Monday, 7 March 2016

Disorder is the Norm

Susie Orbach's back with a re-print of her tome, "Fat is a Feminist Issue", pause for applause. To be fair, I've never been able to make myself read it. Despite numerous tries my brain refuses to submit.

At times you have to accept limits.

Not that it matters because other people have and they take their cue for much confident psychobabble projections about what being fat is all about,
Being fat was a protection against sexual attention, but also against being marketed to, having one’s body appropriated as a commercial space. Fat was a statement of solidity in the face of motherhood. It was a defence against competition, a way to dance around the painful establishment of hierarchy within your own gender.
Riiight. Can't say I recognize any of that. The only bell is the hierarchy, but that wasn't so much amongst women as other people in general.

And, am I the only one with a big fluffy question mark shaped cloud floating somewhere in my headspace at the ease with which girls/women are said to act out against themselves physically because of men? I feel most of my reactions to such pressures took the form of overcoming through thought, attitude and mindset-whether in mere contemplation or actuality.

Becoming a feminist is surely indicative.

I honestly do not remember a strong desire to undermine or destroy myself to because of men. And I don't think I'm saying that in any spirit of braggadocio. It's a surprisingly popular meme amongst feminists, even now.

I also have to question the routine equivalence drawn between hyperhunger and anorexia/hunger denial. Everyone (hur, hur) recognizes that it usually takes conscious direction to thwart hunger signalling, as you are interrupting physiologically generated sensation. That is why anorexics are thought of and still defined as exhibiting an excess of control.

If you are claiming fatness (obviously conflated with hyperphagia here) is the same, then you are saying hyperphagiacs are also acting under the influence of an excess of self control. Whilst that can definitely create a chain reaction that raises appetite/hunger, it is not direct choice. It would be more in the direction of being overloaded with responsibility or with averse or difficult emotion, for example.

I will say this again, hyperphagia is not a product of conscious direction. If anyone decides to eat without hunger, which I'm not convinced is much if anything of a thing, that isn't hyperphagia, that is their will! Hyper functioning hunger does not require the conscious direction of anorexia/blocking hunger, as it tends to be body led. Like when a person's blood pressure goes up (and stays up). You don't tell it to go up, it goes up (and stays high) in response to something else.

It's when you try to lower an excess of hunger that it can require a heck of a lot of conscious direction both direct and indirect. It usually takes (usually a lot) more to adjust than anorexia- the direction has changed.

Hunger and its response eating are normal, healthy, life-supporting. No conscious effort is required to produce hunger. Any effort of response tends to be rewarding in some way. Sustained ignoring, blocking, suppressing hunger is abnormal, unhealthy and life-averse, you are swimming against the tide of your nature.

When you stop blocking your hunger, the barrier/s to it can reduce. Underlying normalcy has a chance to reassert and restore itself. When you are seeking to turn your hunger down, its much harder because you are going against the run of your survival instinct, albeit performing in a hyper way. The target is also hidden. You just need to go around it and hope that flows onto letting hunger function reduce on its own.

Orbach's current theme is ‘Not all women used to have eating issues. Now everybody does’. Spot on, though she appears not to grasp why. She just mentions this as something "society" has done to people.

Disorder has been normalised by the promotion of weight loss dieting as a means to achieve weight change. It is disordered and capable of provoking hunger/eating disorders.

Through mandating weight must be altered via this route, the 'obesity' crusade has ensured the continued spread of hunger-denying/energy wasting behaviours, attitudes and disorders. This has increased both them and the body's usual counter-reaction raising hunger.

In those with a susceptability, that can lead to hyperphagia-hypersensitized and/or excessive hunger functioning. Disordered, calorie restriction has just about replaced normal eating, as I knew it would have to if the reign of the 'obesity' construct continued.

It is becoming increasingly rare to hear people eating norally, even rarer for that to be matched with normal attitudes to food. People default to healthist eating  rhetoric about eating, weight, health and diet.

We can see this more clearly in the spread of disorder to men. Alcoholism used to be the primary male eating disorder and men felt it many fathoms beneath them to admit to what they saw as "girly" disorders.

Dietary restriction even without energy restriction can be so inherently unbalancing or disordering, that this mindset can easily set off physiological/psychological disorder merely by imposing appetite constraints. Such as high protein, low-fat/low-carb or whatever.

For instance Muscle Dysmorphia otherwise absurdly termed 'bigorexia' (please), is an example. This is when men who wish to directly increase their muscle mass tip into an unbalanced view of their bodies where they become convinced they are lacking, even with a well developed musculature. 

They feel too small, looking at themselves pointing out a litany of non-existent deficiencies and perceived flaws with vicious self disgust. Sound familiar? This is produced when viewing yourself from the outside in becomes overly dominant. Combine that with a disordered view of eating and/or food and you end up pretty much where we are now.

That is what is being exported.

Given my failure to engage with this seminal work, I've always been somewhat ignorant about what its actually getting at and how it arrived there.

Looking at something on the Women's Therapy Centre, I've finally managed to get a clue.
women would attend meetings at the Women’s Therapy Centre saying they felt fat and unhappy, yet not do anything either to lose weight or to change their situation
The answer to that is that dieting is inherently unnatural, running counteri to our instincts. The resistence always deemed non-compliance is physiologically led.

According to this, Orbach felt that because she was seeing this in women, that this was not individual but to do with women's place in family and society.
We weren’t just weak-minded, greedy, ill-disciplined; there were specific realities to the conditions of both fat and thin that we were all chasing or escaping through our eating.
It's also interesting that I've never heard this attain the same traction with anyone as what she hypothesized about fatness,
As did thin, which carried its own freight: that you would be seen as superior and cold; that you would be overcome by your own promiscuity; that you would be perceived as selfish; that there would be no buffer between you and the world.
I find this odd, to say the least.

Orbach reminded me that she identified as being an 'overeater' who was previously fat and lost weight. I have to say I'm no longer convinced that her fatness was not a temporary thing that resolve itself during or before her self analysis epiphany.

It may even be what led her in that direction in the first place.....

No comments:

Post a Comment