Fat Wedding 6: “Bluff and Buff Your Way to a Better Bridal Body”

Here’s part 6 in the Fat Wedding series, an exposé of the stresses and pressures on a bride to “look her best” (read: be skinny/ier) for her “big day.”

You & Your Wedding – Mind & Body

The introduction to the “mind & body” articles is “Get body and beauty confident with our special section.”

Well hey, that’s great! I’m already body and beauty confident. I think I look great, I have wonderful hair I can’t wait to get styled, and great skin I can’t wait to beautify. However, I could always use more confidence, right? There may be some great tips in these articles on how to, say, get sleep the night before to improve wellness (body), make sure I eat energy-rich healthy foods to keep myself going through the “big day,” (body), how to destress the night before (mind), and how to keep my cool in front of so many people (mind), right?

Scanning…scanning…oh. Hmm. Well, there are a few of these articles. Wedding Hair Style Inspiration looks cool. I was thinking of going kinda nature-y with my ‘do – maybe flowers, or laurels, something like that. DIY Facials looks kind of neat. I probably can’t afford to get a facial, so some DIY tips are welcome. Fragrance Advice from Roja Dove might be an interesting read.

However, surprise surprise, what subject comprises the greatest majority of articles? Weight-loss. There are even articles on cosmetic surgery (and cosmetic dentistry).

Of the 38 articles listed on the page: 47% (18) are about losing weight or getting “in shape.”

Heh. I guess we know what pre-wedding “beauty & mind” is REALLY all about.

Bridal Boot-camp

medicinenet.com – How to lose weight before the big day – and avoid the ‘heavier ever after’

Fleming recommends starting a bridal “boot camp” at least six months before the wedding that includes a balance of cardiovascular and strength training for about an hour a day, three to four days per week. Procrastinating brides and grooms who have less than six months to work with should plan on spending more time in the gym.

“Boot camp” — thank you, thank you, thank you for finally just saying it! “Boot camp” – a time of personal suffering that will, on the other end, pop out a ‘better you.’ It’s understood that it will be torture, but hey, it’s worth it to have a thin(ner) bride in the pictures, and to finally wear that dress that shows off your shoulder bones, right?

Once future brides and grooms set their minds to a weight-loss and fitness plan, Fleming says, they are usually successful. Many pick up healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Oh hey, does that mean that:

1. These women have never dieted or heard of calorie-counting before, so the idea of “eat less move more” was completely foreign to them prior to their pre-wedding “boot camp” ritualistic starvation regime,

2. or that “many” never gain the weight back? If so, they’re defying the overwhelming evidence that virtually all people who diet gain the weight back. We need to find these people, and make sure they’re included in the next diet study, because obviously they were missed before! The studies must not have been on anyone who’d convinced themselves they needed to lose weight for a wedding, I guess. Perhaps it’s the whole idea that this is a “wedding,” and you’re now becoming a “bride,” that somehow keeps the weight off, eh?

“It is amazing to me how focused and motivated they become during this frantic, crazy, panicked period in their lives, and it’s the one thing that they stick to,” says Fleming. “If you need to use the wedding day to get you started, that’s OK, but most people continue to work out, feel great, and look back at the pictures and say, ‘Wow, I can do this.'”

Once people start losing weight with the idea that it will improve their looks or self-esteem, it becomes obsessive? I’ve never heard of that phenomenon, before. 😛

Once a couple says their “I dos,” they may be at risk for a honeymoon holdover effect. Research shows that newlyweds gain weight at a faster rate then their single peers.

Oh hey, do you think that might have anything to do with the fact that they, yanno, crash dieted in the months preceding their wedding? Naw! It’s just some weird, coincidental magickry that makes you gain weight faster when you slip that wedding ring on your finger.

“Married people are heavier than people who have never been married,” says researcher Jeffery Sobal, PhD, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. “They are also somewhat heavier than people who have been previously married, divorced, separated, and widowed.

“Recently married people eat about half or more of their meals together,” he says. “So marriage really is a huge influence on what you eat, its caloric value, nutrient composition, and all of those things.”

What seems to happen, Sobal says, is that newlyweds eat more regularly, and more formally, than they did in their single days.

Gasp! Eating more—hush—regularly! You mean, getting married makes you abandon your single-life, low self-esteem semi-starvation regime you succumbed to because you believed you’d never deserve love unless you strove towards some impossible, airbrushed ideal?

Sobal says his research has shown that when you control for other variables, like age and having children, the “marriage effect” seems to go away to some extent in women while it persists in men.

“It suggests that there is something about being married that makes men slightly, but not hugely, heavier,” says Sobal. He says more long-term studies will be needed to determine the exact nature of this marriage effect on weight.

I dunno, do you think it has anything to do with the fear of being labeled a “heavier ever after” wife? Or having your character and person constantly judged by your fat, because you’re a woman? Or having hate songs written about killing fat wives by popular bands for the crime of getting heavy while married?

Ugh, I’m done with the crap article. This pre-wedding “get in shape for your big day” bullshit is just a cultural ritualization to put the woman/bride in her ‘place,’ in that she has to ‘earn’ her big day by adhering, perhaps even for the first time in her life, to what this society currently deems is the woman’s highest value — her appearance being ‘acceptable’, i.e., thin enough.

The proof, besides the humble digging I do, when the fancy strikes? Check out this study, as reported on by the New York Times.

More than 70 percent of brides-to-be want to lose weight before their wedding day, according to a new study from Cornell University. To reach the perfect wedding-day weight, more than one-third of them use extreme dieting tactics such as diet pills and fasting. And while most of us buy clothes that fit, about one in seven brides-to-be buys a bridal gown that is one or more dress sizes smaller than she normally wears.

Which has been shown, over and over, by not only the brides-to-be I’ve quoted, but in the expectations of “body/beauty/fitness” sections of bridal sites.

Dr. Neighbors found that 91 percent of the women were worried about their weight, reporting that they wanted to lose weight or were actively trying to prevent weight gain. By comparison, national data show that about 62 percent of similarly aged women have the same concerns.

