Resolutions for Life – Part 3

Okay, TheWeddingChannel.com, you’ve pissed me off.

Please see this page for reference.

I know that Part 2 focused on their “Beauty List,” but after reading the above article I felt so indignant I had to make them Part 3, as well. Damn, even Brides.com didn’t go as far as these assholes. Playing on the anxiety of brides-to-be, feeding them myths and stereotypes, and then claiming that ‘shaping up’ is some kind of ritualized training to be a wife, makes me sick, and MUST be exposed here, so everyone can smell their shit-and-baloney.

The Basics
The formula for weight loss is a simple one: Calories burned must exceed calories consumed.

Bingo!

So it makes sense that the best way to begin your new lifestyle is by shaping up your diet.

Oh hey, you’ve convinced me. What a simple formula, it’s just a wonder EVERYONE isn’t thin!

To keep your energy level high enough to plan your wedding, choose a safe, healthy eating plan that targets a loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week, which, for most of us, means consuming about 1200 calories a day.

…despite the fact that Ansel Keyes’ Starvation Study showed that there is significant psychological and physical symptoms of starvation at just 1600 calories a day, and these brilliant morons want you to restrict to 1200! Huh, I wonder if your energy level is going to be high enough to “plan your wedding” (which apparently is your only function as a bride-to-be, and the only thing you have to worry about having enough energy for).

If you have a significant amount of weight to lose before the wedding — say 20 pounds — you’ll need to start your diet between 5 and 6 months before the big day.

…despite the Starvation Study being 1600 cal/day for 3 months, with all the bad side effects.

But because you want to lose fat weight — not just body weight — keeping your calorie intake hovering at 1200 isn’t your only concern. Here’s why: According to fitness expert William D. McArdle, PhD and Professor Emeritus at the Department of Family, Nutrition and Exercise Science at Queens College at CUNY, when you diet without exercising, your body uses lean muscle mass for energy.

…a starving body starts eating itself. Shouldn’t that be worrisome enough? Why would you want to starve yourself to the point where your body starts to want to consume your muscle mass? Gods!

But if you add exercise to your daily routine, your body will turn to those pesky fat stores for fuel.

…ew, PESKY JIGGLY ICKY FAT OMG! It’s not like body fat serves, yanno, a purpose. Like ensuring you don’t fucking starve to death, and giving you the energy to live NORMALLY.

<<snip>>

So to trim your arms, abs, and buns, you’ve got to start with a program that benefits your whole body, not just the areas your wedding dress emphasizes.

I like how any sort of weight loss is automatically associated with “benefiting” your body. God, our society is sick!

Feeding Your Workout
Once you’ve begun your workout routine, you may feel that such sweat and strain entitles you to a big burger with the works and a giant order of fries. Don’t be fooled. Remember, the key to weight loss is to expend more calories than you consume, so if you’ve upped exercise only to up calorie intake, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.

…which is to starve starve starve the jiggle away, and make those collarbones really POP! And while we’re on the subject, I’m glad they’ve finally discovered the “key to weight loss.” They’ll surely make millions, and everyone will automatically become slim.

In fact, when you get regular exercise, you need to be even more vigilant about what you eat. Your body, having become a more efficient machine, relies on the vitamins and minerals found in healthy food to fuel itself and develop muscle and lean tissue. In addition to lean meats and dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, add a multivitamin to your daily diet to make certain you get the nutrients you need.

…Eating multivitamins in place of food which contains those vitamins is one of the first steps towards an eating disorder.

And now the kicker, from which I derived the title of this post:

Resolutions for Life
Once you’ve begun your healthy diet and exercise plan,

…1200 calories a day is healthy?? Exercising until you drop, ignoring your body’s need for fuel is healthy??? What fucking PLANET are you living on?

there’s one big challenge left: Sticking to your guns.

I think the bigger challenge is: Not dropping dead.

And not just until your wedding day. The key to long-term weight loss is making healthy eating and fitness part of your lifestyle forever.

…until death from starvation do us part!

So, why not start your marriage out right by dedicating yourself to a sensible diet and active lifestyle?

…unlike the diet and activity mentioned here

(If you can involve your spouse in this effort, so much the better.)

Yeah, get Fatty McGroom on the Guilt Wagon!

This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever enjoy food or indulge yourself once in a while.

…yeah, you can enjoy food once or twice a year if you exercise twice as hard the next day.

However, you’ll want to avoid reverting to unhealthy eating habits and regaining the weight you’ll have worked so hard to lose.

Why? Why will they want that? What if they get pregnant? What if they have a change in their life and can’t obsess about food anymore as their primary concern, and spend two hours a day in the gym? What if they, like 95%-98% of ALL DIETERS, regain the weight in 5 years? Then what? Their life is going to end? They’re going to magically catch TEH DIABEETUS from their fat? They’re going to be a worse wife? A worse mother? A worse person? They should be ashamed? They should give up all their hobbies, interests, scholarships, talents, family interests, because they live by your fucking disordered, starvation-standards of bone-thin beauty??

If you find it hard to stay motivated on your own — and most people do — consider seeking out a weight loss organization for advice and support.

…oh yeah, feed the coffers of the bloated weight loss industry, which likely is funding this article in some way. Yeah, they’re SO successful…that’s why everyone is TEH SKINNY!

If you take “weight loss for life” seriously, you’ll feel as good about yourself on your 20th anniversary as you will on your wedding day!

Yeah, starving, tired, beaten-up, low-esteemed, anxious, obsessed, and tortured.

