A journal of healing

Posts tagged ‘fat’

Hatred: a Learned Behavior

Currently I am reading “Shrill”, a book by Lindy West. It is not for the easily offended reader. She is a comedian and is very funny. But she is also FAT. Lindy is a true Fat activist and writes for about the struggles she has. She deals with hate every day. But she wants to change the world and I think she has many valid points. She says, “Being fat is like walking around with a sandwich board that says, “HERE’S WHERE TO HURT ME!” That’s why reclaiming fatness— living visibly, declaring, “I’m fat and I am not ashamed”— is a social tool so revolutionary, so liberating, it saves lives.”

When I was growing up, bullying existed but it was not exonerated. Bullies were known. They were outcasts and shunned, unless you were one. As a child, you learned to fight back or suffer. Parents did not fight your fight for you. You could rat out a bully if you dared and they would be “in trouble,” which meant something in those days.

Today’s culture is very different. I blame the media who created movies like “Mean Girls.” Then we have TV shows like the “Biggest Loser” where they abused Fat people for entertainment. There was nothing real or entertaining about that show. There is one out there now called “My 600 Pound Life” about very large people who are suffering and struggling to just survive. There is nothing entertaining about witnessing suffering. But it creates absolution for the hatred of people of size and fosters bigotry.

Lindy talks about flying and the stigma attached to Fat people when they board an airplane. I have sat in seats that do not fit me. It is humiliating at best as well as painful. And my butt is not as big as a Kardashian. I love Lindy’s retort: “We don’t insist on a solution because it’s still culturally acceptable to be cruel to fat people. When even pointing out the problem— saying, “my body does not fit in these seats that I pay for”— returns nothing but abuse and scorn, how can we ever expect that problem to be addressed? The real issue here isn’t money, it’s bigotry. We don’t care about fat people because it is okay not to care about them, and we don’t take care of them because we think they don’t deserve care…..We don’t insist on a solution because it’s still culturally acceptable to be cruel to fat people.

We are not born hating people different from us. Babies do not see Fat people as a threat. They learn that from their parents. My parents hated Fat people and had no issues making hurtful comments my whole life. Their mothers hated Fat people too and passed that down. They had no reason to hate fat people. They also hated people of different religions and especially hated people of color. They had no tolerance for anyone different from them, actually. They were upper class snobs full of themselves. My siblings to some degree reflect the same thinking. I never did learn the behavior and was an outcast in my own family sphere. But I held true to my principals.

We live in a country where hatred, bigotry, misogynic behaviors are being tolerated and actually glorified by some. But we are starting to have people who are standing up and saying no more. We have to do this. The energy of hatred is toxic. We have to change what we teach our children. I am aghast at the comments I hear from young people that are vile and filled with prejudice of things and people they have no direct experience with. How is that possible? Because hatred is a learned behavior and we have to stop teaching and accepting it.

West, Lindy. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman (p. 148). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fat Hatred

This weekend celebrated the second Women’s March in Seneca Falls. There were over 10,000 people there to voice their concerns. Voicing concerns is everyone’s right in the USA. I support that right as a woman and as a blogger. I am not able to accept and even understand what gives people the right to go on to someone’s blog and write an evil and threatening message. It happens all the time and to totally innocuous blogs.

Blogging is the opportunity for the blogger-author to express their thoughts. It is therapeutic at times and it can be a gift of education or just simply an outlet for the blogger to write about their experiences. It is a wonderful outlet.

I follow several blogs. There is one I find at times quite humorous called Dancing with Fat by Ragen Chastain. She is a large size lady who writes, is a triathlete, and a dancer. She also is a motivational speaker who encourages people of all size to be the best that they are no matter what their size. She is a true hero for the thousands of people who let their size inhibit their lives.

There are many other activists who are trying to simply educate people about size discrimination. It is totally acceptable in our country if not encouraged to harass and bully people of size. I do not get it and never have. But I was astounded by the hatred these activists have had hurled at them on their websites and even face to face.

