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Like many women and even men, for my whole adult life, I have been afraid to wear a bathing suit.  Approx two years ago, I tried to challenge this and, in a lot of ways, I succeeded.

But, on one day, I was feeling particularly vulnerable.  I went to swim at the gym (as usual) and all went well.  It was in the locker room that it happened.  This woman looked me up and down and looked at me with such disgust.  She actually sneered.  I have never forgotten her face and every time I wanted to swim, I literally became nauseas with the memory of her face and her disgust.

This summer, the husband and I went on vacation.  The lake cottage was hot and there was no AC.  I had a bathing suit packed, as always, just in case I worked up the courage to swim… and I decided to take the bull by the horns.

It was terrifying.  That woman’s face was swimming around in my head.  I couldn’t breathe.  I became sure that my husband would divorce me once he saw how horrific I looked in a bathing suit.  I started to remember an old relationship that ended in large part because I got treatment for my eating disorder and dared to gain weight.  I was sure there would be a replay of that experience with my marriage.

I swam anyway.  Every single day we were there.  Oh yeah, it was awesome.

Even after I had swam twice, the fear of being divorced for wearing a bathing suit (yes, I know now and knew then how ridiculous that sounds) became so bad that I had to tell the hubby about it.  He was so supportive, understanding and knew just how to laugh at my fears so as to validate that they were unfounded fears, but not make me feel like an idiot.

That woman and her sneer is still in my head, but she’s not ruling me any longer.  Her sneer was about her and not me and it is wonderful to fully understand this after a long time of being owned by the memory, even if it still makes me queasy every time I think of it.

I’ve been out.  I’ve been having fun.  I’ve been riding my bike, even though some jerk yelled something about my ass the very first time I took my bike out last year and that memory too haunted me and prevented me from biking very much until now.  The very day he yelled at me, I considered that he actually meant it as a compliment (it is unclear), but the possibility that he didn’t gripped me so tightly that it was hard to go out an exercise in the daylight for fear of more commentary.

You know what?  Fuck their comments.

This is my life and it is mine to life.  My body is no one’s business by my own.  I am enjoying myself and having so much fun going out and biking (and this winter, I will probably join a gym for more swimming too!) and I’m not letting prejudice get in the way of that.

I have also been repeating to myself over and over “function – not form” to remind myself how wonderful it is to be physically capable and stronger and just feel better from exercise.

I let myself circle a particularly beautiful garden on the bike path that is often filled with butterflies as many times as I want, no matter what anyone thinks about this silly woman going round and found breathing in the scents.  Maybe I can inspire someone else to have that courage to enjoy them self as well.  That would be worth enduring a few looks and comments.

I often think about my history of a complete focus on form over function of too many years of my life that included my eating disordered years.  I wouldn’t have cared if someone completely scooped out my insides – all my muscles, thoughts, feelings and anything that made me who I was – if I could have a perfect exterior that everyone would approve of and worship.  I giggle to myself at the memories while riding my bike, because in the light of so much fun and feeling good the idea of the form obsession becomes utterly ridiculous.

I’m not posting a picture of myself in a bathing suit.  I’m not ready for that yet.  I’m also not sure that if I was confident enough to do it that I’d even do it then.  If I ever get to that level, we shall see.  Instead, I give you a picture of my smiling face flush after a day of really living life and having some serious fun.

–AngryGrayRainbows

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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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The prodigal returns… or something like that.  I’ll save my ramblings on possibly Zoloft induced writer’s block for another post and keep this one on its intended purpose to ask the questions:  Why do I assume that most people are thin?  Is thin also the default in the minds of others (it sure seems to me to be)?  When 63.1% of Americans are obese or overweight, why do I make this assumption? 

I realize that in many ways I am an outlier and this may contribute to why my mind defaults to thinness being the overwhelming norm and feeling like there are really no fat people on the planet, except for the random headless fatties that are all too common in news “health” reports.  I am a loner for the most part and am probably more exposed to thin-obsessed media than the average bear due to the nature of my job and my unholy love of television.  Lately I’ve also been playing some fun role-playing videogames where, of course, the game world’s are filled with mainly thin representations of people with the random fattie thrown in here or there often portrayed as someone who is corrupt/weak morals and all that.  Even tho when I play these games, watch television and reshelve gossip rags covered in thin starlets at work I constantly remind myself that these are not realistic body shapes or sizes for most people, some part of my brain doesn’t get the message, because I have caught myself several times in the last few weeks struggling with thinking that everyone is thin – but me. 

