Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Talking out both sides of your mouth.

"Removal of Aussie model sparks up skinny debate", Yahoo informed me today, and the gist of it is that a young woman who appeared to have lost weight since moving to Paris to do runway, and she was briefly pulled from the show so that they could ascertain her health status.

A couple things caught my eye and caused me to "Bwuhhhh?" this morning as I sat at my desk. There was the agency spokeswoman stating, ""She is on a positive track now and is going to relax, take time out, not work as hard and have lunches and dinners." The vibe I catch from it is like, "we'd best make sure people know she's not a complete hog and having *gasp* BREAKFAST" combined with that old PR move of showing Hollywood celebrities who have been tagged by the tabloids as "OMG TOO THIN!" eating absolutely everywhere they go so as to prove, somehow, that Hollywood celebrities are just like us.

The other thing that caused my head to tilt like Nipper the RCA dog was this bit:

Spain and Italy have recommended banning catwalk models with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 -- a measure expressing a ratio of weight to height -- but shows in London, New York and Paris say this index is not an accurate measure of health. Wait wait wait WAIT a second, hold up, hold up, HOLD THE PHONE HERE, COWBOY. Are you telling me...that the BMI...isn't an accurate measure of health? But every frigging time I turn on the T and V or look at the Internets and they talk about the Obeeeeesity Epidemic, the doctor fellas and suchnot are telling me that the BMI *IS SO* an accurate measure of health! Let's take me as an example. According to the Most Blessed And True BMI charts, I have a BMI of 90 bazillion with a side of turkey gravy. (Actually, my BMI is 41.3 - SACRE BLEU I AM MORRRRRRBIDLY OBESICAL!) From a "medical" point of view, my heart should be exploding

*keeps waiting*
*checks watch*
*has a bit of dried pineapple*

So it is quite clear that I'm only moments away from keeling over because the BMI is an accurate, no-bullshit measure of a person's health. Oh, but not if you're a fashion model or otherwise a thin citizen of the world. In order for me to be considered "normal", I should clock in at 125 to 165 pounds. Even when I was food journaling my metaphorical balls off and exercising five days a week and watching every single item that flew into my mouth, the lowest weight I ever achieved in my life (that I can recall) was 225. This is me at 225, when I was 18 years old (I was big into the Cure, so shoosh):

This is me at 280 and 35:

Wow, I can sure tell the difference...can' And I think it's clear that it took all of my effort and energy to kick up that leg in such a saucy fashion. Shortly after this picture was taken, I had to lay down on the walkway for a while. I know the wizard peeking out of that hole up in the Excalibur's thinking "FAT HOG!" But look! I was being "good"! I was drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper, goddammit!

The simple fact of the matter is, no matter what I do (and I have done it over and over and over again, so no need to pass on "helpful tips" on ways that dadgummit, this time around I could finally drop those pesky 120 pounds I've carried since forever), I am NEVER going to see 165 pounds until I've been in the ground for a couple of years. I'd be shocked if I ever saw 225 again, mostly because I suspect I would discover soon after that I had some sort of awful disease that was devouring me from the inside out or that I had an unknown twin residing in me, Rusty Venture-style.

Another thing that caught my eye and irked the snot out of me occurred while I was eating dinner tonight (mmmm, peas)-- that ad for Ensure, which is used in nursing homes to keep old and sickly people from, you know, starving to death because they can't eat for any number of reasons. Now it's being touted as, basically, a meal replacement. There's all sorts of fucked up tied into that sort of shit, but that's not my current bitch. My current bitch is that Ensure should be used by adults who aren't "always eating right", the smarmy voiceover says. So if you're the kind of hateful, un-American asshole who decides you're in the mood for fries versus a small salad, there is all kinds of wrong with you and you had better chug yourself some Ensure immediately in order to undo all the harm you've done to society at large, let alone yourself. That phrase...oh, it sets my spine on fire, "eating right". You should always EAT RIGHT and eat GOOD FOODS and NEVER, NEVER EAT BAD FOODS EVER. It's the Trifecta of Rage for me, in fact, when the "good" food vs. "bad" food bullshit crops up alongside "eating right". And that insidious push in the world that you can simply never, ever have ice cream/brownies/cookies/fries/burgers/pizza or else you're going to spontaneously combust and take out a litter of adorable kittens while you're at it. You don't want to kill kittens, do you? Then you had damn well better put down that cookie right now and hop on the treadmill. HOP ON IT. No, literally hop on it, because it'd be funny. And it's probably make exercise way more fun for you. I bet if you made it fun instead of a horrific drudgery and punishment for being "bad", you'd find it was a lot easier to do it and enjoy it.