In Regen’s blog she talks about trolls. She actually created a website and posted some of the comments and her very funny and witty replies. The comments are graphic and threatening and just frightening. She has never hurt anyone or tried to change anyone. She is only offering a glimpse into her life with joy and support for others. Pardon the language of this, but this is an example: “cant we just kill the fat people and make cat food out of them? 99% of obese people are just stupid lazy ugly pieces of lard,fuck em”  Can you imagine how this makes me feel as a large person to be judge that I should be KILLED and made into cat food simply because I take a larger dress size? Of course the sentiment loses value in the quality of the rant… and we move on. But how horrible is it that this person is out there expressing that much hatred and violence to an innocent group of fat people. Really? There are a lot more worthy groups to hate if you got to hate.

I am so naïve even at this ripe old age. I never knew there was so much hatred against fat people. This hatred is a learned behavior because it is not embraced by everyone in the world. What difference is to anyone if a person is large or small as long as they are not hurting anyone? This issue is becoming more prevalent now because people are standing up and saying “STOP IT!” Count me in!

We would never tolerate this type of harassment and hatred towards people of color. But I lived with that hatred growing up and I still hear it whispered behind closed doors. The fact is now it is unacceptable to slur and insult people simply because they have different skin color. It was an arduous fight. I am not saying the fight is over either. But when I was a young child it was a segregated world and it was nationally acceptable. But no more. It gives me hope.

I am not going to go on a political rant here. It would be too easy. Change has to happen. We need to be aware of this hatred in order for it to change. People don’t like to get involved in controversy and we have become a nation of complacency, which is why we are where we are with the leaders we have.

My goal is to just point out something that many people might not even be aware of. Next time you sit next to a fat person, understand that they know when they are being ostracized. They can see the looks and feel the shame you want them to feel for just existing. In many cases, their size is their protection from the harm and hurt their life has been. Try to understand and not judge.

Outrage

I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day and I became outraged. It talks about how Google was putting information down about walking distance and calories when asked for directions. She felt this was fat shaming.  https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/google-cupcakes-and-terrible-ideas/

I do not necessarily agree that this was the best example of fat shaming. I actually think it is kind of nice information if you CAN walk.  The calorie indication is just part of the diet culture we live in. But there are other messages out there that are not only fat shaming, but blatant discrimination.

She mentions that in some places they have turned off the escalators so that people will use stairs. Swell. That is discrimination of people with disabilities whether they are small or large. I know plenty of people who cannot climb stairs or even worse, like in my situation, go down them. I can go up with a hand rail for support but coming down is not happening. My one ankle now goes completely out at any situation and makes me fall if I do not have something to grab. Imagine my luck on stairs.

What about wheelchair access? She was saying that they are putting up signs next to elevators to remind people to use the stairs because you burn more calories. Talk about rubbing it in the face of people who cannot make a choice. That is not fat shaming; it is just harassment of everyone who is disabled.

In other blogs she talks about the discrimination or fat shaming that occurs with large people getting medical treatment. She states one person she knew was denied health insurance because she was morbidly obese. (I hate that phrase with a passion) How is that not discrimination? How is telling employees that if you are over a certain body weight, you will have to pay more for your health coverage not discrimination and for that fact, legal? But places are doing it all over the country. My company almost went there.

We lump every large person into one category. FAT, LAZY, and UNRELIABLE. We are treated like liars all the time. (Yes, secretly I go home after work and stuff my face with ice cream and cake… and even if I did, what business is that of yours?) Doctors accuse of lying all the time. In my own experience, I was accused of gorging myself by my two doctors when I put on 17 pounds in 6 weeks. They were sure it was what I was eating. On my own, I stopped a medication I was put on and almost overnight, the weight disappeared. But neither would listen to me and I sat sobbing in their offices telling them how awful I felt since going on the medication. The medication also caused dyspnea, but they didn’t seem concerned and again said it was because I was fat. I did not have shortness of breath before or after. It was humiliating and hurtful and neither of them said anything afterwards when I proved it was the medication.

