The Dilemma of Body Positivity

13

Comments

  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    Smoker here. I've tried to stop for years but without success.
    Help from a GP? You've got to be joking.

    The current health centre came closest to helping me give up becayse they had a proper, trained ex-smoker "Smoking Cessation Counsellor" and I managed, with his help, to be nicotine free for 2 years. However, having fallen off the wagon I discovered when I went back to the surgery that the specialist had been replaced by a young, never smoked, general nurse. She made a point of repeating every time I saw her that "I'll never understand why people smoke", could offer no help when patches brought my eczema prone skin out in weeping sores that took weeks to heal, ditto the dizziness and blackouts caused by the "sure-fire" tablets. The GP was totally disinterested.

    I'm still trying but so far no joy.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I gave up smoking when I found out I was expecting my first child. Abruptly, cold turkey. No help from the doctor, or even a question as to whether I smoked.

    I’m still addicted 35 years later and could light up tomorrow, but I never have since that day. If someone lights up near me I enjoy the smell!
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    To return to the topic of body positivity, would the situation be improved if there was better recognition of obesity as the effect of a genetic trait, rather than of gluttony or a failure of will power?
  • BroJames wrote: »
    To return to the topic of body positivity, would the situation be improved if there was better recognition of obesity as the effect of a genetic trait, rather than of gluttony or a failure of will power?

    It's not either/or, is it? @Leaf gave a nice list of reasons why what people eat is complicated. Some people on this thread have pointed out that they share body shape with their grandparents, and sure - there's a genetic effect. But there isn't only a genetic effect. I'm a bit overweight, and that's entirely because I eat too much for my circumstances. Sure - I have a whole pile of reasons / excuses for why I do this, but my fundamental problem is that I eat too much.

    I asked about smoking, because smoking and obesity are both to a significant effect lifestyle factors with medical consequences. Neither being a smoker not being obese is an illness, but both things can cause poor health consequences.

    @Leaf's doctor was of no use to her with regards to weight, but she got useful help from a dietician. @TheOrganist's doctor was useless with regard to smoking, but he got somewhat effective help from a trained counsellor. The dismissive nurse that replaced the counsellor wasn't helpful.

  • Soror MagnaSoror Magna Shipmate
    If body positivity isn't your thing, I just got an invitation to a body neutrality event on Facebook.

    https://fb.me/e/d8YnBzUsg

  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    edited June 18
    I quit smoking from a pack a day via cold turkey at 29. No medical help. I still have dreams in which I am smoking. I have gained a substantial amount of weight from that time to the present.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited June 18
    BroJames wrote: »
    To return to the topic of body positivity, would the situation be improved if there was better recognition of obesity as the effect of a genetic trait, rather than of gluttony or a failure of will power?

    It's not either/or, is it? @Leaf gave a nice list of reasons why what people eat is complicated. Some people on this thread have pointed out that they share body shape with their grandparents, and sure - there's a genetic effect. But there isn't only a genetic effect. I'm a bit overweight, and that's entirely because I eat too much for my circumstances. Sure - I have a whole pile of reasons / excuses for why I do this, but my fundamental problem is that I eat too much.

    I asked about smoking, because smoking and obesity are both to a significant effect lifestyle factors with medical consequences. Neither being a smoker not being obese is an illness, but both things can cause poor health consequences.

    @Leaf's doctor was of no use to her with regards to weight, but she got useful help from a dietician. @TheOrganist's doctor was useless with regard to smoking, but he got somewhat effective help from a trained counsellor. The dismissive nurse that replaced the counsellor wasn't helpful.

    There are in fact a growing number of health professionals suggesting it should be considered an illness, (see the article I linked above), but I am not sure how I feel about that.

    It is also the case that there are genetic factors related to neurochemical receptors in your brain that effect how intensely and quickly you become addicted to various substances.

    I was able to quit smoking basically at will, you seem to be able to maintain stable bodyweight at will - while I have never managed to stabilize my bodyweight for a long period and you have not managed to quit permenantly.
  • RuthRuth Shipmate
    Quitting smoking and losing weight are not all that comparable in the first place. Smoking is a single behavior, and if you change that one behavior, you become a non-smoker, and you will enjoy health benefits that are absolutely undisputed. With smoking you give up a single thing -- not easy for most people, but it's one clear thing, and the idea is usually to give it up entirely. Weight loss encompasses a number of behavioral changes, and it's a lot more complicated. You don't just give up eating. A comparable thing to quitting smoking would be to quit sugar-laden soft drinks/soda/pop/whatever it's called where you live -- change just that one behavior, not a whole myriad of them.

