Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why I talk about weight and health and Fat Acceptance so much

I’m privileged: I’m a 26-year-old, college-educated, middle class, straight-sized, cis-presenting, pretty, white woman. But I have been the victim of body shaming and mocking and direct insults from strangers and from family. I was told flat out last year by a brand new doctor who asked nothing of my food and exercise habits to lose weight. I had just run 3 miles that morning and was devastated and, of course, fired her.

Health at Every Size (HAES) and FA are important to me because every female member of my family (and most of the men, too) is obese and has been for the vast majority of their adult lives, excepting only me and my sister, probably because we’re the youngest and in our mid-twenties. I spent 25 years swallowing and dwelling on and obsessing over the message that I will spend the entirety of my life—DECADES—battling my weight, battling my genetics, waging war against my weak and traitorous body, and spent too much time blaming my family for their weight and my inevitable fate, before finding HAES.

I gave up calorie counting after college because it made me neurotic and obsessive and cranky and a miserable person and it probably qualified as disordered eating. And I was one of the “lucky” few who could easily manipulate my weight through exercise alone and enjoyed doing it. Weight loss has always come easily for me; maintenance has not. Since college, I’ve been bouncing back and forth within a 20 pound range and thinking that was normal. It’s not. It’s normal in that it aligns with most (95%) people’s  experiences with weight loss and gain, but it is not healthy or natural. Weight cycling does one more harm than being heavy.

I gave up restricted eating last year after reading a blog post from The Fat Nutritionist that outlined the exact cycle of just thinking about restricting a food triggering a binge response. The concepts of permission and intuitive eating allow me to eat better overall and enjoy every minute of it. Would you believe that I quickly dropped 5 or 6 pounds going into the holidays when I quit working out and began eating all the goodies I wanted after having maintained a steady weight for a few months? Having a healthy relationship with food means appreciating not only its nutritional value, but its emotional, social, cultural, and comfort values too and trusting your body to normalize fluctuations, such as partaking wholly of a holiday feast with people you love.

There is no science—NONE—to support intentional weight loss as a healthy behavior. It is NOT evidence-based medicine. And it IS, in fact, harmful. As a feminist, humanist, and skeptic, I am appalled at the cultural myths about thinness, the conflation of weight with health, and the rampant casual concern-trolling and discrimination against fat people.

And I am sick and tired of hearing everyone, especially people I care for, hate on their bodies and their weight, and of seeing their submission to the LIE that thin = happy/healthy/good/worthy.

Fuck You.
You’re wonderful.

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