If I say “holiday” and “fear,” you probably think of Halloween, yah? Well, you ought to think about the end-of-year holidays, because if there’s anything the diet industry loves, it’s to work you into a paroxysm of fear over how much weight you’re going to gain over the next couple of weeks.
I just saw an interview on the local news (with two thin women, of course) offering strategies for coping with horrible things like parties, buffets, and potluck lunches. You know the kind of advice I mean: Eat something before you go, keep your hands busy, don’t stand near the food, drink lots of water. You definitely wouldn’t want to let yourself enjoy some treats and have a good time. Constant vigilance!
Well, I have my own coping strategies, and I want to share them with you. I’ve boiled it down to two simple steps for surviving the holidays. These are going to change your life. Ready?
- Embrace joy.
- Abandon guilt.
No, really, that’s it. Instead of fretting over every bite, instead of stressing about gaining a few pounds, instead of spending so much time planning your fat attack for January 1st that you miss out on all the fun here at the end of year, why don’t you try having a good time? Sure, you will probably put on some pounds if you allow yourself to enjoy all your favorite things during the holidays, but… you will also be… enjoying yourself. Doesn’t that sound nice?
There’s this idea that depriving ourselves, holding ourselves to strict standards (especially when it comes to our food choices) makes us good, strong, better. It has become commonplace to police and moralize our (and others’) food choices. This holiday season, I challenge you to abandon those ideas, and have another cookie instead.
Chances are, you are doing something (probably many things) to make the holidays special for someone (probably many someones). While you’re busy shopping, cooking, wrapping, and celebrating, do something special for someone very close to you – yourself. This holiday season, embrace joy and abandon guilt. You can’t wrap these ideas or stick a bow on them, but they are truly a gift.
Full disclosure: I don’t watch ABC’s Once Upon A Time. But I pay attention to all sorts of pop-culture news, and yesterday a story about this show caught my eye. That’s because the show has cast an actress to play Ursula from The Little Mermaid, and in doing so they made a very big mistake. In case you need a reminder, this is what Ursula looks like (with Ariel shown for perspective, just in case you need it):
And this is what Merrin Dungey looks like, who has been cast as Ursula:
You can’t convince me that there weren’t any fat actresses out there to choose from. What they’ve done is take a part ready-made for a fat person (how many of those exist?!), and failed to give that part to a fat person. Surprising? No. Frustrating? Yes.
Sadly, Disney isn’t the only one pulling stunts like this. Check out the original Amanda Waller, part of the DC Comics universe:
Here’s what she looks like on Arrow:
You know, I used the word “mistake” in the title of this post, but a mistake to me implies that you didn’t know better. Disney and DC know better. Disney knows that Ursula is a big fat woman and DC knows that Amanda Waller is, too, and they cast thin women anyway.
There’s this ludicrous idea that showing fat people in media will encourage people to be (or stay) fat. I mean, clearly I’m fat because I learned it from Ursula, and now when I see a skinny version of this excellent villain, I’m going to learn the error of my ways and become forever thin, right?
You know those challenges that pop up now and then on social media – ab challenge, plank challenge, push-up challenge – where you follow a monthly schedule that dares you to do more and more? The ones with pictures of how ripped and amazing your body is going to look after thirty days of hard work and dedication? Yeah, this is nothing like that.
Now, I think it’s safe to say that pretty much every one of us has a complicated relationship with food. Whether we’re suffering from intense guilt and shame for the “bad” things we’ve eaten, or we’re elated at how “good” we’ve been and want to tell everyone about the latest food that has changed our lives forever, food and strong emotion go hand in hand. Sadly, more often than not, we fear food and what it might do to us, especially in terms of our weight.
So, here’s your challenge: This Thanksgiving – and straight on through to the New Year and beyond (to forever!), if you dare – I challenge you to stop fearing food. Let go of the guilt. Don’t fret about how much stuffing and green bean casserole you’ve eaten. Don’t pile a big scoop of shame onto your plate next to the sweet potatoes and turkey.