    To encourage people to stop smoking in the US, the government changed our environment. Off the top of my head, things that have changed in my lifetime:
    • You can't buy tobacco in vending machines.
    • You can't smoke indoors in public places.
    • You can't smoke outdoors in some public places, depending on the locality. Where I live no one lights up while sitting outdoors at any restaurant, bar, or coffeehouse.
    • The minimum age for buying tobacco used to be 18 in most places; last year it moved up to 21 across the country.
    • Tobacco companies can't advertise on TV or radio (and they have never able to advertise on social media), so you don't see cigarette ads all that often, and when you do they're static images.
    • You do see anti-smoking ads, which are federally funded.
    • There are warnings on packaging telling you cigarettes are bad for you in various ways.
    • There are excise taxes on cigarette sales: $1.01/pack federal, plus varying state taxes, some quite heavy, and a few municipalities also tax cigarette sales.
    • Flavored tobacco except for menthol has been banned for a while, and a ban on menthol-flavored tobacco will start next year.
    • If you tell your doctor you want to quit smoking, they may prescribe a drug to help with the withdrawal symptoms.
    • You can buy nicotine replacement products over the counter to help wean yourself off the addictive thing in tobacco.

    There is nothing like this for sugary soft drinks. New York City tried to regulate portion size, and was ruled in court as having exceeded its authority. And reducing or giving up consumption of soda is just one behavior change recommended for improving one's diet.

    And here we are, still talking about how to lose weight. Honestly, fuck this shit. Obesity is not a "lifestyle factor" the way smoking is. And it's not a choice the way smoking is, either. No one decides when they're 13 they're going to be fat because all their friends are doing it and it looks cool. No one says, "hey I'm going to get PCOS and be fat because that's how I want to live my life." No one chooses to be subject to endocrine disorders and God knows what other stuff is caused by the toxic environment we live in.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    Quite. But. What does one do ? Realistically I am not able to move out of this toxic environment. I have multiple psychological and genetic reasons for where I end up, and I have related physical health conditions that I want to mitigate for the sake of my quality of life,

    It feels like there are no other options, it feels like being trapped.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Caissa wrote: »
    I quit smoking from a pack a day via cold turkey at 29. No medical help. I still have dreams in which I am smoking. I have gained a substantial amount of weight from that time to the present.

    In his mid-50's, my father had a heart attack, and the cardiologist told him to stop smoking. He'd been smoking 20 a day since before WW II and been unable to stop before despite the US Surgeon General's report a couple of years before. The shock of his attack was sufficient, and he stopped immediately. I'd barely started - a packet a week was about my consumption - also stopped immediately and did not fall back. Neither of us put on any weight.
  • People do take on one behaviour sometimes. Like deciding to drink no more sugar drinks: pop/soft drinks, fruit juice, add no sugar to tea or coffee etc. Or they choose to stop eating fast food, or some other identifiable thing. Play forward, and see about another thing. There's a behavioural adherence topic area "relapse prevention" and related coping with temporary lapses to behavioural adherence plans. Used also with behavioural methods for physical activity. While we're not to talk about specific community or advocacy interventions on this topic, looking for ways of changing how you personally move about is also related.

    The issues are both the specific thing chosen, and the sense of increasing one's sense of control of something which doesn't feel in control. Works for me.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited June 19
    Ruth wrote: »
    15 years of substandard care. 15. Years. And you want to high five the doc for one referral.

    For goodness' sake, could we not spend our time trying to turn people into either angels or demons? There was no discussion of a high five.

    Your attitude in this thread is consistently combative. I don't know exactly who has done exactly what to you, but would you please stop taking it out on Shipmates?
  • @orfeo - I suspect that the frustration of dealing with unhelpful doctors does it to us all*. Not that it's necessarily the doctors' fault, it's far more a problem with medical training which is notorious for:
    1. spending a miniscule amount of time on nutrition, which when dietary issues are such a huge part of modern day health issues doesn't bode well for the future;
    2. being focussed on the quick fix, with the combination of short appointments that do not allow the doctor to work through the problems;
    3. allowing drug companies to push medicalised quick fixes - more than a few of which cause weight gain (steroids anyone?);
    4. specialising consultants into very narrow areas of competency, which leaves them unable to deal with more holistic problems.

    * I've just spent three years taking my daughter a three hour trip each way to a consultant who did not take on board that she had an underlying genetic condition that is almost certainly related to the condition that consultant was not treating. He only picked that up on the final phone consultation last year, even though we said this on each and every consultation. I am delighted that he has discharged her and she is now referred to another hospital.
  • @Doublethink I am another person who finds that my environment affects my weight, and that I need a lot of exercise plus a carefully managed diet to maintain a weight that is within the range indicated to be healthy by BMI or health indicators. I've currently, managed my life to maintain a healthy weight for 3⅓ years, this time. Things that I find help are:
    • only eating at meals and eating three meals a day, so no snacking, ever - this one I fall off regularly and have to reapply if my weight starts creeping up;
    • trying to listen to my body and what it is saying about how hungry I am and how much I need to eat;
    • fruit for puddings - fresh, frozen or dried, but no added sugar.
    • I only drink tap water and/or black coffee or tea with milk and no sugar, no fizzy drinks or squash or other empty calories, and currently no alcohol;
    • aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day - I find that my appetite controls work better if I get a reasonable amount of exercise (actually currently, I'm trying to average 13,500 but if I do 9,000 as we did yesterday, I'm not beating myself up because we walked longer walks when the weather was better at the beginning of the week);
    • eating off small plates as it automatically reduces the portion size, and filling the plate with vegetables if I'm hungry.
    • no butter for cooking (because my daughter is dairy intolerant), my appetite for dairy-free marge, olive and sunflower oils is pretty minimal, so I can cook using them, no butter on bread or toast;
    • ignoring the portion sizes of recipes, ready meals and/or take aways, as I find them all huge, I regularly serve half the recipe portion.
    • If I do make a recipe for four portions, we eat two portions then, the rest is boxed up in individual portions for another day and either eaten within the next few days or frozen, similarly when I'm on my own.
    it's snotty and snooty to disdain all the snacks on offer to team build, the cakes and biscuits, the doughnuts brought in to the training exercises or late night work sessions. And healthier snacks like fruit are not always appreciated.

