The Shape I’m In

One of the main living-my-life endeavors that has occupied my time and energy during my “forgetting how to write” patch was doing a show. Yes, after all was said and done, I got a part in that Sondheim show I blogged about back in May, when I was convinced I hadn’t passed muster. Go figure.

The show was Sondheim’s Company, which, for the uninitiated, circles on a group of friends in 1970 NYC: one single guy/womanizer (Bobby), 3 of his girlfriends, and 5 married couples who use their get-togethers with Bobby as a way to ease/escape whatever tensions are going on within the marital bond.

Continue reading “The Shape I’m In”

Cruise Control

So one of the things that cruises are notorious for —

Wait, did I ever mention that The Trip was a cruise? I can’t recall and I’m too damn lazy to go look it up. In case this is new news, and just to get this down on the record: The Trip was a cruise.

Display on the first cruise day, in the Windjammer (the buffet restaurant)So anyhow, one of the things that cruises are notorious for is the quantity and quality of the food you’re served. Actually, I’m not enough of a hard-cross cruise traveler to know whether all cruises are known for having good food, or if it’s more like the same rep an all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet has: food that’s notable  more for the available amount than for the flavor profile. (Even if most cruise ships have food that’s more adequate than exceptional, the ship we were on is on this list of the “best cruise ships for foodies,” so trust me when I say that not only was there tons of food available, it was tasty, tasty stuff.)

Now, there’s a whole lot of rhetoric out there about how it’s inevitable to gain weight on a cruise, with various fat-panic/fat-shaming suggestions on how to approach that “problem.” For example:

  1. controlling your on-ship behavior to minimize weight gain
  2. doing a little prophylactic weight loss ahead of time to build your “buffer zone”
  3. going on x, y, or z post-vacation diet plan
  4. deliberately infecting yourself with a parasite or the norovirus in order to stay skinny

(Okay, maybe I made that last one up. And, for once, no, I won’t be providing links to sources. I don’t feel like actively participating in Diest Culture, and you can find this kind of shit so easily with the simplest of google searches.)

It was an interesting comparison across the years, thinking back to the first-ever cruise Mr. Mezzo and I took back in 2007, right when I was at the verge of learning about fat acceptance and adopting that perspective for myself and my worldview. That first cruise also had lots of good food. I indulged, and I know I gained weight — though at this distance, I can’t recall what the number was. And I felt so ashamed for all of it. For my lack of dietary discipline, for my laziness in not becoming a cruise-ship gym-rat, and then for my inability to diet and lose the weight after I got back on land.

martinisThis time around, I decided adamantly against imbibing a guilt-and-shame chaser with any of the meals, martinis, or desserts I had while vacationing. I have no idea if my food was any less rich or sugar-laden this time around as in ’07. (I’d guess not much appreciable difference, then and now.) But I do know I’m feeling lots better than I did 7 years ago — if for no other reason than the fact that I’m not mired deep in a self-shaming and self-punishment cycle. ‘Cos honestly, when I let those voices loose in my head, it’s never to my benefit. Spiritually, emotionally, or physically.

Having said that, I am feeling a bit logy after-the-fact. I’m guessing, based on my HCG experience from the spring, that I’m mostly feeling the after-effects of the dramatic uptick in added sugar during those two weeks (read: desserts, martinis and Belgian chocolate). And I’m kind of fascinated by the way, as far as I can tell, that my spring detox journey helped me more attuned to my body so I could notice this change, but my history of fat acceptance work and my ongoing growth around overall self-acceptance has in a place where I’m not upset or blaming myself about it.

belgian-chocolateInstead, I’m just quietly moving back to some of the cooking routines and rituals I used during the spring, adopting something that’s closer to “clean eating” than I was doing recently. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not on some extreme ascetic kick. Beyond my own natural sense of fullness, I am setting zero limits on the quantity of food I’m eating.  I’m even having a little taste of “added sugar” each night after dinner (I say again: Belgian chocolate. You don’t think we were coming home without a small stash of that to enjoy, did you?)

