Sunday, September 12, 2010

Get pissed, say so

"Each moment that we choose to be kind to others
by approaching [our bodies] with unconditional positive regard, 
whatever their size or shape, 
we are activists. 
Doing this kicks back 
at a culture of fear and shame 
surrounding our bodies....

Poster for a side show at the Vermont state fair, Rutland (LOC) / The Library of Congress

...The unhappy, 
love-handle pinching woman 
is such a common trope 
that we barely notice her anymore. 
Characters like Bridget Jones 
make it endearing to be cruel to oneself 
and apparently, 
audiences have lapped that shit right up....

...The diet industry can’t survive
if we don’t loathe ourselves. 
Jumping off the weight loss merry-go-round 
isn’t about giving up hope 
or about giving in to weakness. 
To the contrary, 
choosing to inhabit space 
outside of the dominant discourses 
about weight, 
as fat activists do, 
is not only brave and radical 
but it’s joyous and positive, too. 
And it should be possible 
for everyone....

...Acceptance is not giving up 
— it’s changing the rules...

...if there is a war on obesity, 
there’s a war on ‘obese people’ 
and those people 
have a right to resist. 
So we do, 
often by opting out of the war altogether 
and making peace with bodies. 
I don’t want to fight my body anymore 
and I sure as hell 
don’t want to fight yours, 
whatever size it is."

For the second time this week I've witnessed someone defending an unwelcome fatist comment on the basis that the person who made the comment intended to be "helpful".

It happened on my blog yesterday (click here)
and on my Facebook wall a few days ago.

Here is how the facebook issue went.
A friend (we'll call her Name Withheld)
reported this incident.

Name Withheld said:
I am in the hospital last 3 days after having major surgery, I spend most of the time when in the hospital zipping up and down the hallways because its how I best cope emotionally with physical and emotional pain is my keeping myself moving.. Notice the I and the me references

I just now came back from a walk when I was walking, which I move kind of quick(just cause I am a zippy kinda gal and this lady said to me "Getting some exercise in?" I looked at her with disgust and just kept walking. I have iv tubes and iv pole next to me and a feeding tube coming out of my nose, my reasonging for being in the hallway other than to get one place to another or what my motives were, were none of her business. Even if it was an innocent comment there was no reason for her to make it.

People's passions are their passions as the blog that I liked that came out of this. It's one thing if you share something you like to do that is a lifestyle choice, that you find helps you, if you are asked, its another thing to suggest it, I love to exercise, before I got sick I was Certified Personal Trainer. If people ask me if I make a comment about exercise, weight loss, region, politics, I share how I feel, I don't advocate my lifestyle choices or make or foist unsolicited suggestions on my choices and passions on someone else.

Innocent comments as unintentional as they can be can be hurtful.

...there is a difference on making a suggestion or giving unsolicited advice on a question of debate or reference or if you are being directly asked versus making a suggestion on a statement which on a topic I think is way too personal to comment on... That's how it struck me, how it effected Lisa she can speak for herself. We reacted similarly in what was inferred and that's why I chose to respond.

Good stuff, right?
A supposedly innocent comment causing pain/anxiety and the recipient voicing her displeasure to someone other than the person.
The whole situation is loaded.
If I were counseling her I'd try to help her find an authentic way to respond during the moment, during the situation rather than having to hold it in and Facebook about it later.

A reply came from, let's call her OtherName, wherein she made excuses for the person making the "well-intentioned" comment to NameWithheld.

Other Name said:
Maybe this lady just wanted to reach out to you? Maybe she is a patient who is lonely and wanted to start a conversation with someone she saw in the hallway? Maybe she couldn't think of anything but what she said and I am sure that as soon as she said it she thought to herself, "oh my! I can't believe I just said that". But her intention wasn't to hurt you...Or maybe she was a hospital worker or volunteer trying to reach out to someone whom she thought could benefit from some companionship, conversation and maybe even friendship.

Whatever she was...she was someone who was willing to ask a question of you (which is what people do when they want to start a conversation with someone they don't know and aren't sure how to approach) at a time when most other people will just lower their heads, politely walk past and pretend they didn't see anything. We'll never know now....