Now, some people will think I’m encouraging you to be a glutton all day every day. I’m not. I think it’s important to establish a healthy relationship with food, to educate ourselves about nutrition, and to fuel our bodies in ways that help us to function well and live long lives. But fear doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t – be a part of that. My go-to motto for food? “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
So then, what about the guilt, shame, and fear that other people serve up at the holidays? Making friends with food is tough enough without “well meaning” family and friends butting in. From your aunt who asks if you really need a second helping, to the Facebook friends who post articles about how to “survive” the holidays without weight gain, the obstacles to repairing your relationship with food are everywhere.
She says: “Did you gain weight?”
You say: “Yes, but I lost my will to live. If I’m not back from the bathroom in, like, 20 minutes, I’m probably not coming back. Tell Dad I loved him the most.”
She says: “Someone’s putting on the pounds!”
You say: “Have you seen this family? I was literally dealt the worse genetic hand possible. What the hell? Now I just carry around my own butter.”
Remember: What and how much you eat is your business. Feel free to let people know that.
Repairing your relationship with food probably isn’t going to be easy or quick. It’s taken you years to learn to be afraid of food, to feel guilt and shame about what you choose to put in your mouth. Unlearning those habits and behaviors might take just as long. So, be patient with yourself. Be kind (even – and especially – when others aren’t).
Start by eating what you want on Thanksgiving Day without questioning or fretting about every forkful. Don’t engage in conversations about how bad everyone feels after they’re done eating, and the things they’re going to have to do to make up for their gluttony. I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I have faith that you can do it. This can be a positive change for the rest of your life. I’d like to see the plank challenge do that!
Have you heard about the hot water Old Navy’s gotten themselves into in regards to their plus-size clothing pricing practices? It all started when a savvy shopper noticed that Old Navy charges more for plus-sized items than for straight-sized – for women. Men’s clothing costs the same no matter the size. Here’s an excerpt from the petition:
As of the writing of this post, the petition has over 87,000 signatures (and yes, one of them is mine). Pretty hard for Old Navy to ignore that many voices, right? Well, the company responded, and as you can imagine, they had some lovely spin:
“Old Navy is proud to offer styles and apparel designed specifically for our plus-size female customer, which includes curve-enhancing and curve-flattering elements such as four-way stretch materials and contoured waistbands, which most men’s garments do not include,” Gap spokesperson Debbie Felix told The Huffington Post in an email Tuesday.
Sure, okay. I need special curve-enhancing and -flattering materials in my pants, and men don’t. Whatever. You know what really gets my blood boiling about this? That not only are my pants pricier than a man’s because of all my special pant needs, but apparently my pants have $13 worth of extra material than a skinny woman’s pants. Thirteen dollars! And don’t even start with the “bigger sizes cost more to produce” argument, because wouldn’t that mean a size 12 (still a straight size, mind you!) should cost, oh, I don’t know, maybe $13 more than a size 0? Straight-sized women would never stand for that! No, companies upcharge for plus-size clothing because they can.
Okay, so let’s take a look at some of the arguments folks are offering in defense of Old Navy’s pricing practices. (Check out the comments section of any article about this controversy, and you’ll find loads of people who are experts in women’s fashion, health, and the economy!) As you can imagine, people are sympathetic and understanding about fat people’s clothing needs. Just kidding!
Fat Women Shouldn’t Wear Skinny Jeans Anyway
This is probably my favorite. Nothing to do with the actual issues at hand, just fat-shaming at its “Don’t make me look at your disgusting body, fatso!” ugliest. Thanks, concerned commenter, but I’ll make my own fashion decisions, regardless of your opinion.
