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Monday Anecdote: I love going to the dentist

My Smile

My sassy grin

I love going to the dentist.  Not because I’m a fan of their strawberry flavored tooth polish, or because the hygienist is very kind or because the dentist is a wonderful and intelligent woman; though all of those are nice and true points.  I love going to the dentist because my teeth are great.  An appointment at the dentist makes me feel how a person who falls in the “normal” size-range must feel at regular doctor check-ups.

My husband, on the other-hand, is not a fan of these same visits because he does not have great teeth.  As such he hears much more in the form of chastisement than I ever do.

Our teeth-hygiene-habits are, believe it or not, pretty similar though, truth be told, Adam D does more for his teeth-care than I do.  He flosses more regularly, he uses an electric toothbrush in an almost mind-numbingly methodical way twice a day, and he makes sure to floss if anything is stuck in his teeth.

Me?  I brush quickly twice a day, floss very irregularly and only flossed everyday the week before my appointment and was told I’m doing everything “just right”.  Does anyone see the discrepancy there?  Adam does everything “right”; and yet his mouth generates more plaque on those little pearly whites and his gums are more sensitive so HE gets admonished and told to shape up.  I, on the other hand, have a mouth less prone to fast plaque build-up and gums which only need a week of flossing to toughen-up enough to not bleed during the dental cleaning.  Yet *I* am the one told I’m doing things “right”.

It is an interesting look into how those “in charge” don’t REALLY care if you’re doing things right or not; they care only for the results.  Obviously, if those results are seen, then the patient is “doing it right”.  This does both of us a dis-service honestly because I go on thinking that because my mouth is fine I can slack on my mouth-care; while poor Adam D wonders why all he does doesn’t produce the results he keeps getting told his actions should result in.

Talk about making me think about my own experiences with doctors, eh?  How often can you be told that you are “obviously” not “doing it right” just because your shape and size don’t mesh with the proscribed bodies expected of those following the actions we are all told, over and over, will result in a Normal Body?

Just a bit of anecdote to provide some food for Monday Thought.  What are your thoughts?  Do you have any medical practitioners you love to see because you have the privilege of being thought of as fully compliant and “Normal”?

Post-Turkey Post

So how did everyone fare during the Feast of Turkey?  Any horror or happy stories to share?

On my end things went rather well.  Ate a few bites of the “meh” bird, got some tasty pie and good times with Adam D’s family; which is always fun since they’re actually wonderful people.

I finished my NaNoWriMo novel last night (a day early even!) so even though that didn’t end up story-wise where I wanted it to be; I was content to have finished the word count and the storyline.  I believe this will be my last year for it though; it is very stressful to bang out 50,000 words of fiction in one month and I’ve learned after 3 years of this that I far prefer reading and blog-posting to trying to write fiction!

I have lots of culinary adventures to post here and am working on two upcoming musical adventures of the Brass Christmas Ensemble sort that are making me grin.  I love Holiday Tunes on Brass instruments!

On the front of my consciousness that is always sort of aware of new happenings on the dieting arena; I find it interesting that WW is now pushing a 0-point plan for fruits/veggies.  Sounds a lot like they are trying to make WW similar to South Beach: eat lots of green, count the rest.

According to this article on the new plan updated: “The new plan incorporates new strides in scientific research that prove that simply counting calories isn’t enough.”

*shrug*  Meh.  I guess they’ve come a long way since these recipe card of yore. Yet it all comes down to just another wave of rules with no research into the results so people will hopefully be more inclined to spend money on programs that work only to inflate the pockets of those selling them.

And to boot: when will it finally be understood that it isn’t just “counting calories” or “upping exercise” that remains the “problem” with all this rampant fatness?  A LOT of it boils down to:

It’s rage inducing, sigh-provoking and plain old head-shakingly baffling how people can continue to ignore evidence, testimonials and real-life happenings that don’t fit the narrow image of what fatness means so that they can cling to the belief that fatness and all it represents, and all those WITH fat, are lesser-than; abnormal; broken.

At any rate, to get back to my first point, Thanksgiving was pleasant.  No stories to share that don’t come down to noticing that WW keeps trying to re-boot its supposedly fool-proof methods to lose weight and keep it off…with newly tweaked methods.  Does it make you wonder what’s next?

