No, For Real, Take My Money

If you had the ability to provide me with a product or service, and in exchange I would give you lots of money, that would be great, right? Now, what if you had the ability to provide me and millions of my friends with a product or service, and we would all give you lots of money? Even better, right? Apparently not. Let me explain.

sponge

I went to the mall over the weekend, because I needed to get some new trainers. I usually get my marathoning shoes online, but I really needed a new pair fast, so I went over to Dick’s Sporting Goods. And while I was there, I decided to take a stroll through the clothing department. I am always on the lookout for workout clothes, especially pants. While I’m marathon training, I like capri-length fitted pants with a zipper pocket that will hold my cell phone. This combination of features is way more difficult to find than you would probably believe… if you’re fat.

dickssg

Because Nike had some super cute capri-length fitted pants with a zippered pocket that totally held my cell phone – I know, because I put my little iPhone in there and zipped it up. So why didn’t I get them? Not because they were expensive (they were, but I’m willing to pay for quality, style, and the features I want), but because they only went up to XL. A lot of times, XL is exactly my size, but that is almost never true when it comes to workout clothes.

nosizeSo many Nike capri pants if you’re XS-L, you can hardly see them all!

As I was leaving the store, a employee asked me if she could help me find something. I explained that they didn’t have anything that fit me, and she proceeded to tell me that even she can’t fit in Nike’s pants – and she was a lot smaller than me (I’m guessing maybe a 10 or 12?). And then she goes on to tell me that Nike sales rep for that store is my size and she is required to wear Nike clothes when she’s on the job. Well, of course she can’t just pick up a pair of pants in the store, because they won’t fit her. So she has to special order them.

extendedThese are your choices if you are 1X, 2X, or 3X.

As you can see from the images throughout this post, Nike provides a really excellent selection of capri pants to people with small bodies. But if you aren’t small and want color, pattern, and style choices? Tough luck. I guess that fat Nike sales rep must wear a lot of gray and black, eh?

2XLAnd this is your only choice if you are 2XL.

Why doesn’t Nike want my money? Why doesn’t any athletic clothing company want my money? Why are plus-size workout clothes either super tight, or super boxy and giant? Why can’t any company just take what they make for small people, and make those clothes available in bigger sizes? I just cannot for the life of me understand why Nike, or Under Armour, or Reebok, or Athleta, or any of the others don’t want my money and the money of other fat people who work out and need to wear something while they’re doing it.

simpsons

I’ve had a bunch of people tell me I should start my own workout apparel line. And that’s a brilliant idea, except I have no idea how to go about that. And while I love the thought of a fat person creating a line like that for other fat people, I just can’t shake the idea that these companies that already exist ought to give me what I want. But apparently they just don’t want my money. Weird.

batman

I’ve said it before, but apparently it bears repeating over and over and over:

shutup

The Critic’s Corner

Each of us is our own worst critic, right? Unless we’ve gotten a really horrendous haircut, the chances of someone else noticing our bad hair day is pretty slim. But when we look in the mirror? Mane disaster!

hair2

Here’s another example: If I wear a top or a dress that is even the littlest bit form fitting, I am convinced that people three states over can see my belly rolls. And while maybe they can see them, I am pretty sure they don’t see them the way I do. (Yeah, I know that feeling negatively about my belly rolls is antithetical to the spirit of BFD, but you already knew body acceptance was a journey – this is a common rest stop along the way for me.)

grossed

I read a lot of blogs and articles about fat people – those written by fat people, those written for fat people, and those written about fat people. And there is a lot of stuff out there that angers me. It makes me mad when people assume they know the health habits of fat people. It makes me mad when people make generalizations about fat people – that we are lazy, and gluttonous, and stupid, and unworthy.

becky

There’s stuff that disappoints me, too. Like when people base their self worth on the number on the scale or the size of their pants. Like when people become obsessed with dieting and weight loss. Like when people see physical movement as a form of punishment for their dietary sins.

disappointed

But the hardest part about all that reading I do? It’s the sad stuff. Story after story about the fat shaming, ridicule, and bullying that so many fat people suffer at the hands of people who are supposed to love them. It’s unbelievable, the kind of heart-breaking things that parents, spouses, family members, and lovers have said to fat people. It’s one thing for fat shaming and hatred to come from strangers (especially those who get to hide behind the powerful anonymity of the internet). But for it to come from the people who should love you the most?

