10 February 2010

Body Positive at Any Damn Size

All right. We're going there. I've been stuck on bodies lately and I keep treating this like it is a continuation of the journal that I had for 9 years running - like there's context, like there's an archive to get information to give some sort of background. There's not.

I come from a long line of disordered eaters and I followed in that fine tradition - I, like generations of big-hipped ladies before me, was an excellent anorexic.

But this isn't about that time, something I have blogged extensively about and might again, if I ever feel like it. This is about what it means to be "healthy."

I'm having a lot of struggles with reactionary body-hate I hear every day. I hear it at my work, I hear it in my graduate classes, I see it online, and I sometimes even get to revel in it while having a drink after work with friends. And I feel like I get weird side-glances during a lot of it because I'm not thin anymore. I'm not exactly fat, either - and no, that's not me bragging, just being accurate - but I exist in a body that looks a lot like many women's bodies, with a belly and an ass and larger breasts and thighs that rub together.

Now, I love all of ya'll who are exercising more and eating better and making your lives feel good. Seriously. I want to high five every one of you, because we SHOULD move our bodies, we SHOULD eat food that has recognizable food it in, we SHOULD like the way we feel.

But that doesn't have to be correlated to size. And, often, it isn't. I'm not going to name numbers, not because they're shameful, but because I honestly don't know them. When I started into recovery for my eating disorder, the first thing that had to be thrown out was my scale.

But I was sick when I was thin. I have certain heart concerns that I would never have had, I was anemic, I had no energy, I was a caffeine-pill junkie, I developed a pre-ulceric condition at 17, I had constant headaches and pain ... I was hungry. I was hungry and supplementing pills and cigarettes and cup after cup of coffee and Diet Coke and gum for food, with a steady influx of disordered exercise where I more than once FELL DOWN while running because I was so lightheaded.

When I was a size 6 or 8, nobody ever asked me how much I exercised. They didn't ask me how many vegetables I ate, they didn't condescendingly note the exercise habits that they did see. They just assumed that thin=healthy, so I must have been good.

I wasn't.

I'm sick of the pseudo-science being thrown around that obesity/my fat ass CAUSES things - thanks to a reminder of quantitative research methods from my class 11 years ago (because I turned around and got old), I now remember the way that popular media throws around the term "cause." The ONLY causal relationship that is scientifically significant between obesity and health?

The fatter you are, the less likely you are to go to a doctor. That's it. They may be able to show a correlation between weight and some diseases, but the only CAUSAL relationship? Is how often people go to doctors.

And you know when the last time I went to the doctor (the doctor, not my surgeon or PT for my broken leg)? It's been years.

This isn't saying that I don't want to hear about health. I love hearing about the new vegetable recipe you've tried or how beginning runners get over that initial feeling of disappointment. I enjoy when people talk about getting stronger and moving better.

I like to hear about the night you went dancing last weekend and didn't stop for three hours.

But lets not talk about pants size, okay? Lets not talk numbers and weight and BMI and all of that shit that doesn't really matter.

Tell me what you are and what you love, not some useless set of numbers. Please.


  1. On the heels of our conversation last Friday: I love how energized I can feel getting free airplane rides at the dojo, even if the next day I walk around like a crazy plastic ken doll becasue I can no longer bend my knees properly without all my leg muscles attempting to revolt. Even if you think you are ways out from being able to afford it please come check it out: FREE AIRPLANE RIDES!

  2. Josh - that is the best response to a blog entry I can IMAGINE having. <3<3<3