Saturday, 31 January 2009

The HAES conundrum

Health at any size is admirable in many ways.

I love the story I heard of it's origins from a comment made by Marylin Wann; the efforts of fat people (and their supporters)taking it upon themselves to restore or increase their mobility, mainly through exercise.


It made me realise again, that I could actually relate to that in a more personal way. In the sense that I'm still restoring my own mobility-it's more of a mental than physical thing- after my damaging stint as a 'obesity' stooge.

I do however, avoid it mainly: Why?

Because it now replicates and reflects the attitudes of mainstream 'healthy living' to an extent I cannot tolerate. I don't know if it's more the language or the attitudes that irk most, suffice to say, it's rarely a pleasure to encounter it's various forms.

I discovered this purely by accident. It is not because I feel like a 'bad fatty', or because I feel judged. I was a healthy living follower. I was one of those who believed that it was a sure and logical route to slimness; it wasn't.

Even after rejecting the pursuit of thin, I didn't feel this would affect what I felt was my positive adherence to healthy eating/living. To my astonishment, it did.

Slowly, I jettisoned bits of it, until it became clear to me that maybe none of it was worth saving. Apart from casting my net a bit wider on things that might appeal, not being put off by a healthy tag.

As for the physical side, I've little to no interest in 'exercise', whatever it is, it's rules are too mysterious for me. I can't relate. I'll stick to just moving about as and when I feel. The fact that this requires some kind of systematic and somewhat profound change in my thought process, tells part of the real story, of what it can do to condemn yourself by your weight- any weight

So HAES I'll recommend happily, where apt.

But whilst it is what it has become, I am most definitely, not a part of it.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

I don't see myself as oppressed

When it comes to being fat, I just cannot see myself, or feel myself to be an oppressed person, or a victim of oppression. Why? It's too soon and there has been too much collusion on in the process of fatness by fat people either directly or in keeping silent.

Too many lies have been told about how no, it doesn't hurt to be vilely abused, and yes it is going to help me lose weight and I'm going on a diet again and this time it will work and so on.

Not that I'm trying to engage in victim bashing, but that level of acquiescence doesn't tend to get off lightly being bully fodder for too long.

It's important to say this because any pain of saying it, is less than the pain of dodging it, developing a great big fear of it and having this hang around in the background, haunting you.

When I've said that this is not the kind of mechanistic oppression that keeps people down in the past, it seems to have caused a great deal of anger and hurt. As if I am belittling the suffering of fat people, if I don't believe that this is oppression, as opposed to oppressive.

The thing is, the idea that social ostracism/criticism is all that it takes to keep certain other groups down is actually quite insulting to them. It is also somewhat trying to justify our responses which have uncomfortably shown a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to selling ourselves out and pretty mindless self loathing.

Rather than negating fat hatred, this need to make false comparison feels like an attempt to siphon off some of the sense of credibility we need to rediscover for ourselves, from within. It is there, I truly believe that.

I myself am fat, and I feel like being honest about what this anti-obesity crisis is doing to real people like me, fat and thin alike, frankly. I would not wish to minimize it in any way.

Nor do I need to overstate it either, which in the end, kind of amounts to the same thing, minimizing pain by talking it up, as if it cannot stand on it's own. As if it has to be apologetically talked up.

It is what it is, and I'm tired of the whole feeling ashamed of being fat in all it's aspects. I don't need to define my experience in terms of what others models of their troubles if they don't fit. My experiences re fat are kind of unique, neither one thing or t'other a lot of the time, that's part of what makes it fascinating. I don't wish it to be derivative for the sake of it.

Fat acceptance,as well as fat hate, is what it is. it's a voyage of discovery, not something to be fitted into what exists, because;

That's how what exists came into being, on it's own terms. We too should define our experiences by the patterns they make, if that is like other things, good, if not, also good.

But possibly more, it's one of the debts of honour I owe myself after years of trying to live a, overlooking the feelings and responses of my mind and body, trying to force it to be what I thought it should, not what it was, something that experience has finally taught me is infinitely more precious.

More than anything, we owe ourselves the unashamed and unvarnished truth, after selling ourselves out to a vision of what we should be that did not take account of who we really are.

This and my usual curiosity, motivates me to explore and experience fat acceptance on it's own terms and on the terms of other fat people, it is our experience and we are taking it back.

One of the things I resent about this endless comparison is that it's as if all of that means nothing unless we hold it to be oppression, whether it is or not, it's about the feeling and the hurt, but social pressure and exclusion does hurt, we are social creatures.

