Thursday, January 27, 2011

Conditional Love/Conditional Hate-- Guess the condition

You know that moment when you recognize that you are watching a commercial for some sort of weight loss product, or that feeling of disappointment when you hear a Fat joke or some other message supporting the Fat Hatred that is a part of the world we live in.

It happens all the time. Everyday. Every hour. Every minute. On top of that, there seems to be a new crop of shows about very fat people trying to loose weight. Even Rachel Ray started her season introducing a young fat girl, a senior in high school, who agreed to accept the show's help with her weight (and the show's cameras to document her struggles) for a new feature that call "80 pounds by Prom" There is new clone of The Biggest Loser that follows two very fat folks try to make their "Lifestyle" change before the six months of free trainers, nutritionists, and medical observation all expire. These is a MTV type show called, "I used to be Fat" where fat high school seniors are given a summer of free personal training and some cooking advice so they can go off to college skinny and prepared to stay skinny for the rest of their lives.

You in the FA world know that feeling of disappointment as we see fatties being told they are going to die and early death, or never get married, or some other bullshit that we know isn't valid…. or helpful for that matter. I really like Jimmy Kimmel, and every time he goes for the fat joke, I am disappointed in him because he is so much smarter that the cheap fat joke.

How about the anger and rage. Like when a diet supplement TV commercial touts that a university's double blind study confirmed that it works, and actually 88% of all the weight lost was belly fat! oh joy.

The frustration when a cooking segment talks about how much weight you can loose by cooking the food in a better way.

The feeling of defeat when Michelle Obama says something about her program that we all know will translate into some fat kid getting more messages of how wrong they are to want to eat and how bad it is that they look the way they do. Children being supported in hating themselves with generous help provided by our government, paid for by cutting the food stamp program designed to keep people from starving.

Today's feeling was profound sadness courtesy of the MTVish show. The young girl featured who during the intro talks about how important getting married is and how she knows no one will want her in her disgusting state. She is so self hating about what she looks like. Then cut to the father talking about how her daughter dreams of getting married, but, sadly, guys want girls who are thin and pretty, and his daughter is going to have to work very hard to stop being fat and ugly and unloveable, and condemned to a life of profound loneliness. (I am embellishing, of course) Cut to another scene at the dinner table when Dad asks our Fat college bound young lady what kind of wedding she dreams of, his passive aggressive way to tell her to not eat so much.

I was so sad for a couple of hours thinking about the crimes against humanity that are perpetrated on fat children all the time. I was sad that a Father would let his daughter think she isn't pretty. I flash back to some of the hateful, abusive things my Father said to me when I was a young boy, things that I internalized and bought into as the Gospel. Things that I still struggle with. The biggest being my lovability.

My Fucking Lovability! Even today, although I know that it is all based on lies, I still battle with feelings about my worth, especially when it comes to being the subject of a woman's desire. How tragic that we teach folks that their lovability is in question. No one's lovability should every be questioned.

I have a fantasy. I meet a television producer who really understands what FA and HAES is about, and we do a six month intensive around HAES and Size Acceptance. Sort of like the show Heavy, but teaching all our participants the tenants of HAES and Size Acceptant and we show how all their relationships go through that common reaction to a decision to stop trying to loose weight. I think it could be compelling television.

When I stop fantasizing about producing tv shows and come back to center and I honor my feelings that came up when I watched a show on TV where I saw that Father make his approval of his daughter conditional on what she looks like. I honor the sadness and pain that live in all my cells as memories of sad times gone by.

I also honor myself by writing about this. I feel connected and valued as I think about folks on the feeds reading this and shaking their heads in agreement and recognition. I honor myself by recognizing that most of the world not only doesn't want to hear what we have to say, they actually think we are crazy and out of touch. I am honored to be connected into our little corner of the universe, our determined little sub culture, where we understand that Fat is not bad. It is just fat. Where we understand that we are not bad, we are awesome, courageous, trailblazers who boldly go forth knowing our value and taking care of ourselves.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm not an animal!!!

When I get right down to it I don't feel human. I feel that 405 or 410 pounds on my 5'8" frame disqualifies me from the human race. With the exception of the friends there already know me and my family, I don't feel like I belong anywhere. I don't feel like I'm a candidate for a job. You don't feel like I would never be considered as a romantic prospect (by a heterosexual woman) I've often said to friends that I wish I was gay because at least the gay community has the sub community of the Bears. I know I'm a little down and feeling a little sorry for myself today. The good thing is I got my physical exercise and I don't have to figure out this whole not feeling human thing tonight. Anyway here's some rambling thoughts from today related to my fat acceptance journey…

I caught the second half of the show on MTV called “I used to be fat” it was about a high school senior preparing to go to college and it tracked his work with a personal trainer and the process of getting more fit and getting ready for college.