    There's an interesting piece of local culture here. I've been in any number of meetings, team exercises, and other group situations where people are passing around doughnuts, cakes, and nobody has ever cared whether an individual person ate the doughnuts or not. (Beyond checking that they weren't avoiding the pizza or whatever because of allergies / religious scruples / etc., and just shy about speaking up.)

    The only time I've actually felt a bit of an obligation to eat something is when some colleague has prepared food themselves.
    See above - the only way for me to maintain a healthy weight, so my dodgy knee allows me to walk easily, is to never, ever snack, which means I can never, ever take any offered food in these situations. Which does cause comment. My daughter who is very allergic gets upset comments and people then going out of their way to provide for her, usually unsuccessfully. Me, who is trying to keep my weight within healthy bounds will get diatribes on
    "But you don't need to worry, you're fine as you are"
    A: "Only if I never, ever snack"
    "You don't need to diet, why are you bothering"
    A: Because I don't want to have to diet and want to manage my weight sensibly
    ad infinitum (so on for ever).
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    I think my problem is that, I find most portion sizes too small (chip shop and Indian takeaways notable exceptions) - there is a mismatch between what I need to eat and what makes me feel full.

    That and cheese. Beer doesn't help.

    One of the problems with food as against tobacco, alcohol, drugs, gambling etc. is that you cannot aim for cessation; you can only aim for reduction, or you die. And it's possibly easier to fall off the wagon when you reduce than when you stop.

  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited June 19
    @orfeo - I suspect that the frustration of dealing with unhelpful doctors does it to us all*. Not that it's necessarily the doctors' fault, it's far more a problem with medical training which is notorious for:
    1. spending a miniscule amount of time on nutrition, which when dietary issues are such a huge part of modern day health issues doesn't bode well for the future;
    2. being focussed on the quick fix, with the combination of short appointments that do not allow the doctor to work through the problems;
    3. allowing drug companies to push medicalised quick fixes - more than a few of which cause weight gain (steroids anyone?);
    4. specialising consultants into very narrow areas of competency, which leaves them unable to deal with more holistic problems.

    * I've just spent three years taking my daughter a three hour trip each way to a consultant who did not take on board that she had an underlying genetic condition that is almost certainly related to the condition that consultant was not treating. He only picked that up on the final phone consultation last year, even though we said this on each and every consultation. I am delighted that he has discharged her and she is now referred to another hospital.

    No argument with any of those. In particular regarding the 'quick fix' notion, just recently one of the podcasts I listen to was talking in the context of chronic pain about how medical science had been poor at dealing with it (and saying how it was all in the patient's head).

    And I've equally got no argument with the proposition that a good dietitian is a great asset when it comes to dealing with... well, with diet (as always, in the proper sense of that term).

    I suspect there's a risk of thinking that because we're all basically familiar with food, there's no special knowledge in relation to that. But I'd say the specialist knowledge of a properly qualified dietitian (not someone who's just set themselves up as a claimed expert) is extremely useful. There's a lot of science behind how our bodies deal with food, especially with the radical changes that the modern food system has created compared to what human beings used to eat.
  • @KarlLB - one of the problems with us all having eyes bigger than our stomachs and eating what we fancy is that we stretch our stomachs so we need more to make us feel full. One of the boring things I noticed one of the times when I've had to recalibrate my lifestyle is getting my body used to smaller portions which, eventually, shrinks my stomach back down to so smaller portions make me feel full.

    It's what the bariatric surgeries do with the gastric bands and other surgeries. And apparently the smaller stomach does change the hormone balance so people feel full on less.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Aside from that, though, there are also genetic reasons why some people take a long time to feel full (if they do at all). The hormonal switches don't operate in the typical way.

    There are strategies for dealing with this. I can't remember for certain which TV show it was, but possibly one of Michael Moseley's? Anyway it was about tailoring, ahem, "diets" for different groups of people who wanted to lose weight based on properly assessing the reason they were overweight, including recognising 2 quite different genetic reasons why 2 of the groups were eating as much as they did.
  • Yes, and it's equally true that for some people 5 very small meals a day works better, I just find for me it gives me licence to snack.

