Well, it's 2013. I haven't written since a lot of my friends left LAST YEAR. What the what? Fortunately since that time, a friend or two has moved back. Huzzah! We've had a pretty rough go of things here in the Reedy-Rogier household, mostly because the economy/job market sucks and folks don't recognize the need for diversity education. But that's a different topic. Today I'm writing about something else that's been weighing on me for a little bit...pun intended.
For as long as I remember I've been chubby, overweight, fat, "big-boned," and any other number of euphemisms that you can come up with around being overweight. When I was younger, I was pretty active and then a life altering event happened that changed my relationship with food and, in turn, rocked my self-esteem. My mom, though always supportive of me and despite always making me know that I am loved, also has a terrible (though improving) relationship with food and a low self-esteem. And despite being the strongest, most vibrant woman I know, those things were conveyed to me, both implicitly and explicitly...and now we struggle together.
You see, the thing about being overweight is that I KNOW I'm overweight. I see it everyday. AND I grew up in the same society as you so I'm also aware of what the common perceptions of me are: I'm lazy, I lack self-control, that I'm unintelligent, etc., etc. And while I can't deny all of those things - I mean, I know only a few people who aren't ever lazy and I just don't understand them - I can say that those play only a small role in my body size. Largely, I was never taught an appropriate relationship with food (I know I say that a lot but it's HUGE, I tell you) - when I was young, my dad used food as a reward/never told me no/gave me everything I wanted and I've already told you my mom's relationship to food. When I was growing up, my brother, who was 8 years older than me, cared for me a lot of the time while my mom was on shift work. I don't know if you know, but teenage boys can eat A LOT. And he was making my meals - which were usually the same as his. Granted, in 15 years, I probably
I'm not talking about money in the sense that I need to pay for some diet plan that will do the work for me but, as we all know..or should know, the cheapest food is also notoriously the WORST for you. So when I was growing up and into college and now in my unemployment, cheaper wins out. I can't afford organic foods. I buy fresh veggies and fruit when they are on sale but if they aren't...well...none for that week. And prioritizing weight loss, which is no quick endeavor, with a billion other things happening is, to put it mildly, a daunting task.
SO why am I telling you all this? Well, I'm talking about this because I'm a feminist and an advocate for social justice and body size and weight are inherently feminist and social justice issues. And because I've joined Weight Watchers to help rectify or control or improve who I am. whoa Those are competing ideals and I'm struggling to deal with the two of them together. You see, I would love to be someone who is part of the body-loving, fat acceptance, self-love movement but years of the exact opposite seem to be a bit insurmountable. Because I have grandparents who have the best possible intentions and yet send the worst possible message when they literally bribed me to lose weight, when I can't find clothes that reflect my style, etc., I certainly don't feel like loving myself. BUT I DO LOVE MYSELF. Because I have a wonderful partner who has accepted me for who I am and has NEVER pressured me to change who I am. Because I have wonderful friends who find me to be funny, caring, charming. Because I have a family that loves me, despite misplaced suggestions. And so...here I sit in this place of internal struggle and I think it's important to realize that this isn't merely a product of my weight because despite popular belief, I don't have health issues related to my weight. I don't have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. This is a product of the society we live in and the ways that cycles of poor self-esteem continue.
To be clear, I'm not wallowing in self-hatred nor am I asking for pity or sympathy or any of that. I am asking we take a critical look at the ways we talk about body size and the ways that we support folks who are at potentially unhealthy body weights (both over and under). Don't make assumptions about folks or pretend that you know what's going on in there lives. Realize that weight is a fluctuating thing and that while a healthy lifestyle may be real easy for you, condescension and patronizing tones are unhelpful and unwelcome. On a day to day basis, I'm just trying to be me, as happily as can be. This is just my struggles but there are many more like me and when we continue to allow misogynistic ideals of what it means to be a woman, we perpetuate generations of self-loathing women who struggle to be their whole, beautiful selves in the world.
Just a thought.
Happy 2013 everyone!