Our treatment is oppressive, and that is not necessarily the same as oppression.

And yes, being messed about in social contexts is enough to create discrimination, we are social animals after all.

Fat hatred is undoubtedly oppressive, not quite the same as being oppressed per se.

From the beginning, fat acceptance has struck me as a small thing. Philosophically speaking, it strikes me as almost a non-entity. It's really self acceptance for fat people specifically, and everyone by default, well to me anyway. The need for it is a superfluous conceit brought on by those who wish to turn us into social pariahs. It is the idea that self esteem is not needed if your fat that's truly radical, in a bad way. Why wouldn't fat people benefit from self-respect the same as those who seek to try and rob us of it?

If we don't need it, neither does anyone else, that the destruction of self regard and esteem of ordinary people can be so easily argued should give pause for thought.

It is true however that fat people's rights may well start to be infringed more seriously, although it is beginning in some peripheral areas such as adoption and fertility treatment in specifically the NHS , right now. I still cannot see that this constitutes oppression, it is a sign that things could get out of hand and we are well within our rights to object without overstating our case.

For me, it doesn't matter either way that I don't see FA as a civil rights movement per se, it still feels too premature to say this with conviction. I feel and have always felt that the fact that any group of reasonable individuals who have a complaint or complaints to make, should be heard. The fact that it is about us, personally, makes the case especially compelling, we should not have to be oppressed to make a rational case that the treatment we are receiving is unfair and unjust, that is genuine.

Fat people in general have never routinely and consistently objected to the treatment meted out to them in the way that others in similar position have, for many good reasons true. But this makes it hard to say what the response would be if we did, as those others are not treated the way we are it feels as if we offered ourselves up somewhat by our reactions, even if that seems harsh. It's not a condemnation of us, I reserve the right to be wrong and to pay for it, which we more than have physically, spiritually, financially and in other ways. That in my view also adds gravitas and legitimacy to our demands.

It's quite possible that if we stopped collaborating with the 'obesity crisis', it would thoroughly change it's trajectory, or crumble and any rights impinged upon, restored. It's possible that the moment for this is passing or has passed, either way, until widespread resistance is in effect, it's hard to see whether the obesity circus is sustainable without being shored up by our collusion in the process.

And resistance doesn't seem as costly or self destructive in this context as it often is in others.

That doesn't fit quite so well with race or gender, the collusion is there, but it is so much more arcane and mind shattering it's difficult sometimes to even see as it is often outside all societies fields of reference. For instance, compare the status of women's assessment of the failure of the weight loss diet hypothesis versus the status of the idea that it works, it's mainly men shoring up the credibility of the latter. The point is we -women- constantly collaborate with this view by endeavouring to answer such questions as, what's the proof diets don't work, treating that kind of enquiry as if it makes any sense at all, panders to that hierarchy. The hierarchy should be of ideas not particular persons.

Civil or any other rights unfortunately, are not guaranteed from attacks by the unscrupulous, anymore than we are guaranteed freedom from crime or ill health. We have been told by wise heads to be ever vigilant. Fat acceptance is to me part of that vigilance, that is more than justification enough.

Oppression is a state that you tend to avoid identifying with, if you do not have to. Care has to be taken not to have a 'slumming' romance with the idea of it, it is a deeply demoralising concept to contend with. It doesn't liberate, it just tells you about the job to be done. It hurts, it is not a prize to be won.

The mindset you get into if you falsely associate with this is also a potential worry. If you are falling short so to speak, it can shape your behaviour in ways that can be self defeating, you mind is convinced things are a certain way you imagine them to be, so it can act accordingly. Even if that ultimately isn't useful.

I feel that a lot of fat acceptance is valuing our rights enough not to wait from them to be destroyed before acting. We should fight like fury before any window is wholly shut.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Why diets fail

because eating is vital to body, so the body has defences built in to keep the supply going at almost all costs. metabolism to some extent is and works through the human nervous system. This means you defences are mental and physical, that and about a quarter of what is eaten is for the use of the brain. it requires a tremendous amount of energy to operate and function.

Our bodies are programmed to stop them from working.

It's not because it 'thinks' you are on a famine, if you know you are on a diet, and your defences operate in the brain, why do you think your body wouldn't know you are on a diet?

Why would that information start in the mind and stop in the body? How do we even know the desire to diet is always wholly mental? I'm sure your body can tell the difference between being fed and not being fed, enough for you to have to dodge hunger.