Stop Shopping There If You Don’t Like It
Written by a person who has endless options for buying clothes. Guess what, skinny person? I don’t have endless options. I have very few choices in brick and mortar stores (and there are plenty of fat people who are completely sized out of mall stores). There are more options for me online, but very few are economically priced like Old Navy clothes. I have limited choices, so completely eliminating one isn’t as easy a decision for me as it would be for you. This is what’s known as thin privilege. Please check yours at the door.
They Make Less Money On Plus-Sizes
I see this argument a lot, especially in regards to why stores – like Old Navy and Target – have stopped carrying plus sizes in their brick and mortar stores. Just last year, I had a clerk at L.L. Bean tell me that they stopped carrying plus sizes because “no one was buying them.” How does that work, exactly, when we live in a nation that is constantly reminded of how fat we’re all getting? If the average American woman is a size 14, why is it that so few stores sell products meant for half the population? Where are fat women buying their clothes? Are we are just running around naked and I haven’t noticed? I refuse to believe that plus-size clothing is not profitable. So the garbage response that stores can’t make good money on duds for fat women is just more spin.
What can you do? Sign the petition. Speak up. Write to clothing stores and tell them what you want. Wave your dollars in their faces. If we make enough noise, we can make change. And if it really comes down to the fact that fat dollars are less worthy to companies than thin dollars, then I guess we’ll just have to start our own clothing company. Should we call it Big Fit Deal?
I have a problem: While I’m all about body confidence and body love and rooting for every woman’s right to love her body no matter how far it strays from the media’s idea of perfection, I’m having a hard time swallowing even some of the plus size model’s images.
I’m a graphic designer by night, so I’m quite familiar with Photoshop and the wonders it can bring. Fix the shadows, nix a pimple, add some text… create unnaturally smooth, supple skin? Not so much the latter. I’ve been known to retouch some photos of others by reducing wrinkles and whitening teeth, but an image I’ve recently come across and the comments underneath it sort of irked me, because it’s a typical modeling for media/advertising, and while it’s showing diversity in the media, it’s by the media’s standards I feel.
The image is of the lovely Tess Munster. She is a beautiful, full-figured woman with tattoos and piercings, and I really love her style and image. But she too, I believe, is being retouched for advertising’s sake. My heart ached that many of the comments read “I wish I had as much confidence as you.” See the photo spread here.
I feel like commenting myself and saying something along the lines of, “If you too had a makeup artist, hairstylist, professional photographer, and professional photo editor on hand, you can feel as sexy as you want.” Don’t get me wrong, even without the assumed retouching, she’s beautiful. But I’m sorry, no one’s skin is this soft looking. No bumps, no wrinkles, nothing but “perfection.” The fact is, this is just how the media is. I wish some of the other women who mentioned they wished they had her confidence would see that it’s not looking flawless that gives you confidence, it’s being comfortable in your own skin and living life to its fullest.
For reference sake, above is a photo of Tess from her website. STILL a beauty, just more natural and identifiable. Tell me, am I asking too much for the media to just say NO to Photoshopping and image retouching? Should I just be grateful that the media is starting to include some non-standard women?
Surprise! I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I’m still here, and I still have just as much to say as I ever have – maybe even more. So, why haven’t I been blogging my little heart out? First, I needed a mental health break. Thinking about this stuff all the time is exhausting. But mostly, I needed to give my hand a break. I have a pretty good case of carpal tunnel in my right wrist, and it’s made doing computer work outside of my actual get-paid-to-do-it job pretty much out of the question. Thankfully, I’m having surgery in a couple of weeks to take care of the problem – and then I plan to be back, blogging with a vengeance!
Which leads me to the point of this post: I hate not being able to do things. It’s amazing how much I take for granted my ability to physically accomplish what I need – and want – to accomplish. Sprain your ankle or break your arm, and you suddenly realize how lucky you have been to have full use of that ankle or arm. Carpal tunnel has made it painful to do things like hold a steering wheel, blow dry my hair, use a fork, and lift weights in the gym. Guess which one irritates me the most? I mean, sure, I like to drive places and have my hair look nice and feed myself, but not being able to keep up with my regular workout routine seems like the cruelest blow.