    Other things that can help, but depend hugely on other lifestyle factors are:
    • The old adage of breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper - for someone with a physical job or lifestyle the fuel is put in before the most of the work;
    • also ties into stopping eating before various arbitrary points in the early evening - in that it gives the stomach time to digest food before going to bed (we tend to eat at 6pm ish to tie into medications);

    And it's also finding the balance between the amount of fibre that keeps your gut working and feeling full, and the carbohydrate and protein balance, because some people do well on low carbohydrate high protein diets and others do better on complex carbohydrates. It depends on metabolism and gut configuration*. Nobody does well on refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour) and those are the carbohydrates that we should lose from our diets.

    * the lovely hEDS collagen disorder also affects guts, so my gut needs high fibre to work well, my daughter is on medication to make hers work at all and can't cope with the level of pulses mine finds comfortable.
  • orfeo wrote: »
    There are strategies for dealing with this. I can't remember for certain which TV show it was, but possibly one of Michael Moseley's? Anyway it was about tailoring, ahem, "diets" for different groups of people who wanted to lose weight based on properly assessing the reason they were overweight, including recognising 2 quite different genetic reasons why 2 of the groups were eating as much as they did.
    Yes, it was a Mosley programme and was very good for demonstrating the different factors involved.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    I return to Ruth’s point that we end up discussing how to lose weight. Ruth seems to be saying that’s not ok, and it certainly doesn’t feel ok to be stuck in that endless treadmill. But I don’t get, how can I be positive about my body / health and also decide that I am comfortable with gradually increasing weight that then leaves me decreasing metabolic health in the same proportion. (Which is what happens to me, it creeps up over time - usually to more than it was when I managed to reduce it in the first place.)

    I rarely go to the doctor, so I’ve been fortunate in not having a massive history of crap consultations. As I work in health myself, (though I am not a medic) I’ve tended to research stuff and turn up requesting something specific and they usually just give it or refer.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I’ve accepted that the endless treadmill is here to stay (for me). I work hard at having a satisfying diet that is healthy. I have to watch myself all the time as I easily eat without thinking.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited June 19
    But I don’t get, how can I be positive about my body / health and also decide that I am comfortable with gradually increasing weight that then leaves me decreasing metabolic health in the same proportion.

    I would argue you don't get it because it's not possible.

    And that's the problem with body positivity on the widest sense of the scale. Why on earth should you be "positive" about declining health, if you know that's what is happening?

    Is there any other kind of effect on your health you'd be similarly "positive" about? Would you be feeling positive about decreasing cognitive ability, or decreasing motor function? Or decreasing vision or hearing?

    You might perhaps learn to accept these things if nothing can be done about them. But expecting to feel positive about them would seem a little fantastical.

  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited June 19
    Yes, accepting these things and enjoying what you can do is the only way imo.

    I’m also mindful that, for me, there could be much worse to come. I had pictured losing the use of my legs - lots of knitting, painting, crafts etc etc. But having impaired hands had never occurred to me and it’s hard to adapt.

    The idea that it could get worse is causing me to appreciate what I can do now, and to make the most of it.
  • I think we return to talking about weight because the research is showing that obesity is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, joint problems (damage to hips and knees), strokes, breast and bowel cancer - link to NHS page - and is such a source of negativity through fat shaming and difficulties in finding comfortable clothes. It leads to discomfort in wearing "appropriate clothing" (in offices that insist on skirts and high heels, narrow skirts are incredibly uncomfortable without additional chubrub garments) and comfortable tights are difficult to find in larger sizes (practically impossible in smaller sizes too). And because bigger is more weight to haul around, which isn't so much a problem younger, as we age it makes life harder to deal with.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Another reason it’s hard to be body positive is that it’s so often spoken of in terms of blame or moral weakness. You’re too greedy, you don’t have the will power, you’re not disciplined enough etc. etc.
  • The BBC currently has an article on a Shanghai art exhibition which ranks 5000 ordinary and unconsenting women according to their looks https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-57532264
    The fact that the gallery didn’t realise this was misogynistic and offensive, and the exhibition has been touring since 2013, says a lot about attitudes towards objectifying women’s bodies.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    orfeo wrote: »
    But I don’t get, how can I be positive about my body / health and also decide that I am comfortable with gradually increasing weight that then leaves me decreasing metabolic health in the same proportion.

    I would argue you don't get it because it's not possible.

    And that's the problem with body positivity on the widest sense of the scale. Why on earth should you be "positive" about declining health, if you know that's what is happening?

    Is there any other kind of effect on your health you'd be similarly "positive" about? Would you be feeling positive about decreasing cognitive ability, or decreasing motor function? Or decreasing vision or hearing?

    You might perhaps learn to accept these things if nothing can be done about them. But expecting to feel positive about them would seem a little fantastical.