Our views on slimming are confused because of the assumption that dieting is right and good, when it's actually disorder. You need to suspend that and assume that it is possible that the body fights dieting for a direct reason, not as a mistake.

Why would it fight apart from this? To prevent anorexia, what is the difference between someone who develops anorexia, and one who does not? One of them succumbs to dieting, the person with anorexia and the other doesn't, mainly.

A lot of people don't think about how much pain keeps anorexia at bay, how much more natural and prevalent it would be otherwise. We assume we'd just stop when enough weight was lost. But those who have been on the cusp or earlier of a serious eating disorder know that as you lose weight, your perspective can alter tremendously and what seemed slim from where you started from becomes not so slim, or at all, when you get there or there abouts.

So dieting failure us about our design, not the way we think our sense of free will. It's to do with the way we work and function. Dieting doesn't work and isn't going to because of all this.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Fat not likely to be a choice

Perusing this I've toyed with this line myself, but it really doesn't work.

The rejection of unreasonable demands cannot be seen as a choice in the same sense as deciding on what you want to do, or rejecting the possible. A big fallacy that operates even amongst those who should know better, is that pain is the reason why diets and exercising yourself to slimness falter so badly That's simply is not correct. This falsely misrepresents not only the character of fat people, but of human beings in general.

Numerous are the times that this myth of why diets fail has been used to discredit not only fat people, but people in general, and it's time we put a stop to it.

I'm cannot disagree with the fact that we human beings have our moments, but as they are so plentiful, we invent them at our peril sticking with our actual sins is more than enough to be going on with, lets not get greedy.

The reasons why dieting and exercise fail stems from the fact that the body is designed to resist them, it uses all means it can to achieve this. Such is the strain of this herculean effort is that it seems to run out of space to hold thoughts that aren't deeply ingrained. It's a bit like the way group therapy becomes extra brain space for you, when you are trying to .

Time after time, people find perfectly rational approaches to weight loss, that don't hurt them in any tangible way. Things appear to be going to plan and then phhfftt! Just as suddenly as you thought you had found the way, you find you can no longer seem to do what you have just been doing. Discovering this can be almost eerie, you reach a certain point, sometimes it's a certain amount that has been lost. It's as if the body's said, OK, now I'm going to get serious with you. You just find that you've suddenly run out of road.

The choice thing doesn't work for me, because for me, like most fat people I think, it is not a direct choice, weight gain is mostly much like weight loss. It's orgins are hard to trace. The extra eating lack of exercise thing is likely to be symptom as cause. If I'd chosen to be fat I'd say so, I didn't, it doesn't make any difference to whether it is blameworthy or not. I've always felt responsible about it, it's just that what was supposed to remove weight, is unlikely to and deeply unplesant. One thing I can choose to be glad about, is that diets have failed, they deserve to.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

'R' you havin' a larf, Mr Gervais?

Thanks to tealou over at bfb

My attention was directed to this .

My reaction to this is not annoyance I'm aware of RG's irritating views on fat and have worked them out of my system enough for other things to strike me more.

What is interesting about this article, is that he makes other points that are astute and worth listening to, such as how we should not cut our bodies for vanity, how we care more about possessions than our health and how a pill for every ill is deepening that lack of self care:

"The problem is, we've got pills for everything, and all it does is encourage people to treat their bodies badly.

I agree that the culture of the almighty pill, does encourage us to treat ourselves badly in the sense that it facilitates the sometimes overwhelming desire to avoid our painful issues. By encouraging us to pretend we are 'ill' and that we need drugs for our illness this behaviour is validated and therefore entrenched. We get to 'legitimately' evade facing up to what we feel is excruciating. We only undo ourselves, sadly.

That's what usually rational people can't see, those of us on this side of the fat issue are frustrated by their inability to carry on thinking about weight with the same insight they bring to other matters, amply demonstrated by Mr. Gervais himself.

It's part of the corruption that occurs when you accept the logic that weight is within our control, using diets (not the same thing as we are capable of having some control over our weight). This 'logic' traps you. Because you cannot make it work, the anger at feeling forced to do something physical that you destest, combined with the sense that not liking it means you are lazy. Builds into an unexpressed and inchoate rage. Rage that you 'have' to do this, to force yourself to hurt. The fact that you are doing it to yourself makes it more upsetting, not less, you are supposed to protect yourself from misuse, but you've somehow failed. Just becuase you don't perceive it in this way, doesn't mean it is not registering in your mind. You've sold yourself out really, to attempt the very vanity Gervais has already critiqued. These feelings have no outlet.