Look, all I'm saying is that there are many truths in this world, and here are some of them:

Thin does not equal healthy
Fat does not equal unhealthy
You cannot look at ANYONE, be they built like me or built like a fashion model, and determine what their health status is, so STOP FUCKING DOING IT
"Naturally fat" is not bullshit and neither is "naturally thin"
There are no "good" foods and no "bad" foods
Weight Watchers -- yeah, IT IS A FUCKING DIET

The BMI being an accurate indicator of anyone's health status has never been and never will be anywhere near truth. The fashionistas in New York, Paris, and London have at least got that one right on the nosey.

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Monday, April 28, 2008


I'm having a Barbra Streisand moment, I reckon. The joke always has been that in Barbra’s movies (that she’s directed, that is), there’s always a moment that can be pointed at as her proclaiming “MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME I WAS PRETTY!” Think back to “Prince of Tides” and all the lingering shots of Barbra’s immaculate manicure, Donna Karan clothes, perfect make-up, elegantly coiffed ‘do. Almost every shot containing Barbra screams “FUCK YOU MOM I AM MAKING OUT WITH NICK NOLTE FTW” Shit, if I had more money than God and was making a movie, it’d probably be one long paean about how no one ever has told me I’m pretty or beautiful.

What’s so irksome is that it bothers me. It bothers me a lot. It’s not supposed to, if I’m going by the Official Handbook* you’re given when you’re hopped up on feminism, HAES and fat acceptance. I should be completely inured to anyone’s opinion on the superficial. I shouldn’t be craving such trivial things. I think, “well, you’re always on the defensive waiting for someone to take a shot at you because you’re fat, so maybe you’re so defensive that you’re not HEARING the compliments”. Well, no. That would be inaccurate. I’ve never been a major make-up wearing, clothes-horsing, shoe-loving kind of woman. I don’t like the way I look in make-up, I generally dress like a 14-year-old fat teenage boy, and my size 10 boats never were and never will be at home in anything but thick-soled Doc Martens, Vans, or Chuck Taylors. As I do tend to dress in a more masculine fashion and my body shape is not hourglass, I’m often mistaken for a man. Couple that with an inability to behave in a more stereotypically feminine fashion, and I’m an It. I’m not a man, not yet a woman (oh, Britney, thank you for that song and my insane need to use variations on it 24/7). And as a result, “pretty” is not a descriptor used by anyone in relation to me, ever. Certainly my parents must have said it at some point, right? Well...not really, exactly. Not too long ago, my father was talking about how Dawn French would be pretty if she lost weight. Seeing as I’m kind of built like Dawn French (just sans the tits), I think it’s fair to infer that I, too, would be pretty if I just lost the weight. I look “nice”. That’s the phrase that has always paid, that I look “nice”. (I’d like to add that to the clichés and platitudes I never motherfucking want to hear ever again, “oh don’t you look...nice”.)

What winds up happening in my messy brain is that I take the most innocuous things personally. When I witness or read compliments on the aesthetic aspects of those around me, I’m immediately spiraled into a “fuck, I’m ugly, fuck, I’m worthless, fuck, I’m nothing” dance routine (jazz hands are involved) that only gets more spiral-y as I then berate myself for giving a shit in the first place. The thing is, though, in today’s society...I am nothing. And at the end of the day, I made that choice. I made the choice to not be someone who won’t leave the house without make-up, I chose to dress for comfort. I made the choice to stop dieting. If you reject the societal norms, society rejects you. There’s no clandestine wink from society at large that says, “well, we don’t necessarily approve, but...gosh, you crazy kid, we love ya anyway!” If you decide to say no, you must be prepared to handle what may follow: ostracization (note: says that’s a word, I swear to Christ), depression, loneliness, regret. If you’re lucky, you’ll find like-minded individuals. But that’s if you’re lucky...and we all know just how lucky I am (saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad trumpet). Well, I should slightly alter that to say I have found like-minded the platonic sense, that is. (saaaaaaadder trumpet)

