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Author Topic: Having Self-Esteem While Fat  (Read 20051 times)
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« Topic Start: February 13, 2011, 03:04:29 pm »

As promised in my post in the "PCOS (and weight loss)" thread.

Hi, I'm Sunflower, and I'm fat!  (Heh, can you tell I hardly knew how to start?)

I haven't struggled as hard as many people have with self-esteem issues related to fatness; by the time I started putting on weight in the early stages of puberty, my self-esteem struggles were already firmly attached to weird/geeky/socially-inept, and I've only occasionally been the primary target of serious fat-shaming.  But even so, it's an ongoing battle to maintain body positivity and acceptance of my fat self in an ever-increasingly fatphobic world - there's no shortage of casual fat-shaming, and even if I'm not being targeted specifically, it's corrosive.

This thread is for talking about developing and maintaining a sense of self-worth while fat (a little fat, or a lot fat; from whatever cause or set of causes).  What helps you?  What sets you back?  What inspires you, or angers you?

I have quite a few things that help, but instead of infodumping, I'll just start with this one:

You notice I keep using the word "fat", rather than the supposedly "nicer" euphemisms.  That's because I believe they're not really nicer; they often subtly reinforce the idea of fat bodies as Other, deviant, abnormal - I find that when I choose instead to say, f'ex, "I'm overweight," it's hard to not have it sound like I'm apologizing for my body.   "Fat" is simply a descriptor.  When people use the word "fat" as an insult - or when they avoid it because they consider it an insult (as in the pseudo-reassurance of, "Oh, you're not fat!") - they aren't using it descriptively, to mean "has adipose tissue"; intentionally or unwittingly, they're blocking its descriptive meaning, replacing it with the moral judgement of "lazygreedyunhygenicnotreallyhumansoI'mbetterthanyou".  I refuse to play along - I do have adipose tissue, it is neither the cause nor the effect of my moral character, and, dammit, words mean things.  So instead of avoiding it and letting them have the word, I (and quite a lot of other people) are claiming it back - and finding that reclaiming the word can help reclaim self-esteem.

Sunflower
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« Reply #1: February 13, 2011, 03:24:47 pm »


Do you already know http://www.fatnutritionist.com/ ? Because that is just the place to go, read it and love it. I came across this link somehow and just kept reading because she has so many sensible things to say, about facts and judgement and acceptance and selfacceptance, and listening to yourself and...
and I am not even fat (nor thin) so I don't have to battle anything specific and I still love reading it because it is so... smack-on sensible.
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« Reply #2: February 13, 2011, 03:36:37 pm »

As promised in my post in the "PCOS (and weight loss)" thread.

 (and quite a lot of other people) are claiming it back - and finding that reclaiming the word can help reclaim self-esteem.

Sunflower

Fellow fatass here!  I am more of a closet self-esteem headcase;  most people think I am totally self-confident!  I find it infuriating that fat prejudice is the the remaining socially acceptable prejudice.  We are ridiculed in movies, songs, TV shows, you name it.  We are blamed for rising health costs.  At the HOSPITAL where I work, all sugar-sweetened beverages have been replaced with artificially sweetened ones, since it is better to have cancer caused by the toxic metabolites derived from artificial sweeteners than to be fat.  I am sure we will be blamed for global warming next, what with all our thighs rubbing together.

Mostly I'm fat due to a couple things...yeah I like junk food as well as the next person, but I was also a victim of the Depo-Provera shot.  When it says side effects include weight gain, they ain't never lied.  Gain weight I did.  To the tune of 100 lbs in a year.  To that hormonally-charged fat I add hypothyroidism.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  All fatties claim thyroid problems, right?  Yeah well, mine is caused by stage 4 papillary carcinoma, so there.  And it's back.  So, a total thyroidectomy+lots of time off Synthroid for tests+Synthroid resistant me=more fat.  Rah.