In this culture, large people are the remaining targets of the worse discrimination out there. We are outrage if someone is discriminated for color or race. They just sanctioned a baseball player for making slant eyes at an Asian pitcher. Bet if he called someone fat nothing would happen.

I can only speak for how this makes me feel. I see people’s expressions. I hear their words of disapproval, and I feel the ostracization all the time. I hear all the girls at work constantly talking about their suffering when it comes to dieting and they wear it like a badge of honor. “OH, I can’t eat that” or “I would love a cookie, but no…”

But this pisses me off more than anything: I eat my lunch at my desk while I am working. And I do this because I do not want to stop working, but more because I do not want to be judged. I eat the same thing every day. I have a bag of chopped veggies, an English muffin with mayo and 2 slices of “just turkey” (has no chemicals in it). I leave the veggies out to munch on. Just last week, someone came to my desk and had the gall to say, “OH my, what a healthy lunch.”  I said, “Yes, surprise! Fat people eat better than most. Why are you shocked?”  Oh did she do a back pedal. This is not the first time either. I actually have had people just come into my old office cubby when I was eating a salad and start lecturing me on diets.

The image I used for this post is what as me all riled up. “Fat ballerina.” This is inexcusable. Dress up like a fat person and make fun of them all night. Yes indeedy. Be the star of your party by humiliating people who often have no choice of their situation or health. Next we should make a costume to mock developmentally disabled folks and call it “Retard.” Or how about a costume that makes you look like you have a prosthesis and we can call that one “Gimp”?  Think I am going over board? Try walking around in a real fat suit and see how it feels.

 

Don’t take this personally

“You’re too sensitive.” “I meant this is a good way.” And my favorite: Don’t take this personally.” Everyone time someone says those things; I know it is going to be a dagger in my soul. I am too sensitive. I will take it badly. And I most definitely will take it personally. Because that is the honest intent. Prefacing statements with “honestly” or to “tell the truth” does not excuse the fact that you are about to be mean. “It’s for your own good” never really is. It’s about you feeling superior to me.

Being an empath is not a pleasure. I see right through most people’s crap in a heartbeat. It does not mean that I can shield myself from the hurt. I never learned that part of survival. Because of that, I am very vulnerable to insults, even if they are shrouded in good intentions. They never really are good intentions.

When you are a large woman, you are a walking target for these kinds of insults. People feel so justified to say, “You would be so pretty if…..” “or you have a beautiful face….” People tell you how much better your life would be if only you could be more like them with statements like: “you should run with me some morning.” Oh Honey, if you really knew me, you would know I can hardly walk some mornings due to psoriatic arthritis. But you don’t really see me, so thanks but no thanks.

These comments do more than just hurt me. They trigger me. My family never lacked in cruel comments. It was a sport to see how clever someone could insult another. I was an enigma in the sense I was the only woman in my family who was large. I mean I am the tallest by 5 to 7 inches, I wore a much larger size (my Mom was a zero to 3) and I had boobs. I spent my childhood listening to “how much better I would be if I only…” This is emotional abuse by the way. I was deprived of treats, often subjected to ridiculous diets like green beans and Jello and constantly harangued about my shape.

[And this is how just writing about my childhood trigger me to justify it. I realized this when I went back to reread what I wrote:] My mom was in charge of the food in the house and meals were excessively high in carbs and fat. There was always soda and cookies available because the other siblings could gorge on them. They were thin. I was an extremely active child and teen often spending the day swimming or riding a bike for miles. I was not allowed to sit around and watch TV or even read. As a younger woman, I was very active. I only slowed down because of the PsA and if I did not have it, I would still be playing tennis and other activities as much as I could.

My family’s constant barrage of self-improvement comments were actually telling me how I failed. There was little said to counter the demeaning of the words. It successfully made me feel like a failure and that was the intent. I know this now, but it scarred me. So now when people make their veiled comments, I hear the disappointment in my mother and father and it brings me back to that time. When you have PTSD, it does not take much to trigger you.