crying

It’s almost mind-boggling to me to know that this happens. I have been lucky – blessed, even – to be surrounded by friends and family who treat me with respect, dignity, and love. My parents never hinged their love on my body size. My best friends never shamed me for not being able to wear something, or for what I put in my mouth. So to all of you who have treated me decently and well, I thank you. And I hope that you extend that same courtesy and respect to all people, not just the ones you happen to love.

group

Okay, so tell me: Who’s your worst critic? Who has hurt your heart, your mind, your spirit, with cruel words about your appearance? Who’s opinion most affects your feelings of worth? Take this quick poll, and then share in the comments!

Yeah, This Ought to Help

If I wrote in the style of those click-bait headlines, today’s post would say something like, “You won’t believe what she dared to say that no one else has the nerve to. I’m speechless!” (Have you noticed how many of those writers are ‘speechless,’ and yet have plenty to say on whatever subject they’re writing about?) Instead, I think I’ll stick with something less sensational and more accurate and tell you: A terrible woman wrote a terrible article and a UK tabloid published it because of course it was going to garner a ton of clicks. And it did not leave me speechless, because I’m going to talk to you about it right now.

5959256807_52d5404b18_zLet’s look at some pretty things while we talk about ugly things.

Here’s the gist: A thin woman named Linda Kelsey is grossed out by fat people. That’s really the entire point. She thinks fat people, especially women, and especially young women, need to cover up their disgusting bodies because she hates looking at them. Here she is in her own lovely words:

I am unapologetically fattist. It’s unattractive, it’s unhealthy and, given the problems that being fat can cause, it should be as unacceptable as smoking.

There is so much to say about just these two sentences. First of all, I didn’t know ‘fattist’ was a word, but I’m totally gonna start using it. Second, how telling that she put the word ‘unattractive’ before ‘unhealthy.’ Because, let’s be honest, most fattists (!) don’t care about the health of fat people – they just don’t like looking at them. And third, I love that she equates a body type with a habit. My body is unacceptable to her. I should stop this disgusting habit of being fat. Wow, I wish someone had told me this before. I’m gonna stop being fat right away!

5959818458_17a2f35fb1_z

I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that she believes fat people are fat because we eat too much and move too little. Are you wondering, perhaps, if Linda Kelsey was once fat herself, and is in the 5% of people who lost a large amount of weight and has kept it off? Well, she’s not.

I don’t have a daughter, nor do I have a weight problem. I’ve always felt it was unattractive and unhealthy to be fat and I’ve always been disciplined about what I eat without ever starving myself. I love food, but even today, at 62, I am still very careful to cut back if I feel my jeans getting too tight. While I have sympathy for those with genuine metabolic conditions, the majority of today’s fatties seem simply too greedy, ill-disciplined and or ignorant to do the same.

Yep, Linda Kelsey is one of those never-been-fat people who feels justified and righteous shaming, bullying, and judging fat people. Excellent! The world definitely doesn’t have enough people like that.

7291455556_5e520b9a3f_z

You know what? I know a lot of people who feel this way, even if they aren’t brazen enough to write an article about it. They truly believe that they are thin because they are disciplined and I am fat because I’m not. They believe that I would still be at my lowest weight if I wasn’t so greedy, ill-disciplined, and ignorant. Even some people who know me very well and love me believe this, deep down. They think that if I had just been stronger, better, more focused, I wouldn’t have regained any of the weight I’d lost.

Here are some things to consider:

  • No matter why someone is fat, they still deserve kindness and respect as human beings.
  • You cannot suppose the health habits of anyone just by looking at their body.
  • Other people do not exist to be pleasing for you to look at.
  • Having a small body does not make you morally superior to people with larger bodies.
  • When you make assumptions about fat people – including those in your life, including those you love, including me – you are really no better than Linda Kelsey.

The Daily Mail only published this article because they knew it would drive a ton of traffic to their site. They knew it would get people fired up (you’re probably not surprised to hear that the majority of the commentors on this article agreed with Linda and admonished fatties for just laying on the couch eating junk food all day). At first glance, it doesn’t seem to do anything other than raise the profile and profit margins of The Daily Mail.

