It seems with the warm weather waxing into full summer swing up here in the Northeast that I’ve been inundated with friends (particularly in Facebook) who are excitedly proclaiming their New Commitment To Dieting Lifestyle Changes or eagerly fishing for compliments by posting about how many ounces/inches/calories they’ve lost that day.
I’ve already “hidden” posts on my news feed from folks who seem to think that a running litany of everything they ate/didn’t eat wanted to eat/didn’t want to eat or weight they lost/gained inexplicably was the utmost in fascinating conversation. Even the comments posted ON those posts by other “friends” or even those people’s siblings deserve a bit of head-shaking sadness.
Yesterday this passive-aggressive “Do what you want, it IS your life/body but I don’t have to watch…. and you’ll never know that! *Hide!*” response was not possible when a woman actively messaged me to ask why I hadn’t joined (or “liked”? I’m not sure which) the page she’d set up to log all her Weight Loss Adventures. I haven’t responded because I hate being confrontational but I’m wondering if I should and if so, what to write.
I’m very active (to the level I’m able depending on how many classes I’m taking and how intense the workload is) in the FA blog sphere (For 2 years now even! Happy Blog-iversary to me!). I often LINK to my own thoughts or those of others on the Fat and Size acceptance circuits in my own Facebook comments.
Yet still, this woman who is dealing with her own body image issues and health issues (which, as we know, get so very quickly and easily wrapped up together in an inseparable knot of pain and frustration), felt that pointing out I hadn’t joined the bandwagon on her own “Yay! I’m CHANGING! My Body!” bandwagon of support was the way to proceed with me.
Now I’m torn. Part of me wonders if this action was actually a small cry for help; a plea for me to actually respond politely and explain WHY I refuse to join and support this group; perhaps in doing so validating her desire NOT to do this Life Change crap. My own reasons have a lot to do with not supporting dieting for losing weight for the Get Healthy goal. But I’ve discovered after thinking last night and again this morning: I also just don’t want to get sucked into that mindset again.
In a bent of self-preservation I have been avoiding mentions of active dieting/dieters (which is really difficult if you have to put away the new “Woman’s World” magazines in a library) because I fear falling into those old habits of self-hatred inspired calorie restriction insanity. I’m a pretty impulsive woman as far as how quickly I can make up my mind to do or not do something. A bad downfall to this though is that it often means that a good argument for/against something can sway my own opinion far more easily than I think it would, if I were somewhat more slow-paced in my decision-making processes. Reading about the latest/greatest “Three Month Calorie Burn, Lose 100’s of Pounds” or “Fat Redux in just Two Weeks of Painful Poo-ing” or even “How Lifestyle Changes Made me Happy Thinner” end up having this unerringly distinct ability to tug at the corners of my well-constructed defensive mechanisms against pervasive marketing strategies.
And then I end up feeling shitty about my own body. Which is completely the opposite of what SHE’S trying to do for herself: you know, feel better about herself and her life/body (even if it is by means dictated by the society around her which constantly pressures anyone fat to feel that All Would Be Better (in some magical Unicorns Shit Rainbows for your Breakfast sort of way) if they were thinner).
So if I do end up explaining why I refuse to join/like/be a part of this woman’s diet journalism I feel that it will come off as extremely self-serving; a bunch of whining about how HER decision to diet is making ME feel bad about myself. But part of me doesn’t care because a lot of feeling good about myself and learning to love who I am, in the Shell of Life that I ALREADY inhabit, has required copious amounts of editing out those parts of the world around me. A world which tries to constantly push me into the tiny niche my social environment has deemed appropriate for a huge woman (you know, that tiny niche of Self Flagellation for the Way I Am cycled against Hopeful Dieting Lifestyle Changes to Become Who I Should Be (ie: thin, taking up minimal space, quiet, calm, poised, a Better Me… in a tiny package which is pretty, sexually appealing to the male gaze and unthreatening to those around me). I refuse to get caught up in that crap again.
I mean, a huge part of why I’ve never done a week (or month) of photo blogging my eating habits to “prove” that I eat very much the same as someone thinner, has to do with the fact that doing so would also spiral me into the same mental tizzy that calorie counting did. You know, that mental space where food becomes an all-consuming pre-occupation; when knowing how many crumbs or bites you are “allowed” becomes more important than any other thought; when food is no long a sustaining or even minutely pleasurable concept and instead becomes the Enemy of My People or, in other words: my Body.
That’s not a mental space I ever wish to inhabit again. As my husband has often pointed out: Non-dieting April is a HAPPY April. And I like that.
So that’s why I have no interest in hearing about others’ weight loss successes/struggles. Is it rude to not want to partake in something that does become such an overwhelming part of people’s lives? Perhaps. But just as no one has to read here to find out my views on how destructive dieting is to your mind and body, on how playing the role of the Dieting Fatty further perpetuates the idea that we have to somehow EARN the right to live our own lives, I should have the option to not be inundated with someone’s self-abusing revamp of their own dieting process, right?
Again, a large part of me doesn’t care even if such a response is rude because my own mental health is dependent on keeping these sorts messages about negative body image OUT of my life in order to find that stability of self-image and balance of life that I’ve been creating for myself for over 2 years now.
So I’m unsure at this point how to respond. Do I just ignore the blatant note as I did the original group/page invite request? Do I respond with a few key phrases indicating why I won’t be watching her dieting journey? Do I inundate my own page with further links and posts about how destructive such cycles of hatred and body-crushing eating and living habits can be? Or is there some other option out there that I’m missing? Does it make me some sort of jack-ass to not support people in what I consider to be another foolish attempt to do something that will only end again in heartache and frustration?? I’m sure to some it would be like actively not supporting someone’s efforts to quit smoking; but then again that assumes the constantly continued and ever more often challenged (though not by the media or weight loss companies, even when the studies are right there) belief that Fat and Fitness are forever and unchallengeable in their inverse relationship.
I refuse to apologize for being happy with who I am. But should I apologize for not wanting to be happy with who she is/wants to be? After all, we’re both adults, working to live and make peace with the world around us….