Among the 70 percent of women who were trying to lose weight, the average desired loss was about 21 pounds, not counting three women in the group who were trying to lose more than 100 pounds each.

I think those three women are very significant. Funny that they weren’t counted. Maybe they shouldn’t count the women who wanted to lose only a few pounds each, as well, since there are ways to weight every average. I don’t think they’re abnormal, by any means – on the discussion boards and so forth I’ve perused, I’ve come across more than one woman who wanted to lose more than 100 lbs.

Nearly half the brides-to-be were willing to adopt extreme dieting strategies to reach their goal weight by their wedding day. Among extreme dieters, skipping meals and taking unprescribed diet pills and supplements were reported most frequently. About 10 percent of the women used liquid diets, while a fraction of the women started smoking, took laxatives or induced vomiting in order to lose weight.

Huh. Think they’ll gain the weight back after the wedding, or just gain an ED? Or both?

Since it is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, it’s important to note here that it’s very possible some ED’s have their root in this pre-wedding ritual.

This next paragraph, however, is extremely important: god bless the effing study authors. Nice example of highly educated biological scientists who can’t see the forest for the trees.

The prevalence of extreme dieting behavior among brides-to-be is important because rapid weight loss usually isn’t maintained. But the study authors note that because brides-to-be are highly motivated to lose weight, doctors should use an upcoming wedding as an opportunity to discuss more healthful weight loss and eating behaviors.

Yeah, capitalize on her fear, and her anxiety! Don’t let the ED start on its own, give it a little shove, too! Yeah, that’s exactly what I need when I go for my check-up in the fall. “Oh, lovely ring! You’re engaged?” “Yes, sir.” “Lovely. Then you’re going to be losing some weight, right?”

Ai yai yai.

But wait, there’s more:

At the time of the study, the women were still about six months or more away from their big day. But the average weight loss achieved was already about eight pounds, although the numbers varied widely.

“If these losses were maintained after marriage, they would be significant weight management achievements,’’ the authors noted. “Given the pressures of the wedding and beginning a new life as a couple, engaged women should be encouraged to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than striving for a fleeting number on a scale or a temporary dress size.’’

DESPITE the fact that the authors themselves noted that 50% of the women used “extreme measures” like pills, fasting, liquid diets, and vomiting to attain their “significant weight achievements”?

Funny, I feel a little like vomiting myself, now.

But mostly I feel royally pissed off at this ignorance, in the FACE of such horrifying results. I guess when doctors praise us for losing weight without asking how we did it, they’re just following suit of the biological scientists who write the papers they read. Weight loss at any cost. Let’s use the wedding as an excuse to get those fatty brides thin! And let’s drive them into a panic in order to make sure they don’t gain any weight when they get married, oh no! Vomiting before the wedding? Let’s make vomiting a lifestyle choice, instead of just a ‘temporary solution.’ Indeed! Argh.

Dangerous Waters – Part 1

Sometimes the hate is so virulent, it very much takes my breath away. I get scared, thinking of not only my safety, but the safety of my fat compatriots, and my future likely fat children.

These are examples where people hate fat people so much (for often different reasons, or no reason at all) they suggest fat people should be tortured, maimed, or killed, for the crime of being fat.

They were chillingly easy to find. Part 1’s site of this new series is angry.net.

I put in bold the parts where harm, torture, maiming, and killing of fat people is advocated.

Fat People – angry.net

These are quotes from within posts. Posters aren’t arranged by their order of posting on the site, i.e., I didn’t quote everyone, only the most violent (though they were all ignorant, hateful, disgusting, and appalling).

Poster 1:

Go ahead chew your way through a tower of cheeseburgers from McDonalds — in your parents’ basement at the age of 35 surrounded by a stack of moldy comic books. I hope you fuckers DIE of a premature heart attack from all that polyunsaturated fat you goofballs seem to like to ingest on a regular basis. For you imbeciles the drug of choice isn’t beer or pot, its MARGARINE. Go to your mommies and whine! Fuck you Harry of Ain’t It Cool and Bob from the DKE list. You could both stand to lose some weight. You can start by cutting off your fat ugly fearsomely misshapen heads.

Poster 2:

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH FAT PEOPLE!!!!?!?!!??! They whine and complain every day about how they want to be skinny, and they go crying to john walsh, oprah and maury so people can see their UGLY, FAT ASSES on TV. Who in the right mind would want to actually see their nasty fat fucking asses on TV!! I say FUCK YOU FATTIES! I HOPE YOU DIE IN THE FILTH YOU CREATED FOR YOURSELF.

Poster 3:

I am angry with these fat losers. They can’t control themselves. They say, “I need to go on a diet, and then they stuff their faces with greasy shit!” Then they wander why they can’t do a simple thing a fit and skinny person can do. We should send these fat losers on a deserted island somewhere where they can lose some weight and actually do some physical exercise.

Poster 4:

Something else about fat people eating are these ENORMOUS bastards who get winded getting up and WADDLING 15 feet to the buffet. Then waddle out to their handicapped parking spot. DIE FAT FUCKS YOU ALL STINK STINK STINK!

Poster 5:

Women have the worse manners in the world. They act like a bunch of homeless dogs when it comes to dinner time. The next on of you fucking cows that sticks their nasty hands all over my food will get harpooned!

Poster 6:

It was really bad we left a bar and he was drunk and he got in a fight with this shorter and leaner kid. He got his ass kicked the fat piece of shit and I was left there like what to do. The kid that kicked his ass was really hot. I could tell he looked really jacked too underneath his shirt and I bet he can fuck so much better. He ran off with his friends and i watched my fat BF struggle for breathe on the ground, and so I walked out on him. You’re on your own you fat weak person.

Poster 7:

Fat people piss me off to no end, because they are a blight on society. They inflict themselves on everyone else and attempt to draw pity from the healthy people around them. A fat woman that is “happy with how they look” should be slapped and brought down to the level they are at: Dirt.

