Saturday, October 30, 2021

Come As You Are Party + Charity Sunday: Association for Size Diversity and Health


Free-use image from Pixabay

Content warning for brief mention of self-harm and suicide ideation

What if neither of the bodies depicted in the image above is "bad" or "wrong?"

What if they are both just bodies?

This is the concept promoted by the Association for Size Diversity and Health.

The Association for Size Diversity and Health adheres to the principals created by Dr. Lindo Bacon in their book, Health at Every Size. 

A full explanation of the HAES approach can be found here.

The Health At Every Size® (HAES®) approach is a continuously evolving alternative to the weight-centered approach to treating clients and patients of all sizes. It is also a movement working to promote size-acceptance, to end weight discrimination, and to lessen the cultural obsession with weight loss and thinness. The HAES approach promotes balanced eating, life-enhancing physical activity, and respect for the diversity of body shapes and sizes.

Speaking as someone who tried to hate myself thin for 33 years to no avail, the diet approach did me more harm than good. My thyroid fried itself as I entered my teens and I developed PCOS. I have been treated shabbily for my size not only by the general public but by those who are supposed to "do no harm." 

When I was in nursing school, size-shaming was not just overlooked, it was actively encouraged. 

Even my current GP, who does not harp on weight loss and generally treats me with respect, honed in on weight as the focus for why I should increase my dosage of thyroid medication, which I am reluctant to do because too much thyroid medication causes my blood pressure to rise and my pulse to race. 

She suggested adding in another blood pressure medication, an idea which I gave a hard pass. I am already at the maximum dosage of two blood pressure medications, Irbesartan and Amlodipine. I can't take ACE inhibitors, which make me cough, or beta blockers, which exacerbate my asthma. I refuse to take a diuretic because I already have to pee all the time thanks to diabetes, another gift from my trash fire endocrine system.

Whenever the focus is placed on my weight as opposed to my overall health, I go into a shame spiral. I starve myself. I don't want to go out in public. All the hard work I've done to accept myself goes to shit as I once again start imagining cutting the adipose tissue away from my body, calling myself a worthless, fat piece of shit, and thinking that the world would be a better place if I killed myself.

I wrote about how it feels to be a large person in a world that loathes large people in the following poem, which you can read if you care to.

Ragen Chastain, creator of the Dances With Fat blog, wisely observes that people don't take care of the things that they hate, and that includes their bodies. Teaching people to hate their bodies is emotional abuse, not "tough love." If shame worked, there would be no addicts, no alcoholics, no fat people, nobody with mental illness, and no smokers.

A person's size is more complex than the "calories in, calories out" model proposes. One can't determine anything about a fat person's food intake, level of physical activity, medications, or medical conditions by their size. The only thing one can determine is that the person is that size.

Even medical professionals who agree that many larger people have endocrine problems still deem it acceptable to shame these same people for their size. I can't wrap my head around that.

I told my PA that the numbers I care about are my blood pressure and my labs, including my blood glucose. I said that discussions of my size or weight are off the table. 

I am more likely to comply with treatment protocols if I'm not mired in self hate.

Emotional abuse doesn't work to mold people into what others think they ought to be.

Imagine that.

I will be donating a dollar to ASDAH for every comment on this post. 

As this post discusses a sensitive topic, I would appreciate that comments be respectful or not made at all. As someone's mother once said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything.

My share for today is my entry for Day 25 in my perilous diary, Breaking Free from My Addiction to Validation. This journey has not been without it's setbacks. I am obviously still fighting my demons, and they win more often than I would like them to. 

Day 25

October 29, 2021

Spirit of the Universe, please set aside everything I think I know about myself, about my story, about my need for validation, and especially about you, Universe, so that I may have an open mind and a new experience with myself, with my story, with my need for validation, and with you, Universe. Please help me to see the truth. Amen.

I’m going to say something shocking.

You don’t need to “love yourself.”

If you’re like me, self-loathing is behind many of the difficulties in your life. I have trouble asserting myself and standing up for myself. It is very difficult for me to form bonds that go deeper than the superficial. I don’t trust other people and I tend to put myself last. The problem with the median nerve in my left arm stems from the fact that I kept pushing myself well beyond the warning signs that something was going wrong until one day I was in excruciating pain and could no longer work.

If you don’t stand up for yourself, people will walk all over you.