So then the question is: do I regret the choices I’ve made? Honestly, it depends on the day. If I was 10 years younger, I’d be quick to say “OH HELL NO”. But being 36 and currently enduring one of the more unpleasant depressive spells I’ve had in many years of depressive spells, it’s harder for me to answer “OH HELL NO”. The one I can safely say 100 percent I don’t regret is the dieting thing. Me on a diet = me being a bigger asshole than usual because I was doing the Fat Girl Tap Dance of making sure the world at large KNEW I was working on being a “better person” and would gladly share with anyone who would listen that I was eating “right” and exercising. Perhaps it was interesting conversation to others, but in my head, I was constantly telling myself to shut the fuck up. As for not being a “womanly” woman...that’s a tougher sell as of late. It does sting when I get “mistered”. It’s hurtful to feel like I don’t belong anywhere, really. That I’m not good enough in a wide variety of areas, let alone in the aesthetic one. It’s not terribly festive being an It, being a non-entity. I’m decent at distracting myself with whatever so it’s not a constant rocking back and forth and dwelling on boo-hoo-poor-me. The bitch is that the pain, anger, frustration, and embarrassment sneak up on me. I can be tootling along and feeling decent, and then KA-BAM, I’m mired in a seemingly never-ending retrospective of my Greatest Misses, pulling up each and every regret, every moment where I’ve felt particularly It-like, every rejection, every misstep, every fuck-up, what a fucking enormous mess I’ve made of things. Then comes the full-snot tears while riding public transportation or sitting at my desk at work and it’s like I’m a walking goddamned episode of “Dr. Phil” without the homespun cornpone advice that makes no sense being screamed at me. “What YOU NEEEEED is something we like to call in Texas ‘a sassafrassin’ ramtambler’!”

I am quite the super special snowflake, ain’t I. Believe me, no one’s more exhausted of my ass than I am. But I’ve decided that soon, I must make one of the most important choices of my life: just how dark I want to dye my hair, because my roots—WOOF. Eighteen miles long of mousy brown comin’ into town.

*note: there is no Official Handbook; but you can choose between a toaster oven or an electric skillet
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Going belly up.

(NOTE: the picture behind the cut might be slightly NSFW.)

When I regard my carcass, I've always had two pain points: my flibbety-flubbety upper arms (despite the leaps I've made in self-acceptance, the upper arms will always be an ARGH for me), and my belly. To be honest, I've always felt something of a disconnect with my entire body, simply because for such a long time, it was a failure in my eyes. The second you get the "you have SUCH a pretty face" line, it's almost impossible not to experience that disconnect. Occasionally, my legs would be admired (even before getting more active, I sported fairly hardcore gams), but other than that...a trainwreck on two legs.

So it's safe to say taking pictures of myself in less than full-metal clothing coverage never, ever happened. Well, until this evening.

Stacy Bias, the founder of Fat Girl Speaks, has a new project, Bellies Are Beautiful, which encourages people to upload pictures of their bellies. All bellies, be they flubbety-jubbety, wiggly-woggly, scarred, stretch-marked, concave, convex, flat, or otherwise. I went through the pictures and enjoyed seeing so many different bellies, as silly as that might sound. And I started thinking, "why the fuck not post up my own". I put it off for a few days, "forgetting" to bring my camera into my room and swearing to myself, "oh, I'll do it tomorrow". Finally, I couldn't excuse myself out of it anymore and spent about 20 minutes taking pictures of my belly.