When you grow up with a sense of failure, you have two choices: over achieve or lie down and whither. I overachieved. My success had not dampened the hurt I feel when someone is critical. I am so sensitive, that a look can set me off. I feel people’s disdain of me even if they think they are hiding it. I read people very clearly. It does not matter who or what the relationship. It does not matter if I love or hate the person. Their intent comes beaming through.

Next time you go to make a comment, try to remember that a large person already knows they are large. Chances are they have spent a lifetime trying to meet other’s expectations and have failed. They may not be strong, and your words will haunt them for days. You have no right to demean someone ever. If you think you are helping them, you are not. Get off your white horse and stop being so pompous. Learn that “right reflexing” (the attempt to take charge of someone else’s change process) does not motivate anyone to change. Understand your motive before you speak. Send love, not hurt.

 

Negativity bias and forgiveness

rain clouds'

The negativity bias[1] (also known as the negativity effect) refers to the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than do neutral or positive things.[2][3][4] In other words, something very positive will generally have less of an impact on a person’s behavior and cognition than something equally emotional but negative.

When asked to recall a recent emotional event, people tend to report negative events more often than they report positive events,[38] and this is thought to be because these negative memories are more salient than are the positive memories. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negativity_bias

If you were to ask fifty people in a group that is face to face, “are you happy?” most people will answer quickly that they are. But underneath, you will find that most people are not happy as happiness is one of those elusive feelings. We think we are happy, but if you start to think you are happy, these nasty little negative thoughts worm their way into your frame of reference. Couple that with the fact that most people have experience a disproportional amount of unpleasantness, and for some trauma, by the time they reach early adulthood. We are the walking wounded.

But not everyone is a negative-Nellie. I have been searching for so many answers in the last years. This includes my question of how is that some people just seem naturally happy? Are they oblivious to the world, which by the way is not very nice? My inquiry has led me to conclusion that it is a choice. It takes focus, patience and a lot of fortitude to have a quiet, calm and pleasant demeanor.

It also takes solitude and time to process input because negativity comes at you without your choice. We are flooded with input which is judgmental, sadistic and hateful. Information is disguised as humor is measured in the failure of others and how quick we are to place blame for their mistakes. In actuality, the humor comes from the relief that we are not the victim of the joke.

When I think of someone who is truly happy and content, the only people I think who really reach that state are people who are cloistered. It is easy to be happy and content when you live unaffected and separate yourself from the reality of the world. Peace comes from having all your needs being met in a secluded and secure environment. (This is one reason why recidivism is so high.)

I am striving to change many things in my life for the better. I know I do not have a lot of time to turn around sixty years. I also do not want to be one of those people who are so guru-like that they become annoying. I doubt my demeanor will ever reach that state. I have too much of a sense of humor not to see the idiocies of humans as amusing, including myself. I do not watch TV. I rarely listen or look at the news. I figure I surround myself with enough catastrophe proclaimers that if something really awful was coming they would tell me. Not that there would be much I could do about it, so why worry? I admit that I have isolated myself these past months. I even moved my office to a much more secluded area at work, which has been wonderful. I only see the people who have intent to see me. My other office was like being on display all the time. I stopped seeing anyone connected to “working on myself.” I found that it was like being tethered to my past and that I was never going to get on with it if I kept dragging up issues that I cannot change now. Besides, I am the only one who can really have an impact on my being.

Instead of being stuck in the past, I am trying to improve the future. I have ideas of what I would like to achieve in the future, but I am not putting a goal on them. I do not want to be intimidated by a point of measure. It sort of defeats the purpose. Instead, I think of it as a pathway, a direction to go in.

I am also including a huge amount of forgiveness in my work. I hold on to things. That is the basis for the negativity bias. We all automatically process in the negative domain. It takes time to reprogram our pathways to find alternative reactions. It is hard work.