    Well mortality means we generally have declining abilities in some areas as we age - and if we don’t find some route to acceptance old age will be intolerable,

    I guess the question is whether the diet treadmill is the equivalent of nothing can be done - is the quality of life cost worse or better than accepting the progression of other conditions. Ruth linked to some material on the obesity paradox - “ the fact that moderately obese people with chronic diseases are often outliving normal-weight people with the same health issues.” It has been identified there are people who are metabolically healthy at a higher weight but they don’t know why. That doesn’t help me much, because it is certainly not true for me. I know - for example - people the same age as me who have half again as much body weight as I do, who do not have diabetes. But I do.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited June 19
    orfeo wrote: »
    But I don’t get, how can I be positive about my body / health and also decide that I am comfortable with gradually increasing weight that then leaves me decreasing metabolic health in the same proportion.

    I would argue you don't get it because it's not possible.

    And that's the problem with body positivity on the widest sense of the scale. Why on earth should you be "positive" about declining health, if you know that's what is happening?

    Is there any other kind of effect on your health you'd be similarly "positive" about? Would you be feeling positive about decreasing cognitive ability, or decreasing motor function? Or decreasing vision or hearing?

    You might perhaps learn to accept these things if nothing can be done about them. But expecting to feel positive about them would seem a little fantastical.

    Well mortality means we generally have declining abilities in some areas as we age - and if we don’t find some route to acceptance old age will be intolerable,

    I guess the question is whether the diet treadmill is the equivalent of nothing can be done - is the quality of life cost worse or better than accepting the progression of other conditions. Ruth linked to some material on the obesity paradox - “ the fact that moderately obese people with chronic diseases are often outliving normal-weight people with the same health issues.” It has been identified there are people who are metabolically healthy at a higher weight but they don’t know why. That doesn’t help me much, because it is certainly not true for me. I know - for example - people the same age as me who have half again as much body weight as I do, who do not have diabetes. But I do.

    On the first point, yes, but to me "positivity" doesn't convey the same thing as acceptance.

    As to the rest, I think I've already indicated that it's health, rather than weight as such, that I think is more important, and yes different people have different healthy shapes. But also different people have different health issues. And maybe different outcomes. Many of these things are about risks, not certainties.

    For you, if weight has an impact for a person with diabetes, then that's the relevant question. If the answer's yes, then, it's up to you. Do you want to do something about that information?

    But you also know by now how I feel about the "diet treadmill". If you want to lose weight then go talk to a good dietitian, because they won't put you on a diet the way that so many other people will. For one thing, they can tailor their suggestions to you instead of picking up some book or website that says "here is the solution for everybody". A large part of the existence of the "diet treadmill" is because of people feeling that they have to eat things they don't actually enjoy eating in order to follow the rules that someone else set for 'them' in print, without knowing them personally.
  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    Body positivity is about acceptance, confidence, and joy. That's the paradoxical intersection between body positivity and health: in order to change your body (if you want to!) you have to first accept and love your body as it is. I think body positivity counters some depressive thinking about one's body that prevents any possibility of change, should change be thought a good thing for whatever reason.

    I also think body positivity is a reaction to the insane amount of social policing women receive about their bodies and their food lives. When body positivity first got going, it was met with fierce backlash from the usual misogynist and racist sources ("how dare you feel good about your fat female body! Your black female body!")

    ISTM some men, especially immature men, have a very limited metric about how to value women socially, ie only sexually. If a woman's appearance doesn't turn me on, she must be a bitch or a grandma. How dare she go about her own life, thinking that she can live how she wants in the body she celebrates!

    But a few men are now cottoning on to body positivity... insofar as they themselves have experienced social judgment for being considered short, bald, or having a small penis. Can't they have acceptance, confidence and joy too?

    Body positivity so easily becomes conflated with women's weight. Just look at the opening of this thread: it opens with Doublethink's declaration "I am fat." [IIRC Doublethink has identified as a woman, or more accurately has been socially labelled as a woman.] I bought into this thinking too! Why do we do this?? I'm grateful to Ruth for waking us up to the idea that maybe body positivity isn't about women's individual weight loss - as complex as that is.

    Words like diet and adherence give me the shivers, even if they are technically correct terms. They have been so weaponized against women. If I want to talk about my personal experience, I will talk about my food life and the choices I make. For me, I find those a better way - a meeting ground - in the fraught area between acceptance and change.

  • GwaiGwai Epiphanies Host
    edited June 19
    orfeo wrote: »
    Ruth wrote: »
    15 years of substandard care. 15. Years. And you want to high five the doc for one referral.

    For goodness' sake, could we not spend our time trying to turn people into either angels or demons? There was no discussion of a high five.

    Your attitude in this thread is consistently combative. I don't know exactly who has done exactly what to you, but would you please stop taking it out on Shipmates?

    Orfeo, you are being rather combative yourself.

    Let's work for less heat and more light.