This rage can only be directed inward toward yourself, probably making you feel like you are self destructive, this can itself lead you to act as if you are self destructive. Or it explodes outward, onto other fat people who've really just become an extension of the part of yourself you feel is the enemy. When you think about it, your aim is to defeat yourself, no a healthy line of thought

This of course is painful unsustainable as it eventually leads to burnout or even mental instibility. I'm sure studying that pattern more closely could reveal a lot about how mental illness often comes about in other contexts.

Sometimes when people with substance use problems are talking about it, you think to yourself, that's the drug (etc) talking, not them. This is kind of how it is with Mr. Gervais, it is his unsuccessful attempts to become slim throught his running regime talking. He should be talking about how he's taken up running, to lose weight, like he's supposed to and look, I'm still fat, what a con. He believes this is science though and that affects his capacity to reason. I wonder how he'll feel when he discovers this.

His sentiments are why some fat people are in danger of eroding their own civil rights. That is part of the problem I have with feeling that fat people are oppressed, the extent to which too many of us have and are still colluding in our own potential doom.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

I say euphemisms because

Through well rounded type2 , I encountered

The blatantness of the title attracted my interest. I've begun to forget what it's like to calmly and graciously believe, that diets can't fail, only people can fail diets.

I've learned to avoid this sort of thing because it is a downer on so many levels.

It is tedious. It never goes anywhere and has no hope of going anywhere, because it is a point of view that has made up it's mind. Nothing can shift it, because it is a closed circle. Diets cannot fail, only people can fail diets, it is endlessly self perpetuating, it is not disprovable on it's own terms. It is a circle that is closed. It isn't talking to fat people, only at them, it appears to be about them but is not about them, it's about repeating the laws of diet. Reading about it feel, can feel annihilating.

It is incapable of accepting that there could be good honest reasons why fat people have 'failed' to become permanently thin, using diets, and euphemisms for dieting to achieve the state of grace that is thinness.

It has not delivered and doesn't have to, the people who take it up have to, you have to. People think this is the harshness of truth, but that is the diet not working which is so unacceptable that it's harshness has to be avoided. That evasion creates the leads to bitterness.

Only when there is some interaction with the congregation. Some prospect of spontaneous exchange, plus the joy of creativity, will there be hope that this deadening process of pointless blame will end.

No prospect of change or evolution of any real kind is on offer only endless repetition, which often means regression.

When I say lifestyle is a euphemism for diet, I'm saying it because I feel that fatness is a state of being that is itself a circular process. Dieting pretends to do something about controlling this circle, when all it really does is disrupt it, forcing it to become unbalanced and distressed.

According to it's own rules based mainly on identifying symptoms as causes, it's dicktats claim to be based on biology, but to be based on something is not necessarily to be that thing.

Because dieting doesn't do anything about the circle that is weight, it runs around after the fact, the circle continues imperative is to put itself together again, removing this interruption.

If you feel of touch with your hunger signals it increases this, by making what you eat and how much no longer your body's decision to make. This means it is likely at least for the duration of the diet your natural hunger and appetite needs are virtually out of the picture. This tend to be make them more assertive until they become overwhelmng.
Nature tends not to nourish that that does not fulfil or serve it's purpose, it can be ruthless like that.

Healthy eating-to lose and maintain weight loss- essentially does the same thing, leaves the momentum of fatness untact and probably stronger than before, due to mounting its defence. Running around after the fact of the creation of your signals. Using strategies of avoidance that further undermine the balance and integrity of an intricate set of mechanisms, designed to read your energy and nutritient needs.

That's why I say, euphemism, lifestyle change is just another way of saying diet, if it's to lose weight it's a diet, no matter what you call it.

No me neither, this is why Oprah 're-gained' weight it is her design the same as every other diet 'failure'. She entered into a process that was in competition with that specifically designed to regulate her weight. Using the same equipment-the nervous system- that regulates that original system. Without our awareness of it.

This can be done for a while, but at some point you run out of rope, as a commenter on the site said so aptly:

...............this hit a nerve as, after nine seemingly effortless months of healthy eating and regular physical activity, I am going through a rough patch and do not want to gain back any of the weight that I have lost to-date.

It can be unnerving to suddenly find what you were doing so naturally before suddenly unravel before you, inexplicably. It's the defences catching up with your efforts.

If you 'overcome' this, then you will go on to the next and the next, usually it wins, because it knows more than you, it can fight better than you.

Friday, 2 January 2009

I resolve

Resolutions are out of fashion.

My resolution is to have the courage of my convictions.

And I will.