But if talking about this nasty bit of news makes even one person stop and consider the ways in which they have judged and shamed someone for their body, then it has actually done some good. If reading this article makes you pause and consider the assumptions you make about fat people, then it has done a lot of good. If Linda’s words make you never, ever want to be like Linda, then I’ll call that a win.

Happy Birthday To Me!

No, it’s not my birthday (that’d be December 2nd, if you’re keeping track). But it’s the birthday of Big Fit Deal! I started this little experiment two years ago. I published my first post on July 5, 2012. I can’t believe it’s been two years already!

Michelle-Tanner-Happy-Birthday-gif

In the past two years, I’ve written 292 posts.

76b81-fallenmelodylj7b

In the past two years, we have collectively posted 1,139 comments.

tumblr_m5o9wnBUbw1r3nkzc

In the past two years, the site has garnered over 29,000 views.

tumblr_lcwkx2sgio1qct0y7o1_5001

Those are pretty impressive numbers! But I want to do more. I want to reach more people, talk to more people. I want more people to realize that fat shaming and hate are not acceptable. I want more people to start on the journey to body acceptance and love. I want more people to just flat-out start treating everyone with respect, no matter what they look like, what their health status is, or how they choose to live their lives.

tumblr_inline_n1ps1lQAF61r1chly
Look, I know BFD is a very small fish in a very, very big pond. But I believe in the message as much today as I did two years ago. And with your help and support, I know that over the next two years, we can spread that message further and farther. Together we can make the world a happier, healthier, nicer place to live in.

giphy

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Mind Like Water

What do you do when things aren’t going the way you want them to? If you’re feeling blue, furious, hopeless, enraged, how do you handle those emotions? Do you curl up in bed with the covers over your head? Eat a pint of mint chocolate chip? Practice deep breathing? There are probably as many ways to deal with negative feelings as there are people on this planet.

10387745153_08c9fb6f5a_zThis post is brought to you by (surprise!) water.

Me? I like to sweat, sing, and vent to friends. And while those things help, I have also tried to find some kind of motto, maxim, or mantra (why do all those words start with M?!) that I can repeat to myself to help focus my thinking and calm my mind and heart.

8635325437_cd4b014fea_z

I’ve used a few over the years, but they’ve never seemed quite right. As an example, I like the idea of “go with God,” but what if you’re an atheist? “Go with the universe” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. “One day at a time” is another good one, but still not quite what I need.

10389780154_303ff1c8f9_z

My friend Tanya started a website, Zen of Tanya. (She even interviewed me!) And last week, she posted something that really struck a chord in me. In honor of our recent American holiday, she wrote about freedom. And in that post she talked about the Zen concept of Mind Like Water. I’ll let her explain it to you:

Water is the ultimate representation of zen – put something in the way and water will simply flow around it. Contain it and it will either continue to fill that container until it overflows, or slowly escape by evaporating and rejoining the waters of the world through the cycle that governs all water – regardless of form.

8635339535_d65d3fd779_z

I love this! This is motto/maxim/mantra I’ve been waiting for! I want to have a Mind Like Water, to have something put in my way and let my mind and heart simply flow around it. And this isn’t just about the minor, everyday annoyances of life, like that person driving slow in the passing lane or no open swim lanes in the pool at the gym.

photo1(5)

This is about the big stuff, and how I deal with it. Stuff like dealing with fat shaming and hatred and having the energy to fight it, worrying about the health and happiness of my loved ones, fretting that my future husband has completely lost his way and will never find his way to my doorstep. (All of which I have dealt with over the past few days, and, in fact, deal with on most days of my life.)

8065137262_fa68acc625_z

Fear, shame, loneliness. Those are big rocks. But if I make my mind like water, it flows around them. It even has the power to change those rocks, to smooth their rough edges. Mind Like Water. I even love the sound of it.

5210088433_8463448431_z

How do you handle the big rocks in your path? Share in the comments!

 

 

If You Could, Would You?

I want you to pretend you’re hearing me say this with one of those rich, resonant movie trailer voiceover voices: Would you give up everything you have… for everything you’ve ever wanted? Yeah, that’s a tagline from a 90s comedy that I am pretty sure I never saw, but for some reason it’s stuck with me.

destiny
I was reminded of it the other day when I read a post where a fat woman said that, given the choice, she would choose her same body.