Answers to All My Wedding Questions! – Part 2

TheWeddingChannel.com

Disclaimer: to get a sense of TheWeddingChannel’s approach to “bridal fitness,” take a gander at this page, which features the timeless introductory anecdote: “They’re coming. Somewhere on the planning calendar between This Engagement Party and That Bridal Shower, fittings for that big, dreamy dress will be scheduled. And if you’re like most brides, you’d much rather the seams of your wedding gown be taken in, rather than be let out.”

Of course. Because there’s nothing more embarrassing, humiliating, and demoralizing than growing disgusting fat on your body, is there? And you know, if you don’t starve starve starve run run run, you’ll get ICKY OMG FAT!

Welcome to the second in my pre-wedding, ritualized bridal masochism series! Today, we look at the “Beauty” page on www.theweddingchannel.com.

And on this beauty page, brides-to-be, they’ve generously gone ahead and answered all the burning, necessary questions any bride in her right mind MUST ASK before “her big day”!!

Beauty
Can your beauty style reflect your personality?

Wow, what a concept! I was certain I was supposed to merely mimic the most popular style at the moment, regardless of unimportant things as what I actually like or dislike.

Which beauty treatments are most popular with brides?

Oh, there we go. Guess it’s not about personality at all, is it?

How can you keep your perfume from fading?

No shit, I need this stuff to keep knocking out Mr. Groom all night. Mmm, loganberry!

What is a beauty consultation? Do you need one?

Do I need one? You mean, do I go against the current, like myself and the way I look, and try often not to conform to the current societal idea of beauty?

Is there a bridal style that will never look outdated?

Wait, TheWeddingChannel can predict the future?!

Can you improve your complexion before the wedding?

Not “should you,” or “do you want to,” but “can” you? Cuz, yanno, you’re never good enough. Stress, worry, and improve! Stress, worry, and improve! And, above all, don’t actually enjoy your engagement. Earning “your big day” is hard work, missy. Do you really think you have the right to get married with bad skin?

What are the most common beauty emergencies?

I have the feeling this link is mostly about popping and/or hiding zits, but I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Is there a sensible exercise program for brides?

You know, since every bride has to earn “her big day” by obsessive exercise with the main goal of losing weight and/or invisibly “toning” “problem areas” so that she can “look good on her big day.”

Can you do your makeup without a professional?

Oh for Christ, what are we, twelve?

How can you fit exercise into a busy schedule?

Again, hamster meet wheel.

What are the current tooth-whitening options?

Tooth-whitening is important for brides-to-be, since they’re diet consists mainly of frozen diet dinners and low-fat lattes, the latter which stains one’s teeth. Also, if you really want to earn “your big day,” taking up smoking can be an effective way to “lose the weight.” No health hazard is as bad as jiggling down the aisle. Women aren’t supposed to jiggle.

Should you tone up your arms for a sleeveless gown?

Yeah, what are the ‘experts’ going to say to this one…no? You should just proudly display your cellulite and your flabby underarms to the world? Dammit, what did I say about earning “your big day”?? Get to work, you flabby freak! You have to starve, sweat, and muscle-build to earn “your big day.” It’s not like you can get it for free. Mr. Groom shouldn’t have to marry the girl he proposed to…he’s expecting version 2, post-starvation, beach-cruise-tanned-and-toned Mrs. Groom! And you daren’t gain any weight after “your big day,” either, or he might write to Dan Savage seeking moral support for wanting to cheat on your with that skinny blonde woman at work (heck, it’s not his fault you “decided to get fat.”).

How can you make sure your makeup lasts all day?

Spray paint?

Can you achieve a natural-looking tan without the sun?

Spray paint?

What colors complement an ivory skin tone?

Scanning down the list, I see this is way above the other skin tones, for some reason. Uh, wow. I mean, if these are mostly white chicks checking out the site, fine, whatever, but wouldn’t they know what colors complement their skin tone (ivory or no), from, I dunno, a lifetime of living in it?

Is there a safe way to slim down for your wedding gown?

Again, not “should I” or even “I want to, is there a safe way” to slim down, just the natural expectation that brides need to starve starve starve to wear those couture dresses that are paraded on bone-racks of unmarried teenagers. And furthermore, why don’t you just buy a fucking dress that fits YOU instead of torturing your body to fit IT?

How can makeup flatter an olive complexion?

Oh hey, another skin complexion! This one is further down the list, signifying its minority status. Sigh.

For a dark complexion, which colors look best?

I don’t get it, why weren’t these up near the “nearly-transparent ivory” tone?

What are the benefits of hiring a personal trainer?

Because, yanno, you have to “lose the weight” else not earn “your big day”! Besides that personal trainers are slavedrivers that shame you and hold you to your stated “goal” weight even when you’re dying of starvation, bedraggled, anxious, hating yourself, and hating your engagement? Even when your body is cuing you like mad to stop torturing yourself and eat something, rest, and enjoy? Yeah, a personal trainer doesn’t have your body, so they won’t know its cues. Therefore, when you no longer want to push yourself (a survival reaction from a tortured, sick, starving body), a personal trainer won’t care, labeling you simply as a number on a scale.

What foods will keep you healthy and energized?

Listen to your body, it knows! Oh, know, you mean low-calorie, high-fiber, low-fat, low-sugar, right? D’oh! *facepalm*

When should you start a bridal beauty routine?

Huh? It’s a routine? Then doesn’t that mean it doesn’t start, it just exists…since it’s a routine?

For combination skin, which products are best?

Spray paint?

What types of makeup photograph beautifully?

Spray paint?

Is there a way to test makeup before buying it?

PLZ

How soon before the wedding should you wax?