In conclusion of this disjointed and rambling rant, fuck fat people. It would be beneficial for the world as a whole if they were just all tossed into a pit and used for energy / fuel for cars. The extra food could be sent where it is actually needed, and the money saved on gas and fat ass accommodations could be spent on more important things. Fucking leeches.

Very unnerving, but it needs to be shown. Please link to this post whenever someone claims that fat people aren’t violently hated (and there are people who claim that).

Fat Discrimination Inevitable in the Next Presidency

As a disclaimer: I identify with, most closely, the libertarian party (see my post on FA and libertarianism). Logically, I would not be supporting any of the current candidates for the presidency based on my views; each of them hold some kind of deal-breaking beliefs which makes it impossible for me to rubber-stamp them in. I don’t do the “lesser-of-two-evils” thing. Perhaps it is convenient I live in Massachusetts, which is never a state in contention during the general election. Therefore I can write in my own candidate, which I plan on doing, without even the hint of the possible sabotage to the candidate of ‘least evil.’

That being said, this post is merely educational. I’m not for any of the front-runners right now over another; I want to illustrate that, in their own words, we are careening ever deeper into the inevitability of fat discrimination in the next presidency.

Hillary Clinton

From her Senate web page:

Obesity/Eating Disorders

The prevalence of overweight, obesity, and eating disorders is increasing at an alarming rate in our country. It is time that we recognize the causes and costs associated with poor dietary behaviors and physical inactivity and begin to focus on promoting healthy lifestyles and behaviors. To address these issues I have co-sponsored the Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity (IMPACT) Act with Senators Frist (R-TN) and Bingaman (D-NM). This legislation, which passed in the Senate in the 108 th Congress, would provide grants to train health professionals and students in obesity and eating disorders; grants to promote increased physical activity and improved nutrition; and provides funds to collect and analyze data related to obesity and youth health behaviors.

Here’s my analysis:

Line 1: indicates that she firmly believes in the verity of the junk science behind the so-called “obesity epidemic.”

Line 2: indicates she believes that obesity causes disease and poor health, and suggests the government intervene with anti-obesity programs.

Line 3: confirms she believes in government-sponsored and -enforced programs to ‘combat’ obesity, and in fact has co-sponsored a bill to that effect.

Line 4: details the anti-obesity initiative: the first part would either create new anti-obesity sections in health classes in high school or reinforce those existing, as well as “training” care-givers to accept and/or promote the junk science behind the so-called “obesity epidemic;” the second part would give monies to create programs which would further regulate and ritualize what children eat, and get them to exercise more; and further creates programs to find more correlations between “youth behaviors” and “obesity,” cementing the idea that obesity is behavioral, not genetic, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

John McCain

From his personal website, bullets taken from his “health system reform” page:

  • Childhood obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are all on the rise. We must again teach our children about health, nutrition and exercise – vital life information.
  • Public health initiatives must be undertaken with all our citizens to stem the growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes, and to deter smoking
  • Bullet 1: confirms his believe in the so-called “obesity epidemic” rash of diseases. “We must once again teach our children about health,” etc indicates that the Thin People of Yore had apparently more nutrition and exercise training than children do now. “Vital life information” suggests that fatter people won’t live as long, which has been shown to be false.

    Bullet 2: not only indicates that obesity/diabetes is a choice like smoking, but says that “public health initiatives” i.e., government intervention, “must be undertaken to stem the growing epidemic…”

    Barack Obama

    Taken from his official healthcare policy.

    The nation faces epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases as well as new threats of pandemic flu and bioterrorism.

    This nation is facing a true epidemic of chronic disease. An increasing number of Americans are suffering and dying needlessly from diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS, all of which can be delayed in onset if not prevented entirely. One in 3 Americans—133 million—have a chronic condition, and
    children are increasingly being affected.52 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that 1 in 3 children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.53

    Childhood obesity is nearly epidemic,59 particularly among minority populations,60 and school systems can play an important role in tackling
    this issue. For example, only about a quarter of schools adhere to nutritional standards for fat content in school lunches.61 Obama will work with schools to create more healthful environments for children, including assistance with contract policy development for local vendors, grant support for school-based health screening programs and clinical services, increased financial support for physical education, and educational
    programs for students.

    NOTE: Obama uses statistics from this CDC 2004 obesity study, referenced in his plan. This study was investigated and shown to have inflated its numbers. A JAMA study later on showed that the CDC’s numbers had been, in fact, inflated by about 400%. A good exposition of the CDC 2004 study is here.

    Points: I don’t have much to say about this that hasn’t already been said in response to Clinton’s and McCain’s plans and observations. Also, my “NOTE” at the end of the quotes from Obama’s plan discredits his major source of information, likely cherry-picked to push forth an agenda considering it just took me a quick Google to discover the JAMA refutation to this study (which his staffers should/could have done).

    Conclusion

    A fat acceptance activist would be hypocritical to support any of these candidates, given their anti-FA beliefs about fat, obesity, and required government intervention. Furthermore, there is every indication that they would vigorously promote those same anti-FA beliefs, spending tax dollars on ignorant and biased programs that would only serve to in one way or another harm future generations of Americans.

    Plan of action: Write in your own candidate. Seriously. Stand against fat discrimination, ignorance, and hate in a consistent manner. What does it serve you to vote for these candidates based on 90% of a platform you agree with, when that last 10% is so discriminatory, ignorant, and potentially harmful?

    Given that I don’t expect all FA activists to do this, and most to vote for one of these three front-runners, please resolve to do all you can to educate your favorite future administration as to their error of their ways. For their error will become our terror, if we give them, with our vote, the power to commit it.

    Contact forms:

    Hillary Clinton

    John McCain

    Barack Obama

    Fat Wedding, Part 5: Horror Show

     This is a “pulse-taking” of bridal motivations to lose weight, how much they want to lose in what time-span, and what they say they need to do and why.