I'd like to lose about 100 lbs at this point.  I've been recently trying to be healthier, NOT dieting, just healthier, and I've lost probably 15 lbs.  More importantly, I feel better.  I am NOT doing this to conform to our skinny-loving society, or to please anyone other than myself.  I have set a goal to lose 50 lbs by July 24th (which will be the most exciting day of my life  Grin).  If I get there, yay;  if not, I tried, and I will keep going.  But I am mostly happy with myself.  It is other people who have issue with me.  

So, in conclusion, I'd like to say the following to the haters:  Shut the fuck up before I take my 320 lb ass and sit on you.   Kiss


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« Reply #3: February 13, 2011, 04:06:22 pm »

Do you already know http://www.fatnutritionist.com/ ? Because that is just the place to go, read it and love it. I came across this link somehow and just kept reading because she has so many sensible things to say, about facts and judgement and acceptance and selfacceptance, and listening to yourself and...
and I am not even fat (nor thin) so I don't have to battle anything specific and I still love reading it because it is so... smack-on sensible.
<huge grin> Sure do - I love her, and her site is one of the first I recommend when I'm handing out links (you might even have got it from me; I posted it in the "thyroid issues" thread, and I know you were reading/posting there).

And, yes - things like Health At Every Size and fat acceptance/size acceptance aren't just for fat folks, they're for everyone who is affected by body-shaming, or by urban legends and junk science about health and weight, or any other of the toxic cultural tropes surrounding these issues (so, everyone, period), and who wants to get disentangled from the toxicity.

Sunflower
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« Reply #4: February 13, 2011, 04:13:18 pm »

And, yes - things like Health At Every Size and fat acceptance/size acceptance aren't just for fat folks, they're for everyone who is affected by body-shaming, or by urban legends and junk science about health and weight, or any other of the toxic cultural tropes surrounding these issues (so, everyone, period), and who wants to get disentangled from the toxicity.

THIS!
Thank you!
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« Reply #5: February 13, 2011, 04:25:10 pm »

I find it infuriating that fat prejudice is the the remaining socially acceptable prejudice.
While I agree with you about all the examples of fatphobia you list, I have to say that there are plenty of other prejudices that are alive and well, and more socially-acceptable than not.  I won't get into examples here, because that edges too close to Oppression Olympics, and I believe we shouldn't be competing because we're not just fighting separate prejudices, we're fighting against the idea of prejudice as a whole.

Quote
All fatties claim thyroid problems, right?
Nah, I'm just genetically predispositioned to survive famines Cheesy.

Quote
Yeah well, mine is caused by stage 4 papillary carcinoma, so there.  And it's back.  So, a total thyroidectomy+lots of time off Synthroid for tests+Synthroid resistant me=more fat.  Rah.
Shocked Hugs if you want 'em, and here's hoping you can beat it again.

Sunflower
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« Reply #6: February 13, 2011, 05:54:51 pm »

While I agree with you about all the examples of fatphobia you list, I have to say that there are plenty of other prejudices that are alive and well, and more socially-acceptable than not.  Shocked Hugs if you want 'em, and here's hoping you can beat it again.

Sunflower

Too true, I stand corrected!  Cheesy I just tend to get fired up sometimes!  And thanks, I'll be fine, it's just a waiting game that's kinda irritating!
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« Reply #7: February 13, 2011, 06:40:34 pm »

Mostly I'm fat due to a couple things...yeah I like junk food as well as the next person, but I was also a victim of the Depo-Provera shot.  When it says side effects include weight gain, they ain't never lied.  Gain weight I did.  To the tune of 100 lbs in a year.  To that hormonally-charged fat I add hypothyroidism.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  All fatties claim thyroid problems, right?  Yeah well, mine is caused by stage 4 papillary carcinoma, so there.  And it's back.  So, a total thyroidectomy+lots of time off Synthroid for tests+Synthroid resistant me=more fat.  Rah.

I'd like to lose about 100 lbs at this point.  I've been recently trying to be healthier, NOT dieting, just healthier, and I've lost probably 15 lbs.  More importantly, I feel better.  I am NOT doing this to conform to our skinny-loving society, or to please anyone other than myself.  I have set a goal to lose 50 lbs by July 24th (which will be the most exciting day of my life  Grin).  If I get there, yay;  if not, I tried, and I will keep going.  But I am mostly happy with myself.  It is other people who have issue with me.  