Oh, so we should be grateful that anyone would want to talk to us no matter what the person says? 
I think I'll remember that next time I walk past a construction site 
in a a pair of heels. 
The cat calls and howling are just the guys trying to "reach out and start a conversation". 

My response on my Facebook wall
where I said:

Name Withheld doesn't owe it to anyone to reframe the comment that upset her. Some stranger poked her in a sensitive sore spot. Name Withheld's emotional reaction should not be short circuited because the person may have meant well. She's the authority over her own feelings. She's the one who gets to say SHUT UP when someone hurts her even if the person meant well. Why should the stranger's feelings matter more than her own?? It's like the classic "such a pretty face" that fat (or slightly overweight) women have suffered from folks who were just trying to pay a compliment. Enough already.

I'm angry. I'm angry at the people who have tried to push me to be something I'm not in the name of being well-intentioned, well-meaning or concerned. I'm angry at myself for allowing myself to be spoken to that way all my life.

That "moving is good for you" is not news. No one is going to be enlightened by hearing how a little walking or stretching for just 20 minutes a day is beneficial. I've heard it all my life. We've all heard it a million ways.

People have used my weight as an invitation to talk about diet and exercise as if my body was any of their damned business. I don't appreciate it. My body. My health. My decisions. If I want to sit on my fat ass and get fatter it's my damned business.
If I want to move I know how. I know how to pick my arms up over my head. I know how to lift small weights. I know how to find women-friendly gyms. I'm not an idiot.

... the topic of exercise is an emotionally charged issue for people like me who have been abused all our lives because of our size.

How funny that the same thing happened to me
just yesterday when I reacted to that strange Food Addiction troll.
I was told by a reader that I should have responded more calmly.
My anger was inappropriate?

Thing is, I felt it.
I felt angry.
I know there are ways to express anger that are socially acceptable (and legal) but I think
my responses were pretty tame considering how pissed off I was.
I exercised appropriate restraint while expressing appropriate anger.
And again I'll say, Hooray for Me.
I've been eating my emotions for years.
I'm full up.

Expressing anger is a HUGE challenge for women.
Our ability to express anger has been stunted by our being told
that anger is impolite,
uncalled for,
and doggone it
shouldn't we hold it in to spare other people's feelings
like a good girl?

Look, I'm not saying to go around knee-jerk reacting to every emotionally charged situation.
Losing one's temper can have undesirable consequences
or lead to regrettable violence or regrettable words.
But we should be able to get pissed off and express it somehow.
We should feel worthy of our authentic feelings.
Expressing those feelings in well thought out words
seems really, really tame to me.

Learning to say, "when you said ______ to me I felt blank.
I really wish you would not broach that subject with me.
I am very sensitive about it and would rather not have to hear comments from strangers on that topic."
"I wish you hadn't said that. You may have meant well but that came across as very rude.
Please don't say that to me again."
or just call them out on their prejudice,
the prejudice that made them feel it was ok
to open their mouths in the first place
to "correct" or "help" someone they thought was less fortunate than them.

Shouldn't the helpee WANT to be helped?

Funny how just a few days ago I declared...
MY passion is
My passion.
I can't make someone else feel the way I do about
raw milk
real food
fat acceptance
self love
just by posting a glib comment on Facebook or a Discussion Board.
Even my relentless blogging  may not be enough to convince someone of something.
People are passionate about what they're passionate about
without my permission
or interference.
It's a hard lesson to learn since I am quite the know-it-all (perfect for professoring).
In the future I'll think twice before unleashing the know-it-all on some unsuspecting soul.
I can lead a horse to water...
and then detach.
I hope we can learn
to lead our horse to water 
and then detach 
or at least learn to keep our mouth shut 
when it tries to fly open like an unsecured car trunk.

Let's beep our horns instead.

My mixed metaphors are making me woozy.
*Lisa's Video Pick of the Day*
I love this kid.
I think I'll go shake a car (I punched one the other day).
Notice he wears a protective
Please do not try this at home.
click here or click below

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