When you refuse to play the game. OR, why people hate that I don’t eat donuts.

tah-dah pose

Hi! Beautiful donut-hating fatty here. Spoiling all your stereotypes!

I don’t eat donuts.  And some people just HATE that.

Here’s the thing.  I’m a huge fatty.  Morbidly obese by BMI standards.  I hate donuts.

Because of these facts, people really seem to resent me when donuts are brought into the office at work.  Why? Because I don’t like to play along with the game of “Hey, as long as the FATTY has a donut, it clears my conscience for ME to have one (or more)”.

Why don’t I eat something that everyone KNOWS fatties can’t seem to resist?  Well, quite aside from my many years of working summers and evenings at a local Polish bakery and seeing how the things were made; which is quite enough to turn you off of eating them all on its own; it’s because I KNOW that donuts end up making me feel awful.  In fewer than 20 minutes after eating a donut I KNOW it will feel like there is a lead bullet lodged in my digestion.   Unless I am CERTAIN that I am willing to put up with the pain and suffering that eating even those cute little donut “holes” will unerringly cause; I just. don’t. eat them.  End of story.

It isn’t a moral virtue that I somehow manage to “hold back” some ravenous desire to devour the world’s donuts.  I don’t like how they make me feel.  I’ve stopped the roller-coaster train that is weight-loss dieting and so I’ve finally come to terms with this fact: donuts make me feel not-my-best.  They aren’t worth it to me anymore.  In truth, there are quite a few things I no longer eat because the seductive allure of their inherently “sinful” nature has been completely removed in the years since I stopped dieting, making them once again plain old amoral food choices that I choose to avoid due to the way they affect my body’s system.

However, because of this insane world in which we live and its insistence upon diet-talk bonding behaviors; people don’t LIKE when I don’t follow the social rules and join the group-think, declaring myself “so Baaaaad!” and eating the Forbidden Sugar Fruit along with the rest of the hungry hordes.

Listen.  It ISN’T some kind of “Oooo look at me!  I’m so VIRTUOUS!  I’ve got all this WILLPOWER to stay away from those rings of deliciously naughty goodness.”  I’m not trying to get people to ask me how it is I can remain so pure and avoid this world-wide love for the magical donut (or cake, as the case may be, in Catherine Tate’s amusing bit about such diet-bonding behavior).  I just don’t like the little buggers enough for me to want to pay-up, 20 minutes later, via an unhappily clenching stomach and painful waves of indigestion.  It isn’t worth it to me anymore.

And yet, because I won’t lather into a frenzy over the idea that “Someone brought in… donuts!  They’re in the KITCHEN!  You should hurry before there aren’t any LEFT!” I get the distinct and almost hostile feeling that I’m not “doing it right” and therefore denying others their own ability to feel a bond-in-food with everyone over how decadent and naughty we’re all being.

Meanwhile, I just don’t know how I can be more assertive than to assure folks that “No, thanks I don’t want a donut.  I’m sure.  Yes, I’m really sure.  Those things are, I’m sure, very delicious but they make me feel like shit.  Yes, I’m sure I won’t have one. No, not even if YOU have one.   Honestly, I don’t care if you want one!  Eat it!!!!”  Seriously folks, do you need the fatty to join you in your perceived food-sinning in order to feel like it is okay?  As if only if you are eating less than (or as much as?) the largest woman in the room can you feel alright about your food choices???  Is this culture REALLY that bizarre with its food hang-ups?!?!?

I want to ask you: what sort of foods do you avoid eating that get you looked at with disbelief? Do you HATE the crunch of carrots and get raised eyebrows when you avoid them because they are the perfect “diet food” (or were, at any rate, before sugar-fears made them a “naughty diet food”)?  Do you despise the way that cream cheese frosting feels in your mouth and get gasps of surprise when you don’t agree to partake in the wonders of a thus-frosted piece of cake?

Yet, how often does anyone actually respond to such gasps, groans, joking and amazement with the simple, “You know, my choice to eat this, or not, should not affect your ability to enjoy it!  Go on and eat it, happily!”?  I know I don’t think of saying that.  But I’m thinking that I will begin to do so.