I’m a 300 pound woman with rights, talents, aspirations, guts and an outspoken mind. If I had the choice, I would pick this body again and again. This body is resilient and soft. It is radical and political in a world that has made it that way.

And that got me to thinking: If I could be thin, would I choose to?

thinking

Sounds crazy, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be permanently thin if given the option? (No, I’m not going to get into a discussion about how it is possible, if fat people would just try hard enough. Trust me, I’ve tried hard enough.)

The truth is, I would choose it. If a genie popped out of a bottle right now and granted me three wishes, one of them would be to have a thin, healthy body for the rest of my life. (Can I just tell you, the idea of genie-granted wishes kind of freaks me out, because I imagine you really ought to write them down so you can include all the caveats by which the genie might try to screw up your wish – hence my including that important little bit about my thin body also being healthy.)

genie

Do I think all of my struggles would end if I was skinny? Of course not. Do I think I’d have better clothing options, more possible-future-husband options, better healthcare, more respect? You betcha. I guess it might sound contrary to the theme of Big Fit Deal, but as I’ve told you before, I’m nothing if not contrary.

contrary

Now, if I had to give up something important – loved ones, talent, intelligence, kindness, generosity, loyalty, humor – in exchange for a permanently thin body? Then I would tell the genie to be on his way (after he granted me some money, health and happiness for my loved ones, and a loving husband, of course. Ha!). Because the fundamental ways in which I am me are more important than the size of my body any day.

valjean

Which begs the question: Would I still be who I am if I didn’t have this body?

Okay, your turn. If you could wake up tomorrow and have your ideal body, would you? What if it meant giving up something fundamental that makes you who you are? Would you still be you if you had a different body?

Don’t Speak!

Some people have told me that they don’t like it when I talk about negative things here at BFD. They like the happy posts, the ones where I share inspiring stories or talk about something good that happened. I think that we have a fundamental disagreement about what inspiring means. Because when I get fired up, worked up, and outraged by something, I find that inspiring in a very important way. Here’s an example.

Last week, The New York Times ran an opinion letter from advice columnist and author who is upset about fat people – young girls in particular. She says things like “I wish we could change the depressing fact that one of three kids is overweight or obese” and “Our world is not one-size-fits-all, and yes, XL is O.K. But when a girl is XXXL (or, for that matter, emaciated), I don’t think: Let’s not talk about it.”

hFE406D6A

First of all, what world is Carol Weston living in where we aren’t constantly talking about body size? You can’t turn on a talk show or open a magazine or click on a news site without seeing something about how people’s bodies are wrong and we really need to do something about it. And second of all, why is it that so many thin people think that fat people don’t know they are fat? I am quite aware of the size of my body, and I don’t need a thin person to remind me. Pretty sure that “emaciated” people feel the same.

bullets-over-broadway-6

So anyway, The New York Times asked people to respond to Ms. Weston. Great! An open dialogue! I submitted a response, as did several fat- and body-positive writers whom I admire and follow. Do you want to guess how many of our letters were chosen for publication? Did you guess zero? You win a prize!

shh

There were a few okay comments, about genetics and biology and how shaming is wrong. One writer even attempted to mention Health At Every Size (but got the name wrong). But most of it was stuff like this:

  • Better advice would have focused on seeking expert help from a health care professional trained in obesity.
  • The hard truth is that a healthy meal is more expensive than a double cheeseburger at McDonald’s.
  • I’m one of those old-fashioned women who refuses to believe that, given the choice, a woman wouldn’t rather wear a size 10 than a size 16.
  • Obesity is a public health problem, and it will take a committed approach involving many sectors.
  • It is up to pediatricians and family doctors to recommend more exercise, smaller portions and less processed food to overweight children.