However, if you’re like me, you just can’t hang with the idea that you need to “love yourself.”

When people tell me that, it makes me cringe.

The only person who can say that without it making me cringe is Ru Paul.

Therefore, I advise you not to focus on “loving” yourself.

Accept yourself. Respect yourself.

You are as good as anyone else. Nobody deserves to be taken advantage of or treated like crap.

You don’t need to believe that you’re beautiful. I’ll never be able to think that I’m beautiful. Honestly, the idea feels kind of creepy to me. “Beautiful” has never done me any favors. It’s a lie that guys who want to get laid without caring about who they’re hurting tell.

I once saw a post on Tumblr that said something along the lines of “I don’t think my stretch marks are beautiful. They aren’t ‘tiger stripes.’ But they are human and deserve to be treated with respect.”

That is what I’m talking about.

I will never think that my too-small eyes with their skimpy eyelashes are beautiful, although I’ve always liked the color even though it’s a moss-green rather than a scintillating emerald green.

I will never think that my chipmunk-cheeked face is beautiful.

I can’t see my double chin as beautiful.

I don’t think that my gray hair is beautiful although I’ve always liked the thick texture (except that it’s a real pain in the ass to take care of) and I do like the way it looks right after I’ve applied the silver dye that I use to give it a bit of pop.

I don’t think that my big ass, chunky legs, jelly belly, or saggy boobs are beautiful.

And no, I don’t think that my stretch marks are “beautiful” or “tiger stripes.”

What I do think is that people don’t need to be “beautiful” or “fuckable” to deserve to be treated with common decency.

This old, fat broad deserves to be treated with the same levels of common decency as someone half her age and/or half her size.

You don’t need to think I’m beautiful and fuck off with “seeing the potential” in me. That shit is just creepy. Honestly, nobody wants to be made into someone’s project.

You don’t need to “love yourself” or think that you’re “beautiful” to be worthy of respect and dignity, and that includes from yourself.

I have a graphic that I use in blog posts with reasonable frequency. It says: “the pressure to be perfect is purely for profit.”

Who is benefiting from convincing people (women in particular) that they need to be a certain size or look a certain way, or they are worthless?

The beauty and diet industries have perpetuated this trash for years. They benefit from our self-loathing. They encourage it. It’s time to hit back and knock these multi-billion-dollar bullies on their asses.

Two of the items in my son’s and my recent food bank allotment were Smart Ones turkey dinners. These things were awful. There were four tiny morsels of turkey in a weird-tasting runny gravy with watery garlic-flavored mashed potatoes on the side. Aside from the fact that this isn’t enough food for an adult, it was entirely unpalatable.

I used to sink a lot of money into diet frozen dinners and shakes that left me ravenously hungry an hour later. This crap prompted binge eating because starvation does that.

The only diet you need is the Fuck It Diet.

I eat many more healthy foods and binge a lot less since I stopped dieting.

This doesn’t mean that my story has a Goldilocks ending where I magically become the “just right” weight and the handsome prince comes and swoops me off my now-svelte feet and we live happily ever after. I’m still fat and there is no prince, not that I even want one. But I am healthier and feel better at the size I am. Not that this is a measure of my moral worth. As Ragen Chastain says, nobody owes it to anybody else to be what they consider “healthy.”

Spirit of the Universe, please help me to accept myself at whatever size I am and wherever I am in life. Help me to discern what I really want to focus on in life and to follow my dreams.

~Ornery Owl Has Spoken~

Fat and Ornery
Free-use image from Open Clipart Vectors on Pixabay

The Icky, Sticky, Nit-Picky Legalese If You Please (Or Don't Please)

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  1. This is a particularly important issue with all of the hubbub going on now over Instagram and girls being presented unhealthy body images. I went to school with an anorexic (who later died from her disease) because she wasn't happy with her size. Girls need balanced views on their bodies.

  2. I am with you all the way.
    Not least in rejecting the strictures to 'love myself'. Some days I don't even like me, much less love me. Accepting myself on an ongoing basis is my goal.

  3. Dear Cie,

    Thank you so much for joining us today, and thank you too for your wise and courageous post. As a former anorexic who nearly killed herself in order to be "perfect", I strongly identify.

    Respecting yourself also leads to respecting others.

  4. Thank you for sharing such helpful wisdom.


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