    I searched for “lose weight wedding” in Google. These are from hits on the first  search resuls page.

    43 Things.com – lose weight for the wedding

    This is one of those odd “goal sites” where people set goals, and others adopt the goals. The pages of goals are set up in comment-form style, and you get to see the comments of different individuals. I found some very horrifying, self-deprecating, ignorant, infuriatingly hateful comments, as well as some extreme goals.  Here are a smattering of comments, each from different posters.

    WE NEED TO MOTIVATE each OTHER!!! I wanna see some progress notes up here… I am 5’4 have an 11 month old baby and I want to – no I WILL loose 40 pounds before my wedding… I weigh 180 now… AND I WANT TO BE HEALTHY FOR MY WEDDING AND MY HONEYMOON… The BMI scale says I’m OBESE! I’m marrying the man of my dreams and I want him to be proud and giddy to have me on his arm!

    This is the showcase piece of my whole post, I’m thinking. It epitomizes what I’ve been observing about weight and its relationship to earning one’s “big day.” She equates losing 40 lbs after pregnancy to being “healthy,” disgusted that the “BMI scales says I’m OBESE!” (which we’ve been taught to think, via bullshit science and media scare-tactics, equals “unhealthy”). The last sentence is just really, really sad. Will the man of her “dreams” be less proud if his new wife and likely mother of his new child is 40 lbs “overweight”? Will she deserve to marry him less?

    This next poor lady, who wants to lose 90 lbs, is definitely buying into the moral value argument tie-in to marriage.

    I have a while to go before my Sept. 2008 wedding but I’m starting my weight loss now! I’m around 230 and want to get back to my high school weight of 140.

    One of my dreams is to make him cry when he sees me! He always tell me how beautiful I am, I want to take it to the extreme for my wedding day. I want to see a tear or two roll down his cheek! 🙂

    I’m not doing anything special to lose weight but working out & trying to eat right. Any suggestions or ideas to keep me on the right track?

    90 lbs is definitely quite extreme. I’d say she’s doing exactly right to work out and try to eat right. Unfortunately, that’s not going to make her lose 90 lbs. And that is absolutely okay! Will your groom love you more if you walk down the aisle 90 lbs lighter? Have women, in our culture, really internalized the connection between weight and worthiness of love to that extent?

    This next one makes me feel sick to my stomach. It feels…really wrong somehow. Thinperior tone. Ugh. It really drives home the point that the wedding day isn’t about “getting healthy” but losing weight (even though it seemed she had to do so by accident).

    I was already small but I had bought a UK size 6 wedding dress as I’d ordered it from US and I was confused about the sizes so I ordered it too small!! Left it till the last minute to lose weight, I lost about 9lbs in 2 weeks!! Not the healthiest way to go about it but at least I looked good in the dress!!! haha

    This one is very sad:

    I’m getting married March 18th and just put my dress on last night to get it altered and it’s TOO small! I’m busting out of it. I thought I was going to cry. So I have 3 weeks to lose as much weight as possible. Today I’m fasting, well, liquids only. I want to shrink my stomach so I will fill up faster when I start eating again tomorrow. Starting tomorrow I’m going to do the no carb diet and then 10 days before the wedding I’m going to do this: http://www.healthynewage.com/lose-10-pounds.html. I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck and let me know if you have any advice!

    So much for “health.”  Just pay for the alteration, it’s better than destroying your body for the last few weeks before your wedding, which you’ll get through in a starved, sick fog.

    Well, I read the entries so far and I get the sense we are all in the same boat. I really don’t want to be a heavy bride, I want to feel like a “woman” and love what I look like and forever be proud of my wedding pictures. Well at 236 pounds and 5 feet 1 inches – there is no way I will come near achieving any of that. I’m getting married in July 2007… I know that seems pretty far away but to lose 100 pounds, without surgery, I am going to need 18 months. I know the only way to do this is to diligently count my calories everyday and to get into a committed exercise regimine. One day at a time, but today, it just seems like so much work is going to have to happen to have my goals met. I simply doubt myself that I can do this. But I am willing to try…. and I need some support.

    So fat females aren’t “women”? Fat brides aren’t “women”? The only way you’ll be “proud” of your wedding photos is if they feature an acceptably thin bride? The ceremony, the decorations, your groom, the wedding party, the church, the reception, the guests, those photos won’t make you proud, only if they feature a bride with razor-sharp collarbones?

    My brain hurts.

    Fat Wedding, Part 4: “The Bride Wore Very Little”

    Image from NYTimes.com

    This is going to be a short one in the Fat Wedding series. I read this NYTimes article last week and have been meaning to get around to talking about it.

    I’m picking out this article in particular NOT because it out-and-out rails against fat brides, or gives you a diet plan, etc, but because of its general assumptions that brides all want to lose weight and/or look thin, fit, ‘in shape,’ toned, good naked, etc for their wedding day.

    I think this piece it epitomized in a line by Ms. DaSilva, an interviewee:

    “I want to look back in 20 years and feel like I looked hot on my wedding day.”

    That’s it, isn’t it? “..feel like I looked hot…” Not that “It was a beautiful ceremony, I looked beautiful,” but that she “looked hot” to the attendees of her wedding and society as a whole. And what is hot these days? Tall, thin, large breasts. So it a revealing wedding dress which shows miles of thigh, making the shortest person look taller, and showing off how hard she worked to “attain” the upper-arm-like circumference to her upper thigh. Low-cut gowns show cleavage; and thinness, of course, is displayed by mermaid-style sheath dresses.

    In addition to the dresses shown in the NYTimes article (included above) here are some sample images I’ve gathered from this season’s bridal fashions:

    The above dresses are from designers mentioned in the NYTimes piece, and they’re designs from the 2007 bridal season. These particular styles are those that look like they’re designed to show off a very thin frame. There are many, many, many of these styles by famous designers, especially since the dresses are made to look good on models that look like those above, who are excruciatingly thin.