My fat acceptance glasses made me suspicious of this young man's chances to maintain the significant weight loss over the long-term. I found myself wanting him to be successful. I mean over the long run in the next couple of years when the show will have forgotten him. I hope for him that as he left home and went out on his own that the habit of working out and cooking in a healthy way would stay with him and he would not have to suffer the indignities that our culture thrusts upon that people.

There was one scene when he came back home to visit after the first couple of weeks away at college and had lost a little more weight and was wearing jeans for the first time in a long time. Everyone in the family praised him for his looks, and everyone in the family was joyously happy for him.

I also feel a lot of sadness for all the young fat people graduating from high school who choose not to go to college because of the stigma out there. I personally, had to drop out of school for health problems and I never went back and finished. So this particular episode brought up a lot for me.

I guess I saw this guy start his college career, really his adult life, completely bought into the culture's bias against fat. I thought about the odds of him gaining the weight back and how the entire show framed isn't higher life problem around his size. And while I hope for him that he is one of the 5%, I equally hope that he finds a way to love and believe in himself if his body weight goes back to where it was throughout his entire adolescence which you and I both know is probable.

I also saw Seth Rogen on one of the night talk shows and he mentioned that he cannot fit into any of the close he bought when he was at his thinnest for his upcoming movie the Green Hornet. Yes I know he's Hollywood but he started in Hollywood fat and I wonder if he gains back the weight if he will continue his successful career. I guess I'm just wondering out loud what Hollywood will do with him if he gains weight back. Will they punish him by only giving him the fat clown roles going forward. There was a movie he did I think it was called nine months when he played the lead and he was heavyset. Some very curious to watch out things progress with Seth Rogen.

I know this post really doesn't have a central theme but these are few things that I've been wondering about. The last thing I want to ponder about is the very well-received website big boy fashion. I think it's great that these guys are doing what they're doing. I just find myself thinking if they consider themselves big boys what the heck am I. And I know this has nothing to do with them or their body size or shape and everything to do with the own insanity inside my head.

Just thinking out loud tonight.


I consider myself a pretty smart guy. My blog is more of a “this is my experience as I navigate fat acceptance, and a sort of journal/diary.

Over the last two years as I've kept up with the fat acceptance blogs on the feeds, I have been intimidated often. The quality of the writing, the intellectual level of discussion, the academic atmosphere of many of the blogs, are both impressive and intimidating.

While I consider myself very smart, I've always struggled with school and deadlines and time management. On top of that I find reading very difficult. The part about reading I find very difficult is that I have such a short attention span that I can actually be two or three pages into something having actually read the words and have absolutely no idea what was said in the last two pages and have to go back and reread. I don't think I'm dyslexic. But I know that I am nowhere in any way close to the level of intellectual horsepower of many people who blog regularly here on the feed.

I fantasize sometimes about getting involved in school again. I've tried to go back to times since I dropped out back in 1986. Each time was the same thing, flameout before the end of the semester. Whether it was a psychology class or a writing class… to a simple photography class, every time was the same result I just didn't finish.

I have something called amblyopia which I've been told is also called lazy eye. From kindergarten into second or third grade they put a patch on my good eye to force me to use my weaker eye. I've always had a hunch that some how my brain wiring… when it comes to reading and writing was skewed in some way that has something to do with the vision in my right eye being impaired and wearing a patch over my good eye during kindergarten and first grade in a little bit of second grade.

I know that when I write from the heart and just talk about what's going on for me and not worry about how it sounds that I connect with lots of people in the feed. I think that simply because the experiences that I talk about are so universal within fat acceptance that people can identify. And I know when I connect with someone else that gets me I feel good.

I'm very grateful to all the amazing really and people who inspire, impress, and intimidate me with their talents when it comes to writing. However I also worry about how my poor grammar and writing skills reflect on me.

I'm also grateful when I can just accept that it's okay for me to be the writer/blogger that I am and not do the compare and despair dance.

I've been inside the house today and yesterday due to weather. I've gotten my exercise in using the dance program on the Wii from a sitting position. My heart rate and my breathing rate gets elevated and I totally feel it in my shoulders. And it's actually more fun than walking although I think that I'm doing more core strength building walking than sitting doing this dance program so when the weather allows, back to the walking.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Good Day or Bad Day...What's the Difference?

Since the beginning of November I have been walking almost every single day for at least 15 min.

Most of the time it's a struggle to get out and going, but it's a lot easier to get to it living here with mom who helps me to get going simply by asking me, “When are you going to take your walk?” Once I get on my way, I'm able to find aspects of what's going on around me that are enjoyable. So on one front it's enjoyable movement. On another front it's a complete act of discipline done solely because I was completely sedentary and just walking became too much for me.

Thankfully I'm able to see noticeable improvements since I started this daily regime of a 15 min. walk. I feel more sturdy on my feet. Most of the time I'm nowhere near as winded as I was when I first started doing the walk two months ago. Moving around is little easier which is indicating to me that I am getting a little more strength back just from this one simple activity.

