Tag Archives: being in charge of your body

Body Love is not a Pant Size

Let me be clear.  I think people should learn to love their bodies, full stop.  I don’t think they have to wait until they lose ten pounds to love their bodies.  And I CERTAINLY don’t think they should “love their bodies enough” to lose ten pounds.  If you want to lose ten pounds and you can safely lose ten pounds and it makes you happy then you should go for it.  I mean, it’s your body and you should do whatever you think is best.  But let me be clear.  I don’t think body love means fixing up your body in a way that is more socially acceptable and then grudgingly deciding it’s okay.  And I don’t think insisting that other women do to their bodies exactly what you chose to do to your body in order to learn to love their bodies is okay either.  I think body love means being grateful and happy for your body the way it is right now.

Let me be clear about another thing.  Loving your body isn’t always easy.  We are surrounded by images and toys and directives and advertising that convinces us that we can only love our bodies after certain conditions are met.  We are told we can love our bodies after we get rid of stretch marks and cellulite and age spots and wrinkles and back fat and rolls and achieve a perfect thigh gap.  In fact we are encouraged to love our bodies ENOUGH to spend the gobs of money and time purchasing creams and potions and pills and exercise torture devices and DVDs and costly and painful medical procedures to ensure that our body no longer has cellulite or wrinkles or stretch marks or age marks or chubby thighs and is finally, eventually (for the moment) acceptable.

And  loving our bodies isn’t always easy, because as we age, our bodies change.  We sag in places we didn’t.  Strange marks appear on our skin.  Our bodies are sometimes less able to do things they could before.  We have to pee all. the. time.  And sometimes we get sick.  And if we get sick, there are plenty of people including medical professionals, large multinational companies, friends, families and complete strangers eager to tell us that if we had only tried their procedure or exercise or potion or pill or program or cleanse we wouldn’t have gotten sick in the first place.  They tell us if we had loved our bodies enough to fix our bodies the way they said we should, everything would have been okay.   So sometimes it’s hard to love our bodies.

Body love can be a rewarding but often frustrating and deeply confusing process.  That’s why I get so angry about companies and experts that are taking the “body love” theme and turning it into a tool to sell their “body improvement” messages, products and other crap.  Because that ish is NOT OKAY.  If you want to sell body improvement.  Sell that.  Sell the heck out of it.  But don’t make body acceptance conditional on the thing or the process or the potion or pill or exercise torture device or major surgery you are selling and then call it body love.

There have been some striking examples of this in the past.  One that immediately comes to mind is Kellogg’s and Marilyn Wann.  You see, my dear friend Marilyn Wann came up with this amazing idea.  She makes bathroom scales that say positive words like “sexy” or “beautiful” instead of numbers.  Go to about 1 minute in to the video below to see what I mean.

Now a while after Marilyn’s wonderful Yay! Scale was released for sale, Kellogg’s released a scale that looked pretty darn similar.  What’s wrong with that?  Well aside from the fact they seem to have “borrowed” an idea from an inventor without giving credit or compensation, they were using their scale to promote the idea that you should replace meals with cereal in order to lose weight.  And the promotion around the new scales had the tagline, “What will you gain when you lose?”.  Check it out in the video below:

This strongly implies that those words on the scale will apply to your body only after you lose weight using their products.  You see the difference between the two messages?

Look, I don’t think loving your body means that you stop doing things to care for your body.  I don’t think loving your body means you can’t change anything about your body.  But I don’t think body acceptance should be conditional on those things.  It’s the difference between “I’ll love my body after I”, or “I love my body enough to change it” and “I love my body.  Oh and I’ll do this too.”  It’s subtle, but it’s important.

It’s important because we are seeing other companies and special interest groups using the power of the body love movement to dress up body improvement products and schemes.  And that’s not only confusing, but dishonest and wrong.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

 

Basta! When you’ve heard ENOUGH about your weight.

Sometimes being fierce is pretty tough my dear chicklettes…

So we’re going to extend our series on having enough to talk about when you’ve really HAD ENOUGH of hearing criticism about your body.  No matter how well adjusted we are, no matter how wonderful our friends and family are, there comes a time when you just have to say, “That’s it.  No more!”

There are many ways to handle this in many different situations.  And I can’t hope to cover them all here.  But I did want to share one strategy that I use with well meaning people who love me, who feel they need to “save me from my weight problem”.

Let me start by recognizing, this is very tough.  While complete strangers can be ignored, treated with disdain, shouted at, made fun of or even covered with jelly, buried in sand up to their necks with fire ants dumped on their heads, sometimes you actually want to retain relationships with those you love.  So even if you’re really, really mad at friends and family  for bringing up the weight issue again, the fire ants and jelly solution may be somewhat inappropriate in that situation.

It would be great to be, in all situations, fierce.  But truthfully, I don’t always feel that way–especially when I’m dealing with friends and family.  Sometimes I feel up to a three hour argument about size acceptance.  Sometimes, frankly, I don’t.  And in some situations, the timing just doesn’t seem right for a long educational lecture.

So one tool that I use with those I love is what I call the “border patrol” solution.  First, I thank the well meaning person for their concern.  Next, I tell them that I am aware of my size and am comfortable with the path I’ve chosen for myself.  And finally I tell them that I really don’t care to discuss it with them and ask that they please respect my wishes.  Sometimes I say that my councilor or therapist has “suggested” that I not discuss my weight with my family right now.  (For some folks, invoking a ‘doctor’ real or imaginary can help put them at ease, or at least shut them up.)  If they bring up the weight issue again or are unwilling to stop talking about it, I give them one warning.  I say, “I’ve asked that we drop (not bring up) this subject.  I love you, but if you can’t respect my wishes in this regard, I will be forced to leave.”  Then if they still keep it up, I quietly pick up my keys and my purse, and I leave.

So you set the boundary, let them know what will happen when they cross the boundary, give them one shot to hop the hell back over the boundary the first time they blow it, and then take you and your boundaries out of the situation if they don’t get your very clear message.  Now I don’t stay away forever.  But I let them know that this is my boundary and I’ve got sentries and guards on that boundary 24-7.  And I let them know that the next time we get together, the boundary will be the same.

Does this always work?  No.  Is it appropriate for every situation?  Of course not.  But this tool has served me well over the years and has allowed me to reenforce my dominion over my own body and has allowed many relatives and friends and I to agree to disagree on this topic and maintain wonderful relationships.

So my little chicklettes, the next time somebody you really care about is driving you nuts about telling you how to live inyourbody, try setting up a little border patrol.  Be consistent.  Be firm.  Try being, in your own time and in your own way, just a little bit fierce.

Love,

The Fat Chick