At first...horrified. I had a certain view in my head of what my bare belly looked like, and what I was seeing in the pictures WAS NOT WHAT WAS IN MY HEAD. Flesh poking out at angles that I never noticed before, for Christ's sake. Flesh...just...EVERYWHERE. MUST COVER THAT FLESH, my brain shrieked. But I resisted the urge to delete the holy fuck out of the pictures I was taking and just kept on truckin' until I dig it. I'm telling you, I was thisclose to ditching the bra and letting it hang, baby. And maybe that'll be another picture for another day as that particular area's another pain point. Fuck, if I can't get one person to eyeball my equipment in private, why not fling it onto the internet for all to see? :-P

I finally got three or four that I wasn't just satisfied with, but that...well, that I loved. I suddenly came over all lovey about something I had hated for so long. It looks all...pretty and soft. At least, it does to me. Which, at this stage of the game, is really all I care about. And I dig it enough to let it make its internet debut.

ETA: I thought I should have encircled it in sparklies and flashy things. Instead, under the advice of a friend, I suggest you make a little trumpet flourishy sound right as you look at it.


(with a hint of terribly stylish Lane Bryant bra)
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Monday, April 21, 2008

The power of "no".

I work a fairly dull-ass job. So it gives me a lot of time to think and chew on things. It's not always the best thing in the world, especially since I have that...crying problem. But today I had one of those mini-epiphanies or maybe just a mental Post-It note reminder that it's okay to say no. It's okay to define my life the way I want to define my life. I don't need to do everything within my power to keep friends that do nothing to add to my life. It's okay to jettison people who are nothing but walking black holes or don't want the best for me. There's no reason to make myself crazy trying to make people like me.

Of course, we all want to be liked, but I think you kind of become a real adult when you realize it's fine to be not liked. Not everyone wants to be in your fan club and no matter how hard you try, they'll never sign up for a lifetime membership. And that's okay. That's life. The only way to make life livable is to shape it into the form you want it to be, and that includes realizing that there's nothing wrong with telling someone they can't be a part of it. It's just a matter of summoning up the courage to say no. Or no more.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Orthorexia is the new black and other random thoughts.

Rachel at The F-Word takes care of the heavy lifting on this subject, and you should make her required reading anyway for her remarkable insight on a variety of subjects. She threw down a great letter to the editor in response to this reporter's half-assed article--you can catch a link to it at The F-Word.

The reporter's decision to go for the snark rather than, you know, any kind of actual reporting/insight only highlights to me how little people understand eating disorders. What little *I* know comes from having a mother (a retired registered nurse) who worked with eating disordered patients, and the wee bit of knowledge I have could fit into a thimble. But there seems to be a fairly decent-sized contingent of people who believe that if the ultimate result of thinness is achieved, who the fuck cares how you got to that point in the first place or what kind of toll it took on one's mental state. The article put me in mind of an interview I saw many, many years ago on that Judith Regan interview show that was on...Fox News, maybe? She was talking to Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi on "Star Trek: The Next Generation) and at some point, the conversation turned towards looks and Hollywood standards for women. Marina discussed having been anorexic in her youth and Judith said, "boy, I wouldn't mind catching a little anorexia". It stuck with me so hard because I wanted to reach through the television and shake Judith by her shoulders for saying something so fucking moronic and dismissive. I'm sure she would have said she was just joshing around, and believe me, I like a good chuckle. BUT I'M NOT GOING TO HAVE IT AT THE EXPENSE OF A GUEST ON MY TALK SHOW WHO HAS JUST REVEALED HER EATING DISORDERED PAST. OH, and ALSO? ANOREXIA: NOT FUNNY. Eating disorders: NOT A HOOT.

But nothing matters more than being thin, no matter how you do it or what it winds up doing to your mind, your body, or soul. That is the message being sent, loud and clear, each and every day to all of us. If you really want to see me get bent, trot out any number of the "inspirational" cliches that have been trotted out over the years regarding weight loss:

you can never be too rich or too thin!
nothing tastes as good as thin feels!
a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!
"What? Lose weight."

