Friday, October 23, 2009

Wouldn't it be nice to be thin?

Wouldn't it be nice to be rich, to win the lotto. I'd finally get my dream car, the Mercedes Maybach. I'd make a you tube video taking my $400,000 car through the McDonnell's drive through. I'd travel to all sorts of fancy places, I'd do lots a great charity work.

Wouldn't it be nice to meet my soulmate?

Wouldn't it be nice to be famous. I would have a brilliant movie career and the paparazzi would follow me around. I'd go to all the cool LA night clubs and rub elbows with other famous people.

Wouldn't it be nice to find the dream job, doing what I love to do. Helping people, kids, animals. Getting paid well and enjoying going to work everyday.

Wouldn't it be nice to be taller? Would't it be nice to have a fuller head of hair?

Wouldn't it be nice to be a popular hollywood heartthrob and be dating beautiful hollywood starlets?

Wouldn't it be nice to be thin..….. (sound of record scratching and the background music stops) "Did he actually just type that?" "Uh Oh, he just went taboo on us." "Nice guy, but how dare he talk about losing weight on the Fat-o-Sphere." "I'm gonna comment his wanting to be skinny ass off the internet"

Don't worry, this is just an intellectual exercise. I may not even post this, well if you are reading this then I did post this.

Before finding the Fat Acceptance Community, I had spent my life pursuing being thin, or even just less fat. While I have lost major amounts of weight a few times in my life, a few of those times due to very serious illness, I have always gained it back. I can remember buckling my seatbelt on an airplane as a thin man thinking I will never go back to being fat again. I remember on summer days on the new york city subway system with my bicycle, getting off the train and trotting up the stairs with my bike on my shoulder thinking I was King of the World. I also remember everyone in my life applauding me for my accomplishment. I remember loving being able to buy clothes at old navy. Crossing my legs. Having to slow down because the person I was hanging with wasn't as fit as I was.

There are, in fact, some positive qualities to being thin (or thinner I am 390 right now). Is it a sin to acknowledge that there are some aspects of not being fat that are appealing? More importantly, is it harmful to me and my new found peace with myself to think about those things?

If I lost a little weight wouldn't that make walking easier? Wouldn't losing weight help me with my recovery from being paralyzed and immobile for 7 months where most of the muscle mass I did have de-conditioned to the point where I can't walk more than a few blocks without needing to take a break?

Am I hurting myself by even considering these thoughts.

I am hoping that the folks on the sphere whom I appreciate can share some of their thoughts here with me.

My only goal with food and exercise right now is to increase my mobility and enhance my health by increasing the level of nutrition in what I do eat. I would like to get into a pool and do some movement there to increase my lung capacity which has also suffered from the medical trauma of two and a half years ago.

I am not going to go into the issues of the horrific, chronic, awful, pain I have from the surgery or all the trials and obstacles that managing that pain daily with meds adds to my struggle. It is part of my struggle and I am grateful that I can ambulate (although with major limitations). It does make exercising and movement more challenging. I will not let it keep me from doing it. Maybe I can cut myself some slack here, but that is probably another post… maybe even another blog.

While I am a card carrying member of the Fat Acceptance Community, and I understand that there is a no-diet talk policy amongst most of us, I am musing here because these thoughts about being thin are in my head and I want to chew on them with fellow fatties who may have some insight to share with me about how they processed through them.

I don't think about them in the " maybe someday I will lose weight " kind of way. I just wonder if by completely giving myself to Fat Acceptance, am I keeping myself from, perhaps, loosing some of my 400 pounds, which would make building up my strength and stamina easier?

My hunch is that since I have never been able to maintain any kind of weight loss before, that any attempts and limiting my food in or deliberating burning more calories out for the purpose of losing weight is a waste of my time.

Still, in all honesty, and this is not to stir up any drama on the sphere, which seems like an easy thing to do… this is just to acknowledge that there is still a small part of me that thinks… Wouldn't it be nice if I could lose the weight? or "Why not give it another try?"