It’s just like how frustrated I am that my knee and ankle injuries have sidelined me from marathoning. I have a lot of athletic friends, and to see them posting their race bibs and finish times is so aggravating. I want to be queuing up with them! I want to be at that start line, bouncing on the balls of my feet from all the nervous energy! But my body won’t cooperate anymore. On Thanksgiving morning, hundreds of people are going to participate in a Turkey Trot. Not this turkey. The longing I feel to do something like that makes me drool almost as much as my mom’s homemade stuffing.
As much as I hate to admit it, a huge reason that having physical limitations upsets me is because of my size. I don’t want to be seen doing less, because then I’ll look like a lazy fatty who isn’t trying – trying to not be so fat, trying to look better, trying to be better. Even though I have long given up the idea of being thin, of permanently losing weight through dieting or exercise, I still feel compelled to push myself to do more. It’s basically my version of the “good fatty.” If I’m working out to the max of my abilities, then I’m a good fatty and you shouldn’t look down on me. I’m trying, see! I’m doing all I can!
Of course, the truth is, I am doing all I can – right now. I can’t lift weights because it hurts a lot and my hand goes numb. I can’t walk or run a race because my knee throbs and my foot protests in pain. So swimming and doing Aqua Fit three times a week, working on my flexibility? Those things are good. Those things are good enough. Aren’t they?
As much as society, the media, and the diet industry want me to feel certain things about my body (because every time I have a negative thought, they see dollar signs), I’m often my own worst enemy. I’m disappointed, discouraged, and even disgusted by what my body can and can’t do, what it does and doesn’t look like. Body acceptance is a journey.
Right now, I wish my journey was taking me to the start line of a Turkey Trot, but it’s not. To all of you who are healthy enough to queue up and cross that finish line, I salute you. With my left hand.
I was eating dinner the other night and flipping through my latest Ulta advert, and the inserted fragrance ads were sitting out next to the book after I was finished. I was still eating dinner and happened to glance down at them, and had a passing thought. Amazingly, I don’t recall having this thought in the past, and if I did I just never thought to blog about it. But I thought it fitting for a BFD post!
Why are none of these women what I see everyday? The females (and males, for that matter) are the typical “model,” Photoshopped to the max, smooth skin, sultry/serious looks on their faces… and usually doing things that, to me, have no correlation with fragrance.
I have an AA in Graphic Design and it’s a passion of mine, so when I flip through a magazine I’m often scrutinizing the adverts and wondering what made them go in “that” direction. I don’t think I’ve ever understood fragrance advertising. Again, all people doing things that never have any realistic correlation with wearing perfume. I then thought, What if they just put an average looking person on there, would their ad sales flop or soar? What if ALL companies started using a non-Photoshopped image of someone just using the product? Surely that would be better than what we are force fed through the media
I’d love to hear any thoughts others have to bring on this. It just confuses me. Why is there such a clear-cut definition and look about the word “model” with advertising campaigns? When I decided to Google “Plus size perfume model,” I found a post about The Militant Baker and her faux ad campaigns, although I had yet to see these. They are fabulous. Yes to it all! Here is even one of a fake perfume here:
I’d totally buy that perfume just because I identify with the image. Back to my OSFM? (One Size fits Most?) rant: I can’t comprehend why so many retailers and designers are missing such a huge opportunity for profit growth if they offered more sizes and different advertising?!
It’s 2014, folks, and very near 2015. Movies can be made entirely on the computer, a desktop printer can print a 3D object, robots are being used to clear up hazardous waste, and there are just so many leaps and bounds being made in technology.