Holy god, they’re unleashing EVERY FUCKING FEMALE SELF-TORTURE RITUAL EVER CONCOCTED! I’m surprised they don’t ask if you should douche before the wedding night.

The Cycle of Life, or The Ones that Came Before Me

My grandmother sent me a thirty-page family history she’d written a few years ago. It had been created for her children, she summarized, “So that you will know your story.” It delves two to three generations before her birth, explicating the lives of her mothers’ and fathers’ family.

Many of the people in her story I’d heard of; I’d even heard some of the unsavory bits, like my great-grandfather’s drinking problem, and my great-grandmother’s Victorian bigotry. I though perhaps the story would be dry, or my interest confined to the family member whom I’d grown up with and loved.

Not so. I was sucked into a fascinating journey, starting in England and Germany, and ending up in the same (then bustling, now depressed) mill town in central Massachusetts. Gentlepeople, peasants, upper-middle class merchants, lower-class workers, converged to form what would be my father’s side of the family. They lived in colorful, descriptive neighborhoods called German Town and Devon (for Devonshire, England); they went to the Whalom ballroom to dance to the big bands of the day (like Count Basie); the women were warned against driving (not a proper woman’s activity), and being seven months pregnant meant being confined to house and home.

The years of the Depression were hard on my grandmother’s family, looking forward to their Christmas present of woolen slippers crafted by their grandfather (“They were the warmest slippers I ever owned,” reminisced my grandmother), a pound of butter a week from City Hall, and a five pound bag of sugar or flour obtained for free every Friday at the local movie theater (you had to buy a ten cent ticket: “We almost never saw the movie,” my grandmother explained, the primary purpose acquiring the flour or sugar).

Then came World War II, and my grandmother’s brother entered the Air Force in order to become a pilot. Her to-be husband joined the Navy as a Pharmicist’s mate, serving in New Zealand and Brooklyn, NY. She (and most of her friends) married soon after the war ended, producing my parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers. Apartments were at a premium, since everyone was getting married and starting families, so when my great-grandmother became extremely ill due to complications arising from diabetes, they moved in with her and my great-grandfather, giving their apartment to couple who were close friends, the woman living with her parents and the man at the YMCA. They were ecstatic to get the apartment, since that meant they could finally get married.

My great-grandmother died at a young age, but not until she got to meet her first granddaughter, my aunt. My grandmother and my grandfather moved into their first house, and supplemented their full-time jobs with money from singing (soloists at Churches got paid $3 each Sunday, a good bit of extra money back in the forties). Soon my grandmother was pregnant again (with my uncle), and they moved to the 23-acre farm they were to occupy until my grandfather’s death in 1992. They had many wonderful years there, and I was fortunate to know the farm well myself as a small child rambling in the back woods.

My grandmother is still alive and doing very well; at 80, the favored phrase to describe her is “outliving us all.” She shovels her own driveway, mows her own lawn, and still cooks Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and birthday dinners for her family and friends. At 4’11” and the same weight for the past forty years, she claims the secret to her excellent health is, “Sleeping soundly. I’ve always slept like a rock, for at least eight hours a night. I also have chronic low blood pressure, which has helped!” (on a side-note, I inherited her low blood-pressure, but not her height – I’m 6’0″)

My grandmother never wrote any books (though she confessed to me recently that she’s been writing stories for years, letting her best friend read them, and then throwing them away – which to me, was blasphemy. What I’d give for those stories, now! I’m sure they were wonderful. Girls, let this be another lesson in self-esteem: you are what you deem yourself to be, and by saving yourself potential embarrassment, you are destroying what could be a tremendous gift), nor did she earn a college degree. She wasn’t an outspoken feminist, though she had firm opinions and crystal-clear morals. She didn’t create any great works of art, though she can knit an entire afghan in ten days flat. She volunteers for Meals on Wheels, is active in her church, and is a fiercely loyal and protective friend. She lives alone but isn’t lonely too often; she is still deeply in love with my grandfather, fifteen years since his death.

I have held myself to the highest standards since I can remember. A lawyer, a physicist, an economist, a philosopher, a mathematician, an opera singer, a film maker, a writer, a director, a composer — each of these at one point was a pinnacle, a goal to be reached. The perfect girlfriend/wife/lover/mother/daughter/sister/woman, the perfect citizen, the perfect financial being, a possessor of a perfect body – also each, at times (and some still), goals.

Still, next to my grandmother’s colorful life, mine is a dull sepia. Reading her history, and mine, has given me a weighty sense of perspective that makes the small irritations less so, yet at the same time has left me profoundly depressed. Perhaps it is because I never got a chance to meet many of those interesting characters; perhaps it is because I miss my grandmother, and want to tell her how much the story of her life has impacted my own. Perhaps it is because I feel like I don’t have the opportunities she had–strange thing to say, given the trials of her life.

Maybe I don’t need to know why I feel what I feel, and just let it take me for a while, and grieve silently, respectfully, for the ones that came before me.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Fat News?

Sandy at Junk Food Science worked hard yesterday to debunk the latest rash of new stories on a study showing a supposed correlation between higher BMI and certain types of cancer.

Today provided one of the most extreme examples of medical marketing, with 2,090 news stories all appearing on precisely the same day, in media around the world, and all saying the same thing: a new study claimed to have found overweight or obesity to be associated with higher risks for cancers.

I highlighted this first quote from Sandy’s story, because I was amazed at the number: 2,090 news stories! My god. I wonder if anyone has ever done a comparison between how widespread obesity news stories are and how widespread say, stories about wars, treaties, terrorism, and so forth are? Why do I get the sinking sensation that the difference may not be that much, perhaps even in obesity’s favor?