An example of this is my health and weight issues. I am stuck in a cycle that I may never actually break. It is horrendous. (I know that is a big word) Seems that being fat creates being fat. There is a condition called metabolic syndrome which has many implications, but basically it is the construct that some people are predisposed to being fat. (I hate the word fat and it triggers all sort of things in me, btw) It also seems that there is a hormone called Adiponectin which is secreted in the blood which helps to regulate metabolism. However, the heavier you are, the more body fat you have, the less of this adiponectin you have circulating in your blood. Adiponectin has been postulated to play an important role in the modulation of glucose and lipid metabolism in insulin-sensitive tissues in both humans and animals. Decreased circulating adiponectin levels have been demonstrated in genetic and diet-induced murine models of obesity. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/8/2442.full

It seems that this also is a marker for inflammation. In other words, the less adiponectin flowing, the more inflammation you have. How this pans out is that you can eat the same amount of calories as a skinny person, and the heavy person will gain weight no matter what. Add to the fact that your body is coursing with inflammation, which also adds water weight and will stop anyone from moving and viola….you have the perfect storm.

Here is an example of how negativity bias works: I took a break from writing at this point. I started going down this path of “Gee, people who read this will think I am looking for an excuse…” and down the negative path I skipped. It took a pause to realize, “I don’t care. I am writing this piece in hopes someone else might find something good in it. The facts are I am facing a pretty big mountain (no pun intended) but it is totally my choice how and what I do. I know in my head that I am not going to give up, so it does not matter what people think. They already judge me for being fat so, who cares?”  The last line makes me smile and I move on…….

My point is that we all face hardships in our world. It is being human. How we face them is also our choice. Some call on a Deity for help, others look to science. I am somewhere in between. When I said I was working on forgiveness, it was not in relationship to others. It is totally in relationship to me. If I don’t forgive my own trespasses against myself, I will be permanently mired in the muck of life. Only through this freedom can I really forgive others.

 

 

 

Judgment

Goddess of the garden

Yesterday, The Good Doc, Victo Delore posted a great post on the vulnerability we all have to react to stimulus without the complete picture. Here’s her post: The Bigger Picture With shame attached, I would have reacted the same to the original situation and thought, “who dares to park in a handicap spot without the credentialing”?  I have a placard to hang from the mirror which is totally out of date. I lack the desire to be labeled handicapped but there are times when it sure makes my life easier to have less of a walk into the store. I honestly have also parked when I am in my car without the mirror handicap sign but only on really bad days and in a rush. One day I was feeling particularly cheeky and parked in the “for expectant mothers” spot. One of the few perks for being fat is you can look pregnant and people won’t ask, “hey, you preggers or just fat?”

Being judgmental is normal. We are taught it at an early age because we are judged. We are criticize and directed for correction as soon as we can voice a decision. When a baby first says, “NO”, the parent thinks, who the heck do they think they are? This is not a bad thing  because we need to learn parameters and boundaries. We also need to test the waters.  Learning what is acceptable is part of being assimilated into a culture.

I was raised by two incredibly judgmental parents who were raised by even more harshly judgmental parents. There was a code instilled in my family of needing to be perfect and that has completely messed with me and all of my siblings. This voice has been a deterrent for me at times because I do not want to face criticism and judgment. But the question begs, who is doing the judging?  When I take the time to really feel what I am thinking, I realize it is often not me; it is the old voice of my parents. It is the illogically comments from a time gone by. It was a mindset that I needed to be aware of so I could protect myself. But I also needed to play along in order to survive in the clan. I rebelled early on when I disagreed with their bigotry and hatred. I still hear their reaction to things and people that are not my real feelings.

I have a huge quantity of personal triggers that set me off. People who have PTSD react to stimulus that others cannot fathom. I have worked very hard to become aware of my triggers and try to deal with them. I am so sensitive to things that no one else can comprehend what they do to me because it is “nonsense” to them. For example, a certain color of light or a shadow on a wall used to completely upset me and bring on a sense of fear and despair. I now can explain that it is the color of light that happens at sunset and the low shadow is a marker of that same time frame. Why does this set me off? Because they are indicators of the time when my parents would begin their drinking.