    “Young women increasingly look to the red carpet for style ideas,” said Millie Martini Bratten, the editor in chief of Brides magazine. “They are very aware of how they look,” she added. “They diet, they work out. And when they marry, they want to be the celebrity of their own event.”

    I see. So women who don’t diet or work out before their weddings aren’t “aware of how they look”? Oh sure, we just go and grab the white-ish muumuu off the rack the day before the weddin’, yee-haw! (with one hand, since the other is stuffing food into our face) We have no interest in fashion, or looking good. Because, apparently, ‘looking good’ is synonymous to ‘being thinner.’

    But of course, there’s more!

    Catherine Cuddy, an insurance analyst in New Jersey, was similarly focused on turning heads when she married in Bryant Park in New York last October. She dispensed with the customary long, fitted sleeves and train in favor of a halter style that dipped to the small of her back.

    Even a veil was too much for her. “I didn’t want to cover up my dress,” said Ms. Cuddy, 33, a self-described Rita Hayworth type. Or the torrents of curls that rushed past her shoulders. Or, for that matter, her gym-toned back.

    To get in shape for her gown, a white lace sheath that appeared to have been turned on a lathe, she stepped up visits with her trainer from one to three sessions a week. Ms. Cuddy had no thought of defying tradition or making a statement of any kind. She simply wanted to make the most of her curves, she said.

    Again, there’s the sense that one has to “get in shape for her gown,” rather than, yanno, buying a dress that fits. Have we so ritualized the wedding day that the wedding dress has become more like a priest’s robe a woman must fast and self-harm in order to earn?

    I don’t know if this is more a fat issue or a feminist issue, at its core; regardless, it is a reinforcement that body shape and size is a moral issue, in this case in particular for a woman (most sites focus on helping the bride lose weight, not the groom). She is “sexy” when she can wear slinky sheer trumpet-style wedding gowns with a slit up the leg, and hence more desirable, and hence more worthy of marriage.

    I also, of course, want to note that also Ms. Cuddy wanted to make “the most of her curves,” she “stepped up” her personal trainer sessions to, I’d imagine, get rid of some curves! And I agree that she had no thought of “defying tradition;” the idea that women have had to self-harm and self-efface in order to ‘deserve’ to be married is very, very old. The idea their bodies equal their worth is also old. The marriage of the two concepts, no pun, is the tortured, starving dieter, willing to do anything to shed X pounds in order to “look good on” her “big day.”

    Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to stand for it. I plan on looking wonderful for my “big day.” But I don’t plan on dieting in the 18 months between now and then.

    Fox Outrage – Britney Spears

    Now, I’m pretty tired of hearing people pick on and/or obsess about Britney Spears. For god’s sake, I’ve known my share of young women who have similar issues, and they aren’t that few and far in between. To hear the media report on her, you’d think she was the first young woman to be duped by a man, rebel against parental control, lose custody of her children, and fall into some bad habits.

    Fox News, this morning, really took the effing cake with the jeers and sneers. One of the anchorwomen I’ve pegged with being most fat-biased (gets little comments in all the time) provided “commentary” for a picture which was a “now” then “in ten years from now” image, provided Britney keep up her “bad habits.”

    If anyone can find this picture, please link it to me! I want to show it here, just for reference.

    At any rate, the first image is a pretty bad pic of Ms. Spears, and then the second pic has her – in my estimation – looking happier and healthier, ten years later. The kicker to them, of course, was that she was fat.

    As soon as the image was put up the anchors emitted various forms of, “Ugh!” The blonde woman anchor snorted and said, in a very Thinperior tone, “Well, if *I* were her, I’d lay off that fast food, get on a diet and start exercising right away.”

    Yeah, I bet you would. Because even though the image was supposed to progress how she’d “look in ten years if she keeps up her bad habits,” including her self-flagellation in the form of drugs and alcohol, naw, OMG NASTY FATTT! she should just “get on a diet” and poof! her problems would be solved. Nothing about her going to therapy, or taking parenting classes (even though this is really none of the anchors’ business, anyway). Nope, since she was NASTY FAT! in her “after” photo, she should “get on a diet.”

    Given her mental health struggles, Britney is going to have a tough time getting to 35, lady. Especially with pinheads like you cackling at her and ignoring her real issues, which have nothing to do with weight.

    Argh, argh, argh. And “Mike” of the Mike and Juliet show is her co-anchor, joining in on the “Ews” when her picture was shown. Just to let everyone know, though I’m sure we were aware of the depth of his ignorance at this point.

    EDIT: This is the photo in question (thanks, Lindsay!) –

     

    Looks like all the photoshopper did was to change her hair and add some weight. Yep, so what if Ms. Spears has severe personal issues that need to be addressed (with no help needed from the press, IMO) so that she can be happy and healthy in order to actually reach 35…OMG, TEH FATZ! TEH FATZ!

    Throwing Off the Diet Cross

    Sparked by both red3’s terrific post Changing the Conversation, by an actual conversation I had with my stepmother last night, a life-time thin person.

    Comparing Oppressions

    I observe much apologizing to other oppressed groups whenever someone tries to analogize fat oppression in a way those who still don’t quite accept fat oppression can understand (there’s always the disclaimer: “I know this isn’t the same thing, etc”). To say that one group’s experience is invalidated because they didn’t suffer as much, or in the same ways, as another group is out-and-out fallacious, and is itself just reinforcing the oppression of the group that doesn’t meet some kind of ‘standard’ of oppression. No one will argue that blacks can’t objectively understand the oppression of Jews, or aren’t oppressed themselves, since they didn’t experience the Holocaust. No one will argue that women can’t objectively understand the oppression of blacks, since they didn’t experience slavery or Jim Crow.

    Oppression is oppression. It is the categorization of a group based on arbitrary characteristics that don’t define the individual, and the unequal treatment of individuals based on sort of collective group characteristic. I.e., the assumption that one brown person’s life experience has been the same as another brown person’s life experience, is just as racist as calling them vile names. There’s the same dynamic at work: that the individual can be summed up or even in some part approximated based on group characteristics.

