Saturday, 14 November 2009

Mind and body

This discussion over at CiF, mainly follows the usual tedious course of these matters but a couple of things among the responses caused me to ponder.

There was a much recommended post by someone called JonaMc timed at 12:24. [I've tried the direct link to posts here, but it doesn't seem to be working, possibly due to the number of posts, 944 in total.]

It's an interesting view of how fat people, in particular this fat person sees him/herself. The writer uses the pronoun you, to universalise their own experience as that of all fat people. They say, that a fat person doesn't seem him/herself as overweight, they see themselves as what they are-fat-rather than what they are not, a slim person inside a fatter person's body.

What's so interesting about that, is that's how I'd describe more of a fat acceptance mentality. Before that, you tend to see yourself more as failing to be slim. Your view of yourself is interrupted. S/he describes a normal level of self perception. As it happens, I've not been fat my whole life and am well aware that in either an earlier time or having lived differently or in different circumstances, I could just as naturally or easily have been thin as I am in actuality, fat.

I don't feel any less fat than those who've only known themselves fat, but it must colour my views, as it probably does theirs. I see myself as mainly being and having been a fat person. I saw myself as fat before, but not in that same way. I accepted it first, when my efforts to stave off chubbiness and then fatness, did not work. But, I was trying to achieve thinness.

What's just as fascinating is that JMc sees their values as flowing from their fatness, this includes emphasizing intellectual pursuits above physical ones. Naive, huh? That just sounds like the middle class mindset before the advent of slimming culture.

I never thought about it before, but maybe this ugly fitness boom is some kind of backlash against what went on then. Fitness freaks were deemed crude dumbos who couldn't think they're way out of a wet paper bag. It was really quite brutish and I determined I would not be prejudiced like that.

It almost feels like a missed opportunity. There's also something else, it could be in part fuelled by a deep longing from within. This disjointed view of life in your head. One of the tricky things about assimilation into western culture is it's alienation from the physical self, witness in Africa and other developing lands. Every occasion is marked not just by physical activity, but physicality, it's as if dancing and prancing is part of the expression, like a kind of physical thinking.

Even in the Latin countries of Europe, its the thing to wave your hands about to emphasize the process of speech. There's also the far East with their traditions of dance and China especially with it's Tai Chi and India with it's Yoga and so forth, contempt for and containment of people's natural expressions of physicality, seems to have become a pronounced part of western culture. Though I've heard about the Volga boatmen who apparently had a dance which like a lot of movement associated with Africa, flows from the pelvis.

S/he goes on to say, that they put no store by appearance as they are so 'monstrously lardy'- the kind of expression always guaranteed to endear you to fat detractors, as long as you make clear you are their absolute inferior, you put them right at ease. I have to say, being judged by your appearance does give you a great opportunity to see through beauty myths-indeed this has affected my view not only of looks, but of things such as availability of clothes. which quite a lot of fat people don't bother themselves with at all.

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