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I have worked as a barista in a cafe setting for two years now.  We sell all kinds of delicious and high-fat pastries.

I am fat and well into plus-sizes.  Because of this I was timid, at first, to say anything of a body acceptance nature as a fat woman.  I feared judgement that I was just trying to make thin women like me** or that I was just trying to justify my fatness*** or something along those lines.   It has been a good long time (over a year at the very least) since I made the decision to speak out when I felt like it and I am happy to say that it has all gone very well.

 

My worry surfaced again when I hired onto a cafe in a more thin-obsessed atmosphere, but again it has worked out okay.  In fact, women face with the smothering atmosphere of thin-focused fatness (my cafe is in a famous department store) they seem very much ready to have their body-hate challenge.  Sometimes they even seem to give me large tips for it.****  I sure didn’t expect that given the height of fat-hating panic in this country.  I suspect that most women already think some of the ideas that the fatosphere promotes in the back of their minds, but are afraid to let it surface in the face of all the fat-hate and body-hate in our worlds.  But, hearing someone say it, even if it is fat me, seems to help them let go a bit.

 

I wish more people could speak-up so that more people might let go…  But, thank you to those of you who do fearlessly speak-up.  You are awesome.

 

–AngryGrayRainbows

 

 

*For those of you who aren’t familiar with the “advice animals” meme (ie: the picture heading this post), this is Courage Wolf.  He wants you to love yourself.

**I don’t think I can make thin people fat anymore than I think I can make fat people thin.  Weight has high genetic correlation.

***I just like to spread the body-love message.

****The women who do get into conversation with me after I have challenge some body-hating or diet statement tend to give me the nicest tips.

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve decided it is time for another random post.  Surprisingly, people were actually still commenting on my poor neglected blog (your comments have now been approved).  Thank you to all who still lurk. 

I am still practicing and growing with HAES.  I am no paragon, but I am growing stronger every day and my latest challenge inspired me to come back to AGR to post. 

I have a new job.  The place where I used to tend cafe and make lattes has gone out of business and I was lucky enough to find a very similar job before the final day of my old job.  So, here I am again, a barista in a small corner of a retail store. 

Had I known what I was getting into I probably wouldn’t have taken the job.  In terms of body acceptance, I am now working in a very toxic environment.  There are a myriad of other problems most of them cartoonish in their ridiculousness, but I will stick to the body hate for the purposes of this post. 

My supervisor is a happy member of the food police and the store where I work is generally full of women on diets and who want to talk about their diets all the time.  At first (I started end of April) I was very intimidated and angry.  I feared that I would be dragged back into diet hell… or even worse: eating disorder hell.  I was very angry and very defensive.

But, I have overcome and I was stronger than I realized. 

I have seen women get upset that their favorite food item had 10 calories more than a food item they didn’t really like, but buy the less favored item anyway for the sake of 10 freakin’ calories.  I have seen my supervisor who admits that an extremely important goal right now is to build sales at our cafe barely restrain herself from chastising teenagers who dared to buy both a sugary drink with a chocolate chip cookie (“DON’T YOU KNOW HOW UNHEALTHY THAT IS???!!!”)  I have several coworkers (and I generally see more than one of them every day I work) who are dieting right now and are deep in the obsession of weight loss, food rules and self-hate… and, boy, do they like to talk about it too.  One of these dieting people makes sure never to work on Wednesday nights so she can watch (and obsess over) “The Biggest Loser” (a ridiculous body-hating monstrosity of a show). 

But, I am doing okay. 

I am able to more calmly challenge (when I choose to) my food policing supervisor.  I have learned that I am able to just mentally roll my eyes and move on with life when I hear more diet tripe.  I’m not fighting every possible battle.  It is too exhausting and isn’t going to win any wars for me anyway, but I am not keeping quiet either.  I am learning balance in my resistance. 

Maybe this situation has made me stronger, but I think that mostly it has just revealed to me that I was already a lot stronger than I knew.  It feels really good.  I’m starting to more intuitively understand the connection between challenges and personal growth and am starting to appreciate challenges a lot more (I always understood this rationally, but could never quite convince myself of the logic regardless…).  Life just feels better and I feel more secure in my body-acceptance in this world full of body-hate and diet-talk.  It feels pretty darn good. 

It will be interesting to see how these work relationships turn out with all my agitating for body-acceptance.  Perhaps they will be the inspiration of more blog posts, but I’m sure those posts will be spaced out in time kind of randomly.  😉

And yeah, I know the mermaid picture* doesn’t really jive with the topic of my post.  I just love the picture… and so there she is.  Enjoy!

