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Author Topic: Having Self-Esteem While Fat  (Read 29538 times)
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« Reply #30: February 14, 2011, 02:01:43 pm »


I've gone through *exactly the same thing*.  I've never been anywhere near fat, but I was a gymnast for nine years and modeled for a (very) brief time after that, and so that, as you said, "anorectic ideation" is always kind of lurking in the back of my head, though I've always managed to resist acting on it. 

I'm absolutely surrounded by women in my family and among my friends constantly enacting the adolescent "I'm soooo fat!" ritual, and that anxiety slops over onto me, and I'm not sure how to deal with it.  There's really no polite, non-dismissive way to shut that kind of talk down, is there -- every time I've tried, I just get "easy for you to say."  And the proper response to that of course is "OMG, I have sooooo much cellulite!" and I just can't bring myself to participate -- yeah, I've got cellulite, but I'm not going to bring it up for the sake of the reassurance ritual, because the fact it's considered a "flaw" is entirely due to misogynist standards surrounding women's appearance, and so on and so forth.  I just wish I knew how to halt those self-defeating and ugly conversations without putting myself or anyone else on the defensive. 
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« Reply #31: February 14, 2011, 02:38:11 pm »

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This is tough for me. I'm at my heaviest right now and most people would consider me in the "normal" range, even though my BMI (that heinous bitch) tells me I'm overweight. I'm 5'6" and weigh 161.4 according to my weigh-in this morning at Weight Watchers.

You know what? I'm totally not dieting. In fact, I'm eating more now than I have in the last 3-4 yrs when I put on these extra 15 lb. Before, I was trying so hard to diet off the weight, that I was barely eating enough calories to keep body and soul together...but then I'd binge and my body was like, "Food! Glorious food! Let's keep it and store it because God knows how long it'll be before she feeds me again!" I spent the first month on WW shoving food into my mouth just to get the minimum points for each day.

The reason I want to lose weight is because it ticks me off to have a closet full of gorgeous clothes that I can't fit into anymore. I refuse to replace my entire wardrobe just because I couldn't learn to feed myself. I was forced to buy new bras because my old ones are too tight and I HATE bra shopping! Hate it! I had to blow nearly $100 on a few pairs of new jeans because I couldn't breathe in my old ones. I mean, that's $100 I could have spent on books! After all, a girl's got to have her priorities right.

Naturally, now that I'm 40, my metabolism - which I've already screwed up by not eating - is slowing down even further. *sigh* I've only just now started losing weight, but I'm surprisingly unstressed by the whole thing.

By all accounts, I *should* be incredibly uptight. I'm a former pageant girl. I modeled. I'm pretty sure I caused a couple of minor fender-benders back in the day by just walking down the street. I'm not even terribly pretty, but you put that amount of T&A into a skinny little pencil skirt and a cute little jacket and most masculine heads will turn.

Then I figured it out. It's not the T&A...not really. And it's not the incredible cheekbones or the smooth hair that I've never had. I still turn the occasional head, even with this figure, because I walk with my head up and my shoulders back and I smile at people because life is basically awesome.

Now that I've settled into this idea that I know where I'm comfortable weight-wise and I'm currently not comfortable, that's very freeing. I'm free to walk with my head up and smile because it's not about what people think when I walk down the street, or if I'm going to squash my husband when I cuddle with him (he doesn't really care how much I weigh, he just wants me to be happy) -- it's all about where I'm comfortable.  And as long as I can be comfortable in my skin, no matter how much adipose tissue resides beneath it, that absolutely shines through.

Someday, chickadees, I'll tell you about the time I got "Ciao, bella"d by an Italian construction worker.  Wink And I was definitely not skinny!
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« Reply #32: February 14, 2011, 05:38:53 pm »



A friend just sent me this site, it's geared toward logical sane fitness and weight training for women, I haven't looked through too much of it yet but it seems decent at first glance. http://www.stumptuous.com/ My interests with weight training are more to prevent osteoporosis and limit aggravating several joint problems by building more muscular support etc. In that quest I've run into GOBS and GOBS of crap information, pr twists, sales pitches and out right lies, but this site seems devoid of most of that and pretty legit.
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« Reply #33: February 14, 2011, 08:59:26 pm »

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.
Oh, sure - as Tana (among others, I think) noted, each person's body has its own workings, so being "maddened" by how yours works is itself part of this ridiculous cultural merry-go-round.  And some of the issues faced by those who are "overtall" are similar to those faced by those who are "overweight" - I'm 5'11" myself, so I get both; I'd be a big woman even if I were skinny as a rail (not that I could be; rails don't have these hips).

