Tuesday, October 30, 2007

But what about the children???

One of the things that concerns me about all of the obesity epidemic hysteria (read about the lack of evidence here) is the impact on the kids. My six year old daughter is constantly barraged with messages to keep her on the path to thinness. We get "friendly" reminders from her school that we should be sending healthy snacks and lunches each day. They've doubled the amount of gym class and lost library time. (Obviously, reading books does not keep a person thin.) I received a communication requesting that she be involved in a pilot program to track children's blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. I refused to let her participate in the program. She's got a doctor, thanks. I really don't think she needs tutoring in self-consciousness and obsession with body image in the first grade.

But she's not immune to the messages. We went out to lunch last week with my work colleagues on a rare week day together. She got milk to drink and I could see she was upset when the carton was brought to the table.

"Mommy...." she started worriedly. "This milk has FAT in it!"

Her six year old reading abilities didn't allow her to catch the word "reduced" before the word FAT. She just saw what she believes is a dirty and bad word.

"Honey, it's okay. As a growing kid, you need fat. Your brain needs fat. Drink your milk."

She believed me that day and she drank the milk. At what point will she begin dismissing me as just a FAT person who doesn't know a thing about this, otherwise why would I be fat??

Before you know it, they'll be suggesting that we begin exercise regimes right out of the womb. You think I'm joking? Sandy Szwarc over at Junkfood Science has this story about exercise programs for 4 month olds.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Changing Direction

When I first started this blog, I felt so helpless as I watched the Gulf Coast drown in Katrina's flood waters. I didn't know what to do and so I did the only thing I could think of - I wrote. I put together posts expressing my disbelief and outrage as my government turned its back on the poor and stranded.

As time went on, I posted here and there about politics. There are so many people out there posting from all sides on political issues that it's impossible to take it all in. And while I do care about politics, the wonderful people at Shakespeare's Sister and other such liberal blogs can and do it so much better than I do. I can (and do) comment passionately when something gets under my skin but for the most part I have been unmotivated to put the time and energy in to get a decent political blog going.

Today, however, I realized that there was something I cared about. Something that I want to post about. Something that I need to say. And there's not many people out there saying it.

I want to talk about fat acceptance.

Now I'm relatively new to the fat acceptance movement. I've been reading FA blogs and following the chatter in the comment threads. But I'm not new to fat.

When I was in the 6th grade, the boys in my class signed my autograph book and addressed those pages to "Goodyear" and "Hindi" (short for Hindenburg).

The summer before 7th grade, I had hip surgery and was berated constantly by my doctor about "losing weight". After spending several weeks in the hospital, he "caught" me eating a single piece of pizza brought in by another patient's parent and made a scene and embarassed me in front of the other kids and parents about my "fat".

I started yo-yo dieting in high school. Of course, it was never enough. I spent my entire high school career being one of the fat outsiders.

Just before high school graduation my father begged me to lose weight. "I'm already married," he said, seeing the cognitive dissonance in my eyes as I tried to fathom why my large father was lecturing ME on size. "You'll never find a husband if you're fat."

University was a bit different but not much. I found that I loved being involved in all aspects of the theater and I adored appearing on stage. The local theater critic made a comment that I was incredibly talented and would have quite a career... if only I lost weight. My grandparents lectured me about losing weight while filling me with all my comfort food favorites every weekend.

I didn't go into the theater. I went into higher education administration. Over the years, I've been asked if I could go up and down stairs to do my job ("probably better than you" I responded in the interview) and I've experienced numerous rejections after people met me in person. Their enthusiasm for my candidacy always seemed to change after meeting me in person. Imagine that. I've been harassed by students who didn't like what I had to tell them. I've been called fat slob to fat bitch and everything in between. I've been told I needed to go find a gym.

Luckily my father was wrong and I did find someone who could see me. We fell in love and got married. In our home, I was sheltered in his love and support. I felt beautiful. And I finally began to believe I really was beautiful just as I was.

My rude return to reality came when we sought medical help to get pregnant. After trying unsuccesfully on our own, we starting working with a fertility doctor. Looking for a green light to start trying after a procedure to remove polyps from my uterus, I was told by the doctor, "You can start trying after you lose about 100 pounds. Pregnancy is supposed to be beautiful and natural and it can be neither at your current weight." I never went back to that doctor again and it would be more than two years before we realized our dream of becoming parents.

Halloween 2005. Another polyp in my uterus. This time it's cancer. I'm so thankful I have a fat friendly gynecologist who did not tell me it was my weight when I went to him and told him something was very wrong. We catch it at stage 1A. I wonder how many fat women are told to lose weight and aren't as lucky. My surgeon is not so fat friendly and I find the following whine in the middle of my surgery report: "Surgery was very difficult due to patient's weight."

I'm no stranger to fat. And fat phobia. And fat prejudice. And fat hatred.

So I'm ready for some fat acceptance. Because I am who I am.

Hope you'll come along.