It’s the same garbage over and over: Fat people need to be told they are fat. All fat people overeat unhealthy foods and don’t exercise, and we need to make them stop doing that. We need to band together to make fat people skinny. Not one mention of the fact that it’s nearly impossible to do that. No mention of the fact that there are plenty of thin people who overeat unhealthy foods and don’t exercise. Just the usual hand wringing, misinformation, and worry that does nothing to make the lives of fat people any better.

gwen-stefani-hollarback-300-400-101The New York Times proclaimed to want to have a discussion about “obesity,” which to me meant hearing many voices – including and especially fat voices (and not just fat voices who support the diet industry and fear fat). But by the responses they chose to publish, it’s clear that they never intended to have a true discussion. Carol Weston is really worried about fat teenagers, and while the Times published a response from a teenager, she began her reply, “I’m 16 years old and not obese.” Where are the fat teenager voices?

Fat voices are silenced in so many ways. There was an “obesity” conference in Canada a couple of weeks ago. Want to see what one of the panels of experts looks like? And here are some “warriors” in the fight against obesity. Here’s what I said to the doctor who posted those pictures, and his response.

discussionGood point… and?

They don’t want us to speak. If we don’t speak, then concerned thin people and thin “obesity” experts can continue to insist that we don’t know we’re fat, can continue to assume they know what we eat and how we move, can continue to wring their hands about how wrong we are. If we don’t speak, billions of dollars can continue to be made from people hating their bodies.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to continue to write, talk, speak, shout. I will make my voice heard. I will not be ignored, and I will not be silenced. This discussion is about me, and you can be I’m going to be part of it.

I Love You, But…

What do you do when someone who loves you says something that really hurts you? Let’s say you’re in a relationship, and suddenly your partner confesses they aren’t attracted to you any more because you’ve gotten fat. Ah, the dreaded F word! While I hope that we are moving toward a world where the word ‘fat’ is just a neutral adjective used to describe a body type, it’s currently still loaded with negative connotation and emotion. So, what do you do when your loved one wounds you with this word and these feelings?

10391422493_c951023ec3_zThis post is brought to you by pictures of signs.

Now, going on a diet might seem like a logical solution. Your partner thinks you’re too big, so you should make an attempt to get small, right? You could certainly try that. If you restrict your food intake and increase your exercise, you’ll almost certainly get smaller… for awhile. As we’ve discussed time and time again, weight loss is only sustainable in the long run for a small portion of people. (See here for a great discussion about this.) So, you can punish your body for its supposed failures, but that’s probably not a permanent solution. And, honestly, when’s the last time trying to change something because you hated it led to a positive result?

10389487814_dc46ed8860_z

You know that old nugget about “you can never really love someone until you love yourself”? That is totally true about your body, too. You can’t force someone to find you attractive, but if you are projecting body hate and shame, you can bet your partner (or your potential partner) senses that. Why should they accept, appreciate, and love your body if you don’t? You can’t control someone else’s feelings, but you can control your own – so start thinking about how you can learn to first accept and hopefully one day love your body. It starts with you.

9167657013_5866bf8da9_z

Hard truth? It’s not easy. Even if your loved one is sitting right next to you on the body acceptance bandwagon, learning to be okay with your body can be really tough. Body acceptance is definitely a marathon, and not a sprint. And during a long race you need support, you need encouragement, you need the right fuel to keep you going. Some of that fuel can come from outside sources (check out the body positive links on the left!), but getting support from those closest to you can be crucial.

8636594546_845bfbbb5e_z

But what if your partner is not sitting right next to you on the body acceptance bandwagon? What if your loved one is the one doing the shaming, spreading the hate, using the F word? Start with trying to explain to them just how much their words hurt. Conversations like that can be really hard, but they are so important. You aren’t going to get anywhere – in your relationship with your body or with that other person – if you just stay silent. To the other person, silence usually means acceptance and agreement.

10480717715_c8146e125a_z

And if your partner continues to be mean and cruel? Well, then it might be time to evaluate if they are the right person to share your life with. Here’s the thing: There is only one person who is going to be with you for your entire life, and that’s you. Even if you’re married for 75 years, your relationship with yourself is the first and last you will ever have. So, you have to choose: Is it worth it to spend your time with someone who doesn’t love you as you are? That question applies to yourself, too! You can always find another partner, but you will never have another you.

14062026273_e04abd15e5_z

There is absolutely nothing easy about any of this. Breaking out of the mindset that fat makes you unworthy and unlovable, makes you not good enough, is a very difficult thing. Couple that with hearing those messages from the person you love most, and you’ve got a recipe for self-loathing and shame. Try to be kind and patient – with your partner, but mostly with yourself. You are worthy, and you are lovable. Learn it, believe it… and hopefully, your loved one will learn it and believe it, too.