    Positive and Negative Perpetuation

    This dynamic is very active in our current day and age, and there are just as many apologists and Benedict Arnolds out there – what I call ‘positive’ perpetrators – as there are out-and-out haters – what I call ‘negative’ perpetrators. Both perpetuate classification based on group characteristics.

    I’m aware the above is an extremely controversial view, and it’s a deep split between where I stand and where most liberal progressives stand. I think ‘positive’ perpetuation is as harmful as ‘negative.’ I think you cannot separate the two, as they’re married by an absolute (categorization based on group characteristics).

    Many liberal progressives disagree with me. They claim that the way you ‘fix’ negative perpetuation is to throw positive perpetuation at it. If a bully steals your kid’s lunch money, you steal the bully’s, instead. But then, in order to do that, you have to define what it is to be a ‘bully,’ and that often require further grouping of individuals by group characteristics. “All bullies are X, and so if we see someone who is X it is okay to take his lunch money.”

    It’s a simplistic view, and boils down to a knee-jerk, revenge action. What makes us better than the bullies, if we’re doing the same to them, but since we sport the label “righteousness” or “you started it,” it’s okay? Does that really change things, or does it just shift power to another group, since it’s now popular to pick on the bullies? Don’t we realize there is no absolute difference between what they did, and what we’re now doing?

    In fat acceptance, one may think the active conflict is between fat and thin. That’s not true; thin people see the same media messages, they have friends or family members that are not-thin and they’re exposed to the pervasive diet-message just as we. The conflict is between the dieters, and the non-dieters. Though we’re categorized based on physical characteristics, there is a philosophical fight going on here that’s very important to grasp.

    “You can change, hence, you must.”

    People can lose weight. To a fat person this is a vile statement, filled with nuance and implication. But it’s true, we all know it: people can lose weight. It’s as simple as not eating. You won’t live forever, and you might be able to extend your life if you stop not-eating and start eating again, and then not-eat once you’ve gained back your strength; or you could semi-eat, constantly battling with balancing proportions. It’s no different from non-eating for a while and then eating again, you just mix it up a little and shorten the time span to a day, or a week where are certain times you non-eat when hungry, or abate hunger pains with Splenda-flavored air. You could also effectively non-eat by exercising to the point that whatever you did eat went solely to fuel your exercise regime, with nothing left over. There are lots of ways of doing it: they are all, in effect, non-eating.

    It is understandable that our bodies cannot function fully under such regimes and, sometimes, are merely hanging onto a thin thread of life, those few calories doled grudgingly to it, the abatement of over-exercise in favor of rest, whatever the ‘compromise’ to non-eating might be in order to extend life, or to improve the quality of a life undergoing starvation.

    Now we can put these methods together and give all non-eating regimes another name: dieting. And now we have a launch-point:

    The true conflict ravaging the fat community is this idea that since most fat people can temporarily or under great physical and psychological duress, lose weight, then, henceforth, they must, regardless of the consequences.

    And, to put it simply, we don’t want to starve anymore. We want what we believe is afforded by birth to thin people: a life free of weight-related self-flagellation. In other words, a normal existence where we can pick the fruits of knowledge, love, beauty, family like anyone else. Where we can turn our minds away from the exhaustion, obsession, stress, and anxiety surrounding the psychological effects of weight discrimination and the physical and psychological effects of non-eating regimes.

    This is a conflict between those who believe some are born with a scarlet letter signifying a life-sentence of non-eating regimes, and those who bear no such letter.

    To be anti-diet is the very core of the movement. The diet is our cross to bear for the sin of being non-thin. In order to “change the conversation,” we must refuse to carry the diet cross any longer.

    Fat people are in a semi-unique situation, when one undergoes the study of historically oppressed groups. No matter how ‘hard’ he works, a black cannot become non-black, a Jew not a non-Jew, a gay not a non-gay, a woman not a non-woman (all of these have qualifying arguments that I’d be happy to supply at request, but I’m not going to do it in-essay since it would derail the focus).

    So we’re facing an opposition that claims if we don’t bear our cross-by-birth, dieting, we are bad, ugly, and immoral. The scarlet letter is bright, and apparent to all: they know us for who we are. How we got there is irrelevant, whether it is pushing ourself to the top of our setpoint range, gain-back + 10% after crash dieting any number of times, PCOS or other weight-gain related conditions, just being at a higher setpoint range than is socially acceptable, metabolic syndrome, and so forth. I’m not going to stoop to apologizing by constructing a: “But some of us are good fatties!!!” argument, which is ultimately destructive to the core message of the movement. The science of weight concludes, ultimately, that body size is most largely determined by genetics, and that we each have differing setpoint ranges that can be screwed with environmentally, but only in a small manner with respect to our genetic predispositions (it may indeed be possible that the worst way we screw with our metabolisms is by engaging in non-eating regimes).

    And there are some out there who are more honest about it than most. Instead of insidiously suggesting that we should just cut out the soda and get out butts off the couches for a 10-minute daily walk, they say things like, “Yeah, we should just ship all the fatties to a concentration camp,” or “I/he/she could use a little anorexia.” We should listen very carefully to these people, because they’re merely the extreme product of a culture which shoulders some of us with a diet cross, and not others. They completely accept that we have to starve away the pounds, and they want to ensure that it’s done, at all costs.

    Isn’t that what everyone is saying, really? Recently, it was found that Florida schools were underfeeding their students in an attempt to ‘reduce childhood obesity.’ When they were criticized for it? The Broward County administrators responded:

    “We always worry when we have a review. If you bake a chicken, it’s much less calories than if you fry it,” said Penny Parham, who oversees school meals in Dade. “Let’s hope the USDA can help us out and revise some of those guidelines.”…

    In other words, in response to the criticism that they were underfeeding children by up to 200 calories, they pointed the finger at the USDA and claimed that, in fact, the USDA’s guidelines were too high, and should be “revised” to make them more stringent — because the kids in the county schools hadn’t lost any weight, regardless of the underfeeding during school hours.

