I’m feeling so weird…

I'm feeling so weird about this weight loss. On the one hand, I'm obviously pleased that I've lost 14 pounds. On the other hand, I feel like I'm betraying the fat acceptance folks (many of whom are good friends of mine) by even mentioning the fact that I've lost weight, and that I'm actually trying to lose more weight. I worry that if I talk about my weight loss, I'll undercut the political value of the fat acceptance movement. And I really do care about the social justice issues -- I don't think fat people should have to pay for extra seats on airplanes, for example. Nor do I think they should be penalized in their health care costs, or in their workplace. Etc. and so on. I feel that pretty strongly.

But if I'm trying to lose weight myself (and apparently succeeding), will people take it as one more thing to use against the fat acceptance folks? I don't think that my losing weight is actually relevant to anyone else's weight, which results from so many complex factors -- endocrine issues, genetics, severe depression, etc. and so on. But I can't go into a long fat acceptance rant every time someone sees me and notices that I've lost weight. I'll be going to my sister's wedding in a week -- my family will undoubtedly notice my weight loss and comment. Am I obliged to give them the whole political spiel for every comment? How about when one of my fatter relatives gets down on themselves for their weight, which will likely happen at some point during the five days we're together?

I just don't know how to handle the politics. I'm pretty sure I'm being a bad activist, and possibly a bad feminist. Which makes me hesitant to post about how happy I am to be losing weight, or about how much it still bothers me how fat I still am. I'm solidly in regular sizes now, in a comfortable 12 or Large. But my BMI still has me at obese, not even just overweight. And in some ways, even though my clothes make it clear that I'm smaller, I actually feel even fatter, because around my stomach and back, the skin that used to be pleasantly taut over solid flesh, is now loose and jiggly. I'm assuming that if I keep exercising, that'll firm up again over time, but right now, it feels kind of creepy and decidedly unattractive. (Unattractive to me, not to Kevin, thankfully.)

I went shopping today. Gap is having some big 30% off everything in the store sale, and between that and the Ann Taylor Loft, I bought a new fall shirt and sweater in size 12 for teaching (which, in retrospect, was maybe not so smart, since I hope to be a 10 by September when I'd be wearing these), and a new outfit to wear to brunch with my sister's fiance's parents on Wednesday. I'm excited about the clothes, and how I look in them. I've just dreaded seeing myself in photos recently, and there are going to be a lot of photos this coming week, and I'm hoping I look okay in them.

But I feel bad even saying that, because if I think I look bad in a size 14-16, then what am I saying about other people that size, or larger? I find a lot of women gorgeous and sexy in larger sizes than I'm comfortable being myself. What the hell does that mean?

Argh.

11 thoughts on “I’m feeling so weird…”

  1. Oh, I agree that BMI is deeply dubious. But I don’t know that I want to discount it entirely, given that measuring pounds is limited in its own way. Ugh.

  2. Mary Anne, why not be as generous and accepting of yourself as you are of everyone else? Clearly you’re happier as a size 10 or 12. You’re equally pleased if Jane Doe is happy as a size 22. That, to me, is exactly what fat acceptance (size acceptance, really) is all about.

  3. I think it’s completely reasonable that your (culturally trained) body image doesn’t match your politics. That’s kind of why they’re politics, no? I don’t mean to discount your “what should I do about it?” struggle, but take it easy on yourself.

    As for BMI: just yesterday I noticed that my weight had gone up to 144, which is the point at which I’m officially overweight. I’d been thinking about doing another “this is what overweight looks like” post because it is bullshit, bullshit, bullshit; I will post a picture soon. (I assume you know that BMI is a statistical correlation which only has descriptive scientific meaning for populations, not individuals? Though, as I demonstrate in this very paragraph, it’s still hideously compelling.)

  4. > What the hell does that mean?

    It means our society is fucked up about weight, women’s self-image, and especially women’s self-image about weight. :^p

  5. We never can see ourselves properly. There is no incompatibility between seeing yourself as more or less attractive in one way or another (which you can’t really do anyway because you can never see yourself as others do), and recognizing the beauty in other people, whatever their shape or size. If you are happier with aspects of your new shape, great — particularly since you have people who love you and appreciate your shape.

  6. OMG Mary Anne,
    It’s one thing to weigh more and feel “solidarity” with those of a larger size, but to jeopardize one’s health “for the cause” makes absolutely no sense.
    This is not one of those burn your bra events of the sixties. It’s a matter of keeping yourself in good health to avoid possibile onset of diabetes, heart disease, etc. not to mention setting a good example for your kids.
    Not to get on a rant, but letting others determine your feelings about yourself and what actions you take on this issue is not a good signal. In the end we are responsible for our own well being. :^)

  7. When people comment that you have lost weight say yes (not thank you) when they say you look good say thank you (but do not comment about the weight loss so as not to renforce a corrolary thought between weight loss and attractiveness. When others comment about their weight guilt – tell them truthfully you think they look lovely. If they are worried about health issues, discuss that. And above all, I concur with what the others have said. Accept yourself happily as you are right now (mentally and physically) and be comfortable with wanting to make changes at the same time. (contradiction is interesting!)

  8. Are you serious? Unless you live in a famine ravished country, fat is not a sign of beauty, wealth or intelligence.

    As a fat girl for the last 10 years of my life, I can tell you, fat is not the way to go. If you can lose the weight do so. Not just for health reasons but for social reasons as well. Trust me, you don’t want your 4 yr old daughter to come home saying her friends at school said her mommy is fat.

    My husband has been a fat boy his whole life and feels like he should finally embrace the fat. I told him he should never embrace the fat. It’s just a license to eat improperly and live unhealthy. Maybe I’m just pissed because I was never obese until I married him. Come to find out, we enable each other.

    As your friend, I can tell you I am thrilled you have lost weight and I hope you continue to do so until you are at a weight that makes you comfortable. Then, I hope you are able to maintain said weight loss for many, many, many years.

    Kudos to you, Mary Anne!!

  9. In case anyone reading this is unfamiliar with the fat acceptance movement, Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose blog is full of smart, useful, and insightful information and commentary, often backed up by links to research.

    For an introduction, see the “Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy?” page. One of the main points discussed there is that fat and health are different things; it’s possible to be fat and healthy, and it’s possible to be skinny and unhealthy. Being fat does not equate to eating too much and not exercising.

    But she says lots more than that; if you’re not familiar with the fat acceptance movement, I highly recommend reading that whole entry, which goes into much more detail, with many more links, and says it better and more clearly than I could.

    I struggle with some of the same political and personal issues Mary Anne is talking about in this entry. But I don’t think anyone said anything about jeopardizing one’s health for the cause; weight and health are not the same thing.

    As for social reasons, I’m in favor of working to reduce discrimination against people. Kids (and adults) say all sorts of discriminatory things. It’s certainly quite reasonable to want to avoid being the target of such behavior; but I think it’s also reasonable to try to work toward reducing that behavior.

  10. P.S.: I should also point to the Shapely Prose FAQ, which addresses a bunch of points in a briefer but snarkier fashion, with more links.

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