I am sick of feeling like somehow my lack of desire in joining folks in their merry Donut-Sin-Party somehow diminishes everyone else’s fun and food enjoyment. I don’t play that game anymore. And maybe saying that simple phrase above could help encourage others to realize that it ISN’T about what is on someone else’s plate or making sure that you’re keeping just a bit less on there than the fatty; it’s about enjoying what you’ve CHOSEN to happily eat from your own plate. Even if that choice happens to be NOT the donut that everyone else is coo-ing over!

Fresh Watermelon: A reminder of the hierarchy of food needs

CSA week 10

CSA: Week 10. LOOK AT THE WATERMELON!

The fresh deliciousness of a watermelon has just reminded me that not everyone is so lucky as to have this sort of access to amazing food.  Where do I go from here?

Our CSA is now in week 10.  And  you guys?  We just got a freaking WATERMELON in our box!!!  That’s it there on the left, split open amongst all of our other goodies for the week.

Now the only reason I bring your attention to this dear little melon so happily is that I don’t think I’ve ever TASTED watermelon quite so fresh, crisp, or delicious.

Normally, I love the outer edge pieces of any watermelon that Adam D and I get, while he aims for the center and more red pieces that, to me, usually taste a bit starchy or like moist sawdust.  But when I bit into a piece of this little guy I was blissfully taken away for a moment to a place where the center of melons were delectable treats, crisp and flavorful and juicy.

I’ll be honest.  I’m not sure that even with the second one we had the foresight to buy in addition to our box that the fruit will last long under our “tender mercies” in the Round Shape household!

Here’s another glistening peek at this fruit, before we hacked it into cubes and gobbled a bit up right then and there!

Watermelon next to peeled corn

Yum!

I have to admit that Adam’s sad-face when he realized that I would be fighting him for the pleasure of those center pieces with these melons was absolutely adorable.

In a switch of mental gears, though, to me this was just another reminder that often the food that is easily and inexpensively available is not nearly at its flavor peak.  We had to join a special co-op venture, for which we needed money and the time (both to drive there once a week for pick up and to then clean, store and use everything each week), to take advantage of the beautiful tastes available in things like this watermelon.  Not everyone is so lucky.

This made me think of Sociological Image’s post on the Hierarchy of Food Needs.  To quote from the post regarding the many ways in which the basics of food needs are overlooked in the mass appeal to simply declare that poor people/fat people are just too stupid or not paying enough attention to eat the “right” foods:

food needs hierarchy

My little melon? Would be right up there under "Novel Food"

The graphic suggests that getting enough food to eat is the most important thing to people.  Having food be acceptable (e.g., not rotten, something you are not allergic to) comes second.  Once those two things are in place, people hope for reliable access to food and only then do they begin to worry about taste.  If people have enough, acceptable, reliable, good-tasting food, then they seek out novel food experiences and begin to make choices as to what to eat for instrumental purposes (e.g., number of calories, nutritional balance).

As Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist writes, sometimes when a person chooses to eat nutritionally deficient or fattening foods, it is not because they are “stupid, ignorant, lazy, or just a bad, bad person who loves bad, bad food.“  Sometimes, it’s “because other needs come first.” (Bolded emphasis is mine, quote and graphic from Sociological Images)

Really, the fact that I’m even ABLE to marvel at the taste of this wee melon compared to the “mediocre” versions at the grocery stores speaks volumes about the rather comfortable situation in which I find myself: access to enough, decent, good tasting food; able to move that one step further to trying new food experiences such as farm-grown food sharing plans.  The very fact that this sort of access IS a lucky privilege and not a basic, fundamental RIGHT, is what really chafes my ass*.

And now I find myself facing the very same questions I come up against over and over: where do I go from here?  Once realizing and coming face-to-face with the reality of just how UNFAIR the system is; what steps make sense at this point?  Is this when I find some sort of advocacy groups online to join to help address the fact that, as the Fat Nutritionist declares so bluntly, Other Needs Come First in regards to food? Do I find some collective of people working to lobby for better, more consistent access to ENOUGH food, let alone “novel” food?  Would doing that just make me some sort of food vigilante?  It’s a delicate line I think, between realizing there is a distinct problem in access and figuring out what to DO with that realization/information.