People with PTSD have a bag of “stuff” to deal with that is so individualized that no one can comprehend what they are dealing with. It is that personal. Yet we hear people all the time say, get over it. We hear and feel the judgment. No one can really comprehend the pain and total suffering of others, ever. We do not have the ability to understand their triggers either. We need to have compassion. And it starts with not judging.

One challenge I am working on for myself is the “pause.” I try to take a moment and step away from the visceral reaction to something and breathe. In the second of calming I often can see a different story than the original view. Much like the good Doc says in her post about seeing the old couple and realizing the real story takes a moment of reflection. This process is hard and I often fail. But for the times when I do, it makes for a sweeter time of it. Unless it is a real jerk….and they do exist.  Ok, that was just to make you smile.

 

I am sitting here trying to write through the tears that are pouring out of my eyes. I hate this. I am so frustrated I could melt iron with my anger. And because I know my anger does nothing, I am even more frustrated and around I go until I just burst into tears and sit sobbing until I give up and go to bed. I just thought I would write and see if it helps. So….why am I so upset? Several things.

I have Psoriatic Arthritis. For those who do not know, it is an auto-immune disease which targets the joints and the surround tissue. On the scale of severity, I am pretty lucky and it has only disintegrated my foot, ankle and toes on either foot and I have some deterioration in my lower spine. I can live with the fact that I limp on some days. I can also live with the shooting pain for the most part and the pervasive ache that is so deep in my bones it seems to be like hot lava.

What I cannot live with is the incompetency of the people who I have to work with to get the drug that helps alleviate this pain. Because I am on a specialty drug, I have to go to a high end mail order pharmacy for my drug. Every single time I had to deal with the company, Accredo, it was a major clusterfuck. And they lie like a cheap rug. One time I had to go without my medication for almost three months before they straightened out their mistakes. And then when it was all done, and I went to order the following month, they cancelled my prescription because I had not called for it in three months.

Well, my insurance switched to a new pharmacy. Can you guess what happened? They have it all screwed up. Although it was supposed to be a clear transfer of the script and authorization, it did not happen. So now I am on week 2 past due for my med because of their screw up. First they did not have the authorization and now they say they have an authorization, but it is for the wrong dose. What I do not get is nothing changed from the one pharmacy and the script was for at least six months.

Meanwhile, the pain crawls up my back like a sloth climbing a tree. PsA does not affect just my joints. It also affects my hormones and internal organs. It changes my body chemistry. This creates a situation where I am even more frustrated. I put on weight. So I have been on Weight Watchers now going on three weeks. I lost many pounds the first week, less the next and so far this week I have GAINED 2.5 pounds.

Everyone will say, “it’s what I am eating.” IT IS NOT! I am tracking every mouthful of my food intake.

I am following the point system which gives you a gimme on fruits and vegetables. They say you can eat all you want. Well, for me, it is the basis for my diet normally so this is very easy. But it does not make me lose weight. So now, I am looking up the nutritional value of even the fruits and veggies. For example, broccoli is wonderful for you. But a head of broccoli has five points when you put it into the WW calculator. That’s a lot of points. And yes, I can eat a whole head of broccoli between lunch and dinner. Even with me counting those, I still eat every day 10 or less points than the amount I can. And I gained weight. Do you have any idea how frustrating this is?

So the answer is, move more. Get up and exercise. Well,……. See above. Last night I worked with my DVD on yoga. This morning, I was in pain. As the day wore on, the pain increased instead of got better so I am not doing it again tonight… Anyone else see the issue with this?

Writing helped me to stop crying. I am grateful for that. But I know as soon as I head to bed, I will start again.

On top of all of this, a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer today. This is a re-occurrence for her, but it is not in the same place as it was years ago. I know she will probably be fine, but I cried all the way home thinking about her and how brave and wonderful she is.

And then I think…I have an issue? Ok that set me off again… Night!