    So the answer: starve them more. Lower the federal requirements so journalists and parents stop knocking on our doors, and we’ll get those fat fatties nice and trim for you.

    It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Even now, the WW campaign “Diets Don’t Work” is a sign of, not victory for FA, but rather a deeper plunge into what will one day be out-and-out encouragement of adopting life-long non-eating, semi-starvation regimes for those who are born with the scarlet three letters: FAT.

    In conclusion: whatever the name, whether it be “diet,” or “lifestyle change,” it is the same animal: a cross of starvation imposed by the ‘privileged’ on the ‘non-privileged.’ That is why any acceptance of/apologizing for dieting on a personal level is in opposition to true fat acceptance. And, until we throw off our own diet crosses, we cannot hope to dislodge the great weight made to bear by fat people as a group.

    The diet is our cage, our cross, our scarlet letter for the original sin of being fat. It is the tool of our oppressors; we must rip that tool from their hands. We must rip it from their hands to save ourselves, our family, our friends, our children. Without that tool, without us believing in our original sin, believing in repentance under the cross, they cannot harm us any longer.

    Ugh! Sorry about the look.

    Sorry to everyone about how this looks. WordPress is f*ed right now and seems to have frozen on this awful theme. I can’t change it, urgh. I will get things righted as soon as WordPress starts responding again.

    EDIT: Okay, so I settled on a theme! I also tweaked the header a little. I kinda like it this way. Is it a winner? We’ll see… not that I have much to choose from LOL.

    “Her Chapter Was Cut” – Introduction

    Author’s note:

    I am writing “Her Chapter Was Cut” as a serial, to be completed in ‘parts’ when I have an extra hour or two. The parts will be largely unedited, in the sense that they’ll be checked for grammar, spelling, and consistency, and published directly thereafter. Depending on the success of the serial, it may be brought together as a single work and edited thusly.

    Of course, it goes without saying, that this work is copyrighted. This and future parts are exclusively the property of the author (me), and shall be distributed only in the form of links to the original work, which I shall gather together by category.

    Her Chapter Was Cut

    Prologue: 2010

    Elsie Brooke’s face was inched up to the dirty low mirrors of the girls’ bathroom. She hated being so close to the rust and the grime, but she needed to find the tiny slivers of rock lodged in her cheek. Picking carefully, so was relieved to see the red scrape starting to fade. At least it won’t leave a mark, so it won’t remind them what happened. If she were lucky, her classmates would have forgotten, blithely discussing whatever it was —those— kids discussed.

    Finishing up, she washed her hands and took a second look before rushing up to class. Recess would be over soon, though she had a bathroom pass. The recess monitor, an older lady who doubled as a second-grade teacher’s aide, had looked at her disapprovingly while writing out the pass. “Go get yourself cleaned up,” she’d rasped, quickly turning back to the gaggle of first-grade girls who surrounded her in adoration. Elsie didn’t think twice about the aide’s callous response, for she’d expected no better.

    The bell rang as she slipped into her desk, surrounded by the group of children she internally qualified as her friends. Nick, her best friend from before they’d gone to public school, came over. “The book fair is coming after school. Are you gonna to stay?”

    “Yeah. My mom’s gonna pick me up, since I’m helping Mrs. Qualters.”

    “Yeah, me too. Can I get a ride home?”

    “Sure.”

    Elsie never thought twice about helping Nick. His dad was never available to pick him up, or spend much time with him; even when she slept over Nick’s house, his dad was downstairs, watching movies and drinking thirstily. She and Nick would make soggy microwaved French fries, or eat cereal with milk on the edge of going bad. Nick’s dad never seemed to notice, though once in a while he asked forlornly if they were okay.

    One time they came down after midnight, having stayed up giggling over Mad Libs. Nick’s father was sprawled on the living-room floor, face-down, an empty brown bottle sitting next to his head. Nick’s childish face hardened, telling Elsie to go upstairs. She climbed to the top and sat, resting her head against the cool white wall, listening to Nick, feeling protective. “Dad, get up,” he pleaded. “Dad—Dad, you should go to bed. It’s bed time. Let’s go to bed, Dad.”

    But the last year or so she’d stayed over Nick’s less and less. He always seemed busy with the boys he’d befriended. She grudgingly acknowledged them, which seemed necessary since she didn’t want to be squeezed out of Nick’s life. But they were strange to her, always talking about uninteresting things like Transformers, model cars, and the girls in class they wanted to “go out with” (she was never included in those particular speculations).

    Nick went back to his desk as the bell rang, and she tentatively touched her cheek. It was still a little warm, but she thought that probably the redness had gone away. She didn’t understand people or how she was supposed to be a part of a group. She thought she and Nick would have fun staying after school together. Since it wasn’t recess, and those boys would never stay for a book fair, she wouldn’t have to worry about him pushing her down on the tar like he did today, running away, laughing as joined in their calls of, “Moo! Moo! Moo!”

    The rest of the day went by quickly, and soon she found herself staring at row upon row of books. She took a slow breath in through her nose, relishing in the sharp sawdust-y smell of new paper and the glue of the bindings. The book fair was wonderfully empty, being on its last day at the school. She tidied up the rows, running her finger over the smooth backs of the colorful bindings: “The Babysitter’s Club,” “Goosebumps,” “The Black Stallion,” “Harry Potter,” and other series called to her seductively. E. B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan, the book from which she learned to read, smiled at her like an old friend. Sometimes she found a book she hadn’t read yet, inviting her with a dog, horse, or cat on the cover. She’d slip the thin tome from the shelf and flip it open, the smell of its newness pouring out with the promise of great adventure.

