Tag Archives: fantasy

Searching for Reality among the Dummies

So this week, American Apparel hit the news again with some brand new mannequins.  Apparently they are causing quite a stir because THESE mannequins are sporting prominent nipples and a prodigious crop of pubic hair.  Now some folks have applauded American Apparel for showing women that are more “realistic”.  But I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree.

These mannequins are completely in line with everything else I’ve seen from American Apparel.  It seems that their ads are not only focused on women as sex objects, but I’ve always felt that there was a gritty, DIY Internet porn, especially inelegant focus on women as sex objects.

In any case, I see very little here that makes these mannequins look more like real women.  They are still all the same size and shape.  They are still very tall and impossibly willowy.  They still portray a body that would probably be unlikely to bear children or even menstruate.  Nope.  What I see here is a dirty little boy with a magic marker drawing pictures on his sister’s dollies just to get attention.

And it’s gotten plenty of attention.  Which I am quite sure was the point.  The sad thing is that there are others making a real effort to make mannequins look more like real people.  There was THIS post I did a while back, about a shop in Sweden making more realistic mannequins.  And then there’s this video.  It portrays special mannequins being created from some very unlikely models.  The video is beautiful.  Please watch.  I’ll wait.

I can’t say everything about that video is perfect either.  But I can say that it seems a whole lot closer to the sort of work towards inclusiveness that we need in this space.  I’d love to see a mannequin that shows how clothing looks on a short, modified hourglass with apple shaped tummy body rather than the plus-sized mannequins that are 7 ft. tall  with perfectly flat stomachs.

And how does all of this relate to fitness?  I think so many people go into exercise trying to look like those bodies in the Macy’s store windows.  So many of us have spent years not working at FITNESS (being fit, being able to do certain things that we’d really like to do), but rather working at “FitThis” (being able to fit this pair of jeans, this image, be accepted by this crowd).  And so what?  Is there something wrong with having fitness aspirations for having a “better body”?  The thing is that for most people, physical fitness does not create an overly dramatic shift in the way their body appears.  Only a very small percentage of genetically gifted folks are even physically capable of sporting a visible “six pack” or “eight pack”.  Exercise doesn’t change your body’s bony structure.  It doesn’t make you taller.  And for most of us, it doesn’t make you significantly thinner.  The problem with aspirational “FitThis” is that it takes our attention away from what exercise is very likely to accomplish in our lives (better sleep, better health, better mood, better self esteem, better sex, better sleep…) and focuses our attention on an area where exercise is a lot less likely to succeed.  It sets us up for unrealistic expectations.  It sets us up to fail.

MannequinMe

So I’d like to encourage you to put yourself into your elegant, pricey, fitness store, right at the front, behind the huge glassy windows.  See yourself, happy, healthy and feeling fabulous as the epitome of what you are hoping to accomplish.  Because you are amazing.  You are inspiring.  And you are the ones who keep me doing what I do.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want some more amazing real life inspiration?  Check out what we’re doing with the Fit Fatties Virtual Event and Decathlon!  We’ve already had our first decathlete!  And there are some truly amazing pictures including our recent 5K finisher who walked the beach with her son and met Santa (an honorary Fit Fatty), a woman who lifted literally a TON of weight wearing jammy pants and lots more gorgeous happy people.  Sign yourself on up!

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Death and Taxes

deathandtaxesWell we’ve survived another U.S. “tax day”, so I thought I’d share a little post about inevitability.  Most of us have heard this quote, “In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.”  And while most of us understand the notion that taxes are inevitable (well at least unless you are a multi-billion dollar corporation) we have a little harder time with the whole death thing.  We know on an intellectual level that everybody, including us, will die.  Yet on an emotional level, many of us believe that if we eat enough fiber, do enough exercise, and stay thin, we won’t die.

Now don’t get me wrong.  It’s perfectly reasonable to want to make choices that can potentially extend our lives or improve the quality of our lives.  That makes sense.  But I’ve often wondered at the emotional response to my acceptance of my own size.  I understand that not everybody agrees with me.  Some people think I should do anything and everything that just conceivably might help me at least for a short time to lose weight.  But it’s the emotional involvement with this disagreement, the hatred and anger and spitting vitriol that comes with it, that sometimes throws me for a loop.

I recall sitting in a crappy and inadequate paper gown in a medical center where a doctor was nearly frantic in telling me that since I was fat, I was going to die.  He wasn’t offering me any statistics or research indicating increased risk for mortality or morbidity.  He was simply doing that finger wagging, nagging, since you’re fat, you’re going to die speech.  And I replied, “well you know, I don’t have an M.D. after my name, but I’m pretty sure we’re all going to die.”  Which gave me at least 10 seconds of respite before he started in on me again.

If you want to talk to me about increased risks for morbidity and mortality that may or many not be attributable to being fat, well okay.  I’m armed.  I’ve got data.  Let’s rumble.  But if you want to argue that all fat people are going to die, guess what.  You’re right!  All people, everywhere are going to die.  Even if they eat whole grains, and their chi is perfectly aligned and they run a marathon every day-even if they are thin, they are still going to die.

