Tag Archives: bodies

How Long Do We Have to Hate Our Bodies?

It’s not new, but it recently surfaced in my Facebook feed–an article on CNN.com called What the Dying Really Regret.  In this article Kerry Egan, a hospice chaplain who has spent a lot of time consoling those with little time left on this earth, states:

There are many regrets and unfulfilled wishes that patients have shared with me in the months before they die. But the stories about the time they waste hating their bodies, abusing it or letting it be abused — the years people spend not appreciating their body until they are close to leaving it — are some of the saddest.

In this article, the chaplain talks about how, even as they are in hospice, nearing the end of their lives people have not learned to make peace with their bodies.  And how many people, close to losing or actively losing many of the wonderful things about their bodies regret that they never truly appreciated their bodies until they were nearly gone.  She talks about the sadness of it and the waste of it.

I have absolutely no doubt that this is true.  I’ve talked to quite a few women in their seventh and even eight decade that have never learned to make peace with their hips or their thighs or their bellies–hips that have shaken to music of many eras, bellies that have borne babies and thighs that have propelled them inevitably forward to a ripe old age.  And I see the part of them that has been carefully educated to be smaller, to be less than, to show no excess warring with the part of them that wants to stop worrying about it all and just eat the damn cookie.  And it makes me sad.

I say carefully educated, because this body hatred–this need to make ourselves smaller and less than–is something we learn.  In her brilliant piece, Egan states:

…unlike the foolish or best-intentioned mishaps, the terrible accidents, the slip-ups that irrevocably change a life, this regret is not a tragic mistake. It’s intentional. It’s something other people teach them to feel about their bodies; it’s something other people want them to believe.

But in this sad story, there is some good news.  Behavior that can be learned can be unlearned.  We can choose to love our bodies before it is too late.  We can choose not to spend years or decades or a lifetime not hating something so precious, so finite, so personal and so wondrous.  We can chose not to squander our lives and resources on something so unproductive.  We can choose to spend that time, loving ourselves, making ourselves bigger, making our lives better and making things better for everyone around us.

When people ask me why I do what I do, I tell them that this, this is why I do what I do.  Because we are all so precious and life is so precious we simply can’t waste any more of it agonizing about cellulite.  We need to be dancing with our children and our spouses.  We need to be writing our poems and righting the world’s wrongs.  We need to be teaching our children and our parents and everybody how to share this wonderful world before we lose our wonderful world.  And if I, in some tiny, tiny way can help a person get to that place–to the writing and righting a little bit sooner–even by one single day, then I am doing something worthwhile.  Because while one single day may not seem like much to me now, it can seem like forever to someone facing the end of their days.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Taking a Vacation from a Common Equation: Calories in, Calories Out

Myrtle, Esther and Bessie take a little trip outside of their comfort zone...

Myrtle, Esther and Bessie take a little trip outside of their comfort zone…

For the past few days, I’ve been back in Missouri.  First we went to Rolla where my husband was presented with an honorary degree for his ongoing work in computer science.  (Seriously, how cool is that?)  And now we’re in St. Louis catching up with some of our friends that we haven’t seen in a few years.  So I thought this morning I would talk about being on vacation and how it might apply to my work in size acceptance.

One thing that being on vacation can do is give you a broader perspective on how people live in other parts of the world.  One thing that I ran across this week (as I was “on vacation” from doing more productive work on my computer) was this article containing 23 photos of people next to how much food they eat per day.

Marble Moahi, Mother Living with HIV/AIDS, Botswana – 900 Calories

What struck me so much about these pictures, besides the fascinating variety of different types of food consumed was the drastic differences in calorie consumption among these people.  The Botswana woman above is pictured with the meager meals she eats each day totaling just 900 calories.  Compare that with the picture of the man below.

Willie Ishulutak, Soapstone Carver, Canada – 4,700 Calories

This fellow is pictured with over 4,700 calories which he eats each day.  Notice anything interesting here?  How about this.  Willie Ishulutak eats over 5 times as many calories as Marble Moahi.  Now there is little question that some of Willie’s calories are, um, liquid.  But he clearly consumes a lot more calories than she does.  And while Marble is somewhat thinner than Willie, neither of them appear to be particularly fat.  This goes against the grain of what many of us have been taught about bodies and nutrition right?  If we use the old adage of calories in calories out, Willie should appear a whole lot fatter than Marble.  But lo and behold, it just ain’t so.