However, read on:

The authors did a literature search in Medline and Embase for internationally published papers (from 1966 to November, 2007) on certain cancers (“less common cancers” than the World Cancer Research Fund study) and the terms “obesity,” “adiposity,” “body mass index” or “body size.” …. They also eliminated all of the studies that found no associations between cancers and BMI. … Only one cohort had different ethnicities and only two included Black Americans. They didn’t control for endless confounding factors, let alone any, such as smoking, socioeconomic status, use of hormones, medications or steroid usage, age, etc. … They only looked for correlations between higher BMIs and cancers, not correlations between lower BMIs and cancers. …

I’m going to let this all speak for itself, with the one qualification: in the scientific community, we call this “cooking the books.” You all know it better as Plain Ole American  100% Grade A Fine Quality Bullshit.

What the Hell?? Fat Quiz

Go to the place easiest for, say, a twelve-year-old girl to find: http://fat-quiz.com

Description of the fat quiz: Are You Fat?

Here’s the text:

Am I Fat? Is that something that you ask yourself? If so, it’s probably because you are fat, or you have an eating disorder. If you feel fat and you look fat you likely are overweight, obese or very out of shape. The only way to stop asking yourself if you are fat is to get psychological help for your eating disorder or start exercising and eating right. There is no secret quick fix to your fatness.

The best way to truly determine if you are fat is to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI will tell you your body fat percentage. This is the amount of you body that is made up of fat. A high percentage of fat indicates a fatty body and a lower percentage indicates a less fatty body.

Why do I get the sinking, ugly sensation that this is the kind of thing middle-school catty cliques force their members to take, posting their results on their MySpace and Facebook pages?

Ugh. What lies. Parents, please tell your daughters they’re beautiful and that if they think they’re fat, it’s much more likely they have a disordered body image, regardless of ‘being fat’ (which, in this day and age, means that you have any adipose tissue on your body whatsoever) or no.

Where do I start? I think the “start exercising and eating right.” directly before “There is no secret quick fix to your fatness.” is indicative of the mental age of whomever created and/or promotes this site.

The quiz itself isn’t any better. I see some standard “GROSS FAT PPL OMG YUK” pictures; they start with “When you look down, what do you see? a) A big fat gut, b) a front bottom, c) my toes…” and in the middle pretty much just asks you for your height and weight, which means it’s a really, really cruel (bullshit) BMI calculator. One of the questions even asks if your build is “big boned, skinny, large…” etc! Wow, that’s real scientific. I guess one is ‘fat’ if one thinks she’s fat? Ah, the circle of self-loathing is complete.

Wow, at the end they want all my personal information! Huh, let me make something up…hmm, doesn’t look like I can (they want my email address, fuck that!). Ah, well. I’m sure they were going to say something brilliant about how I was Fatty McFattie Jr, Esquire McFat III.

By the way, in the privacy policy:

The WorldOfQuizzes.com may sell any information supplied by a visitor, and it may in conjunction with other businesses (including providers of direct marketing services and applications, including lookup and reference, data enhancement, suppression and validation) use that information to bring you selected retail opportunities. The WorldOfQuizzes.com may also disclose information provided by a visitor where WorldOfQuizzes.com has reason to suspect that its website or services are being used in a manner which may contravene local laws, or which in the opinion of the WorldOfQuizzes.com is inappropriate.

This place looks like bad news all around. ::Shudder::

For those who want to complain, please send an indignant letter/email to:

The Are You Fat Quiz
210-852 Fort St.
Victoria BC
Canada
quizfeedback@gmail.com

Congratulations to Joanne Borgella…don’t EVER give up on your singing…

joanne borgella

…because you’re afraid of size discrimination.

Girl, I gave up my dream of singing because I didn’t think anyone would cast a 6′ 0″, 220 lb girl in a main singing part of, well, anything. I didn’t think I would have a chance to be a soloist, since even most classical singers aren’t supposed to be fat.

You give the rest of us hope, and other girls of size who are budding singers the dream back of one day being up on the stage, in the spotlight.

Joanne Borgella is, of course, the plus-sized model who has made it into the Top 24 of this season’s American Idol. She mentioned to the judges, while sitting ‘upstairs’ next to another contestant and waiting to hear her results, that she gave up singing for a while since she’d been consistently told by people in the media that she had to lose weight to have a serious chance at getting famous.

The judges seemed stunned to hear this. Was it just me, or did they look like deer in headlights? Was it that they were ashamed, because they knew, for the most part, what the industry professionals has told Joanne was correct, or because they were amazed a beautiful girl who was obviously extremely talented would be written off so completely because of her weight?

Being in the American Idol Top 24, she went on, would give her a reason to continue with her singing. They told her that she had made it.

Joanne, you are beautiful, and my fiancee and I are going to be cheering you on the whole way. We love you Joanne, and we love your voice. Don’t let the neurotic, panicked, ignorant fattists EVER say you shouldn’t be up there, that somehow being plus-sized means you’re too ‘big’ for the spotlight. Because, like with everyone else, they’re DEAD WRONG.

Joanne’s professional site

Joanne’s initial Idol audition

EDIT: Please ignore the hateful “Related searches” on this tag. It’s likely they’re coming from the YouTube sites, which is notorious for fattist comments. They’re insulting, but I’m going to keep the link up as an illustration of what kind of fattist hate is acceptable and even encouraged in this day and age, especially amongst the younger generation, who has heard about the “Obesity Epidemic” nearly their whole lives.

It’s Everywhere!