That last one was my sister's "inspiration". Brief explanation: I have two older sisters, and all three of us were always big, stocky women. They got the boobs, however--I'm not particularly gifted in the knocker area. Anyway. My sister J.M. was fat for most of her life, and shortly after high school was enamored with a fella. She and he got on like crazy, the chemistry was unreal. However, his response to her when she confessed her feelings for him? "What? Lose weight." For a few months afterwards, she taped up pictures of swimsuit models to the wall with "What? Lose weight" scrawled underneath one of the pictures. She lost some weight...and gained it back. And lost it. And gained it. She did Jenny Craig. She did Weight Watchers (back when you weighed every portion of food). She did Sugarbusters, she did Atkins, you name it, she tried it. And in 2001, she had gastric bypass surgery.

I wasn't down with her having the surgery, and I certainly wasn't down with the second adolescence she went through. For about three years, J.M. was kind of insufferable because she was dealing with people's revised perceptions of her (suddenly, she was "good" because she was losing weight) and testing out just what she could do in her "new" body. After all, there were loads of things she simply "couldn't do" when she was fat versus her being thin. Now, almost seven years down the road, she's gained some weight back which happens with almost all bariatric surgeries. While she's still well, well, WELL below her top weight of 374 pounds, the nagging is still there, the voice screaming "you're not good enough, you're not thin enough" remains in her head. She's still "a fat pig", still "lazy", still all those things she was before having her stomach jacked with. But one thing I'm extremely grateful for is that she's starting to get it. She's starting to understand the Fantasy of Being Thin and how it applied (and applies) to her situation. Does she regret having the surgery? No. Does she appreciate how lucky she was that she didn't have any massive complications to date? Oh, yes.

It's not unusual for my sister to tell me that she's impressed that I go out and do things at the size I'm at, that I've rarely not done something because of my fat. I've done a lot of shit fat--I've been on Comedy Central, I've done a one-woman show, I recently traveled to New Zealand on my own, I've spent many nights going out dancing. I wish she could have realized the "old" her was just as good and able as the "new" her. But that she's starting to understand that her "old" self was as good as her "new" self? That impresses me more than she'll ever know.
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Sunday, April 6, 2008

The one where I get TMI on your asses.

Strap in, sports fans, because I’m fixing to bellyache and whine. Ohhhh, how I’m going to whine. It’s going to be the kind of whining that borders on subsonic at times, the kind of whine that only dogs and dolphins can hear at certain times. It’s that whine that comes up from your feet and gets trapped somewhere in your stomach for a bit, then finally migrates up into your throat but it won’t shake loose.

What has me in such a state of bellywhining?

I’m a little over being told I should be happy with what I have.

I know that’s vague, but I generally take a long-ass time to get to a point, so bear with me. (Start drinking now, it’ll make it easier.) I’m a wee bit tired of the “life’s lessons” speeches and “well, your family loves you and your friends love you”. I’ve damn well had it with what is the emotional equivalent of “you have such a pretty face!” To say that I’m exhausted…oh, honey. “Exhausted” doesn’t even begin to cover how goddamned worn out I am with so many things.

I’m just having one of those days (weeks/months/years) where I’m tired of the ball never being in my court, shall we say. I’m tired of being the third wheel. I’m tired of being the sidekick. I’m tired of being the comic relief. I’m tired of being the counselor and advisor. I am fucking hell-ass tired of feeling left out and awkward.


There. Much better.

Part of me wishes that I could tell you I’m a weergin because of Jesus or some other religious/moral obligation only because on paper (and in my head) it probably seems better than just “I am apparently incapable of getting any tail whatsoever”. But I can only tell you that...yeah, I am apparently incapable of getting any tail whatsoever. Not to say it’s something I obsess over 24/7. I don’t spring out of bed in the morning and salute myself in the mirror with, “Hello, fat virgin! Boy, aren’t you going to be terribly virginal today!” Where it tends to become a hairshirt for me is in the arena of “girl talk”, both IRL and online. It’s hard to explain the feeling beyond “disappointed”. I can’t participate. I can’t commiserate at all when it comes to sexuality, intimacy, or relationships. And I struggle enough with my womanhood in that logically, I know that it’s right for me to be the individual I am, dress the way I feel comfortable, behave the way I behave, believe in what I believe. However, when I’m left out of yet another conversation, when I’m the third wheel or fifth wheel or whatever wheel in a social situation, when I feel like I can’t even write fiction or screenplays involving love or relationships anymore because I know nothing about’s those moments where I wish I could fuck all of my beliefs and ideals and hop on that diet/WLS bandwagon and put on makeup and style my hair and concern myself with dressing fashionably and in a feminine style and be “the right kind”, a more “appropriate” woman.