Sometimes when I come up on some of the limitations at this size, I have a thought flash through my head about losing weight. for example, tying my shoe laces. This takes time, I have to be strategic with my breathing as I bend to reach the laces. Sometimes I have to come up for air and start over again. Most of the time I wear the crocs which do not require this. However, when I do put on my sneakers and tie them, I sometimes think, it would be nice to not have to deal with this.

I, for the most part, recognize that I am always going to be fat. I recognize that focusing all my efforts on improvement within the weight neutral, HAES framework is the right, and the sane, and the path to peace and self acceptance for me.

When I get into my "spiritual head" I can go to a place of gratitude for everything in my life, including my sturdy, strong, resilient body. Saying "Thank you for my fat" is not a thought I can easily connect to. I get glimpses of what it would be like to say that and it does seem within reach for me. I am just not there yet.

There is also the whole good fattie vs bad fattie issue which I will leave for another post.

I have blogged about how wonderful it has been for me and my sense of worthiness to connect with the fat acceptance movement. I am growing in new ways and I am enjoying all the great folks I have met along the way.

I just feel like my thinking is still tainted when it comes to thoughts about being thin. I feel like they are injurious to me.

Another big part of it is the virility and the sexual attractiveness stuff, again a topic in and of itself for another post.

I guess it might be about the difference between accepting my fat and embracing it?

I know I can not maintain weight loss. I know this. I accept this. I know it is about living a rich and full life within this framework of acceptance. An I a horrible person because I sometimes still think it would be nice to be thin even though I know that it is just not possible for me.

Somehow when I think it would be nice to be taller, I do not feel like I am betraying my 5'7 self. But when I think it would be nice to be thin, I feel like I am a traitor, a Fat Acceptance Fraud?

I get the wisdom of no weight loss talk. I have boundaries with several folks about it. But what about my own inner thoughts, sometimes they just pop in my head. What do I do then?

I am wondering if this is just part of the journey through Fat Acceptance.

What works for you? Do you love being fat? How did you get there? Do you have fleeting thoughts about being thin? How do you deal with them when they surface? Do you have your own set of rules around thoughts of being thin? What other thoughts do you have about these musings?




  1. thinking to himself, I hope I don't upset people with this post.

  2. I trust no one will get upset about this. It is certainly a constant thought among most people starting out in fat acceptance, cause boy did we feel great during those brief periods when diets worked!

    The way I look at it is that thin is like the Lottery. It can be fun to dream about, but dreaming about it very often or for very long tends to make your current life seem a bit lacking. And since many of us spent so much of our lives dreaming about it, we feel very poor indeed. I hear meth works the same way - making life as it really is seem a bit gray.

    So probably it's better to push the thoughts out of your mind (absolutely we should be able to talk about it, but as a daydreaming sort of thing). Focus on what really can be achieved, maybe in a different way than if you were thin. I, for example, wish I could play and roughhouse with my little boy more, and rather than remembering when I was thin and could do that without effort, I'm trying to exercise enough to through my current bulkatude around with ease (please don't ask me how that's going).

    Anyhoo, my two cents. And thank you for bringing the subject up.

  3. P.S. Throw. I know how to spell. Really.

  4. From JennyRose

    These are definitely thoughts worth exploring. I think they are reasonable and as long as you don't get stuck in them, you are doing fine. I have these feelings and thoughts almost everyday. I guess for me it is a form of self harm. I will tell you these voices are becoming less frequent and less important in my life.

    The yelling at myself was/is a big part of my eating disorder. Life beyond the fatoshpere isn't so safe for us so it is no wonder you or I still want to be part of the dominant culture.

    I think that acknowledgeing these feelings means you are grappling with self acceptance. As a practical matter, have you read Overcoming Overeating? That book and a great therapist have helped me tremendously. There is even an OO group that meets monthly in NYC. If it is OK with you I can put a link in another post.