I know every FA blogger has probably had a post like this. You start understanding the science behind fat, and the junk science behind dieting, “calories in = calories out,” and other Fat Hate Bingo phraseology, and suddenly you start seeing mentions of “The Obesity Epidemic,” diet commercials, rehashes of the Fat Hate Bingo phrases, etc everyfuckingwhere.

Since I’m still in the midst of my “come to Jesus” with FA, I’m naturally very angry: at the pain and suffering inflicted upon my body and psyche over the years by those who ‘just wanted the best for me,’ the media, corrupt government agencies in the pockets of interested industry, the industry itself since there are virtually no FDA regulations on the verity of the scientific message being put forth with respect to diet and weight-loss ads, doctors, everyone.

On a side-note, has anyone noticed that January has bled into February this year? Maybe I’m just seeing this stuff everywhere, but it seems to me that there has been NO LETUP in the quantity and severity of weight-loss schilling since about six weeks before the new year. The “Resolution Season,” i.e., the biggest recruitment season for the weight-loss industry, stretches from mid-November to at least mid-February.

Needless to say, I’m yelling at the TV every single time I see yet another repetition of some Obesity Myth. It’s on cartoons (the Simpsons had an episode about “looking better” for your spouse, focusing almost completely on weight loss), it’s on sitcoms (New Adventures of Old Christine had a line where she mentioned that her ways of improving herself were primarily diet and exercise), it’s of course on commercials, and it’s on the local news in some form just about every other night. It’s in movies, in newspapers, in Reality TV (the only reality of which being a tendency to cast buff 20-somethings with an occasional Old Fat Ugly person for variety and most likely, the producers believe, HIGH-larious foolish moments).

Being angry, and yelling at the TV often, my fiancee (poor soul) has had his eyes opened, as well. A skinny person his whole life, he hasn’t had any real reason to pay attention to fat stigmatism (though, I’ve heard, he used to know a good share of fat jokes. But he’s long since reformed). But just the other night, out of the blue, he said (with some surprise), “Wow, honey, it’s really everywhere, isn’t it?”

“What are you talking about?”

“The fat thing. You know, diet talk, commercials. Suddenly I’m seeing it all over the place—has it been like this the whole time?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

You see, even people who’ve never been discriminated against because of their weight, and have participated in the perpetuation of stereotypes in the past, can change their ways and really understand. And sure, he loves me. But perhaps because of his epiphany, maybe his girls will be confident about their bodies enough to ward off EDs; and maybe his son will hold his tongue when his buddies are egging him on to tell a fat joke.

Just maybe. It’s a step in the right direction, at least.

“The Infantilisation of Society” – Part 1

This is an outrage. Just goes to show you what happens when you adopt a moral value system that embraces Nanny Statism, and power falls into the wrong hands. It isn’t as easy as you think to keep the right people* in power.

More on this later, right now I have to get back to work.

 * Note: “right” is usually only “right for some.” Until we all think with communal brains and hold communal opinions, someone is always going to be left out in the cold when leaders are given this kind of wide-ranging power over the lives of individuals.

Getting Married? How Are You Planning to Lose Weight Before Your Big Day? – Part 1

I got engaged this Christmas, and I’m fat. You might wonder what the connection is (beyond a trollish, “Heh, you mean fattie mcfatfat actually got a MAN NO WAY!!”).

But as anyone who has entered this phase in her life and as much glanced at bridal magazines on the rack would know, there’s significant pressure to lose weight before one’s wedding, pretty much regardless of how much you weigh when you get engaged.

This pressure is unusually severe. Sure, there’s diet-talk and body-deprecatory ads and features in every women’s magazine, but it’s usually phrased in terms of “Want to lose X lbs? Here’s the magic permanent trick that takes no effort and is NOT starvation, drugs, or obsessive exercise…”

But bridal magazines step that anti-fattie babble up a notch. They say you HAVE to lose weight; as the screenshot from Brides.com says to promote its messageboard section and weight-loss thread, “How are you planning to lose weight before your big day?”

Brides.com screenshot

No questions of whether you want to lose the weight, can lose weight healthily, or even believe you need to based on whatever hocus-pocus diet myths you’ve accepted. Just, “How are you planning to lose weight…?”

The body deprecation begins.

Being fat, then, is closely tied in with being engaged. Because, you see, all my friends and relatives who’ve imbibed the Obesity Epidemic KoolAid will expect me to try to lose weight before “my big day.” I don’t even think the expectation is dramatic weight loss, just knowing that I’ve started my juice-and-lettuce-after-four-hours-on-the-treadmill diet. Like it’s some cultural right-of-passage I’m expected to participate in, or else I do not ‘earn’ my wedding day, somehow.

Of course, this pisses me off. I’m reasonably new to fat acceptance; it was only last July I read Gina Kolata’s “Rethinking Thin.” Before that, I was a KoolAid drinker myself, a recovering anorexic-dieter, exercise obsessor, bulimic wannabe (I could never make myself throw up, not for lack of trying). I’m trying very, very hard to accept my body and learn to love myself for who I am, and for who my family largely is — well, large. And that’s okay.

So I decided to channel this pissed-off energy into recording how wide-spread this pre-wedding bridal ritual starvation expectation really is, and how it isn’t just about looking good in photo, it’s some kind of cultural right-of-passage. It’s like a kind of religious fasting, which is supposed to make us feel like we’ve really ‘earned’ our big day (with the natural assumption that if we decide not to diet before our wedding day, we’re some kind of lazy, worthless person whom shouldn’t be married).

For part one: Brides.com, the first hit on my Google search of “wedding bride.”