I would like to invite you to explore this article and these photos with me.  And I would like you to join me on a vacation over the notion that if fat people just ate less and exercised more they would be thin people. These people could be lying about what they eat.  I’d love for you to take just a little time off from the adage “calories in, calories out”.

Now to be fair, this photo essay hardly constitutes a formal study on the notion of calories in, calories out.  The photo subjects could be lying about what they eat.  The photographer could have selected an atypical day’s worth of food for the photo shoot.  But we’re on vacation right?  So what if we took just a little time off from assuming that fat people lie about what they eat or that thin people exaggerate how much or how little they eat?  What if we just took a little time to assume that both Marble and Willie are telling the truth?

The next logical step might be to assume that Willie burns 5 times as many calories as Marble.  While this is certainly possible, it seems unlikely in the extreme.  If we assume that Willie is a 150 pound man (which is a very rough estimate), he would burn approximately 430 calories per hour walked at a brisk pace.  Willie consumes 3800 calories more per day than Marble.  Taking brisk walking as a calorie burning exercise, he would need to walk 8.8 hours more per day than Marble in order to burn all of those extra calories.  I suppose it’s possible.  But let’s just take a little trip past the notion that Willie walks a marathon or two every day in order to “keep his figure”.

Look, I am not suggesting that there is no relationship whatsoever between calories consumed and body size.  It seems logical to assume that some relationship is there.  But I wonder if we could agree, at least temporarily that it is not that simple.  So many of us have had “calories in, calories out” thrown at us from so many directions.  Sometimes it seems that everybody from our online haters to the surgeon general of our nation is eager to suggest that if we ate just a little less, and exercised just a little more we would be thin.  But I’d like to invite you to punch the time clock and walk away from this notion for just a little while.

I am far from expecting that I will change the world or even change your mind with my little blog over here.  But I do hope that from time to time I am able to “give you pause”.  I hope I can help you step outside of our culturally held beliefs about weight, food, exercise, health and more.  Because sometimes just a little time away is all we need to reenforce the idea that the world is quite a bit more complicated than the advice offered around the water cooler.  Sometimes life doesn’t fit into neat and tidy axioms–no matter how much money is spent trying to make them.  And while we might not be ready to give up some of these simplistic ideas completely, maybe you could try a little time off and see how it feels.  Who knows, after a few weeks you might be ready to adopt some of these new ideas full-time.

Love,

Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. I would love to invite you to take another Virtual Vacation with me on the Fit Fatties Forum!  We’re moving our bodies as we explore the world.  And tomorrow is the last day for super early bird pricing!  CLICK HERE to learn more.

Also, if you’d like to learn more about fitness and health and get FREE STUFF, be sure to join my mailing list here.  Let’s keep in touch!

 

Warts and All: New Sources for Inspiration in Body Diversity

tumblr_mjds6nBBln1rvkvumo1_1280Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen a number of new sources for inspiration in the world of body diversity.  Of course we have new inspiration from tried and true sources like Adipositivity (BTW notoriously NSFW).  But there are some exciting new sources as well.  For example, The Body Images Project contains a number of scrumptious photos of folks of all shapes, sizes and ages.  And we’re not just talking about cellulite here.  There’s grey hairs, scars, scabs, freckles, warts and more.  And we’re also seeing some especially awesome feeds on facebook and tumblr lately, including THIS one and THIS one.

And beyond the pictures, there’s the dancing–OOOOHHHH the dancing.  Aside from the toddler dancing that I posted a few weeks ago, we have awesome dancing old ladies.  HERE’S an 88 yr. old lady who boogies down the stairs:

And there’s old ladies doing Zumba and old ladies standing proudly for portraits and there’s just bodies, all different kinds of bodies EVERYWHERE!  In a sea of previously perfectly toned and tanned and coiffed and waxed bodies, it’s so exciting to me that social media can also be a source of difference.  It seems that just now in cyberspace, I’m seeing big bodies and small bodies and smooth bodies and wrinkly bodies and white bodies and black bodies and freckly bodies and scarred bodies.  All are sacred bodies.  All are unique packages encompassing the divine.  And all I can say is, HOW DELIGHTFUL!  Rather than a one page menu of clone, drone, Barbie types, I’m seeing a bodacious BUFFET of bodies of all different kinds.  And I ask you, how can this NOT be a good thing?

So click away.  Click at links and click at cameras.  Show us your gorgeousness you cyber cuties.  And let us see how decidedly, deliciously DIFFERENT you all are!

Love,

The Fat Chick