    Your physical pain is real and I don't think anyone should minimize the connection to weight. You can be healthy and fat or unhealthy and fat. I suspect a certain part of your physical pain is aggravated by the fat. I realize that may be a taboo thing to say but there is a kernel of truth in it. I also believe that fat alone is not a disease and that medical professionals tend to blame every fat person's medical issues on the fat rather than providing them with proper medical care. You need to separate the reality from the fantasy of being thin.
    It also helps me to know that there is no known way of loosing weight permanently. I felt like it took me off the hook because it was beyon my or anyone else's control.

    I hope I am not rambling but I do have a lot to say on this matter and think it is well worth exploring. I want to make clear that I do not think you or any one else here has an eating disorder but I did and I tend to wear my recovery hat when things get this personal. You don't have to have an ED to benefit from this wisdom however. Being fat is hard and fat people with or without EDs have internalized much of the fat hate and negativity.

    I also have to give a shout out for Angry Gray Rainbows. Much of that blog (my all time fav!) deals with personal acceptance and recovery.

  5. I just read your post and I find your question interesting and extremely familiar. I am woman and I find myself sometimes thinking what my life would be like if I was a man. I know I wouldn't be bugged so much about my "masculine" choices in life. I wouldn't have my intelligence and abilities constantly underestimated. The very hateful jokes that are often told about women, would not touch me as much, because they wouldn't be about me. And my apppearance would be much less focussed on. So I totally get where you are coming from when you wonder about what your life would be like being and staying thin. Incidentally, I am also fat.

    I also don't think you are blogging diet-talk with this post. This is a post about thin-privilege and how a lot of things in your life would be easier if you were thin. The reason you feel worse about fantasizing about being thin is that people are much less bigoted toward short people, than they are toward fat people. The anti-fat messages are really hateful and I personally feel those people don't deserve to exist, perhaps you feel that way too. I rebel against them and feel worse when I feel my rebellion weakening, than when I have a different "grass is greener on the other side" fantasy.

    Also I must warn you. Fat acceptance has been a struggle for me that goes on and on and on. There are too many hateful messages out there than I have the time to counter, by blogging and reading about feminism and FA. One trick that works well is getting rid of your tv and limiting your exposure to radio. However, even then the messages are prevailent and as long as this culture persists I think that FA will be a struggle for almost everyone involved. I do believe it's a struggle that's worth it. I feel much better about myself than I ever did chasing the ideal.

  6. One thing I do with these thoughts--and it's something that feminism taught me--is to turn them around and outward.

    Like, instead of, "Wouldn't it be nice if I were thinner and could find clothing anywhere?" becomes, "Wouldn't it be nicer if stores everywhere carried my size?"

    I know that the first one's ridiculous. It's scientifically insupportable (and yeah, plenty will deny it, but they're operating on faith, not reason, and I think that's a real problem when your faith-based world of "diet's work!" demonizes you as you search for some mythic salvation).

    The second one... the changing the world thing. Well, I know that's actually possible.

    And it's not all about me--and making things better just for me. It's about making things better for people like me.

    If I go on a diet (which, not gonna happen), I'm trying to change me to fit into the world. I want to change the world to allow more people to fit into it.

    And collectively, we can do that. Social movements work.

    Feminists have long argued that the personal is political, and that's a short and catchy way of saying that when you've been Othered and made to feel there's something wrong with you, you can either spend a lifetime trying to change yourself, or you can fight the institutions that send the message, "You're wrong!"

    Even something like tying shoelaces... I mean, that's an accessibility issue. Shoelaces are a problem for lots of bodies--bodies that are perfectly *fine* and not wrong at all. Shoelaces are next to impossible for many pregnant women, and for people with all sorts of disabilities. Is the solution to change all those bodies? Or is it to change the shoes?