I think the important lesson in this for me is that even someone who firmly believes in body acceptance, is in an advanced level of eating disorder recovery and spends a lot of time pointing out to myself and others how unrealistic media portrayals of the human body are can be knocked for a loop, because simple exposure to the media thin obsession matters and it can really hurt.  No matter the conscious efforts I may make to debunk for myself American thin-worship, the simple fact is that I am not in control of all my brain.  Perhaps my subconscious is paying more attention to these things than I think or perhaps my defenses against the constant barrage of thin-celebration (and fat hate – the other side of the thin-celebrating coin) after becoming somewhat vulcan-like and losing big chunks of emotional range in my psychiatrist’s last campaign to treat my depression. 

Whatever the reason and however alone I may feel with this, I know I am not alone.  Here I am reminding myself that I am not alone, even if I have felt oh so very alone with my feelings of being different and not in a good way.  And, for those of you out there who would like to be reminded, I am reminding you as well that you are not alone. 

For myself, I think it is time I get back to reading books that help empower me and remind me of feminist and body-acceptance basics.  It’s been a while and apparently I could use some shoring up. 

But what to do about the television?  There are some shows that I really really like, but I feel something  like physical pain that there are only very thin women in a lot of these shows and when average or fat women do show up they are portrayed as “less-than” in terms of intelligence, discipline or morals.  I have seen “Mike and Molly” and “Drop Dead Diva” and didn’t really like them that much.  I really tried to like “Drop Dead Diva,” but it’s just not my cup of tea.  I do like to see fat people (or evern just average would be great!  oh wait, but fat is the average – see stat in first paragraph) on TV, but the content matters and the content just didn’t grab me for the most part.  Generally I watch a lot of Star Trek TGN reruns, a few network standards (House, Lie to Me, The Good Wife) and mostly movies that I DVR off the myriad of Encore channels my cable subscription affords me.   The thought is constantly running through my mind, “Yet another super-thin woman… would it KILL them for there to be some other kind of woman in at least ONE of the shows I watch??!!”  I do like Dr. Cuddy and Dr. Troi as interesting and fun characters, but it feels like a slap in the face when shows that break ground in other ways seem as slavish as any other outlet to the worship of thin or at the very least the idea that super-thin is the norm.   I can even remember as a really young girl, feeling punched in the gut when I realized another new show that I was growing to really like had no realistic portrayals of women in it.  It felt like an attack on me personally and I realize it still does feel that way.  It is amazing to me how at the same time I can realize the media all around me doesn’t portray women realistically and some other part of me swallows it all in one gullible gulp so that I feel like I am a freak for not being super-thin.  The complexity of the human mind and all that… 

I wonder if it is time to start seeing the TV as I see the abusive relatives that I have cut-off contact from:  Sure, they have their fun times, but the abuse, shame and pain is so not worth it.  Perhaps…

–AngryGrayRainbows

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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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sun behind the clouds near sunsetToday is Friday.  It’s the last day of my work week.  I love Fridays!

My husband has gone for the weekend to visit his parents about 3 to 3 1/2 hours away and it’s just going to be me and the dog all weekend.  Can you say AWESOME!?!  My plans?  I have none. 

Today is a new day and I woke up feeling good not only because it’s Friday but because I read my responses to yesterday’s blog entry last night before I went to bed.  I woke up knowing I wasn’t alone.  I also woke up knowing there are people out there that believe and live knowing that fat phobia is WRONG!  I woke up feeling validated!!

The sun is peeking out from behind the clouds and the chill is still in the air.  I’m finished Christmas shopping and I’m going to make candy and bake cookies this weekend.  I might even go hit a couple of clothing sales for me tomorrow (I need some long sleeved shirts and blouses for work). 

I’m feeling good and accepted today.  I’m accepting myself today and that’s always a good thing, right?  I hope you all have a great weekend and I’ll see ya later!

~sas

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I always knew that self-acceptance/fat acceptance/intuitive eating was not popular but I realized last night how alone I feel.

I went to my every-other-week therapist appointment last night.  I’m always open and very honest with her and last night I told her I was not planning on going back to the EDA meeting she had suggested I try.  I told her why I wasn’t wanting to go back and she understood.  She always listens and if she sees validity to my feelings, she acknowledges it but if she hears BS, she calls me on it.

She asked me that I try going to EDA one more time.  She asked me to think about going and when it comes time to share, to be honest with the group and tell them I’m thinking about leaving the meeting.  She suggested that I let them know that I had come to that meeting because all the guidelines for EDA say that they don’t talk about food or weight — that I thought it was a fit for me but if they continue to talk about food and not WHY they do what they do, then that will be my last meeting.  She said that hopefully it would open some eyes to what the meetings were supposed to be about.