And, while the thread subject is centred on fatness because of where it started and because there's a particular, and particularly nasty, set of cultural judgements/policing centred around fat, I'm just as happy to have it extend to body positivity more generally - as I said earlier, it really is for everyone.

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« Reply #34: February 14, 2011, 10:28:48 pm »

I have some ideas on self-esteem, but I'm not sure if I can express them accurately.  I think a person needs to look beyond their physical traits to find what really matters...in other words, who they really are.  I don't think of myself as a fat person; I think of myself as just a person.  I am a writer, art-lover, dancer, avid reader, budding gardener (had to do it!) and a photographer.  I create beautiful things because I am a beautiful person--and I decided that.  I am in a place where I don't need to have others tell me that I am beautiful, smart, funny...because I already know that I am in my own way.  Also, if you depend on others for your self-esteem, your feelings will constantly be fluctuating, so it is better to have confidence in yourself coming *from* you.  I know that is not an easy thing, especially since most people with low self-esteem have been/are made fun of and our society as a whole holds people who are "overweight" (even those who are not) in ill favor.  But, if you can get past all of that, putting faith in yourself, you will find self-acceptance and love.
I'd say that, if you (generic you, obviously) depend on others for it, it ain't self-esteem.  But the two are pretty entangled; it's a lot harder to value yourself if no one around you values you - which is why the advice I heard a lot as a kid, "it doesn't matter what other people think," isn't all that helpful; we're social animals, so we're wired for it to matter.  It took me years to figure out that I could choose which people's opinions mattered to me.

I'm a bit leery of the "look beyond the physical" thing.  This isn't really directed at how you expand on it, because you include examples that are very embodied, like dancing and gardening.  But it seems to me that a lot of our cultural fatphobia stems from the mind/body divide, the idea that the physical is inherently more frivolous - that's why, f'ex, fat bodies are seen as morally suspect, and the subtext of fat-as-shame-word is about things like (to use the Deadly Sins words) sloth and gluttony.  It can be really easy, in such a cultural climate, for, "I am not my fat," to become, "my body isn't important," instead of, "I am more than just my fat, I am a whole person."  The cultural narrative assumes we give our bodies too much care and indulgence, when chances are that we aren't caring for them well; for me, one of the main points of Fat Acceptance is that my fat body is worth caring for.

Hmm, that you're a dancer gives me an idea - I know so very many great sites related to body positivity, FA, etc, that the link-dump required to share them all overwhelms me (even considering I don't have to do it singlehandedly; Jenett and others are providing them as well - but there's heaps more).  But one way I could manage that is to do one each day - so today's Happy Fat Site of the Day is Dances With Fat, whose author is a professional dancer.

Sunflower
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« Reply #35: February 14, 2011, 10:37:48 pm »

(And led me to go calculate my BMI for shits and giggles.)
Which is about as much as the BMI is worth, as an individual measure.

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« Reply #36: February 14, 2011, 11:12:41 pm »

I can't visit my mother too much because of this.  When she starts, I shut her down.  If she won't shut up (which happened over Christmas, thanks to this new acupuncture regimen she claims has helped her lose 50 pounds...while she's sucking down energy drinks and smoking) I show faux concern that it might be a tumor.  It's not kind, but it works.
I wish there were a whole lot more people in this world showing concern about the possible negative implications of weight loss, especially rapid weight loss (even if it's faux concern as in your case), and a whole lot fewer people applauding any and all weight loss regardless of cause.  I'm not sure what you're doing with your mom actually is unkind - in the short term, yeah, a bit, but if she should ever develop a condition for which weight loss is one of first visible symptoms, she's just that little bit more likely to think, "Hmm, maybe I should get this checked," rather than blithely going, "Yay, weight loss and I wasn't even trying."

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I don't own a fucking scale, either.
I might consider one of those, if it was really, really good at fucking Cheesy <badum-BOOM>.

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« Reply #37: February 14, 2011, 11:37:42 pm »

I might consider one of those, if it was really, really good at fucking Cheesy <badum-BOOM>.