    Don't know if that helps, but I'd say that sometimes, it helps me to remember that part of Fat Acceptance is Accepting that the world's f-d up, so it's not about just sitting back and being lazy (which is what we're told and what we sometimes tell ourselves). It's about being active (in whatever way we can) and *not* Accepting the world as it is, but instead working to change it, one small thing at a time.

  7. I'd say it's good to realize that the dreams of sustaining meaningful weight loss are often similar in likelihood as the dreams of winning the lottery. :)

    Re: your rehab, if you've gained weight since your injury then slowly returning to the level of activity you had pre-injury might settle you back to where you used to be. At any rate, I find being stronger certainly makes moving easier.

  8. Trabbs, interesting… in a day dream sort of way… when I daydream about being thin, am I not subscribing to and endorsing that thin a better and fat is worse? My thoughts go to guilt about being a Fat Acceptance person with a dirty little secret…That I really do not accept fat, I just do the best I can to get by with it all the while knowing that I would be better off being thin. I am not really sure where I stand with this line of thinking. I wonder if I can ever actually accept my fatness or if it is an ideal that i will spend my lifetime working towards.

    Tamara - wow a lot of stuff for thought there. The culture I live in is constantly telling me I am bad and wrong. If I am truly not wrong or bad, isn't my wanting to be thin actually getting in bed with the offenders of prejudice, discrimination and hate?

    I am totally grappling with self acceptance here. I know that self acceptance is good, and self hate is bad. Can I accept myself and still fantasize about changing so the world around me accepts me without betraying myself and my integrity?

    the medical stuff… I must say that I am lucky with the doctors i go to… so far.. my lung guy wants me to go see a heart guy and I do hope the heart guy isn't a fatcist. If he is, I will go to the next heart guy in my network until I find one that isn't. That being said, I know that being less fat (not even thin) would help with my many of my medical issues (not all) however, losing weight and gaining it back (which always happens for me) pose the likelihood of additional damage to my health. Therefore, I have to proceed with treatment that is weight neutral. Funny, I don't fantasize about getting healthy, I do about getting thin.. I think there is something very telling in this realization. I'll check for the NYC group you mentioned on google, i do not want it posted here, thanks. I am curious if it is HAES compatible or not.

    Along the lines of knowing that there is no way to permanently lose weight letting me off the hook, I guess the mainstream is so powerful with the messages that this is just not so that I feel like I have to defend my decision to let myself off the hook here. Now the culture saying to me that is my responsibility to "take care of my weight" is wrong. and I am part of a social movement that looks to correct this, must I 100% believe that I do not stand a chance at maintaing the weight loss. If there is a 5% chance that I can do it, doesn't that take away my right to let myself off the hook? I guess all of this is boiling down to my own choice.

    I love angry gray rainbows also.. thanks.

    ‪feministatsea‬ - When you say you wonder about what it would be like to go through life as a man, do you feel like a traitor to your fellow women in the way I feel guilty about betraying the FA movement? I am not sure what is going on with me here, but i do find these discussions helpful.

    I do feel so much better about myself since I learned about the ideas behind Fat Acceptance and Health at every Size. I believe in the law of attraction as a powerful thought system, and one of the things from there is that there is nothing more important to me than that I feel good.

    I guess there is that aspect of letting myself off the hook. I guess it is a process of getting closer and closer to self acceptance over time.

    Miriam - I like the sentiment about changing the world one small thing at a time to make it more accepting… I just need to be prepared to face the opposition and if I don't feel up to it, I need to take my time and my space until i do.

    Living 400 - I want to do more to build strength, I guess I just don't want it bad enough. I am only willing to do stuff that i love, like the drum circles I blogged about recently. there is a lot of stuff there for me to unpack,



  9. Ivan, I do not feel guilty for wondering, but I also have no desire to be a man. Especially when I look at what western society considers "real" men, then I am relieved that I am woman. It is other people and dynamics that are trying to make my life difficult and I consider myself to be mostly above them.