Brides.com

This one was easy. Right on the front page there were three “features” categories: “real weddings,” “local features,” and “community” (a message board). See the above screenshot for the “community” view, and read the poster’s featured quote.

Yeah, uh, 50 lbs before the wedding. Do either of you know you’re going to gain it back in 5 years? Will the husband claim his wife “let herself go” since she, a few years after the wedding, can no longer fit in her wedding dress? (of course, even though the poster wants them to both lose weight, I don’t know how stringent the expectations are on the groom’s side)

I wonder if Memememe Roth, in her “Wedding Gown Challenge,” takes into account how many brides fasted, losing 10, 20, 30+ lbs in before their wedding day? Does gaining back the weight lost count as “letting oneself go,” especially if you just happen to go back to what you were before the pre-wedding weight loss (plus 10%, of course)? Sigh.

But now, for the worst of it…a name that plays on the vanity, fear, and anticipation of most brides-to-be:

VOW TO WOW!

I decided to enter the “community” section of the Brides.com site, in order to discover what horrifying myths were being propagated on these poor women, and what their expectations were. I found a forum and an entire section of the site called “Vow to Wow Body Makeover.”

Some of the sad thread titles on the first page are:

ATKINS!!,” “FH won’t support me getting in shape,” “Why wont the weight come off????,” “Medifast anyone?,” “I’m scared, I don’t think I can accomplish my goal,” “Anyone on WW?,” “Lost weight with nutritionist, organic foods and gym,” “gaining weight,” (which is actually about a woman who thinks she’s too thin…guess no one is happy with their body-image if they’re getting married. Is that part of the ritual?)

Some misinformed, sometimes virulent gems (please don’t read if you get triggered easily, some of these are difficult):

“one of my friends[…]weighs about 95 lbs. and her doctor told her that it is because she eats junk food…when she eats junk food she loses weight, therefore she has to eat healthy food to gain weight…kind of like fat ppl have to eat healthy to lose weight…lol…!! Just the exact opposite!” [Nice bit of fat-hate there, especially with the mocking ‘lol’]

Ok, well, here I sit. 180lbs. I have gained 50 lbs in the 5 years that fh and I have been together. At this rate, I will be almost 200lbs by the time we get married. I have GOT to fix this! It’s over whelming. I’m so uncomfortable all the time! My clothes are all too tight, and I just want to crawl under a ROCK! I feel like crap about myself all the time, and I just don’t understand why I can’t get healthy!…My fh and I have decided to try the south beach diet again. We started it once about 2 years ago, and I lost 7 lbs the first 2 weeks, but then I got lazy and slacked off. Wish me luck, guys!”

Same poster, later: “fh loves me and would be totally happy with me if I never lost a pound, but I hate myself right now. For letting myself go like this! It’s just unbelievable to be that I’ve gained so much weight!!! I weight less when I was 9 months pregnant and that was 11 years ago!!!” [note the progressively lengthening strings of exclamation points, as the KoolAid puts her into a panic-stricken fervor]

And finally: “We just want to be heathly and happy and set good examples for our children!” [ugh. So having terrible body image and starving yourself in order to achieve an impossible ideal just because you’re GETTING MARRIED OMG is a good example?”]

“Last year FH and I just decided to stop eating like pigs, so we cleaned out our kitchen of food and went shopping for new stuff, and watched the portions. I ate preeettyy much whatever I wanted but I counted calories – to me, a calorie is a calorie, wherever it comes from. I allowed myself about 1200 calories a day, plus 10 minutes a day on an elliptical. In 5 months I had lost 35 pounds, FH lost 50, and I was in a bikini on our cruise that summer.” [Note: So eating more than 1200 calories a day is eating like a pig? No wonder you lost 35 pounds in 5 months…you starved yourself. See the Starvation Study]

“My advice to you is that you can only lose weight if you are 100% motivated to do it for YOURSELF – not for anyone else.” [It’s as simple as that!]

“I’m newly engaged (as of Christmas eve!) and want to lose 40-50 lbs by our wedding in early 2010. I had a baby in March of 2007 so I have baby weight plus weight I had before I ever got pregnant 🙂 The fiance gained 60 lbs since we started dating 7 yrs ago and I think he finally realized it and wants to get healthy too.” [that KoolAid is really healthy, apparently. Too bad the facts don’t support the “health” argument of “thinner is the winner”]

“i posted the “i’m scared” thread, and man it’s difficult adjusting to the vow to wow menu b/c it’s so much less calories!! and it’s not the way i eat at all. but maybe that’s why i am 15 lbs overweight and gaining all the time! ” [after the obligatory site registration, I discovered the “Vow to Wow” plan is 1,500-calories/day (below the 1,600 cal/day Starvation Study limit referenced above). Also, here’s a nice quote from the “Strength Training” page of the program: “For most brides, having a toned body is crucial for their walk down the aisle..” Zah??]

“I started Jenny Craig in September and have lost about 30 lbs. I still have about 40 lbs to go, well..if I get what I want.” [Like the fulfillment of your Fantasy of Being Thin?]

“Hey congrats and don’t worry – you have tons of time to get to the healthy person you want to be.” [healthy = weight loss. Is someone making another Fat Hate Bingo out there?]

Is any of you out there having the same problem? I have been exercising and dieting for about a month- a month and a half and got weighed the other day and realized that I have gained 5 lbs in the last month. I dont know what is up with that. I am getting married September 20, 2008 and I am trying to have lost 30 pounds by then! Any suggestions?” [have you been starving yourself at the federally-mandated lower safe limit of 1,200 calories/day?]