    Also, if you (plural, this is addressed to not just Orfeo) want people to be less combative, don't attack their experiences. Multiple people tried to invalidate Leaf's experiences. That makes others feel combative to defend Leaf.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited June 19
    @Leaf yes I am a woman. I do identify as things other than fat too - but I felt it was important to include in the op, as to why I was wanting to discuss this.

    I realise that I habitually wear loose clothes to disguise my body, which was brought home to me with how awkward I found buying exercise clothing. Which for quite a lot of kinds of working out is safer and more comfortable if it is close fitting. Buying spandex is not in my comfort zone !

    I seriously had a debate with myself about leaving the house to put my bins out this morning, as to whether I should change, because I was wearing spandex shorts and a T-shirt. This from a woman who has walked out to get something from the car in a dressing gown and slippers without a second thought.

    But you can’t see my body in those.
  • Ruth wrote: »
    No one decides when they're 13 they're going to be fat because all their friends are doing it and it looks cool. No one says, "hey I'm going to get PCOS and be fat because that's how I want to live my life." No one chooses to be subject to endocrine disorders and God knows what other stuff is caused by the toxic environment we live in.

    You don't think what kids eat is influenced by what their friends eat and by what is advertised? By what is available and easy to purchase?

    I'll agree with you - "nobody" decides that fat is cool, and that they want to be fat. But nobody decides that lung cancer and emphysema is a good look either.

    People are overweight for lots of reasons. Some of it they have no control over (clearly we agree that someone can't choose to not have PCOS, for example), and some of it they do have some level of control over. So whilst I find "fat is a moral failing" a problematic statement, I also can't agree with "you can't do anything about it" as a general truth.

    (And I, personally, want to lose some more weight. I don't want to feel positive about my gut - I want to get rid of it. I also like eating tasty food, and so the question becomes whether I can satisfy all my desires, or need to compromise.)
    orfeo wrote: »
    Is there any other kind of effect on your health you'd be similarly "positive" about? Would you be feeling positive about decreasing cognitive ability, or decreasing motor function? Or decreasing vision or hearing?

    Like many people as they get older, my vision is degrading. I used to pride myself on my excellent vision (which is a bit odd, because it's not like I had any input into it, but there you go.) I now require glasses to read. I'm not positive about it. I'm not happy about it. I don't like wearing glasses - it's less comfortable than not wearing glasses, and it's particularly unpleasant when things are hot and sticky. But I also want to read, and do similar close work that requires me to focus at a short distance, so I'll wear the things if I have to. I'll put up with them if I must, because they're my best option.

    I could, I suppose, feel positive about the fact that reading glasses are cheap and easy to obtain in our modern society, and so my entirely normal degrading vision is, at least so far, just a bit annoying, and not a real impediment to me doing anything I want to do.

    But I don't think there's anything I can do about it. I asked my ophthalmologist whether one can, for example, deliberately exercise ones eyes and slow the degradation, and his answer was "no".

    I'll take @Doublethink's "acceptance" about the effects of aging, but I don't think I could ever be "positive" about them.
  • Leorning CnihtLeorning Cniht Shipmate
    edited June 19
    OK - a question, which is I think relevant to this discussion.

    Is "fat" a rude word?

    [Hosting - link to inappropriate source (Daily Mail) story involving fat shaming plus Leorning Cniht comments on the woman's appearance. L]

    Here's a report (it's from the Mail - sorry. You don't need to read it.)
    about a woman who was stopped for traveling on a train with an expired season ticket. She's not complaining about that.

    Her complaint is that the inspector wrote up a description of her in his report (as is, I gather, standard practice) and included, amongst other descriptors, the words "of fat build"). She is offended, and says "you can't call people that!". The train company has apologized, accepting that that language shouldn't have been used.

    (Having seen the photos of the woman in question attached to the report, I wouldn't have said that "fat" was an accurate description of her build. Chubby, perhaps. The report identifies her as wearing a UK size 18 in women's clothing.)

    I'll agree with those posters who have said that, in general as a society, we spend far too much time commenting on other people's shape and weight. But in this case, where you're providing a physical description of someone for identification purposes, what shape they are is as relevant as their skin tone, hair colour and length, and so on.

    The case of the woman in the article seems to be that calling someone "fat" is akin to using an offensive racial epithet, and that a different choice of words should have been used to describe her shape. What do people think?
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited June 19
    There was no reason for the inspector to include the comment, as it had next to no informational value. If you can’t even agree “of fat build” might mean - then you are not going to be able to distinguish one person from thousands travelling through London daily on that basis.

    In the context of their having had a verbal dispute, it comes off as insulting.
  • LouiseLouise Epiphanies Host
    edited June 19
    Hosting
    Leorning Cniht, your posting on this thread has raised concerns and you've now posted something from the Daily Mail which I am ruling out of bounds as a source on this subject (under Epiphanies guideline 3). It is notorious for its fat-shaming and not appropriate at all to post on this thread. Also men commenting on women's appearances with regard to weight and inviting others to discuss the subject is highly problematic and should not be happening here.