Sunflower

Damn, Sunflower! I thought this thread, at least, would be a serious one...one that I could drink my tea while reading! *wipes off screen*
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« Reply #38: February 14, 2011, 11:47:05 pm »

I just wish I knew how to halt those self-defeating and ugly conversations without putting myself or anyone else on the defensive. 
I got nuthin'.

It doesn't, thank the gods, come up much in my family or my circle of friends, but I've occasionally bumped up against "easy for you to say" myself - not because the person was fatter than me, because they weren't (usually quite a bit less fat), but apparently because, I dunno, I have enough other virtue/worth that it's okay for me to be fat, but they're Not Good Enough (there's that moral thing again).  When people are that deeply invested in their own unworthiness (whatever it centres on, not just fat), there's not much to be done in a single convo; addressing it is a direct assault on everything they believe to be true.

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« Reply #39: February 14, 2011, 11:50:18 pm »

Damn, Sunflower! I thought this thread, at least, would be a serious one...one that I could drink my tea while reading! *wipes off screen*
Even when I'm serious, I'm never completely solemn.  Count your blessings; at least I didn't give you another earworm Cheesy!

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« Reply #40: February 15, 2011, 10:28:18 am »

I can't visit my mother too much because of this.  When she starts, I shut her down.  If she won't shut up (which happened over Christmas, thanks to this new acupuncture regimen she claims has helped her lose 50 pounds...while she's sucking down energy drinks and smoking) I show faux concern that it might be a tumor.  It's not kind, but it works.

I don't own a fucking scale, either.

Brina

My mother - currently in a nursing home because she let herself go too far - was crowing about her weight loss to me last week.  So don't send her chocolates, etc...  Never mind that she got so effing sick that the weight loss was entirely involuntary!  *headesk*  She had to spend over a month on her back in a special bed and was too week to transfer herself to her wheel chair.  Why is this good?!?!?!? 
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« Reply #41: February 15, 2011, 10:32:32 am »

I'm not sure what you're doing with your mom actually is unkind

That's because you're kind.  Wink

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« Reply #42: February 15, 2011, 11:54:31 am »

Which is about as much as the BMI is worth, as an individual measure.

Yep.  If I have my weight correct (we don't own a scale), I'm four pounds shy of "overweight" and just barely (due to babyweight) have enough padding on my ass that I no longer bruise my pelvic bones sitting on office chairs.  It gives me perspective on precisely how mockworthy the thing is.
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« Reply #43: February 15, 2011, 12:13:13 pm »

I'm absolutely surrounded by women in my family and among my friends constantly enacting the adolescent "I'm soooo fat!" ritual, and that anxiety slops over onto me, and I'm not sure how to deal with it.  There's really no polite, non-dismissive way to shut that kind of talk down, is there -- every time I've tried, I just get "easy for you to say."  And the proper response to that of course is "OMG, I have sooooo much cellulite!" and I just can't bring myself to participate -- yeah, I've got cellulite, but I'm not going to bring it up for the sake of the reassurance ritual, because the fact it's considered a "flaw" is entirely due to misogynist standards surrounding women's appearance, and so on and so forth.  I just wish I knew how to halt those self-defeating and ugly conversations without putting myself or anyone else on the defensive. 

Yup, me too. My 65 year old mother is constantly going on about dieting. She's a huge fan of Atkins, of all things. My sister is pregnant and her OB/GYN put her on the weight watchers pregnancy diet. My 89 year old aunt  never misses an opportunity to tell someone that they look like they've gained weight. It's really frustrating. I just try to change the subject. Not great advice, I know, but it's the best that I've got.
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« Reply #44: February 15, 2011, 02:01:45 pm »

My mother - currently in a nursing home because she let herself go too far - was crowing about her weight loss to me last week.  So don't send her chocolates, etc...  Never mind that she got so effing sick that the weight loss was entirely involuntary!  *headesk*  She had to spend over a month on her back in a special bed and was too week to transfer herself to her wheel chair.  Why is this good?!?!?!? 

I'm remembering a particular Gilda Radner bit:  "Studies show that guys prefer skinny girls with cancer...to healthy girls with bulging thighs."  She was joking, but given her own struggles with eating disorders and her eventual cancer, it feels a bit prophetic now.

Brina
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