I think this is at least a small part of what freaks people out so much about my decision not to actively pursue weight loss.  Because at least in a small way, I’m not buying into their emotional fantasy, that if they do all the right things, they just won’t die.  Here’s the thing. I’ve lost many who are close to me.  And some of these folks did everything “right”.  They ate well, they slept eight hours per day, they managed their stress, they went to the doctor and they simply got sick and died–sometimes quite young.

Am I suggesting that we should just ignore our health? Absolutely not!  I am suggesting that there is no day in our life that is guaranteed.  And I for one refuse to spend so much of my life trying to change one potential (and questionable) risk factor for mortality that I don’t have time to really live.  If my days are limited on this earth, and they are limited, I want to do what makes me feel good and allows me to experience wonder and contentment and joy.  Sometimes that’s taking the dog for a walk.  Sometimes it’s eating ice cream.  Because I’m grown up enough to understand that both walking the dog and eating ice cream are wonderful.  And even giving up ice cream won’t allow me to live forever.

Love,

The Fat Chick

P.S. If you’d like to hear more about that story in the doctor’s office, you might want to check out this episode of the Right Now Show.  And I’m pleased to let you know that the deadline for the RESOLVED project has been extended.  So it’s not too late to create and share your video about your experiences with health care.

And if you’re interested in learning a little more about the joy of exercise, don’t forget to check out my book and DVD!

After Happily Ever After…

Watching this video really got me thinking.  It’s hilarious and awesome because it ties into something we all so desperately want to believe.  We want to believe in happily ever after.  We want to believe that once we achieve that one thing, after we reach perfection, then everything will always be okay from that point on forever, amen.  Right?  It starts with the whole princesses thing, and then for many of us, it becomes the whole weight thing.

I spent many years indulging in “happily thin ever after” thinking.  I believed that once I was thin, insanely rich and handsome men would swoop by in super yachts and pick me up and take me off to James Bond-style vacations (without the sorta violent parts) in exotic places.  I dreamed that academy award-winning directors, stunned by my new svelte beauty, would discover me in a local Starbucks and offer me a three picture deal. But mostly I dreamed that I wouldn’t feel self-conscious any more, I would always feel fabulous about how I looked and that I would then have the courage to do anything I needed to achieve my dreams.

And then for a while, I got thin.  And you know what?  Absolutely none of the stuff that I believed in my happily ever after fantasy came true.  None of it.  No yachts. Not even a canoe.  No vacations to exotic places–violent or otherwise.  No three-picture deal.  (Although I did get a latte…)  And I still felt self-conscious, and unhappy about my looks and fearful and all of that stuff.  I still wasn’t equipped to do everything I needed to achieve my dreams.  I still felt miserable a lot of the time.  And I thought, “What a rip off!” I was pretty annoyed that the whole getting thin thing was not as advertised.  I mean I was averaging 700-800 calories per day.  My hair was falling out.  My digestive system was no longer working properly.  I was no longer menstruating.  I was exercising 2+ hours per day.  And you know what, I was THIN.  But the awesomeness I expected, just didn’t happen.  I did have more places to shop for clothes but not more money to use for that purpose.  I did have less trouble dealing with doctors, relatives and complete strangers who no longer felt it necessary to have “concerned conversations” with me about my weight.  And for a while, I got a ton of positive attention from friends and family.  And then it became like no big deal.  I didn’t get positive attention any more.  I got tired of feeling sick and tired all the time.  And I just wanted to EAT!  After over 12 months of this crazy regimen, my metabolism tanked to the point that I was gaining weight at 1,000 calories per day.  So not surprisingly, I gained it all back and then some.

Society promises us that when we are thin, our lives will be perfect and exciting beyond our wildest imagination.  Many of us who experience becoming thin (temporarily or otherwise) find ourselves totally unprepared for finding out the truth about being thin.  The truth being that most of our problems are still with us, and our wildest imaginations go a long, long way beyond the lives that we experience as thin people.  I was so moved when I read this account of a woman who had lost a lot of weight after weight loss surgery.  Not surprisingly, she experienced an intense letdown when she realized the wonderful, perfect life she was promised in the doctor’s office never really materialized.  And she was also completely unprepared for the loss of her sense of identity and her sense of self that can come with such a dramatic change in the shape of your body.

I am sure there are those out there who are eager to tell me that it is our fault we don’t experience the perfection that comes with weight loss.  We weren’t thin long enough.  We didn’t get thin the right way.  We didn’t use the right products or achieve the correct level of enlightenment.  But you know what?  I don’t think there is any magic bullet that makes life perfect.  I don’t believe that there is a moment after which you live happily ever after.  I like to believe I’ve reached a moment after which I have a reasonably good chance of being happy a lot of the time.  I like to believe that I’ve reached a stage where I feel reasonably content in my body and am equipped to make the best of what life has to throw at me.  But happily ever after is a fantasy I’ve happily learned to outgrow.

Love,

The Fat Chick