I hate my body.

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You’re reading that right.

Yep.

I have this distinct memory from the eighth or ninth grade, I am standing in the dressing room of some department store with my mom, trying on new jeans. I look down at my bare thighs, worrying at the new stretch mark that had appeared a few days ago.. not that it bothered me, it was just a that my skin was a little irritated. My mom looks at my thighs and exclaims that they Are looking a little flabby, I’m getting saddle bags, and that those stretch marks are just going to keep spreading. That was the first time I felt fat. 

I wanted to start this post in that way, so that you, the audience, could get some honesty and insight into where this is starting from. Because, yes, I am a feminist, body positive, educated, knowledgeable about fat activism and the effects of stress and negative thought patterns.. I could go on, but I won’t. The point is that I am all of these things, but I am also a recovering from an eating disorder. I am living with the day to day battle of my brain rebelling against me and imploring me to starve.

Its a funny thing, you hear about eating disorders all the time now. They are extremely dangerous (try the highest mortality rate of any psychological condition). But what no one wants to talk about is the day to day.

Halp

Seriously.

No one talks about the nagging need to check the scale, the lightheadedness, the compulsive excuses for why you can’t go out. No one tells you about the depression (because yes, when you fuck with your bodies metabolic structure through starving, purging, or other eating disorder behaviors, this causes mood swings, depression, and a whole other host of comorbidities).

So I am here talking about it. I am a reasonable person. I am a feminist. I love and run and work. I am also recovering.

There is a distinct problem with how we talk about mental health in the western world, particularly the world of ED’s. Often-albeit a little less in recent history- eating disorders are spoken of as the white adolescent women’s disease. Thin, frail, pale women too occupied with themselves.

However, this isn’t the case.

Eating disorders are an issue of people: men, women, gender-queer, trans*… because they consist in behaviors. Many experts disagree of the why of eating disorders, and what cognitive processes drive them, but the issue for me is that they exist.

Personally, my story began with a little hormonal weight gain in my early teens, paired with a whole lot of fat shaming. I internalized those messages, and had an opportunity to lose weight. Since then, I have battled with myself, my weight, and my relationship with food.
I have read lots, educated myself a lot, and tried to commit to small acts of advocacy in the world of fat shaming and eating. But being an advocate for yourself AND others is hard. Why? Because there is this pervasive sense, in both media and in medicine, that thin is GOOD. Thin is HEALTHY. There is no longer good science behind this idea — In fact, science shows us that extremely lower weight and common chronic conditions tend to correlate with higher mortality (I am working on finding the link to this study, so check back later). Thin privilege is being called healthy, even when you are not.

I think the point of this is simply that empathy is key. Eating problems, ranging from poor self esteem to DSM criteria, are freaking pervasive. So be aware, telling your thin friend to eat a sandwich might not be very benign, or your fat (no this isn’t a dirty word, so don’t use it as an insult) friend to just “eat healthier and exercise” may not be as simple as it seems.

If you are struggling, reach out. There is help, and you can get through it. Check these resources

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/find-help-support
http://www.anad.org/eating-disorders-get-help/eating-disorders-helpline-email/
http://www.crisiscallcenter.org/crisisservices.html

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“Your Best Body NOW!”… or yesterday.

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Welcome to Femminique!

This being my first post, and your first taste of this blog, I thought it appropriate to put a bit more expose in this piece.

It being July, we are well into one of my least favorite things in life: diet season.  Every advertisement seems to scream “EAT THIS, BE HAWT, LOSE WEIGHT. BE HEALTHY.

Well you know what? This is total rubbish.  There is nothing healthy about the diet industry. Most diets preach low calorie, low fat, or low-something-or-other. But the simple truth is that each of these diets prey on the pervasive emotional need of Americans to lose weight, never mind that the majority of diets are nutrient deficient. Diets focus on weight loss for the aim of thinness, which in our society is associated with beauty, goodness, happiness, and satisfaction. The diet industry preys on our basic need for love and acceptance by pretending to provide these things instantaneously.

Cloaked in the guise of health, fad diets promise to get you weight loss so that you can finally be at a “healthy weight.” What exactly does this mean? The American obsession with weight, and by proxy the propagation of fat stigma, uses the language of the BMI scale.

BMI, or body mass index, is a proportional measure of height and weight. That’s it. It cannot tell actual body composition, although this too can be problematic (but this is another conversation entirely).  See, BMI really tells you nothing about the actual measures of health, like lipids, blood pressure, or genetic risk. Although the pervasive idea is that fat people = unhealthy people, this is simply false.  At my medical industry job, I see people of every size that have chronic health conditions every single day. Sadly, fatphobia has invaded the health care industry too.

The issue with fat phobia and the proverbial “obesity epidemic” consists in social pressure, in beauty. The ideal body shape and ideal appearance has varied through the course of time. The obsession with being thin, or being strong, or being lean, is just that: an obsession. And what’s more, is that it is fueled by an industry that knows a large majority of people will fail to lose weight. Diets set you up for failure, because every time you fail is an opportunity to sell you something new, be it a “fat busting” shake or an fad exercise program, “ONLY $3.00 per day!”

I have come to understand, both through research and through my own struggles with self-acceptance, that health is being mindful with your body. Eating for both pleasure and nutrition. Loving both the curves of fleshiness and loving the stark silhouette.  Health is moving your body in ways that suit you, whether that is picking up heavy things or doing tai chi.

There is good science (HAES) that says individual’s healthy weight (and therefore shape) is dependent not on a national standardized scale, but on the individual genetic and environmental make up of a person.

So I encourage you, with“bikini season” diet flood in full swing, to be bold: love your body as is.

For more information on HAES, visit http://www.haescommunity.org/

And for some great encouraging art check out this lady http://carolrossettidesign.tumblr.com/post/89000688919/ok-i-also-found-some-little-grammar-mistakes-on

And for more musings on my life, health care, self love, and even some thoughts on feminist marriage, stay tuned!

Also, watch out for intros from your other lovely mods, Bobby Wren and Roy Glib!

Welcome to femminique. Open your mind, challenge your own standards, and love yourself fiercely.