There are not flying cars yet, but you know what is still kicking around? The phrase “One Size Fits Most”. *Cue angry music* Formally known as “One Size Fits All,” OSFM, in my opinion, is as outdated as last year’s ham. Dried up. Old. Stinky. THROW IT AWAY! Why can’t we just do away with that size “option”?
I’ll be honest, I don’t see a lot of OSFM clothing, but the one time a year I’m bombarded with it is October… at the Halloween store (I’m looking at you Spirit Halloween)… where I’m DYING, BEGGING to give them my money for a size 2X/3X, plus size, fat, whatever you want to call it, costume! But no, I get OSFM.
“You’re joking right?” is what I mutter to myself when I make the yearly trip to the Halloween store and see so many cute items that could potentially be mine. In reality, I’ve either already purchased my costume from an online retailer (shout out to Torrid), or I’ve had to make my own costume months earlier because I know for a fact that dang store will not have anything in my size.
We’ve seen this GIF before, but seriously? What the heck? You can’t make those tights in a larger size? I know there are larger costumes out there. Can’t you expand your product line? What is the purchasing manager thinking?! In all fairness, Spirit does offer plus sizes online, but I don’t want that! I want brick and mortar. I want to feel that fabric in my hot little hands, and I want to try it on. I don’t want to have to pay for return shipping and going to the post office or paying the return fees. I just want what I want and I want it now. Equality for all sizes in brick and mortar shops. I can PRINT a freaking piggy bank in my home office, but I can’t go to Target and buy a fashionable top or costume? Something is wrong here.This costume would have been fun, but alas, I’m much happier with the one I made myself. Plus, as I’m aging and have a toddler, all that boobage isn’t home/work appropriate.
Have you been subject to any OSFM discrimination, or am I just angry cat for no reason?
See my original post here.
Confession: I’m a card-carrying member of several fandoms. Okay, so there aren’t actually cards to carry (that I know of), but I’m proud to be one of those possibly crazy people who loves something pop-culture related so much that we actually have names for ourselves. Are you a Superwholockian, a Whedonite, an Arrowhead, a Gleek, a Fannibal, a Cortexifan, a Trekkie, an X-Phile? (Feel free to guess which of these I am.)
While those are television examples, there are also fandoms for books, movies… even professional wrestling. Being part of a fandom can be a wonderful experience. Communicating, commiserating, and collaborating with like-minded people all over the world is, to quote someone you may or may not know, fantastic. Being part of something makes us feel good.
Now, let’s say you’re an out and proud member of your fandom, and want to wear your love on your
proverbial literal sleeve. You’re in luck! There are a host of sites that make t-shirts that cater to fans. Here’s the thing, though: Don’t bother ordering one if you’re fat.
From Qwertee to ThinkGeek, pop-culture t-shirt manufacturers seem to have that same problem that so many other clothing makers have: They don’t want my money. I’m not sure why. I mean, there are theories out there that certain brands won’t make clothes for fat people because fat people don’t fit their “target demographic,” which I guess they think is a polite way of saying they only want to be associated with thin (read: attractive) people. If fat people are out wandering around in Lululemon or Abercrombie & Fitch—or, god forbid, designer brands—then… bad things happen like they get more money and more exposure. Oh, the horror, I guess? I haven’t quite worked this out yet, forgive me.
And now we have the custom-made-for-a-cause t-shirt trend. Celebrities like Stephen Amell and some of the cast of MTV’s Teen Wolf are jumping on the bandwagon, offering up limited-quantity, limited-time, custom shirts that support a cause, like cancer or cystic fibrosis. Nothing wrong with raising money for those causes—or even for an up-and-coming artist who sells their designs this way. The problem is that they’re using represent.com to sell these shirts. And the manufacturer behind represent.com? That would be American Apparel.