So, in conclusion, I'd like to say the following to the haters:  Shut the fuck up before I take my 320 lb ass and sit on you.   Kiss

Lol I love your 'tude. I was weighing in at 196 in Oct and I'm 5'4" (technically 5'5" but it's baaaarely accurate). I was always borderline obese from about 13.5 -14 on and it really got to me at first. And fter my mom died in '06 I gained a LOAD of weight. Since Oct I too have been diagnosed w/hypothyroidism, I lost almost ten lbs from the meds alone, but, more importantly I've found the energy and excitement to live healthier now. I too am not 'dieting' I am buying better groceries and making an effort to go to the gym and work out more (I am so inspired when I see other women of all ages having fun working out at the gym and the majority are not svelte gym rats but regular fat chicks like me Cheesy), not to 'look better' but to feel better. And it's working. Between the medication and the other changes I'm happier and more fulfilled than I have been in years and I don't give a rat's ass about my tummy or my waggly arms or my big butt in the mirror.  (except for those hormonal days when everything is awful and I'm as emotionally stable as a 13 year old Cheesy) I'm at 187 now.

Rock on!
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« Reply #8: February 13, 2011, 06:41:18 pm »

<huge grin> Sure do - I love her, and her site is one of the first I recommend when I'm handing out links (you might even have got it from me; I posted it in the "thyroid issues" thread, and I know you were reading/posting there).

And, yes - things like Health At Every Size and fat acceptance/size acceptance aren't just for fat folks, they're for everyone who is affected by body-shaming, or by urban legends and junk science about health and weight, or any other of the toxic cultural tropes surrounding these issues (so, everyone, period), and who wants to get disentangled from the toxicity.

Sunflower

gods, I HATE the low-fat prevalence.  It's HARD for me to find things that I can actually eat, because the fillers they put in the "low-fat" stuff makes me SICK.

"no, thanks, I'd like the full-fat version please?"

.. .and yeah, I'm a little chubby.  Just enough to hit that "shouldn't you lose a few pounds?" feeling.  I usually ignore it and go and have cheesecake. Cheesy
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« Reply #9: February 13, 2011, 06:42:19 pm »

I'm at 187 now.

Rock on!

Yar, I gained weight, muscle? Fat? I don't especially care either way Cheesy And I too would SO much rather have stevia or real sugar than guzzle the bizarro artifical sweeteners. 0.o
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« Reply #10: February 13, 2011, 07:13:10 pm »

This thread is for talking about developing and maintaining a sense of self-worth while fat (a little fat, or a lot fat; from whatever cause or set of causes).  What helps you?

I've been aware of size-acceptance stuff since way back in the mid-90s (when I first found what was then alt.support.fat-acceptance on Usenet.) But there've been two things that made me absolutely stick with it.

First of all, the recognition of how much  time and energy gets wasted on something with very very limited success rates. When I, in the past, tried to diet, doing *anything* else got very complicated. Long ago, I decided that wasn't how I wanted to spend my life. (And that decision has just got stronger and more essential as I've gotten more firmly involved with magic and ritual.)

But more than that, was starting to use a particular description when meeting people who don't yet know me in person (as I do fairly regularly, meeting friends from online) and hitting on the phrase "I come from a long line of European peasants who were good at surviving famines."

Which really, puts the framing where it should be: my genes happened a certain way due of something that's supposed to be *good*, not bad. It seems really stupid to blame my body - or damage my self-respect - for that.

(The genes, of course, have also been affected by several rounds of medication that mess with metabolic set-point, two rounds of stupid dieting, which affects set-point, and the more recently diagnosed thyroid issues, which just complicate everything.)

These days, I do not worry about the number on the scale. I care a lot more about how my body works, how my brain works, and do my best to keep an alternate - but much more powerful - definition of health in my head. It comes from Moshe Feldenkrais, who pioneered the body modality of that name, and he defined health as "helping people find effective ways and means of realizing their ‘deepest dreams’".