–AngryGrayRainbows

*Link to awesome mermaid picture:  http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=§ion=&q=fat+acceptance#/dt8hpu

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I work in a cafe with lots of high fat/sugar and super-delicious pastry type foods, so I also get to hear a lot of customers tell me about their self-hate and diets.  I’ve seen a 60 or 70-something year old nun consistently come in and worry about the calories in her hot chocolate.  I’ve had a very thin/tall man regular customer keep babbling on and on about the diet he is on and obsessing about even after I told him several times that I am not interested in the subject (What is it about diets that people seem to lose all sense of boundaries in regard to them?).  I have seen a woman who could easily be someone’s grandma talk about the “sin” of putting whipped cream on her mocha and the even worse “sin” of buying a cookie to eat with that mocha.  I have also been thanked by a few women for challenging their body-hating talk and my pointing out that food is just food – not a “sin” and not a moral issue.  One customer has told me flat out that she feels a lot safer ordering her favorite blended coffee drink when I am around, because she knows I won’t participate in any body-hating dialogue.  It is sad that food rhetoric has become so vitriolic that a person of normal weight (as this customer is) doesn’t feel safe ordering a blended coffee drink…

I wonder what people would be capable of achieving if they put their energy into goals that were actually achievable rather than the infinite black-hole of making the next diet work and finally becoming thin.  I wonder what people would be like if their idea of morality wasn’t sunk into thinness and instead, ya know, had something to do with not shaming or abusing others for a start.  I wonder what unproductive and even cruel behavior some people allow themselves to get away with because they are pursuing the “ultimate” virtue of thinness or are trying to maintain the thinness they have so painstakingly achieved. 

These questions bring back memories of myself.  I was thin obsessed and willing to sacrificed just about anything to achieve that goal.  I went from being a person who cared more about the feelings of others to a person who was unfailingly rude to the barista at Starbucks and any poor customer service worker I came across.  But, that didn’t matter.  Thin was what mattered.  I think we all probably know someone like this… that person who is so lost in their diet schemes that their other values get put on the shelf and what is left is a very unpleasant person sacrificing too much on the altar of thinness.  There are too many of these people out there, so many that it is sad and somewhat disheartening to contemplate.   

Yesterday a customer thanked me for making a snarky comment in response to her “cookie as sin” talk.  I mentioned something along the lines JennyRose originally said to me about real bad behavior being abusive or cruel rather than it being daring to eat a *gasp* cookie or being the fat person you were born (or dieted yourself) to be.  I asked the customer if she had abused a child or shoved any little old ladies down stairs.  Had she kicked a puppy?  Because that sounds a lot more like “sin” to me than eating a friggin’ cookie.  Seriously.  Cookie sin… I can’t stop rolling my eyes at the idea.  There are way bigger problems in this world than cookies and, yes, even overeating.  Imagine though what a comforting (unrealistic) world those people who think fat or cookies live in.  You’d need no complex answers to things like racism, poverty, sex trafficking, war and child abuse.  All you need is to keep chasing that FOBT* and everything is peachy.  I can understand the allure, but couldn’t live with myself for living that lie and wish I could be more compassionate with those who do, because I am sure that shaming them isn’t going to help them change anymore than shaming fat people makes them thin. 

–AngryGrayRainbows

*Fantasy of being thin

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So it’s 1:49 a.m. and I’m up reading through blogs and I decided to read through some of our archived posts.  I came across one that I still hold near and dear to my heart.  It still rings true to me today so I thought I’d share it with you again.

Data to Validate

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These things are very triggering for me and it’s happening today. 

I’m so thankful this actually takes place in another building and far away from me.  The flyers have been posted all over our building for this “wellness program” for a couple of weeks.  They boast of helping you with fitness and weight loss. 

The ones I’ve been to in the past do not really care about fitness or overall health but of losing weight.  When I walk in, I feel like (and I know this isn’t always true) they see a fat person walking toward them who is desperate to lose weight because then all her problems will be solved.  It’s almost like a personal goal for some of them to lasso me to their table so they can “save” me.

Our HR person called me earlier this morning and said, “where is everyone?  You need to encourage them to come over here to the wellness program.”  I said, “I can’t make them go if they don’t want to.  I’ve had the flyers posted and they’re aware of it.”  This didn’t satisfy her so she went to my boss and told him the same thing to which he replied the same as I did.  “You can’t force someone to come over there and participate if they don’t want to.

The flyers are coming down this afternoon and this is one more wellness program I’m avoiding.  Skipping this event is how I choose to take care of myself and love myself today!