    The yellow words, dripped over a pink background, were what she noticed first. She pulled out the book and smiled at is substantialness, liking the way it felt in her hands. Real Stories of Real Girls sprawled yellowly over the pink cover, with stars and a few subtle hearts sprinkled to frame the faces of a group of girls her age. They were of all nationalities, all hair colors, different heights and one girl, she noticed eagerly, larger than the rest. She flipped it open and read a few sentences, one of the girls talking about how she didn’t feel like she “fit in,” and that she had entered third grade very lonely.

    Elsie eagerly paid for it, and a few other selections, with the book money her mother had given her. That afternoon and evening found her, with the exception of hurriedly eating a bland, low-fat dinner, in her bedroom, devouring the pink-covered Real Stories. She was looking for Marie’s story – it was Marie, a description of the photo in the introduction explained, who was the larger girl of the group. The stories were alphabetical by first name, and after reading about Leisl, a German exchange student who had been nervous about going to America (though fortunately discovering her classmates were warm and receptive), Elsie turned to the new chapter in anticipation.

    Chapter 10: Natalia.

    Confused, Elsie checked the index. Marie wasn’t there.

    She made sure she wasn’t dreaming up Marie, checking the photo again. Maybe they only featured a few girls from the group? But no: Andrea, Catie, Elizabeth, Fei, Georgia, Kysa, Leisl, Marie, Natalia, Rheanna, Tayla, Vicki, were listed, and all those girls – except Marie – had gotten chapters.

    Disappointed, Elsie read to the end of the book anyway. She wondered what had happened to Marie; she got a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach, a feeling she couldn’t quite explain.

    Most of the stories ended on an anticipatory note, as a girl was entering a new grade, or starting a new life after finally fitting in, or getting ready for the Olympics. The Epilogue was called: “Followups.” There, she discovered, was mentioned Marie!

    The year after Marie told us her story, she enrolled in High Pines Summer Camp, determined to finally lose the weight and come back to school in the fall a new person, ready to make friends. While her story was the saddest in the volume, we hear she’s now buying the clothes she’s dreamed about since she was little, and is considered one of the most popular girls in her school.

    Elsie swallowed. Marie’s chapter had been cut; but they’d forgotten to take out her follow-up. Why did they try to erase Marie? And the follow-up — it left Elsie feeling mortified, small, like a big hand had reached deep inside and crushed her.

    It would be years before Elsie would notice her Real Stories had been edited by CHWC, the Child Health and Wellness Committee, appointed the year before to make sure that not only were children getting low-calorie foods and plenty of exercise in public schools, but that they were also not being subjected to “unhealthy” messages. That included obliterating fast-food commercials during cartoons and on children’s networks, and making sure that books fairs, funded with grants from the federal government, didn’t have books that contained unhealthy messages.

    Marie’s chapter, they’d agreed, was very sad, and it might make a heavy child angry, indignant at her treatment, feeling like she had the right to be treated like the other children. It sent the message that Marie was just another “real girl,” to be accepted in the group of other “real girls.” The committee found this dangerous. They never saw her followup and, when the book was edited to erase Marie, this important bit had remained.

    Indeed, it was on the 20th anniversary of the “War Against Obesity” Elsie discovered the CHWC stamp of approval on the back cover of her now-worn copy of Real Stories. She’d been going through her children’s books after having her first pregnancy confirmed, and the sex of the baby (a girl) divulged. Her hands shook slightly as she held the garish pink book, recalling her school years afterwards, and her struggle through college.

    She brought the box of books down to the livingroom, wanting to catch the news as she sorted. Old book smell, really just as nice as new book smell, enveloped her pleasantly as she created piles to keep, donate, and throw away. “Welcome back, folks,” chittered a perky, female newscaster. “And welcome to our special 20th anniversary report on The War on Obesity. The last segment was the history of the struggle for the health of our nation against America’s growing waistline, and now we have breaking news. In honor of the anniversary, the Health and Wellness Committee is announcing its “Break the Cycle” campaign. That’s right: the HWC wants to finally obliterate childhood obesity for good, starting with the next generation. Parents who are obese or who have “risk factors” of obesity will be required to register their newborns with HWC, who will enroll the babies into the Break the Cycle program, monitoring their health, offering the services of special schools, camps, and after-school sports and wellness, all the way until the children are 18. Break the Cycle will be a significant cost to the taxpayer, opponents have claimed, but supporters of the program say that cost will be more than made up for in avoiding the medical bills from problems associated with obesity. More on this later, now, the weather.”

    Elsie dropped her book.

    To be continued….

    The Good Ones…not so hard to find

    Yesterday I had a long conversation with my to-be stepdaughter about FA. Being a rail-thin girl her whole life, some of the things I said she couldn’t relate to (like being taunted about one’s weight, or told to lose weight, and so forth). However, she was surprisingly “in” the conversation: when I cited the statistic that 40% of teenage girls claim to have had an eating disorder at some point during their teenage years, she exclaimed, “You know, somehow I think it’s higher than that. When I go to the bathroom, you wouldn’t believe it—I can actually hear girls BARFING. It’s GROSS.”

    I, of course, silently thanked my lucky stars she wasn’t one of them! Not because she is naturally thin since, as we all know, eating disorders strike at all weights. Having had a little bit of training in nursing and nutrition, she caught on to many of the points I was making. At the end of the long discussion, she said, “Wow, thanks so much for talking to me. It totally gives me a lot to think about.”

    She’s a popular, pretty, thin seventeen year-old. I hope she looks upon her fatter friends and acquaintances with a bit more compassion and understanding, and when people she knows start making fat jokes stands up for what she agrees, “is the last form of acceptable discrimination.”

    Thank goodness for some kids; thank goodness for their father (my fiancee), who loved them so much and always made them feel like they were wonderful people with a lot to offer. Thank goodness for the progression of generations…even though my seventeen year-old to-be stepdaughter is only eight years younger than I am (eek! lol, don’t judge me 😉 ), when I told her I’d avoided going into the sciences at first because I thought “girls aren’t good at science and math,” she laughed and said, “Don’t tell me THAT. I just got an A+ on my Astronomy exam.” You fucking GO, girl.