Does the first step involve more education on my own part?  Likely.  What do you do when you come to this point and want to find some way to break the cycle and help MAKE things better in regards to access; when just blogging about life being unfair is no longer enough?

What do you do?

*That and boy-short cuts of underwear.  Seriously. WTF?

Oprah gives me hope for once

Or, rather, a pair of mother/daughter articles in her most recent mag (and now online) gives me hope for the possibility of redefining the weight narrative.

“There’s nothing healthy about fearing food and using exercise as a whip. A better goal is to exercise for fun and truly eat well—not less, not using different rules, but in a way that’s more nourishing and more conscious.”

Something that really hit home for me was this bit from the daughter: “But the ending [my mother] envisioned was the same one that played out in every kid’s book with a fat character I had ever read: the one where the troubled chubster solves her inner turmoil and ends up svelte. Mom never envisioned an ending where the fat kid discovers that there was nothing wrong with her in the first place. Why would she? Nobody ever wrote that story.”

How often did I read those same books?  The ones with the fattie who learns her self worth woes are only “in her head” and THAT is what makes her simply “eat too much” and *poof*! once learning said truth she does the 80’s montage into svelte acceptance and then Yay!  Rudolph gets to play with all the normal sized reindeer now. Celebration ensues.

Only, for anyone wishing for that same fantastical ending, it never does happen, does it?  Now matter how many times you have your own personal “epiphany” about the reality that you’re *gasp* Fat!  and perhaps even Sad About It!; there IS no happy celebratory end to your sweaty calorie restriction filled montage scene. Instead you end up cruising past that “happy ending” and right back to where you started, or even worse: fatter.  And those fictional former fatties mock you from their safe thin haven and you’re sure that somehow you’ve done something wrong in order to fail.  Again. And so you read those “inspirational” fictional stories about people shedding their fat selves (which are of course always the more clumsy, awkward, bashful and ugly sides of their personalities) leaving only worthy and wonderful people of skinny happiness behind.

“The weight she loses is used as a narrative tool to epitomize these emotional changes. Why is fatness allowed to be this tool, though? What other types of physical attributes would we allow to exist purely as symbolic of an inner flaw?…. With so many examples of fatness equaling flawedness, fatness slips easily into shorthand for anything negative. Skinny characters are sometimes bad or weak, but they are surrounded by other skinny characters who are good or strong or understandable; fat characters epitomized by flaws have few counter-examples. Some are Santa-jolly, but these are often stock characters, unreliable or entertaining, rarely heroes. Fatness is enough reason to be the subject of mocking laughter, the only comic relief in a somber book…” – Fat characters in recent young adult fiction

Even the one book I had sworn had been counter to this common narrative of the Fat Girl saved by Not Eating and “Finding Self Worth (though only once thin, natch) is really, upon recent inspection, exactly the same: “Ignore the taunts and show those bullies what’s what by proving you can be skinny with enough exercise and fewer ice cream cones!  Yeah!”  Bull. We need MANY more stories like these to replace this fatphobic wonderland of wishful thinking.

But anyways the point is to say that having anything akin to an “open” discussion available on a major woman’s magazine/site is a hopeful bit of progress in my view.  I’ve not viewed the comments online because I’m not a glutton for punishment today but I’m really hoping that even if they are spottled with nasty that this concept written down trickles into more and more lives….this narrative that the fat girl at the start of the story really IS fine As Is and doesn’t NEED any sort of Physical Change Montage to improve herself to within acceptable standards.

Even more amazing on a personal note is that I was able to send this to my mother who agreed it was an interesting read and reminded me that she has found me “beautiful inside and out for a long time now”.  I had to respond that I know the same about her.  It was kinda a huge moment for me anyways and is making me kinda weepy in a happy way that we can even lightly touch on the subject without the worried tummy butterflies of “what will happen now” going on. Now THAT’S what I call hope.

