day on the beach even with my shirt on. “Going all out” isn’t a requirement to having a good self-esteem or enjoying life. I’m just considerate of others and, more importantly, find legitimacy in the standard that fat and obesity is unpleasant to see. By comparison, you classify that normality standard as “bigotry,” and so are not considerate of others when making decisions about what you wear or suggesting what others should wear on the beach. Saying “hell with normality standards” and instead going against them as a defense mechanism is not a necessary condition to achieving higher self-worth and I feel that you misconstrue that it is. Your satisfaction and others’ satisfaction are two separate things. As I’ll try to articulate, you can achieve self-satisfaction while still being considerate of others’ satisfaction.

    Given how open you are about your weight and eating challenges, I can understand how being confronted with this “normality” may trigger a reminder about other dissatisfaction(s) you find in yourself and your body. It is my opinion, though, that your reaction is merely an example of putting up a front to contest this normality that you misattribute as a part of the problem when it is only a reminder of what appears to be a personal matter. I furthermore believe that such action is not a way to resolve your underlying dissatisfactions that you seem to experience. I think that they are truly separate subjects and that this normality is merely a never-ending reminder for you. But once you become content with yourself, Lori, this normality and the reminder it gives off won’t matter anymore. You may never endorse the normality as such, which is fine and on you. I do endorse it as legitimate, and for that reason, coupled with my overall contention in myself; I am able to remain content about myself while also respecting the normality. In other words, when you reach of point of contention in yourself, if you find legitimacy in any normality that was previously a reminder/insult, you’ll be able to live to the normality without finding reminder/insult in it.

    One other thing worth clarifying… As I indicated in my previous write-up, I find you attractive and know that I speak for many other men in saying that. While there may be some intra-gender pressures about weight standards that I cannot intelligently speak to as a man; I can as a man say that you have something to show that skinny girls do not. There’s a grey line that defines when fat/obesity becomes unpleasant to see. In my opinion, you’re not past that line (i.e., meaning you’re not unpleasant). Perhaps some people will think otherwise, but society of this day has come to place some positive on the notion of “thickness,” which is where I classify you and I place positive value on such body types. That all being said, I would not classify you as someone who I or many other men would find distaste in seeing in a beach bikini; whereas the women in the previous link I provided would be a different story.

    I found that last paragraph necessary in response to your emphasis on the notion that only a skinny body is socially acceptable.

    I will close by saying that I sincerely apologize if my original post triggered hurt for you. I often write the way that I talk, so with the absence of seeing my face and the tone that goes with the words, my blunter points don’t have the softened edges that they may otherwise have in a conversation. Plus, as long as my comment was, I was trying to be somewhat brief. If this post was received similarly… same story!

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  3. Well aren't you coy!

    No, you're just another fucking douchetard that thinks they can pony up to the lesser fat girls because you don't find the big gals appealing. You are the kind of guy who caused me to turn in my FA card (and I mean fat admirer, not Fat Acceptance).

    You see, you're engaging in body judgment, in this post (did the writer really need to know that you, and others find her attractive, while she struggles to see how she fits into the size acceptance movement)as well as your post in her other blog, where you linked to women that you felt "didn't have beach bodies" (several of the women in that picture are friends of mine). Who are YOU or anyone else to judge that?

    I don't engage in body judgment. I judge people on who they are, how they think and feel. And I think you're a fucktard who thinks he can somehow try to be cute, and the writer of this blog will just roll over, because you act so cute. You are the horrible guys I write about in my blogs, the men who somehow think all fat women or women with body issues are hurt souls that you can rescue (control).

    As another man, you disgust me, and I want to apologize for my gender.

    Fuck you.

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    Replies
    1. Right to judge...? I have a right to judge as a living being and member of society, just as you have the right to do the same and have in fact executed. In your case, they go as far as ad homonyms.

      Everyone says they judge people based on "who they are" and not this or that. But effectively anything that is not biologically predefined reflects a reality about who you are. And you know that. That's why my comments seem to have hurt you somehow.

      I take no offense to your comment because its another outward opposition and disapproval of legitimate norms in lieu of addressing whatever is internal within you.

      Good luck addressing you!

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    2. I'm so sorry this happened to you, Mister Anonymous. Were you beaten in the head that severely? I hope that whoever did this is caught.

      You cannot hurt me, just as I cannot hurt you. That said, my comments were less to do that, and more for the readers of this wonderful blog, who when faced with comments like yours that they feel may be representative of the opposite gender, will also know that not all of them are like you.

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  4. I neglected to mention that I do not accept the claim that, by my finding the social standard that fat and obesity is not something that folks like to see and that not everybody is a beach body, I am passing judgment. I don’t like to see fat and don’t show mine. But I also do not prejudicially apply a negative value upon someone just from noting that they are fat or obese. I, in fact, have various fat or obese friends and associates.

    I admitted previously to being judgmental, which everyone is to a degree whether they admit it or not. But I mostly judge based on actions as opposed to appearance.

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