I told her I didn’t think I could do that.  She said her main concern was for me to have some sort of support.  She said she knows I don’t get it from my husband (maybe every once in a blue moon) or my work or friends. 

When she said that, I realized how lonely I feel in my quest to do Intuitive Eating/Demand Feeding and in accepting myself for who I am.  I have no support.  Well, let me take that back.  I have  your support.  This blog and others like it give me quite a bit of support but I have no “real time” support.

I want to go to the top of my building and scream, “You’re fine just the way you are!  You don’t have to change to fit some standard that society has deemed acceptable!  You’re beautiful inside and out!”  I want to spread the word and, in turn, maybe, just maybe, get some support in return.

I have tried in the past year or so to talk to some of my co-workers about IE and they turn their noses up at it.  The media has made sure that the masses feel like dieting and being thin is the way to go.  Dieting and being thin is the way to be.  It is the be all, end all.  If you’re not dieting and you’re overweight, you’re a fat, lazy slob with no ambition. 

I don’t think that is true in the least.  I may be fat but that is simply a body size.  I’m honest, funny, a hard worker (to a fault sometimes), dependable and a good listener.  Fat does not define me! 

I don’t want to give up my fight in this!  Sometimes it just seems like I’m working so hard on a losing battle.  

I WON’T give up!  I’m by no means recovered from my eating disorder and not always spot on with the self-acceptance, but when I look back to even 5 years ago, I know that I’m much more accepting of myself and others than I was then.  I’ve made some headway on this IE thing and no one said it was going to be easy.  As a matter of fact, the books I’ve read tell you to remain patient with yourself because this is not an easy thing to do after years of self-loathing and using food as medication to cure all your ills.

I don’t want to do this alone (in real time) but if I have to, I will.  It’s worth it to me to believe in this as strongly as I do, even though it’s not thought of as the “norm”.  If nothing else, maybe I can lead by example and teach someone about it without them even knowing it.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

In closing, I just want to say thank you to my wonderful support system that is this blog.  I love you all and wish you all the best!

~sas

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I’m thinking about putting an ad in the local paper asking for help in finding me.

LOST:  One fun-loving, robust, smiling female.  Blonde hair, hazel eyes and a sense of humor to die for.  She’s  intelligent and witty and empowered.  Her typing skills are fair, she’s a great organizer and a good listener.  She loves music and dancing, playing spades and having a good time.  If you’ve seen her, please contact sassyblonde and let her know where she is and what she’s doing.

Found:  I’ve seen her.  She’s wondering around lost as a goose.  She’s lost her voice, her sense of self and her independence.  She’s codependent as hell on her hubby.  She feels powerless and helpless.  She feels out of control and like the decisions she makes are invalid and wrong.  She avoids friendships, socializing or gatherings of any kind…she’s isolating.  She doesn’t trust her own feelings anymore and she’s tired of feeling alone.  She’s just about shut down all together.

I honestly can’t remember a time when I was independent and trusted myself to make any decisions.  My childhood was one of strict religious rules, a domineering and raging father and a mother who abandoned me emotionally at a very young age.

I have lost the ability to trust my own intuition about my decisions, my body, my spirituality, etc…

From a very young age I was guided and guarded very closely.  When it came time for me to leave the nest and strike out on my own, I wasn’t allowed to.  Guilt and shame were used to keep me on a tight leash and although I lived out on my own I was at “home” constantly.  My father became gravely ill when I was 18 years old and he remained ill until the day he died (about 20 years later).  Even though he was ill and I was no longer living at home, he knew how to guilt me into staying under his thumb of control.

When I got married, I, of course, married a man very similar to my father.  Although my husband saw the controlling nature and domineering behavior in my father, he doesn’t see that he is the same way.  He may not see it because I don’t tell him often enough that he is controlling everything.

It’s time for me to find me!  It’s time for me to find the fun-loving, socializing person that I am inside and live life!  It’s going to be a process for me but I know it will be well worth it. 

I’m going to start with my eating.  I’m going to tell my husband that he is responsible for his recovery and I’m responsible for mine.  I started having my eating controlled at the age of seven when my mom took me to my first WW meeting and I’ve had someone or something (the latest diet fad, book, etc…) controlling my eating ever since.  It’s time I trust my own intuition about my eating.

This is scary as hell.  It seems to me that I’m at 280 pounds and hate myself because I didn’t have enough willpower, enough control or whatever – when  in actuality, I hate myself because I trusted other people or things and didn’t trust ME.  Putting trust in me is going to be a huge challenge. 

Baby steps, right?  This step will hopefully be the first of many in finding me again.  Wish me luck!

~sas

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