~sas

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… never been fatter.  😉

This is ironic to those who are wrapped up in a thin-obsessed, dieting mindset, but I have little doubt that this is a reality many of us have realized who have ventured along the road less travelled – body acceptance and self-love. 

It was no difficulty to accept that my latest anti-dep (that I started last November) isn’t helping me take the weight I gained on Prozac.  I suspect it is keeping me at a size larger than I would be without antidepressants.  Thankfully, happiness and health is more important to me than image, so the fat bit isn’t bothering me… and I went clothes shopping.  I was able to shop at Lane Bryant, meaning that I have out-grown my in-betweenie status that made it hard to find clothes in conventional or plus sizes.  I was just happy that there was clothes out there that fit me.  😉 

I am going to abstain from giving my jean size, because I know there are those out there who are still so triggered by such things and comparisons just aren’t helpful anyway.  What I will say is that I, personally, have never been fatter.  Nor, have I ever been happier, felt so healthy or even felt this “thin” before.  Now, in eating disorder treatment, I learned that fat is not a feeling… hence, neither is thin a feeling.  But, living in this culture that not only things fat/thin are feelings, but also states of morality (or immorality), I cannot help but fall into these descriptions at times.  In this case, I find it is actually useful for the sake of analysis. 

What does thin even feel like?  Well… when I ask myself where the automatic thought of “I’ve never felt thinner” came from, immediately a feeling of health and strength comes to mind.  I have energy I have never had before.  I think more clearly than ever.  My body seems to strong and reliable.  I have fewer health complaints than I can remember since I was a pre-teen and all my depression/stress/PTSD-related illnesses started popping up. 

And yet… fatter than ever.  😉  In fact, obese.  Take that, fat-fearers!

I have been thin before and it never felt this good.  I don’t know if my body can even do thin without some serious eating-disordered behaviors in place (which was the case before).  In my experience, thin does not equate to health *for me.*  Oh yes, there are naturally thin women out there who are healthy as the thin women they are – I am simply not one of them.  I am a part of glorious human diversity, whether Self or Cosmo magazines agree with me or not.  I am after more than just image here… I am after real health and happiness whatever that means, even if it means being fat. 

While I haven’t been posting much (I”ve been focusing a lot on the realization that my mother has a lot of Narcissistic traits, if not full-blown NPD, and figuring out where to go from here with my new knowledge…), I have been reading here and there on the acceptance blogs.  I have read how certain polls seem to show that many people don’t believe it is even possible to be fat and happy, thus equating happiness with thinness.  How very sad.  Thinness is just thinness – nothing more.  It isn’t success or happiness incarnate.  It is a state of the body… just as fat is.

Today, I celebrate feeling happier and healthier than ever and marvel at another every day miracle that seems to happen all the time for me now… being able to realize that, yes, I’m still obese, so I might as well go buy bigger clothes to accommodate my body as it is and that isn’t a problem.  In fact, it is an act of healthy self-love and self-care.  Yay me! 

And, no, fat/thin isn’t a feeling.  Neither is thin.  I challenge the automatic thoughts, even as I analyze them to deconstruct common ways of thinking about our bodies in Western culture. 

Soon, I’ll be going for a medical check-up that is long-overdue.  I think I am ready to take on a fat-hating doctor, if that is what I end up with.  I find myself laughing out-loud (and good-naturedly) at people speaking the language of the diet obsessed in the cafe where I work.  My customers seem to enjoy my comments about food being fuel with no moral value and how labelling things as “bad” and “forbidden” can often fuel obsession and binging.  I have never felt healthier, but I have also never felt more secure within my own body acceptance and acceptance of intuitive eating.  Bring it on, docs… maybe I can teach you a thing or two… if you’ll let me.

–AngryGrayRainbows

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*Edited by AGR to remove needless apology for processing feelings and post length!!  Good grief, Sassy – That is what this blog is for!!!!  :-P*

For the past year, I have agonized over my relationship with my sister.  It’s just the two of us now.  Our grandparents and parents are all deceased leaving just me and her.   We are both married and she has two grown children…I have a dog.

My sister and I are almost 12 years apart with her being the older sibling.  My mom had two children between the two of us but both died shortly after childbirth.  My parents did not raise us to be close.  I remember next to nothing of my childhood until I was 6 or 7 years old and by that time, my sister was moving out of the house to get away from our father.  I saw very little of my sister once she moved out and that was about 40 years ago.