Fat Film Review: Bolt (2008 Disney Film)

Okay so I’m a *wee* bit behind in watching movies.  Mostly I can explain this one in that the previews made the film Bolt look very much like just another sad little addition to the stereotype Hero Learns Life Lessons trope collection.  However this past weekend I found myself with an occasion to watch the movie and with incredibly low expectations I found that the film delivered above and beyond.  If you haven’t already seen; it I would recommend it.  The plot and characters are cute, often humorous in very interesting ways (think along the lines of the clever bits in things such as “Shrek”), and very pleasantly body shape/size neutral. If you haven’t seen it and don’t like spoilers, don’t read on until you’ve gotten a chance to watch it because spoilers abound below!

The premise of the movie is summed up on the Internet Movie Database: “The canine star of a fictional sci-fi/action show that believes his powers are real embarks on a cross-country trek to save his co-star from a threat he believes is just as real.”

What really struck me while watching it (and continues to turn pleasantly in my mind now and again in the days since) is just how nicely the film creates a set of characters with a bit of dimension and personality and then throws in different body sizes and shapes as just a natural part of things.  Perhaps it is a bit sad to think we’ve gotten to the point where anything that doesn’t blatantly go for the “Fatty stuck in a tight tube/corridor/hole/etc” is a move upwards.  Yet I felt that Bolt managed to surpass even that bare minimum. Here are just a few of the awesome bits of size positive or size-neutral scenes that stole my heart:

  • The dog’s co-star Penny is a small girl with a large and very round mother.  Yet this mother is kind, loving, understands her daughter’s actual love for the dog Bolt and doesn’t hesitate at the end of the movie to kick her daughter’s weasel-y agent out and declare that Penny would be quitting.  Never is this mother called out for being fat as a code for being lazy or unloving or evil or unfit.
  • Rhino is a fat rolly polly TV watching hamster who joins Bolt (and the practically starving alley cat: Mittens) on his quest. For most of the film Rhino rolls around in his hamster ball.  Yet he is not just a Fat Comedy fill-in character.  He is a full-out fan of Bolt and convinced the dog’s powers are real.
  • Rhino is action and intensity packed into a furry frame held in a plastic ball.  And at one point he manages to roll after the truck that captures Bolt and Mittens, saving the day by releasing Bolt. He rolls in his ball for miles after a speeding truck mind you.  As a fat hamster he rolls around for miles and still manages to maintain the hyper-active ninja-esque attitude that allows him to free Bolt.
  • Towards the end of the film the fat Rhino is set to sacrifice himself to jam his ball under a closing door (allowing Bolt to dash into a burning building to save Penny) and Mittens quickly unscrews the ball’s lid and pulls Rhono to safety.  There is no stereotypical “fat character wedged in tight hole” scene to slow the action down.
  • At one point when Mittens is showing Bolt how to beg for food at an RV camp she lays back and points to her rounded tummy and declares in full happy and full-of-food-for-once amazement “Look, my stomach is distended!  Isn’t that great!!?” Perhaps this conflates food with fat a bit but it mostly had the feel of “Isn’t it great to feed your body?  Even overeating once in a while can feel awesome!”
  • There is a set of 3 pigeons who seem to appear in any city the group stop in and they are a variety of sizes; with no bashing of the sizes on any of them (fat or skinny).

Not only did I enjoy just how neutral and positive the film portrayed characters who happened to run the gamut of sizes but I also really loved that the hero’s moment of “learning the truth” did not entail a long, drawn out series of scenes about his own self-pity when discovering he wasn’t truly a super-powered dog.

That isn’t to say that the film was great about everything.  It would have been great if the dog had instead been female, for example, and was saving a boy from danger.  There was also a distinctly pale-skinned feel to most of the characters.  Even size-wise it would have been fantastic to have a female lead who was fat instead of just a few side characters. But for the purposes of viewing with an eye towards the treatment of body sizes and shapes I found it mostly a very refreshing take on telling a story without having to fall back on appearance discrimination in order to tell a joke.

In all it was a great way to spend 96 minutes of my weekend.  I would even do it again; and for someone who has very few treasured movie classics that she is willing to watch more than once; that is truly saying something.