Thursday, May 3, 2018

Fat is not NOT beautiful

Let me say that one again, for those in the back (and because English is weird): Fat is not not beautiful.

I had this long conversation with a friend of mine this morning about us being fat, and about the lies of the scale and how arbitrary weight can actually be. We all know in our minds that muscle weighs more than fat, but does that really sink in? Do you know that stepping on the scale and having it read 200 lbs isn't the end of the world? It doesn't automatically mean you're going to die tomorrow of a heart attack. It isn't going to make you a diabetic next week. Does being overweight make you at a higher risk for medical conditions? Yes, absolutely. Does being overweight mean you are going to get those medical conditions? No. Can two people around the same height have the same weight, carry it very differently, and have one actually have more fat cells than the other? Yup. 100% There's a new study out of India where doctors have studied that BMI and weight actually mean squat when it comes to Diabetes, because two people can have exactly the same weight, height, and BMI, and one can have a much higher percentage of fat cells in their body. (Here is the slate video on the study: 

So we have this notion in our society that fat and beauty are mutually exclusive things and you can't be both. But it's just not true. Fat is merely another adjective, another way to describe a person. We have this effed up relationship with the word. We have assigned it such a weighted and derogatory meaning, only it doesn't have to mean that. And it certainly doesn't have to mean that you are ugly or un-beautiful. It doesn't have to mean anything except that you are not skinny. 

Skinny is not pretty. They are not synonymous terms. While being healthy is always what we should want for ourselves, being skinny is not being healthy. And the misconception that those two things are the same thing is damaging to us, to our mental health, to our physical and emotional health, to our sex lives, to our children. Feeling like shit about yourself every time you step on the scale or look in the mirror because fat isn't beautiful is bull. It's not okay, and it's gotta stop.

So, let's talk about some ways to help yourself reimagine your body, your health, your weight. This is something I have been struggling with for a long time, like a lot of people out there, both men and women (though this often plagues women a lot more than men). 

1. Stop meaning ugly when you call yourself fat. You want to identify yourself as a fat girl? Cool. You go right ahead! But when you look at someone (or yourself) and say, "I'm fat," say it the same way you would say, "I have brown eyes," or "I have dark skin." Say it with pride. It is a part of you. And you are beautiful. So are your parts. 

2. If you want to eat something, eat it. When fat girls are out to dinner with our skinny friends, we always think, Gee, I could totally house some nachos right now, but you are secretly dreading the looks you imagine you're going to get from your friends. You just know that they're going to look at your order, and then your backside and think, well, no wonder she's such a fatty! Oh Em Gee! Guys, stop! Just stop. First and foremost, your friends are not thinking this shit about you. And if they are, 1, they're not really your friend, and 2, well I'll let ya in on a little secret - it doesn't freaking matter! Other people's opinions of you have no actual bearing on you. They are none of your business. So if you want those nachos, eat them. Now, I'm not saying that you should be eating 5,000 calories a day, mind you, because that shit is unhealthy AF. All things in balance. 

3 Stop insisting that food is “good” or “bad” (except for sugar, more on that in a bit)*. Food is food. Food is fuel. Food can also be social and about sharing with friends and family. There’s not much I love more than cooking a great meal to feed to loved ones. And I enjoy eating delicious food. But when we look at a fruit and think it’s good for us, and we look at a potato or a bowl of pasta and think that’s bad for us, we’re psychologically telling ourselves that we want what we aren’t supposed to have. Marking food as “bad” will make you want it more. And increase your guilt when you eat it. It heightens the pleasure of eating the food, and heightens the guilt you feel afterward for eating it. Because, don’t we all want to be bad sometimes? So, STOP. Food is food. And food is fuel. It can be delicious or bland or somewhere in between. But treating it as good or bad just adds a complicated layer that you don’t need.

4. Stop emotionally shoving food in your face. This is one of my biggest, hugest, most screwed up things about my relationship with food. In addition to not having good and bad food, using food for things other than food is not the way to do it. I am constantly reaching for food. At work, at home, between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not because I need to eat, but because I want to. Now this stems from a couple of things. First, because I became a clock eater - if it was time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I was eating breakfast lunch or dinner. This was because I would get so busy with other things, so distracted, and caught up in what I was doing that I wouldn't eat. I could seriously wake up a 6:30 a.m. and not feel hungry until 1 p.m. NOT healthy. I would get the shakes, feel like crap, and suddenly realize I was ravenous and wanted to eat anything I could get my hands on. The emotional eating is 2-fold – boredom, and stress – and it’s never “good” food like fruit or veggies that you want to snack on when you’re emotionally eating. It’s always other kinds of foods you wouldn’t normally eat in such excess.

5. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. If you wouldn’t go around calling your bestie a fatass, why the hell is it acceptable to call yourself one? Spend the time to be kind to yourself. You only get one you in this lifetime, and you’re worth the love. It’s important to know that, to remember it.

So, there you have it. I'm working on reinvisioning this blog to be not just about writing and romance, but about why writing and romance is about being a strong woman. So I will continue to post about these kinds of issues that plague women every day. 

*Sugar is the root of all evil in foods. I am 100% not fat shaming any of us here by saying this. But the simple fact is that sugar is the leading cause of carrying extra weight, and you never need as much sugar in your diet as processed food companies make you think you do. Plus the extra sugar rots your teeth! If you’re big on sugary treats (like I am) try to cut out as much other sugar from your diet as you can so that one extra cookie or slice of cake is fine, and you’re not sending yourself into sugar overload. Anything that ends in –ose is a sugar. High fructose corn syrup is one of the biggest culprits of excess and unnecessary sugar in your diet. It’s in cereal, bread, dried meats, processed fruit and veggies, any processed food you get can have extra sugar in it that would baffle you! There’s no reason for most of these things to actually contain sugar, except for the fact that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. A serving of sugar is one teaspoon. Now there are natural sugars of course, in a lot of foods, particularly fruits. But added sugars should be limited to 6-8 servings a day. So if you have a soda every day, that’s 6.5 servings of sugar. I’ve worked hard to have my added sugars in foods when I want something sweet, rather than drinking them.

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