There are many things going on in my life right now that when I spend too much time thinking about them I am upset, disappointed, and just generally feel bad.

When I spent time thinking about where I'm at and where I want to go and how far the distance there is between those two points I am discouraged. I try to stay away from that kind of thinking and when I find myself doing it I say to myself the only thing I have to do today is my walk. As long as I get my walk in the day is a win.

So today with the big storm bearing down on the Northeast, the roads being a little icy from the last storm, I took the action of going to the local mall and doing my 15 min. walk there.

It's a small victory, but it's something positive to focus on. My intuition is telling me that it's very important for me to focus on things that feel good, that are positive.

This also requires the skill of being able to not focus on all the messages that come from within and without that judge my situation and make conclusions that are negative about who I am, what I do, and what I am worth.

I got my walk-in today, and that's a win.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I've been following a conversation over at Silentbeeps blog about friends that know about our fat acceptance activities who make fat phobic comments.

Today when I saw my mother she said something to the effect of, “that's a really nice shirt it makes you look thinner.”

We had an interesting conversation about how her comment supports the stigma. She politely listened and offered her own defensiveness which is par for the course when discussing this with my mom. I wasn't particularly upset or angry or irritated. I just found it interesting to note that making one look's appear to be thinner is equated with good thing.

I know this basic 101 stuff, however, I'm glad that I was able to recognize it for what it was without having to get upset or irritated.

It's a nice shirt, period.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Shame Shame Shame...

Hello fat acceptance universe!

I miss you. I've been underwater emotionally for several months. I've been lurking around the sphere, but I've been isolating because of the hard times I've been having.

One of my dear friends and fellow bloggers recently let the community know that they were dealing with several serious health issues and had feelings of embarrassment about that fact.

It's definitely bullshit but it's powerful bullshit this feeling shame for being fat, for having health issues, for just being.

I'm blogging today because I can't not blog. I am blogging today because she inspired me to "come clean" with these thoughts.

I haven't blogged because I felt such shame about how "poorly" I have been doing. Fearful of the fantasy inside my head that goes something like this… One of my family members or a future employer or a critic of the fat acceptance movement takes what I write in my blog and uses it against me in some shape or manner. The problem with this is that most of my progress and victory over the spirit killing shame attached to all this stuff comes from sharing about it and having conversations via blogging. I get to connect with people who understand me. I get acknowledgment about my struggle. But most of all I just feel like I found the place where I belong. And I've spent my entire life feeling like I don't have the right to belong.

I already know there are people reading this and nodding their heads in recognition. My fellow citizens of the “sphere” can understand this because they've lived it.

I have spent the last year in this emotional paralysis and physical limitations which are related to my size and weight. I am in the midst of this battle that pits my fat acceptance knowledge against my old beliefs about me somehow being at fault for not trying hard enough.

The more I thought about it, the more overwhelming it felt. So I decided to just not deal with it. And I basically wound up in this sedentary zone of inaction.

Lots of health stuff going on, however, all the measurements that we use to indicate health, blood pressure, cholesterol, liver function, say that there's nothing wrong with me. Yet I was paralyzed three years ago and I still have not regained my core strength. I still have residual numbness and paralysis. I still need pain meds to function, except they are double edged sword in that it also limits me in many ways (feeling exhausted, lack or concentration, etc.)… Yet I get winded just from walking. Most of the time I'm pretty uninspired and just leaving the apartment became a huge chore. Objectively looking at it it's hard not to call it depression. That being said in my heart of hearts I do not think I am depressed. I'm uninspired. I don't like that it takes so much energy to move my body. And I really don't like sharing about this. My mind is racing right now wondering about all the judgment that people will be making about me and my situation.

Last November I moved back in with my family because I screwed up something with one of my disability income policies and I had to make the choice between health insurance or rent. As much as I love New York City and as much as it is embarrassing and scary to acknowledge that I moved back home, the thought of being without health insurance is much more scary.

There has been a lot of really good stuff that's gone on since I made this move. Really good good stuff that I wanted to blog about but I was too ashamed about moving back home… I feel like there is a giant "L" tattooed on my head.

I'm glad I finally got around to writing this post because I need to feel connected to the community of people who understand what it's like to be obese in the world and a culture and economy and a dating universe, as a patient in medical settings, in all these different segments of my reality where our culture stacks the deck against me.

My mind is racing with all the things I want to blog about. It feels like a dam that's about to burst because I've been too ashamed to post. And regarding future employment opportunities, there probably is some risk to being so forthcoming about what I'm up against.

My gut tells me that the benefits of reconnecting with my fellow tribe members will outweigh that risk.

Does anyone relate to this stuff? Any victories over shame that you care to share about or link to if you blogged about it?