From Start to Finish

We’re about to start our third week of half marathon training for Gilda’s Gang. As always, I’m encouraged, motivated, and inspired by the people who make up our little Gang. From experienced marathon runners to first-time marathon walkers, our group truly includes people of all sizes, shapes, and abilities. There are plenty of race-training groups out there, but I really think ours is unique in that we are focused on camaraderie, companionship, and getting everyone safely across the finish line. It’s not about heart rates or pace or weight loss or setting records – except personal ones.

2013

The other day, I was reading Ragen Chastain’s blog, where she’s been talking a lot about training for her second marathon. And she said something that really struck me: “a marathon is a distance, not a time.” I love it when someone expresses something so simply and perfectly that you have believed in yet haven’t quite been able to articulate. She really nails this for me. The marathon – or, in my case, the half marathon – is a distance. As in, “go this distance and you’ve completed a half marathon.” Not “go this distance in this amount of time and you’ve completed a half marathon.”

8022099434_a6dd0aaf69_z

There are some people who think that you shouldn’t be allowed in a marathon if you aren’t a runner. There are some people who think that you shouldn’t be allowed in a marathon if you aren’t someone who runs fast enough (and guess who gets to decide what ‘fast enough’ is? Hint: not you!). They think that allowing slow people to race somehow diminishes the accomplishments of the fast people. I’m of the mind that if you want to lace up your trainers and walk or run or walk/run or run/walk or jog or shuffle or skip or do handsprings for 13.1 or 26.2 miles, then more power to you. I’ll see you at the start line (and, hopefully, at the finish line).

6159990054_5e24cd09b0_z

My goals and your goals, my accomplishments and your accomplishments, my marathon and your marathon are not at odds with each other. There is room enough for all of us to complete that distance.

Gilda Radner once said:

The same way people in gangs can do things that the individual could never do alone, the gang of us fighting cancer makes us all stronger.

That’s the guiding spirit behind Gilda’s Gang. Together, we can accomplish amazing things. Together, we can go the distance – no matter the time.

Sticks and Stones

You know those moments that just stick with you forever, and never leave you? Oftentimes these are wonderful moments that stay with you because they made you feel so good. But of course there are the things that we can’t forget because they were so hurtful and cruel. Today I’m going to tell you about one of each.

The other day I saw a post somewhere that included the hashtag #getinmybelly. If you’re of a certain age, you remember that phrase from the movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. It was said by the character Fat Bastard, whom Wikipedia notes is known for “his foul temper, his emotional monologues that end with flatulence, his vulgar manners, and his unusual diet.” Nowadays it seems the phrase is used to express a desire to eat something delicious, but back when the movie first came out it was an expression of extreme gluttony.

belly

What does that have to do with me? Back when I lived in Nashville, when I was also at my fattest to date, I went to see the Tennessee Titans play. I had only been to one other NFL game, so I was pretty excited to attend. There I was, sitting with my friend and minding my own business, when I realized that the teenage boys behind me were laughing at and talking about me. Finally, one of them got up the nerve to speak to me. And what did he say? He asked me if I would say “get in my belly” for them. How hilarious to ask the fat lady to say that line!

meFBFat Bastard on the left, Elvis and me on the right. In case you couldn’t tell.

As you can imagine, I was furious. I don’t remember what I said, or honestly even if I said anything. I hope I did, but I may have been too ashamed and embarrassed, as angry as I was.

Thinking about that memory reminded me of another time when someone said something about my body. It was my senior year in high school, and a friend was over to study for finals (read: to swim in the pool a lot and occasionally crack a book). I was swimming in the deep end, and popped up out of the water, feet first. That friend, one of the cutest boys in school, said to me, “You have really great legs.” You could have knocked me over with a feather! That is the first time I ever remember someone saying something positive about my body. It was such an important moment for me, I remember it with clarity over twenty years later.

swimPretty much me, if I had been surrounded by friends at the time.

So, tell me: What have people said to you that you’ve never forgotten? Positive, negative, amazing, ridiculous, I want to hear it all! Share your experiences in the comments.