Thursday, January 08, 2009

Something that makes me go ARGH!

It was only a matter of time, you know. Statistically, 95% of those who lose weight deliberately regain it. This is because our physiology does not connect with our culture's obsession with obesity or ideas of beauty. It just knows when a) the body is being deprived to nutrients to lose mass, and b) what to do when the nutrients start coming back in (and how to make the most efficient use of those nutrients against the threat of further deprivation).

So Oprah regained her pounds. She weighs 200 lbs again. And she is ashamed. She feels like she just gave up, and that her punishment is a body she wants to hide. She did not want to sing beside Cher & Tina Turner (2 women who've had more plastic surgery than all of the rest of Hollywood put together) because of how she looked.

This just makes me mad. And it makes me profoundly sad. First the mad part: here is a woman who has more power, more resources, and more money than almost any woman alive, and her hatred of her body is her sticking point. She cannot truly have "succeeded" until she is able to control her body.

Now the sad part: almost every woman alive and a growing number of men have the same problem (well not the power and wealth part).

We are not what we eat. We are human beings who eat for a variety of reasons. We eat to survive, we eat for pleasure, we eat to comfort ourselves, and sometimes we eat for purely social reasons. None of this eating is good or bad. Neither is the outcome necessarily good or bad, until we put moral judgements on them.

And that is what this obsession with obesity is (thinly veiled as health)...a moral judgement. We don't even have to wait for anyone else to make these judgements anymore, although there are plenty of people out there who love to do so - often in the most public and demeaning way possible. But we ourselves have internalized the critic so powerfully.

Women and men who are large are often ashamed of their size. This has the opposite effect that one would imagine. You see when you are ashamed, you don't want to expose that shame to others, and so you hide. You stop living a life that you enjoy. You stop pleasurably activities. Depression or anxiety may set in.

These things naturally affect your life and relationships, but I would argue that the shame is more of the problem than is the actual weight. Yes, obesity correlates with some poor health outcomes, but so does being stressed. So does not being willing to engage in activities because of shame.

Some people believe that the best way to take care of their overweight or obese loved ones is to point out how they need to lose weight, but this just feeds shame. This just creates further limitations. The best thing you can do for your loved ones, ever, is to love and support them in pursuing the things that they love in life.

And us Fatties? We need to get off our butts and out the door. We need to stop letting what other people think restrict our lives. We need to be the best people we are without believing that success is only ever when we are thin and "beautiful." And we need to stop qualifying our successes because we don't meet someone elses expectation of health or beauty.


Aravis said...

I especially like what you said at the end. To this I would add that we need to stop qualifying our success in any endeavor because it doesn't meet someone else's expectations or approval.

LB said...

Hear hear. I'll eat some donuts to that.

Hilariously, incidentally, my "word verification" here is "bacon." Blogger does have a sense of humour after all....

Christopher said...

While you certainly make some valid points and Cher most certainly is probably the closest thing to the bionic woman known to man. Lord knows one more turn of the screw and she'll be peeing through her chin. Tina, however, is another story. She had her breasts lifted at 45 and a deviated septum repaired in the late 80s. That piece of ethereal beautry is mostly untouched and that I will defend.

Gladys said...

I think I would like to have this post tattooed onto my corneas, or something. Because seriously? You have just quite succinctly explained the underpinnings of most of my depression--and frankly, the part that CAN'T be explained by weight issues (mainly my unresolved grief) would have been infinitely easier to live with and process, if it hadn't been for the parts that CAN be explained by them.

I've developed a game for my own wry entertainment; I play it every time I see my mother. I time her--the interval between when I walk in the door, and the first reference to how I REALLY need to lose weight. Average is about 30 minutes. I still have not forgotten that the part of my life--the ONLY part of my life--during which my mother expressed satisfaction with my physical size was during a period in my mid-20's when--unbeknownst to her--I had developed a raging heroin addiction. In fact, one of the reasons I went back to heroin after my first stretch of sobriety--after spending a year and a half clean on my first attempt--was because I had gained back a lot of the weight I'd dropped during the original addiction, and I wanted to be thin again. How frickin' sick is THAT???

I am bookmarking this post--I think I need to re-read it periodically, to remind myself of how thoroughly rotten I've been to myself, all because of other people's ideas of what I "should" weigh.

Thanks for this one, Spins.