So, I do fiddle with what I eat (and when and how I eat it) - but I do it because I'm optimising for brain, for creativity, for energy to do the things that matter to me - not for body size. And in fact, my body size hasn't changed much since the thyroid meds.

The thing I do find frustrating is that people tend to view weight loss as uniformly positive - before the thyroid stuff was diagnosed, I lost 35 pounds in less than 3 months (and promptly regained it.) Didn't get *one* word from my doctor that this might in fact not be a great thing. (And in fact, it's extremely worrisome: in hindsight, it was my thyroid going very hyper briefly as it struggled to work, which can have significant heart implications, among other things.) I do not like a medical system which works like that - what else are they going to miss?

And likewise, what are we all missing when we're focused on the numbers - and not, instead, on how our bodies are actually functioning, moving, what our levels of energy, creative thought, memory, and all those other, very important things, are?
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« Reply #11: February 13, 2011, 07:33:12 pm »

gods, I HATE the low-fat prevalence.  It's HARD for me to find things that I can actually eat, because the fillers they put in the "low-fat" stuff makes me SICK.

"no, thanks, I'd like the full-fat version please?"

.. .and yeah, I'm a little chubby.  Just enough to hit that "shouldn't you lose a few pounds?" feeling.  I usually ignore it and go and have cheesecake. Cheesy

Agreed.  It's such a new concept to buy foods lower in fat/calories then there natural counter-parts.  I'm sure 200 years ago people would give us the strangest look for our quest for the lowest fat content when they would go out of the way to calorie it up.  The diet industry is making a killing off our yo-yo dieting...

Speaking of which.... 110lbs - 225lbs -115lbs - 140lbs - 110lbs -160lbs - 120lbs - *throws out the damn scale* I have EDNOS (Eating disorder not otherwise specified)...no, scratch that.  I HAD ednos. Did the whole hospital bit.  I would binge, binge purge, extreme restrict, diet pills, laxatives.  Food & I have a pretty rough history.  Body image & me have a pretty rough history.  Love yourself as you are right now, in this moment because happiness isnt waiting for you at 130lbs, it's staring you in the face. 

If anything is super rant worthy it's societies f***ed up relationship to food & to body image.  We get bombarded with images of 100lbs women biting into 900 calorie burgers.  Really?!?! REALLY???  Come on media get real.  Sure there are those blessed with hamster metabolism (to which I shall kick ya'll in the shins jk Tongue ), but we put unreal expectations out there & then cross pollinate it with the diet industry which is a one way ticket to yo'yo city. 

For me, spirituality aided me in reforging my relationship to food but also to celebrating the human form.  I'm curvy & I hold my weight well.  I can lift up a full grown male and spin'em around.  I can do the splits just as good as any ballerina.  I can climb a 60 foot tree with a single rope.  I can catch the beat of the drums with these big ol' hips.   I can be soft & sensitive. I can be a fierce she-warrior.  Society says I'm overweight.  That I'm fat with my 2lbs over the bmi scale.  I'm not owning that title anymore.  I am strong & I love it. Smiley
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« Reply #12: February 13, 2011, 07:57:50 pm »

Yar, I gained weight, muscle? Fat? I don't especially care either way Cheesy And I too would SO much rather have stevia or real sugar than guzzle the bizarro artifical sweeteners. 0.o

I can't have artificial sweetners, migraine trigger.  I haven't tried stevia though, not sure how I would react to that.
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« Reply #13: February 13, 2011, 08:53:16 pm »

You notice I keep using the word "fat", rather than the supposedly "nicer" euphemisms.  That's because I believe they're not really nicer; they often subtly reinforce the idea of fat bodies as Other, deviant, abnormal - I find that when I choose instead to say, f'ex, "I'm overweight," it's hard to not have it sound like I'm apologizing for my body.   "Fat" is simply a descriptor.