I’m just trying to listen to my body. And if my body is craving greens and chicken rather than my cruise staples of pasta and red meat, I’ma good with that.

Plus a little of that Belgian chocolate. Yummy and absolutely guilt-free.


Image credits:

Fruit buffet:







More to Love: “Real Women” and Reality TV

My DVR has been somewhat on the fritz of late.  It’s still good with the recording what I want and with basic playback, but not so good with the fast forwarding*  The unexpected — one might even say unwelcome — side result is that I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials for Fox’s new reality dating series More to Love while I’ve been getting my obligatory So You Think You Can Dance fix.

More accurately, I’ve been seeing the same commercial over and over and over again…. It’s the one that starts by saying (to paraphrase) “The average woman is a size 14/16. The average female reality show contestant is a size 2. You call that reality?!?” Then the roast of the ad goes on to lay out the premise: 20 “real-sized” women will via for the affections of Luke Conley. In the clips from the initial meetin’ and greetin’, one of the contestants even goes so far as to express her pleasure that Luke likes “real women.”

Le sigh. How does this bug me?  Let me (incoherently) count the ways:

  1. However much the ex-grad-student in me appreciates the pomo/meta irony of a reality show ad commenting on the unreality of reality TV, I am still a bit galled at the disingenuousness of this opening.  Hey, here’s a wacky notion: if there has been a disproportionate representation of hollywood bods on reality TV, d’you think that might be because of the deliberate casting choices of those of you creating reality TV?
  2. Real woman, misspeaking. I get that fat bodies are usually troped as ugly, unattractive, desexualized — even how the discourse around fatness can be so dehumanizing that it makes sense to stand up and claim one’s humanity and womanhood. But to do so in a way that (intentionally or no) implies that skinnier women are unreal? Really not helpful. I understand that the contestant claiming her “real woman” status may well have taken a more nuanced position, so I’m not sure whether I’m frustrated with her or the magical editing elves. Either ay, I’m frustrated. Denigrating other body types just isn’t gonna help with the project of getting folks to stop denigrating fat body types.
  3. Real women, nitpicking. On my side of the TV screen, I’ve seen some people respond to this commercial with an argument that goes along these lines. “They say the average woman’s size 14 to 16. Well, these women look to be size 18 and up. What’s with all these disgusting fatties?” Way to miss the fucking point.

Is it really that hard to grasp? All women are real women. All women deserve love, and partnership if they so desire it. The skinnies, the fatties, the average 14-16s, the inbetweenies. Nothing about this whole tangle of fat acceptance, body acceptance, self-acceptance will be helped by finger pointing and denigrating, whether in a carefully edited soundbite on the television, or a clever-intending bit of snark on Teevision without Pity.

All that said, I have to admit I have a uneasy wonderment about how the show is actually going to go. I’ll likely have more to say once I’ve actually seen the premiere, rather than just a single commercial.

* And really, isn’t the capacity to ff through commercials the sine qua non of what makes DVR so great?

ETA: I’m not surprised to see so many other fatosphere writers taking on this topic. For full-on reviews, see Kate Harding’s over at Shapely Prose and Marianne Kirby’s over at The Daily Beast.

Wrongness and Weight

So, I’m cautiously interested in the conversation going on in the comments to this post by Roni Noone over at We are the Real Deal. (I say “cautiously,” because the some of the comments in the thread have been taking a bit of a turn towards anger and intolerance. We’ll have to see what happens.)

There’s certainly stuff that could be said regarding the assumptive slip Roni makes between “having a healthy conscious relationship with food” and losing weight — as if one were always to lead to the other. But the piece I’m keying in on right now is this series of semi-rhetorical questions from the opening of her post:

Aren’t I suppose to be spreading a message of self love and body contentment? I mean, I definitely shouldn’t be inspiring people to lose weight? That’s just plain wrong. Isn’t it?