    I actually enjoy surpising people who believe that women can't do anything and beating them over the head with they can see for themselves.

    This is increasingly true for my fat as well. In sports I have figured out ways to make my weight work for me, like for example with martial-arts. I have found a lot of cases where having more weight can work to my advantage, just like in some other cases it might be more helpful to be thinner. In many cases fat and thin complement each other.

    I also enjoy correcting people who refuse to call me fat because they "don't want to be rude" and I will tell them to just "say it" and then point out that they have merely stated a fact and have not insulted me. Joking and making people uncomfortable with their bigotry is something I sometimes enjoy, though it is not always the most productive course of action and I definitely do not consider myself to be above any other woman, no matter how much they buy into the patriarchy.

  10. Ivan --

    Is it that you want to be thin, or that you want the things that are difficult for you because you're fat to not be so hard and that being thin would make them easier? I think the latter, and really, that's perfectly understandable.

    I think it's only human for us to want to change the things that cause us grief, make us suffer. And I think that it is really easy -- especially when you're very fat (and I'm 5'6" and 335, so yeah, I hear you) -- to think about how being literally physically smaller would make a lot of things less of a problem.

    So don't beat yourself up over thinking about whether being thin would make your life better, because in some ways, it would.

    But as long as you can say that to yourself, and not spend too much time focusing on how much better life would be "if only I were thin" to the point that it stops you from engaging in the life you have ... or alternatively, makes you engage in unhealthy behaviors to lose weight ... I wouldn't worry about thinking it too much. And really, I wouldn't worry at all about whether it makes you an "FA traitor."

    Miriam's advice to work on looking at changing the world instead of changing yourself is very positive, and affirming ... but sometimes, maybe too esoteric a thing. Yes, it would be great if the world were different, but you can't help thinking that changing yourself would just be easier, not to mention faster.

    Does this mean that you just say "well, changing the world will take time, and I've accepted that it's unlikely that I'm going to change my weight much, so now I'm stuck."

    No, I think you just keep doing what you're doing, and working on what you can do to make yourself feel better today. And then tomorrow, do what you need to do to feel better tomorrow. Take care of your health, get the exercise you need, eat the foods that make you feel well (not just physically, but mentally). Be KIND to yourself.

    And as for whether I "love" being fat, I can't honestly say. I've never disassociated my size from myself that way (perhaps because I've never really felt that I was thin, even when I weighed a lot less than I do now). Being fat is part of what I am, like having brown eyes. You don't have to be "thankful" for your fat or "embrace" it ... I think what you have to do is not hate yourself for having it. And not let it stop you from doing as many of the things that you want to do that you can (physically, economically, emotionally, etc.) actually do.

    Anyway, I hope this is somehow helpful to you. I've been reading your blog, and I think you've come a long way just in these few months. I hope that the community you've found here has helped you.



  11. Hey Ivan. I have some OO info to link you to but I don't know how to get it to you. Is there any contact info on your blog that I missed?

    I hope you are feeling a bit better.

  12. I don't know about being thin all of a sudden, my pants wouldn't fit me anymore! I just bought new pants, pants that are even a hair loose on me. And I've been looking at this one skirt I have and wanting to have it taken in a bit so I can wear it, if I were suddenly thin I couldn't wear it at all!

    It would be nice to be able to walk and stand without pain again, it would be nice to have enough money not to worry about not having clothing, but being thin doesn't fix either of those for me.

  13. I think that expressing thoughts about yourself and the things that you worry about should never be stifled. Just as many FA advocates hate to be preached at by doctors or whoever for their beliefs and lifestyle, it's not fair to do the same to others in return. People really need to put the pitch forks away, sometimes. It's sad that you feel worried because you want to talk about something that affects you, even though you are not making accusations or assumptions about anybody's choice but your own.