Whereas for me part of my body-image struggle has been to understand that I'm not fat just because I'm bigger than your average woman.  I come from a long line of German farm folk; when I say "I'm big-boned", I am not euphamising.  I really do have quite a substantial frame--and there's 6'1" of it.  If I were a guy I'd shop in the "big and tall" section.  (Clothing industry = whole other rant.)  I've got a little bit of fat here and there, mostly around the tummy and in my seat, but honestly it's mostly just that I'm built big.  I have often felt like a bit of a freak over that around friends who are "petite" and "delicate"... and have no trouble finding clothes that fit, and can wear the hell out of cute trendy things that I secretly covet.  Giving birth actually really helped with this part of it; I always said I'd thank my genetics for the wide hips when that time came, and that certainly turned out to be the case!  Other than that, just taking time to really think about myself in terms of my family, who I inherited this frame from, rather than in terms of society at large has also helped.  (Grandpa is 6'8" and built like a linebacker, and many of my cousins got those genes passed on to them, as did my brother.)

I also get into trouble when people start throwing around scale numbers (not meant as a complaint about this thread--more about dieting-focused communities, really).  Because...  Well, I weigh 175 right now, and that's actually a pretty healthy weight for me.  But most of the time when people start talking about numbers on the scale, that's in the range of "still need to lose thirty pounds or so".  It took a lot of time to come to grips with that (and just don't even talk to me about BMI, ugh), and even now it still makes me a little edgy sometimes.  It's one of those things that my head knows but my heart hasn't quite assimilated:  that the extra inches really do add extra weight, and that's normal and OK and just because other people's prime weight is 140 doesn't mean mine has to be.  I have to admit, though, that I haven't dealt with this so much as just learned to avoid it.

I don't know how much use I'll be in this thread, because I'm also one of those maddening people for whom dieting and exercise actually does work quite well, and I've been able to maintain my weight loss even after stopping dieting.  (So far, at least.)  As I said, I'm not fat, not even when it's used as a value-neutral descriptor--but I still have body-size issues, if coming from a different angle, so I thought it might be worth throwing my experience into the mix here.
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« Reply #14: February 13, 2011, 09:22:58 pm »

I can't have artificial sweetners, migraine trigger.  I haven't tried stevia though, not sure how I would react to that.

Large amounts of aspartame, or even the slightest bit of saccharine, will send me into a migraine that lasts for days. Stevia works for me, though it's MUCH sweeter than sugar.

And on the subject of fat acceptance: In the past 10 years, I've been every size from 6 to 22W, and when I was thin, it was because I was literally starving myself, or because I was throwing up everything I ate and going to ridiculous extremes of exercise. to the tune of 600 calories a day and swimming laps till I had to be literally pulled from the pool, usually 1 1/2-2 miles per day. My body, by nature, if I'm eating a balanced diet and getting a reasonable degree of exercise, runs somewhere between a size 16 and a size 18W (I don't know the actual weight itself, because I refuse to use a scale anymore--if I have the number, I'll obsess over it and go right back into the tailspin). And yes, I have health problems, but with a father, sister, and two grandparents who all have/had diabetes, I feel pretty strongly that I couldn't have avoided it even if I'd stayed a size 6 all my life (which, frankly, probably would have killed me, because aside from those European peasants, I'm also part Cherokee, and we're just not built that way).

I'm not going to lie. There are times when I still look in the mirror and think, yuck, how did I get like this? When I first moved back to North Carolina from St. Croix and was living with my grandparents, there were times when I slid back into the binge/purge cycle just to have SOMETHING in my life that wasn't completely out of control. But I'm working to come to terms with my body. I'm never going to be able to do the model thing again--I worked briefly as a fit model for a retailer in Charlotte, back in my thin days. (My mother felt like it was an unhealthy thing to do, even though the company didn't use super-thin women for fit models, because my weight determined whether I kept my job. So I did it behind her back, until I started gaining back weight and lost the job.) Even when I was so thin that my head looked too big for my body, I felt like a whale. It's only been in the past year and a half or so that I've realized that the self-loathing wasn't about my body. It was about my feelings about myself.
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