    Posters will have noted that I am using the new 'hidden text' option (see the Styx for details) so that people can make a choice whether they want to read that post or not.

    Louise
    Epiphanies Host
    Hosting off
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    I think it was Olga Franklin who noted, many years ago, that 'Budget dresses for the maturer woman with the fuller figure' was code for 'Cheap frocks for fat old women'. 'Plus' and 'curvaceous' are other euphemisms.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited June 20
    Gwai wrote: »
    Orfeo, you are being rather combative yourself.

    And on that note, I am out of here.

    If you can't see all the times that I went out of my way on the last several pages to agree with people and acknowledge their experiences, what is the point?

    This thread is titled the dilemma of body positivity. It's abundantly clear that a couple of people on here don't want a dilemma. They don't want wrestling. They don't want anything other than "oh honey, it doesn't matter whether or not you're body shape is putting you at risk of an early grave, everything is wonderful!".

    Again, if you can't see all the times that I explicitly affirmed and acknowledged what people were saying, what is the point?

    So, bye.

  • I return to Ruth’s point that we end up discussing how to lose weight. Ruth seems to be saying that’s not ok, and it certainly doesn’t feel ok to be stuck in that endless treadmill. <snip>
    Coming back to this, unfortunately, the only way to do this is to change your lifestyle so that it is not a special diet, but a complete change in your lifestyle, then monitor regularly, so if your weight drifts a few pounds or your jeans get tight, remove whatever bad habit has drifted back in (mine is going to be snacking, something like the treat of a biscuit or a slice of cake after a long walk becoming a regular afternoon thing). Because nipping that drift in the bud is a lot easier than having to do a lot of work some months down the line.

    Then the treadmill isn't repeated dieting but permanent monitoring of a lifestyle that works, so it is important finding ways of eating food you like, rather than substitute meals, and exercise that you will keep up for ever and a day. It means having to plan for Christmas and/or family events so that there is not a huge amount of work to do after. It means learning how to eat the amount your body needs without offending the family that taught you the bad habits that got you where you are now*, how to change your behaviours so you don't fall back into the bad habit that allow the weight to sneak back on, all those boring things.

    It's a different treadmill, and it can become habit and comfortable, but it is a lot of conscious work overriding so much habit and ingrained behaviour. And it needs permanent self-monitoring. It will feel countercultural, because all those things that are in your habits and experiences are the things that don't help. And like all these things, under stress it is too easy to revert to the original learned behaviours and undo all that careful work. It also means negotiating your food needs around anyone else you live with, which can be a significant amount more work.

    * I can point to that horrible insistence that we ate everything on the plate, hungry or not, no choice as to serving size, and then suddenly having food removed as a pre-teen because I was "too fat" leaving me hungry and furious. Having looked at photos of me at the time as an adult, I doubt I would have hit the overweight line on the BMI scales. It was a dieting obsessed household that had my mother dieting in front of us continuously and my next sister down anorexic at 14.

    For my own daughter, if she said she wasn't hungry or didn't like something I didn't make her eat it, and as I got better at monitoring my own weight, threw away anything she didn't want. I also refused to diet in front of her, which is why I won't diet now as in formal dieting. She has far fewer problems with food and an appetite that works.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    An interesting article on the interplay between genetics and obesity. Also on the significance of socio-economic factors: "if we manage to cure poverty, childhood poverty in particular, we can drop the heritable risk of obesity from 70% to 40% without even touching the biology of the system".
  • I am obese; over 17 stone with a BMI hovering around 40.

    I am surprisingly healthy for a fat middle-aged woman. No chronic conditions, no medication. My main fear about my weight is that something will happen - diabetes etc - and I will have no-one to blame but myself.

    I eat a healthy diet - plenty of veg, meals cooked from scratch etc - and then I eat puddings, biscuits and sweets in addition to my healthy diet. I adore chocolate.

    I don't like catching sight of myself in a mirror if I am slouching, sitting or thinking (resting bitch face), but I'm happy with the way I look if I am standing up straight and smiling.

    My main aim with clothes is to wear colours that I enjoy, in unfussy styles. I like stripes, spots and patterns (not simultaneously). The obesity doesn't stop me from being comfortable in my skin, or taking pleasure in clothes.

    I have one puzzle - clothes sizing. I am a Marks and Spencer size 20. I do tend to wear forgiving styles - I like leggings and a tunic top - but friends who are stones lighter are often only a couple of sizes smaller. I think at a BMI around 40 I should be more than a size 20. Of course, perhaps if my friends wore the "fat woman" styles I favour they might get into smaller sizes.






  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    I got diabetes at around 14 stone, which shows a) genetics - both my father and my grandfather were diagnosed with diabetes in middle age and b) the basic quality of your food choices is probably better than my default.
  • Leorning CnihtLeorning Cniht Shipmate
    edited June 21
    I have one puzzle - clothes sizing. I am a Marks and Spencer size 20. I do tend to wear forgiving styles - I like leggings and a tunic top - but friends who are stones lighter are often only a couple of sizes smaller. I think at a BMI around 40 I should be more than a size 20. Of course, perhaps if my friends wore the "fat woman" styles I favour they might get into smaller sizes.