“I am getting married in april and i want to lose a couple of lbs and i have been exercising good since Oct and i dont see any weight coming off either. Has anyone tried those Alli pills? do you think they work?” [oh, horrors, that poor woman…just a few pounds? God, take it to the bank and love yourself for who you are, and enjoy the last months before your wedding!]

This one makes me really, really sad, because this woman has come very near to the truth and she’s acting like it doesn’t/shouldn’t apply to her: “I have a little problem with fluctuating weight. It is frustrating because it puts me between 2 sizes and so I feel like I have to have twice as many clothes and I just wish I could stay down in the lower size. Anyhow, I’d like to think I’m a pretty healthy person. I have a great cardio and lifting routine, FH and I rarely eat out. So I didn’t really get it. I started to do some research on this and found this book “Rethinking Thin”. Basically it talks about how genetics plays into what your body is designed to be. Each of us kind of has a preset weight range, and once you get to the limits of that range, your body tries to keep you in it. This is why you might be doing great and losing weight with a certain routine/diet and then all of the sudden it seems like it stops working. Anyhow, I don’t mean to go on about this and I don’t think we should look at it as an excuse for the way we are. Just because my parents are bigger doesn’t mean that I have to be, but I do have to recognize that I may have a harder time trying to look how I want to. I definitely recommend that we all take a healthy outlook on life, and not just think about being thin. Because in the end, I am not a happier person if I have to give up ALL chocolate just to stay in the smaller size. Hope this makes sense and good luck to you all!” [I’ll let this one speak for itself. Sigh.]

This is it for the first part of my bridal starvation ritual exposition. Thanks to the very first bridal site I looked at for giving me so much sad material. I hope these women can enjoy the lead up to and their wedding day, without being weak, starved, and hating their bodies.

Libertarianism, Individual Responsibility and Freedom is Compatible with Fat Acceptance

I get the hint from a discussion in the comments of a post titled “Hostility” on Shapely Prose that some people in the Fat Acceptance movement believe that, somehow, libertarianism has the penchant to create “straight white guys” who are non-PCers, i.e., reject the idea that one must use civil language and compassion when talking about people who fit into stereotypical groups. It is then explained that non-PCers are secretly afraid that, if they aren’t allowed to demean people with words, then their “incredibly tenuous superiority” will be threatened.

First of all, I should mention that the tie-in to Libertarianism was taken out of the original post. Thanks to Fillyjonk (the OP) for rethinking that tie.

However, regardless of whether it was taken out, it is an important to highlight a knee-jerk association, similar to “Conservatives are evil” and “liberals are fascists.” And I’m not saintly in this respect; I’ve maintained that modern liberalism more closely resembles classical statism, where an elite, in this case highly educated, few decide how/where the non-elite should live, what healthcare they should receive, how their children should be educated, what jobs and universities they do/do not have access to, what charities private individuals should support (in the form of taxes to support the popular social welfare programs of the moment), and so forth. I’ve also hinted, and seen hinted on other blogs that are certainly not libertarian, modern liberalism would (and already is) proactively separate out social undesirables and enforce a lifestyle upon them that would ‘integrate’ them into the masses (like weight-loss programs in public schools, and special-ed requirements for Aspies).

I would like to, at least on my blog, debunk some of the popular beliefs held about libertarianism and show, in fact, it is not those who truly understand and hold dear libertarian morals that would thrive in constructed superiority over stereotyped classes, but those who warp libertarian ideals for their own purposes (perhaps the same dynamic operating in the embarrassing elements of conservatism and liberalism). These individuals are operating perpendicularly to libertarianism, NOT in parallel with it.

From the Wiki article on Libertarianism:

Libertarianism is a collection of political philosophies possessing a common theme of individual liberty. Libertarianism’s ideals, although often varied in detail, typically center on policies in favor of allowing extensive personal liberties, rejection of state communism and state socialism in favor of individual ownership and control, personal responsibility and charity rather than welfare statism, and also theorize either limiting or entirely eliminating the power and scope of government with the purpose of maximizing individual liberty.

Certainly, within that scope, is the necessary acceptance of freedom of speech. I think, if we truly want to understand the mind of non-PCers, we need to see things from their perspective. They are, at heart, fiercely indignant at any external measure to limit their speech, which they believe is a way to control them. They’re likely angry, and finally having accepted non-PCism after years of succumbing to it, are abusing its purpose.

You see, the true strength in free speech in Libertarianism is that those who respect free speech, and want to protect it, are those who choose, of their own free will to use civil language, while at the same time rejecting doublespeak notions. In other words, a veteran Libertarian would never use crass, crude, developed-to-be-defamatory language to describe others, rather, we would use the most technically correct, civil language. We wouldn’t call the Fat Acceptance movement either Fattie-Fat-Fat Power or The Communal Progression to Be Accepted of Those Individuals Who Currently Fall Within the Overweight to Obese BMI Categories (which are arbitrarily defined).

Instead, Fat Acceptance is technically descriptive and civil-tongued.

Freedom is hard. It allows others to choose their words and their actions which could, in theory, lead to unpopular opinions and actions to arise. Dangerous and harmful actions have laws created which would protect the citizenry from each other, but unpopular opinions are left to the marketplace of ideas to ferret out the most sensical. Demagogues aren’t allowed to arise since the only way they could come into power would be for the society to reject libertarianism in favor of fascism since fascism has, at its heart, the destruction of liberty. A libertarian society would construct its laws and Constitution to, above all else, protect personal liberty.