The anxieties expressed in Roni’s questions are also forefronted in her chosen post title: Is it Wrong to Want to Lose Weight?

Wrongness. So many times this comes back to notions of wrongness.

Wrongness about appearance — too blond, too short, too fat, too skinny, too flat-chested, too red-headed, hips too big, figure too boyish, wrong facial shape, too “ethnic,” too “white bread.” Too just plain wrong because we don’t thread the needle of what is deemed attractive in a celebrity culture. (And here’s a familiar reminder that even celebrities don’t come up to the standards of celebrity beauty.)

A couple months ago, I was asked, in an FA context, if I saw myself as beautiful. And I admitted that I’m not quite There yet. But here’s the thing, I remember saying.

I never saw myself as beautiful when I was younger and thin, either. I grew up skinny and had a really awkward adolescence, in which I had physical characteristics (flat-chested, glasses, braces) that in my white, upper-middle-class high school marked me as unattractive. As far as I can guess, there may have been a magic week or two during my transition for “too skinny” to “too fat” where I hit the mark of what I “ought” to weigh. But I wouldn’t be surprised if during those magic weeks where I weighed the supposedly-right amount, I carried some other marker that kept me from being attractive — or, more accurately, from feeling attractive.

Because there’s so much judgement out there, and so much internalized self-judgement that stems from that. And — no shocker here — the judgements, the feelings of wrongness aren’t even remotely limited to questions of weight, or appearance, or the physical realm. There’s plenty of societal messages about the ways to act, to live, to be. Which plays into all the ways we feel wrong in our behaviors, our choices, our circumstances.

I truly believe that fat is a feminist issue. But for me, fat acceptance is part of the larger challenge of self-acceptance. And for me, self-acceptance and self-esteem are very much spiritual issues. Letting go of feeling wrong. Letting go of the self-protective, defensive instinct to make someone else wrong when I’m feeling judged and threatened. Opening my heart to the possibility that each and every person I encounter is 100% perfect in this moment.

So, do I think it’s wrong to want to lose weight? No, I don’t.* We want what we want, and none of it is wrong, and going into the self-beat-up for wanting the “wrong” thing is only going to perpetuate  the patterns of self-judgement that keep me feeling bad about myself.

Where Roni’s questions get a little tricky for me is when she asks about “inspiring” folks to lose weight. Because that will all very much depend on how she wants to go about inspiring people. If it’s a process of living her own choices and speaking openly about them, and letting people choose freely whether or not to follow her path, I’m pretty much on board. (Insofar as I fully believe in the perfection of Roni’s choices for Roni while choosing myself not to aspire towards weight loss.)

But if her version of “inspiring” includes blindness to the perfection of choice for those embracing HAES — and that assumptive slip I mentioned above gives me some reason to fear that sort of blindness — then I’m a bit more troubled about the potential for this to be yet another message about how the FA/HAES community is wrong in our choices and our beliefs.

So Roni isn’t wrong. And I’m not wrong.

When we’re able to tap into compassion for self and make heart-centered authentic choices for ourselves, each of us is wonderfully right.

* Not that anyone needs my approval anyways.

A Tale of Two Blogs

Once upon a time, I was a stick-skinny girl.

Then (around age 20) I hit my second puberty and became a girl with an hourglass figure. And still pretty skinny.

Then (around age 30) my metabolism changed again and I became Officially Overweight. And I learned to diet. And I lost weight. And I gained weight. And some of that project is documented here on the blog I kept from 2004-2007. And then some of the self-loathing that accompanied the weight cycling carried over here into the blog I kept (sort of) during 2007.

But then I started to change the way I thought about my body and being overweight. And a teeny tiny bit of that made it over onto blog #2. And I thought about continuing the conversation there, but decided …… no.

So now (as I’m approaching 40) I’ve decided to open up a new space for my writing. Not because I want to wish away my history but simply because I chose to open up a new space.

So here I am. Making another change for myself.