    Clothing sizes have long been rather variable. Even sizes that purport to be based on actual dimensions (chest / waist measurements, for example) show more variation than one might expect; numeric sizes for women's clothing are notoriously variable.

    Part of the issue, of course, is that people come in lots of different shapes, and you can't possibly encapsulate the variation in human shape in a single number. Should a "size 20" top be sized for a particular bust, or stomach, or waist, or arms, or height, or ...

    There is, I gather, a European standard in the works that will require clothing labels to carry diagrams with labelled dimensions of the people that the clothing is intended to fit, but I don't think those diagrams contain any information about cut. So perhaps this will help eliminate "vanity sizing" but I don't think it does much for people who aren't the same shape as the standard templates.

  • HeavenlyannieHeavenlyannie Shipmate
    edited June 21
    The sizing is particularly fanciful if you are overweight and only 4 foot 11...
    This may be one of the causes of size discrepancy for different people noted above - a fitted waist will be on my hips so I may need a larger size.
  • amyboamybo Shipmate
    edited June 21
    Wow. I'm going to share a little bit of my experience as this is Epiphanies.

    I'm fat. Always have been, always will be. Also white, able bodied, pretty good skin. All those things are important to acknowledge - it's not just about weight. But I'll talk about weight because that's the one we always talk about, and that's what my personal experience centers around.

    I hated my body for years. I saw my body as less valuable and myself as less-than. I knew I didn't have a right to be treated a certain way or even exist in certain spaces.

    I lived in my head, hated anything physical. Then I larked about an exercise that was "heady," Tai Chi. Didn't affect my weight at all, but it did affect my health a lot. And it started getting me to think about my body as part of me.

    Then I had a kid. Pregnancy, pregnancy loss, giving birth all taught me that I am not in complete control of my body nor ever will be, but that I'd been pretty lucky. But then I looked at this fat body that I kinda hated and realized it made this baby that I loved more than anything. And I fell in love with my body that way.

    THAT is body positivity. I'm fat, and yeah I should exercise more. But I exercise now, and will do so, because I love my body. When I have a rough patch, I eat to deal with it, and it gets worse. So loving my body is how I take care of it.

    The idea that I shouldn't love my fat body is gross.
  • GwaiGwai Epiphanies Host
    That is a great way of putting it and example. Thanks for sharing that, @amybo !
  • amybo wrote: »
    The idea that I shouldn't love my fat body is gross.

    Thanks, @amybo. "My body as part of me" very much resonates with the way I think. I don't think I'm a person who happens to inhabit a body - my body is me. Mrs. C sees herself as rather more separate from her body, and we've always put the differences in our thinking down to the fact that I'm a rather tactile person, and she is much less so.

    And I think "I love my body" is a good way of thinking. That doesn't mean "everything about my body is perfect" or "I don't want to change something". I love my kids, but that doesn't mean I don't want them to change. But because I love them, I take care of them and want the best for them, and keep on loving them anyway even when they suck at something.

    (For completeness, I don't think Mrs. C loves her body less than I do, so I don't think "I love my body" and "I am my body" have to be quite so tightly tied together. But that's probably a thought that's too far off the main track.)
  • Surgeries of many kinds when considered non-urgent are routinely delayed and sometimes refused if the person won't cease smoking or reach a target weight. The respiratory risks for anesthesia, difficulties cutting through to relevant areas, poor healing when people have weight related metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetic) or diabetes.

    It's been noted that people in long term care (what we call old age care) are heavier and that care aide injury rates have increased as the weight of residents has increased.

    The dilemma of body positivity as above-noted intersects with health. In a publicly funded health scheme, costs everyone, not just the individual. The community-level responsibility to be a healthy person is an increasingly-discussed issue by those who do budgets. It was also in the past, at least in Canada addressed by public health initiatives: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ParticipACTION
  • LeafLeaf Shipmate

    It's been noted that people in long term care (what we call old age care) are heavier and that care aide injury rates have increased as the weight of residents has increased.

    Tangent: I am not sure whom you mean by "we" in this sentence. The health authority in what I understand to be your province of residence only uses "long term care" and I was unable to find any reference to "old age care." Example https://www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/locations_services/Services/Senior-Health/Pages/Long-Term-Care-Homes-in-Saskatoon-Health-Region.aspx

  • Leaf wrote: »
    Tangent: I am not sure whom you mean by "we" in this sentence. The health authority in what I understand to be your province of residence only uses "long term care"

    I understood @NOprophet_NØprofit to be saying that "long term care" was the name used in his area specifically for the long-term care of elderly people, rather than any other group of people requiring care. "Old age care" was I think his attempt at a generic term for the long-term care of elderly people.
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