Monday, May 23, 2011

Shut Your Fat Mouth


Pun intended. I have just recently begun exploring more openly food/body image/body acceptance issues in my own life in an open and honest way and feel I am just barely sliding one foot through that door, but come to think about it, it's time to kick the door wide open.

I am so sick of living in a culture that accepts and idolizes women starving themselves and being skinny-equating thin with healthy-while mocking heavy and even healthy-for-your-height weights, perpetuating this unrealistic image and condoning fatphobia.  I am so tired of heavy, curvy, or one of my favorite adjectives, thick girls getting treated as if they are lazy, uneducated, or unhealthy while I watch friends waste away to skin and bones trying to adhere to some obscene and truly unhealthy weight, losing their hair and sometimes losing their periods, yet people telling them they look fabulous.  Living in a culture where we are continually bombarded by contradicting images; commercials of fast food, "junk" food, processed foods many are supposed to deem "bad" (not that I think processed food or fast food is particularly good for you, but that can be a whole other piece on it's own) and yet we should all have six-pack abs and aspire to look like Kate Moss.  We are continuously given reinforcements that if we do have more junk in the trunk/more cushion for the pushin' (whichever phrase you prefer) we should be striving to be thin, because then and only then we will be happy, content, healthy. Many celebrity women have reinforced this message: Kelly Osborne, Jennifer Hudson who is now the famous face of Weight Watchers, Kirstie Allie who has yo-yo'd for years (and publicly ridiculed for it), and I think the woman who has been one of the most vocal about her struggles with weight is Oprah.

But even Oprah with all of her openness hasn't expressed being in a place of acceptance.  The message is clear-it's a continuous struggle; she made it clear back in the eighties before she was the empire that she is today: "This is the battle of my life." I wish the article in Bitch magazine online went a bit more in- depth, but I appreciate the writer's point of view and for, "[expecting] at least one voice representing fat acceptance to be present during this final OWS episode on weight."

I don't know a single woman who hasn't or doesn't continue to struggle with her weight/body image, whether that means trying to lose or gain or simply maintain. I definitely have had and continue to have a love/hate relationship with my body.   And I don't remember the last time a group of women got together and discussed things they like about themselves. All of the energy I spend on swinging from accepting to loathing to feeling indifferent to wanting to be in a place of acceptance of where I am, but also working towards being in the place I want to be; and yes, that does include losing weight, but it does not include starving myself, bingeing and purging, working out 8 hours a day, or only eating like a rabbit. 

Several fellow Ithaca College alumni also have blogs (you can find them in my list of blogs to check out in the right-hand column Amy, Marissa, and Steff).  It was in a guest post on Steff's blog that introduced me to a woman Golda Poretsky, founder of Body Love Wellness, with a philosophy about healthy at every size.

Through a free phone session with Golda from that post, I have joined her 4 month program and am starting to find community with like-minded women. In the phone session, I mentioned this blog, and generously, Golda is offering the first 5 readers a FREE Body Love Breakthrough session.  This is your chance to talk directly with Golda about any struggles with body image and food and get solutions instead of staying stuck! To sign-up for this FREE opportunity, go to:


  1. WORD. I love that you are thinking and writing about this. You are absolutely right that this affects all women in our culture, regardless of weight or body type. For example, I have to admit that I don't usually comment when you post about your workouts and stuff like that, simply because they make me feel guilty that I'M not doing that stuff--which is bananas, because I should really just be feeling happy and proud of YOU, not feeling bad about myself.
    I have been dealing with some pretty intense body image issues lately. I had a slow and steady weight gain during and after college, but it never really bothered me *too* much. Then in the past year, I gained 50 pounds while pregnant, which was just WEIRD AS HELL. Seriously. It's like being in someone else's body...which I guess, in some ways, I was. Even though I am super proud of everything my body did for me and my baby, it's still jarring to change SO much, SO quickly, and I will probably be working on integrating it for quite a while.
    One website I really recommend is Yes, it is technically about the bodies of women who have been pregnant or given birth, but I think it could be really empowering for ANY woman to check out. Even though many of the posters express disappointment in their bodies, they are always met with positive comments, admiration, and celebration. I only wish that there were more spaces of acceptance like this in the "real world".
    Also--as for the Body Love Wellness opportunity, what kind of time commitment does it require? I am interested, but my schedule is all kinds of crazy these days, and I wouldn't want to take a spot away from someone who might get more from it than I would.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out, Laura! I couldn't agree with this post more. I have an especially strong hatred for these pseduo-nutrition programs like NutriSystem, etc. that mail the super-processed, chemical health "food" to your door every day with slogans like 'eat all the pizza and chocolate cake you want and lose weight!' Now, I love pizza and chocolate cake, but this focus on losing weight as the ultimate goal really ends up detracting from the goal of health. No one on these kinds of diets learns anything about food as fuel for your body, and that makes any weight loss unhealthy--not to mention unsustainable.

    Real food, mostly plants. Exercise. Joy. These are the things of a healthy life. The scale is just a number.


  3. Ladies, thank you for commenting and your patience at waiting for a response back from me!

    @Emily: I checked out that website you mentioned, there are so many sections it was a bit overwhelming the first time. It also kicks up this baby itch that in and of itself is a bit overwhelming. Body image issues have always been a serious, but I'm finally in a place to talk about my own experience surrounding it and I'm glad and not surprised that you responded to this post! Reminds me of our long conversations before going to senior seminars at IC.

    Regarding the Body Love Wellness program, you should call and set up a free hour to talk with Golda herself to see if you're interested in going further with it. It is not very time consuming and she records the phone calls so if you miss a conference you can always listen on your own time.

    @ Marissa, I agree these programs that make grandious promises about eating what you want and losing weight as the end result is just not realistic. The scale is just a number, I just wish our culture didn't make women feel their worth is dependent on that number.