I started reading this book by Aubrey Gordon, “What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat” and it is very good. I wanted to write a short post about it. It’s part memoir, part cultural discussion around fatness and diet culture.
Something that has been resonating with me lately is how the cultural standard is: YOUR BODY MUST NOT CHANGE. You need to “Get your body back” immediately after having kids. “40 is the new 30” –your body should not change in any way even though you’ve aged. Even though you may be pre-menopausal, have hormonal changes, metabolic changes due to the natural process of aging.
For 5 years I have been struggling with the uphill battle of “losing the baby weight” and trying to have the body I had at 28 years old. It’s led me to reading books and listening to podcasts about body positivity and body image.
Reading this book brought me back to when I was obese, before losing the weight. The author really describes well how invisible you are (and how loathed) when you are obese.
“For me, my body isn’t good or bad, it just is. But for the rest of the world, it seems, my body presents major problems….Wherever I go, the message is clear: my body is too much for this world to bear. And it’s reinforced by the people around me.”
“We can build a world that doesn’t assume fat people are failed thin people, or that thin people are categorically healthy and virtuous.”
“…public harassment by a stranger isn’t about making you feel good. It’s about putting you in your place, and reminding you that as a woman, your social purpose is to look appealing to guys.”
Man, could I relate!
“This was far from the first time a healthcare provider had prescribed weight loss for what I was certain was an unrelated condition. Every symptom I described, every malady that led me to seek treatment, had all been attributed to my size. If I weren’t fat, I’d been told, I wouldn’t have gotten strep throat, ear infections, a Charlie horse, or a common cold.”
I’ve experienced this as well. I’ve written about it before. I go to the doctor for various ailments and the “diagnosis” was my AGE, my WEIGHT or the fact that “depression/anxiety” is on my medical chart. One glaring example of this: I went to my doctor for GI issues. She suggested it was due to anxiety and….I figured it out ON MY OWN that it was entirely related to doing keto and consuming a lot of sugar-free foods. Whatever chemical is in sugar free stuff, it does not agree with my stomach. So why was the doctor so dismissive? I experienced the same thing regarding my weight over the years.
Recently I wrote about Health At Every Size (HAES) and there are a lot of podcasts out there if that is more your thing. Food Psych is good. The Hunger Trap is one I discovered recently and while it’s more slanted towards eating disorders in general, there are some very compelling episodes. One recently discussed HAES and the hosts discussed how frustrating it can be to want to follow the Health At Every Size movement, but to see the image of HAES being a “skinny white chick holding a plate of cinnamon rolls”.
I laughed at that, but in reality it’s pretty accurate. While I am seeing more and more diversity in the HAES movement (especially on Instagram) it can be very frustrating to only see the skinny white lady talking about “loving your body” and then feeling like “HAVE YOU EVER STRUGGLED???”
This is not to dismiss people with anorexia or bulimia. There are many eating disorders and you can’t always “see” them. In fact, obese people CAN be anorexic or bulimic. But at the same time, if you’ve struggled with your weight your whole life, it can be a turn off to have some in a “privileged” body shape preach “loving your size”. (And believe me, I know it seems weird to say that when for 10+ years I was one of those people…)
Anyways, I wanted to share this book. And if you like podcasts, check out Maintenance Phase.