Now, there are a host of problematic things about American Apparel. But what I want to talk about today is the fact that AA really only wants you to wear their stuff if you’re small. Check out their sizes for women and for men. I love how men get up to 3XL, but women only get 2XL (and, at a 16-18, that’s hardly double extra large). What that means is that if I want to support causes that use represent.com, I have to buy a men’s shirt. Which means the sleeves are going to come down past my elbows and the chest is going to be enormous. I hate men’s t-shirts. I have a drawer full of them that I never wear. I really dislike you, American Apparel, and your sizest crap that prevents me from flying my pop-culture geek flag proudly and comfortably.
And here’s a related thought: It’s pretty commonly known that the average American woman is a size 14. (Read this for an interesting look at clothing sizes.) In a sensible world, doesn’t that mean clothing manufacturers should make a size 14 their medium (meaning “about halfway between two extremes of size or another quality; average”)? But no, most shops make 14 an XL. That doesn’t make sense, but honestly, at the end of the day, I don’t care what the number is on the shirt. I don’t care if it says XL or 4XL or Fat Fatty McFatterson. I just want it to fit well and look good.
Seems to me that TV shows, movies, bands, and, yeah, professional wrestlers all want more fans. After all, more fans equals more money. So, are the decision-makers behind these brands all body snobs like American Apparel? Do they think money from fat pockets is tainted? Or are they all thin themselves, so they never even think about fat people? Or do we just not fit their “target demographic”? Seems to me, their target demographic should be anyone with money. Full stop.
I’ll wrap things up with an image that I’ve used before, and, sadly, will likely use many more times.
Are you a member of a fandom? How do you show your fandom pride? Share in the comments!
You might think that the most important part of doing a marathon is getting to the finish line. And while that action is what earns you a medal and bragging rights, the act of getting to the start line can be just as – or even more – momentous.
A week ago Sunday I got to the start line of my twelfth half marathon. And while the three-and-a-half hours that followed were incredibly difficult, what I went through to lace up my sneakers and pin on my bib that morning was some of the most challenging weeks of my marathoning career.
Years ago, with only two races under my belt, I fell and banged up my knee. I’ve been injured practically every race since. As you can imagine, my pace has slowed considerably. I have pushed myself longer and harder than I should have. Finally – several years too late, I’m sure some of my doctors would argue – I’ve finally decided to hang up my (moisture-wicking) hat and retire. Forever? Probably not. But it will be years before I get to a start or a finish line again.
Some people have asked why I push myself so hard. Why not just walk slower, enjoy the training and racing, and cross the finish line feeling good? Why do I only feel good about racing if I’m going fast enough, if my finish time is something I can be proud of? Why am I only proud of a certain pace? Why can’t I be content with just finishing, no matter how long it takes? After all, didn’t I say that I loved Ragen Chastain’s quote about a marathon being a distance, not a time?
Yeah, but. I can’t seem to let go of the half marathoner I was. Never mind that I was younger and uninjured. I can’t let go of the idea that 13-minute miles are within my grasp. Never mind that I was thinner, too. A big part of why I have kept marathoning even when my body was practically begging me to stop is because I wanted to prove myself as a fat athlete (a fathlete!) by being really fast. So I have ignored and pushed through so much pain in order to prove that, even though I’m fat, I’m fast and strong… and good enough. No one is putting that pressure on me (although I’m sure there are plenty of trolls who would love to help witht that), except me. We are all our own worst critics in so many ways, and this is one of my ways.
My hope is that two or five or ten years from now, I’ll be happy to just finish. I’ll be able to enjoy each mile as it passes. I won’t stress about pace or chip time. If I can’t ever let go of being the marathoner I once was… well, I have twelve medals and seven years of memories. I have countless friends I’ve met from racing and from Gilda’s Gang. And I have contact info for some really amazing physical therapists, if you need one! (More about that soon.)
Sometimes, getting to the finish line is the hard part. Sometimes, getting to the start line is the hard part. And sometimes, knowing when to walk away is the hardest part of all. Thanks, friends, for ringing your cowbells for me all these years. I couldn’t have done it without you.