Indeed, as a rights theorist libertarian, it is the control of another when the other has not in any way infringed upon the liberties of their controller, that I find most repugnant:

Rights theorists, which include noted deontologists, assert that all persons are the absolute owners of their lives, and should be free to do whatever they wish with their own bodies or property, provided they do not infringe on the rights of another to engage in that same freedom.

This should be of interest to FA activists, and is one of the primary reasons FA activism is compatible with my moral beliefs. While conservatism ever seeks its base and history for morality (which may mean imposing control structures on others), and modern liberalism answers ‘good of the majority’ determinations with control structures imposed on the unpopular, libertarianism believes “all persons are the absolute owners of their lives, and should be free to do whatever they wish with their own bodies or property, provided they do not infringe on the rights of another to engage in that same freedom.”

Even though there is hard evidence to back up the assertion that fat individuals do not harm the ‘people’ with their fatness, in a libertarian society the question of whether or not fat is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for the people would never have arisen. In fact, in a libertarian society, the only argument that would have fat people infringing upon the liberties of non-fat people would be in a universal healthcare system where, indeed, fat ended up costing others more money (though a recent study suggested even this well-worn position of fattists is, like their other positions, crumbling under the weight of scientific evidence [pun intended]). And, in fact, a morally-consistent libertarian society would never have a universal healthcare system in the first place, since it is fundamentally an income-redistribution mechanism.

Therefore, I put to you that libertarianism is one of the most strongly favorable systems to diversity. You can be anyone, of any color, of any sex, of any size and ability (and so on), and you can participate in the society with equal facility. That is, unless you desired unequal treatments that would infringe upon the personal liberty of others for your own gain, or whether others desired unequal treatment of you for the same reasons. Neither would fly. Therefore positive and negative discrimination would not be allowable.

It is important to note at this point, that I don’t consider most individuals who harbor beliefs opposed to such fundamental freedoms bad. In order to become a good character writer, one of the first concepts I had to grasp was that most people who are ‘bad’ don’t believe they’re ‘bad.’ I.e., they are just like you and I, in that they believe their systems will deliver us all into a better life. No system of beliefs has yet discovered a way to let everyone be free in a way where every single person has the perfect life, progressing in exactly the way they want it to. Libertarians would leave those who make bad personal choices out in the cold, and the children of the same would have their parents to first overcome (though then, in libertarianism, they would have a world of opportunities open to them. These aren’t opportunities in the sense that modern liberalism defines opportunities, but that is a discussion for another day). Liberals believe some should carry the burdens of others who ‘cannot’ carry the burdens of themselves, their children, etc. The definition of ‘cannot’ is very wide-ranging, and varies between liberals themselves. Conservatives believe government should impose the ideals of their forefathers and religious icons upon all, in order to preserve what they believe is some sort of cultural ‘golden age’ (like family values with respect to the 1950’s-era family); this would of course place impositions on some, like gay couples who want to be married, women who want/need abortions, and so forth.

Libertarians believe the cultivation of individual liberty maximizes societal happiness and prosperity. Liberals believe the cultivation of the collective good maximizes societal happiness and prosperity. Conservatives believe the cultivation of what they believe are historical periods of happiness and prosperity will maximize societal happiness and prosperity.

To say any one group is flawless, without so-called members that warp the fundamental messages to their own ends, is fallacious. Within libertarians, there are some ignorant people who translate individual liberty into “I can word-vomit all over you, and that’s freedom o’speech baby.” Those who really understand libertarianism would know that, with freedom, comes responsibility. That word-vomit does hurt others, while a civilized conversation embracing the same questions would make on think, not hurt. Libertarians want to preserve a civil discourse because to do so allows everyone the most freedom as well as maximizing their own freedom. It is in their best interest to speak responsibly.

Some liberals take the notion of the ‘good of the people’ to mean “My beliefs are superior, so people would be best off if they followed them. I shall make them follow them.” I’m sure that the good part of liberals find that view repugnant. Liberalism wants to maximize the good, and spread out privilege so as many people as possible have as much power as possible. Unlike libertarianism, there are constraints to personal freedom, since it’s believed some freedom (like that in the free market) will lead to abuses of some so that others profit (dog-eat-dog). Whether or not this is true is heavily debated, and is one of the fundamental differences between liberals and libertarians, who believe the free market maximizes prosperity for all, if the market is truly allowed to be free.

Conservatives have groups within them that view some ‘historical successes’ to be those times that maximized the happiness and prosperity of people like them, i.e., Jim Crow with respect to whites. And, again, most conservatives are likely highly embarrassed at this moral minority within their ranks, who warp their beliefs for their own ends.

In conclusion to a very long post I’ll probably want to edit a few times more, since it’s being written in all one shot (yay, Sunday morning!), all of the political groups within the FA movement have their flaws, and each person who adopts a set of beliefs believes he/she will truly maximize the happiness and prosperity of his/her fellow man. To pick out the members of a political group that warp the beliefs of that group and characterize the whole group that way, is nothing better than rhetorical mud-slinging. While I’m strongly opposed to liberal fascism and think it is a force for great evil in the world, I never confuse your average Democrat liberal with a liberal fascist, so name to separate out this dangerous element. In other words, liberal =! liberal fascist (=! means ‘does not equal’).

I also believe that the core precepts of libertarianism are, taken together, the best friend of the FA movement. We should all accept the notion that each individual should have liberty over his/her body, to love or hate it at will, to treat it well or abuse it, to promote it or denigrate it, without government intervention. That rehabilitation is our choice, not our consequence. That love, acceptance, and promotion is our choice, not our fight.

And if others don’t like it, they can speak against it. But they can never take our right to be who we are.