As I said, the last year I have really been thinking about ways to better my relationship with my sister.  The only times we’ve ever spent together were on a few holidays for only a few hours at a time or when my mom passed away for maybe a couple of days at a time.  I’ve always felt a sister-shaped emptiness in my heart though it’s been more pronounced after the loss of our parents.

I’ve made my gestures in the past year to try and get my sister to visit, to write or call.  Most of those invitations have been ignored or refused.  I’ve continued to do this up until this past weekend.

My niece, my sister’s daughter, graduated with a Masters from a fairly prestigious school this past weekend.  My husband and I were invited but I now suspect it was more for show than as a true invitation.  If you think I’ve seen my sister rarely, hearing from my niece is even more rare.

I got the invitation in the mail and almost threw it away but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I would go to the graduation.  The  graduation was 2 hours away from home so I made a reservation at a hotel and decided to make it a mini-vacation for me and hubby.  We arrived on Friday night and I emailed my niece to give her my cell phone number so she could contact me if she or my sister needed to.  I heard nothing from the family until I saw them walking up at the graduation on Saturday.  Even then, no “I’m glad you came.  I’m glad to see you.”  Nothing.

As we were leaving after the graduation my brother-in-law said he would like for us to get together later that evening so we did.  We ate dinner and then walked through downtown and enjoyed some live music.  It was a fun night but nothing earth shattering.  As a matter of fact, after spending the evening with them, I’ve decided I really don’t care for my sister as a person.  Seeing her once every four to six years may be about right for me.

Being with my sister was a very emotional experience for me and one I’m still mulling over in my head and heart. 

If you had been with us that night, you would have been able to tell that we were definitely raised by the same parents.  We both seem to put off this air of insecurity masked by legalism and judgmentalism. 

I don’t know if anyone else can see it but I can see the abuse she has suffered in her face.  I wonder if people see that in my face as well.  Something else I could see in her face…distrust.  She was closed off and very careful of her words and conversation.  I may not be very guarded of my language but I do tend to use humor to diffuse serious situations or when trust might be an issue.

From the outside, my sister looks like this to me:

  • She looks old beyond her years – wrinkles, harsh complexion, thin and worn. 
  • She crosses her arms a lot when she talks leading me to believe that she is being cautious about being around people. 
  • She looks away from me when I’m talking to her as if she might have a secret or she may have something she would like to tell me but decides not to. 
  • She smokes like a freaking freight train, one right after the other. 
  • She drinks to get drunk and to numb the pain within. 
  • Her daughter doesn’t respect her the way she should and her husband “sides with” the daughter whenever a chance arises.
  • She is obsessed with thinness and will starve herself to wear a certain size and then tell me to not eat too so I can lose weight.

When I type all this out it seems to haunt me even more.  Part of me says I don’t want to be a part of this person’s life because she doesn’t seem to want me in hers and part of me says we are so much alike it’s unreal.  We may cope in different ways with the pain and sadness of our pasts but we have the same past.  We have something that only the two of us can relate to.

When I look at her I see me!  I don’t want to see me!  But I’m drawn to her and want a relationship with her because only she understands why I feel the way I do…why I act the way I act…why I believe the way I believe.

I want to treat her as I would want someone to treat me – with compassion, with honesty, trust and love – but she doesn’t want it.

Having said all that and gotten it out of my system I also realize that I want compassion, honesty, trust and love from my sister but she is not able to give it.  She never has been able to give it and until she gets some help, she won’t ever be able to give it – to me, to herself or to anyone else.  I’m wanting something from my sister that she is unable to provide.  My expectations from her are too much. 

A call once a year, maybe an occassional email, those may be the only things I ever get from my sister.  Maybe that’s all she can give.  It’s time to move on and work on me for me.  Dwelling on wanting a relationship with my sister is a waste of time and there are so many other wonderful things in my life that I can cultivate if I’m not devoting time to a lost cause.

I think I grew emotionally this weekend and typing all this out helped me tremendously.  The visit with my sister taught me that I have so much to be grateful for.  I am NOT my sister and although our pasts are the same in many respects, I have taken different roads than her and have sought help and support from outside sources (which I don’t believe she has). 

Although I’m no expert on self worth and self love, it was apparent to me that I am leaps and bounds ahead of her on those issues.  I don’t NEED a relationship with a person (even though she is my sister) if she is going to end up being toxic to my recovery anyway.  I feel that her compulsive/obsessive behaviors would only have me sliding backwards and I’m not prepared for that.

Who’s to say that in a few years she might see the need to have a relationship with me and if she does, I’ll be willing to try.  Until then, I am my priority and I’m just fine without her in my life.

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