I know it’s completely half-assed and nonsensical. I know there are plenty of women my size or bigger with personalities and beliefs almost identical to mine who have found mates. Fuck, there are downright awful human beings who have loving, adoring partners. Logic would dictate that I should have some luck. I tried EHarmony, which was a big old bust. I couldn’t even get past the matching stage as they kept sending me matches that were completely inappropriate (that is, completely NOT MATCHING ME). When I say I don’t want kids and I’m not religious, and want to be with someone who doesn’t want kids and isn’t religious...I’m not kidding. They’re two things that I’m really not going to change my mind about. I have an account at but haven’t brought myself to pony up the $100-plus because all I can think is “that’s another $100 towards yet another epic failure”; spending $100 to go through allegedly-matching profiles that state the preferred body type is slender and athletic. And let’s say I’m able to launch myself past that particular hurdle. How do I explain (well, besides on a very public blog—WHOOPS) that I’ve never been in a relationship, have no experience whatsoever with physical intimacy, and not have someone walk away thinking about how much there must be wrong with me? Being almost compulsively honest about myself (hence this post—WHOOPS), I would feel compelled to explain that I haven’t kissed anyone in close to 13 years and the closest I got to sleeping with someone was because the guy wanted to slap one more notch on his belt before getting married. I’ve had people sincerely suggest to me that I should go to a bar and there’d be no way I’d be rejected by the end of the night. First of all, the statement screams “hey, there’s bound to be SOME guy so drunk and desperate that he’d fuck you, fat ass”. And I’d like to think that I’m worth a bit more than a drunk fuck by a guy that wouldn’t normally come near me. Call me an asshole romantic, but I really don’t relish the idea of being nudie for the first time in front of someone else (who isn’t a medical professional) while that someone else is pretty much a stranger and shitfaced to boot.

Unfortunately, sporting the brain that I do, the voice inside screams, “you are not good enough and you need to get a grip on that. When you do try (at anything, really), you fail. And you usually fail in a spectacular fashion. Just accept you are not good enough and move on. Get over it. It’s a life lesson. There isn’t an ass for every saddle, there isn’t someone for everyone, and certainly not you. You are old, you are ugly, and you are pathetic.” At the present time, I’m finding it difficult to summon up evidence to in order to contradict that voice. I used to be able to get angry and tell the voice to go blow., do I cry a lot. I never used to be a big crier. I was borderline stoic for many years. Present day, however, there’s no telling what will set me off or when it’s going to happen. I’ve had many a train ride home that has been a life-or-death struggle with my tear ducts. I can even make something like having a poorly-hidden cry on public transportation a further gateway into my almost-daily downward spirals because I’ve never once been asked by someone if I was okay. Granted, *I* would probably ignore a fat chick in a hoodie having a weep on my train car, but in my idiot brain, it’s one more piece of evidence that I’m a waste of space.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to share this with the general public. Then again, I did a one-woman comedy piece where I talked freely about the times I contemplated suicide. My father was more bothered by my saying “motherfucker” a lot during it. I think I’m trying to find some sort of peace that has been eluding me for quite a long time. Some people would try therapy or yoga or latch hook. Instead, I vomit up what’s bouncing around my synapses onto a public blog for your...entertainment? Well, perhaps not this particular entry. As I look at my past entries, it seems that I try to close with some sort of “helpful hint” or whatnot, and if I had any kind of advice on this particular day, it would be if your friends or loved ones come to you holding their beating hearts out and just repeating “WHY”, fight the urge to trot out the so-called “helpful” clichés we’re been told will somehow make it all better. Just listen. If a phrase like “it’s a life lesson” or “there’s someone for everyone” threatens to fly past your lips, replace it with “let’s go to the zoo” or “it’s raining on my furniture”. Sometimes, it’s okay not to rattle off a platitude. Sometimes, going to the zoo sounds like the greatest idea in the world.
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