Posts Tagged ‘body love’

I want to talk about something that has been bothering me and that is the moralizing of eating. Not food (that is a different issue), but eating itself. This comes up in terms of the “why are you eating?” pieces of advice around identifying if you are hungry or bored or stressed or sad or eating for any reason other than physical hunger. And let me be clear that I have no problem with this topic or advice on understanding why we eat or crave certain things in and of itself.  What bothers me is simply when this is treated as if we all have some moral imperative to only eat when physically hungry. That it is some sort of sin to eat for any other reason. And that, I do disagree with.

I am all about understanding our relationships with food, understanding why we eat, why we crave certain things, and just all around being better in touch with our bodies and minds. I talked before in my post on intuitive eating that I tend to crave sugary drinks if I get dehydrated and that is really just me being dehydrated and what I really need is water (though I could get this through either plain water or other drinks). Along a similar line I’m all about understanding why I am hungry or craving any particular thing at that time. I think the more in touch we are with our bodies and minds the messages they send us the better off we are.

I also believe very strongly in my life in prioritizing what my time, energy, and mental focus. And I’ve talked a lot here before about how fitness is not my top priority in life, and neither is eating or my body size or any of that.

This means, that sometimes what I’m eating or why I’m eating is not my priority at that time. And I for one am done feeling ashamed of that. I stress eat sometimes. And I know that it’s because of stress, but it also takes energy and some mental focus to go through the “I just want cookies because I’m stressed, I’m not actually hungry” and resist eating the cookies. No, not a lot of energy or mental focus,  but when I’m rushing against a deadline to get a paper done, or proposal submitted on time, or anything else like that, my priority for all my energy and mental focus is on getting that done as well as possible on time. And that means, no, I’m not going to commit the mental resources to avoiding munching on some cookies while I do it. Because at the end of the day, not eating cookies is not that important to me. I don’t really give a damn if sometimes I eat cookies when I’m stressed. I do not think that is a moral failing, a character flaw, or some sort of sin.

And if eating some “junk food” when I’m stressed about getting something important done for a deadline is the reason I’m fat, I still don’t give a fuck. I’m still ok with the fact that I ate those cookies and I’m still ok with being fat.

Body Love

Posted: March 19, 2015 in Body Image
Tags: , ,

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the idea that loving one body somehow means putting down others, and how ridiculous that is.

Me loving my body, doesn’t mean I’m putting it above anyone else’s. And I don’t think other people loving their bodies mean that they are putting theirs above mine either.

I was thinking about this a lot in terms of fitness and celebrating progress in terms of bodies. Even though I’m not body building, or in other ways really aiming to change my body (except trying to get a shapelier booty, no lie), I still notice changes to my body and quite enjoy them. That doesn’t mean they are right or others are wrong. Someone else “leaning out” from their program doesn’t mean that is the only right way for a body to respond to fitness, but it doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate it. I’ve mentioned before that I feel like I build muscle faster than what I’m told is supposed to be possible for women, and I like it! That doesn’t mean that is the right response to fitness though.

I was also thinking with this how differently bodies respond, and thinking how at 5ft even with less space between my joints, I don’t have that “long lean” muscle look. And I’m cool with that. But me liking my bulky looking thighs doesn’t mean someone else can’t like their long, lean looking legs. It’s not an either-or thing.

There is no one right way.

We are so used to the idea of there being one right kind of body, that it seems often people can’t get out of that thinking, so any body love is interpreted as holding up that kind of body as the one right kind of body. rather than just an appreciation for one body/body type that can exist right alongside appreciation of other bodies as well.

This is one of those things that is said all the time in fitness forums, articles, and books, and it usually makes me want to scream.

Usually it comes in the form of reassuring women that weight lifting will not make them “bulky”. But it can take other forms as well, and regardless of the reasoning it still annoys the hell out of me.

A lot of women who lift and want to build noticeable muscle do find this to be true. But not all women are the same.

The reasoning behind this is that women don’t have enough testosterone so building any muscle for us, all of us, takes a long more work and takes a lot longer. But fun fact, “hormone levels” aren’t actually exactly equal among all women. In fact, they can vary quite a lot from woman to woman. We are not actually all clones.

Sometimes I wish that I could see muscle growth more quickly, but overall I don’t usually feel like I have a very hard time building muscle. And never have. It’s always seemed like I could see more muscle growth more quickly than this well known fitness fact seems to imply I should.

I mentioned recently some changes I’ve seen with my body from weight lifting. Which is also what got me thinking about this topic today. Because according to many folks, what I notice is just not possible because I’m a woman.

Besides being fairly intimately familiar with what my body looks like and feels like, I take measurements semi-regularly, and noticed first awhile back that my arms (measured around my bicep) were getting surprisingly bigger (especially surprising given I don’t specifically train biceps) meanwhile my arms look and feel more ‘toned’, more recently my thighs have increased in size at the same time I can notice that my hamstrings look and feel much larger.

Which I’ve actually been told by random dudes (actually all men- which makes sense because clearly they are the experts on women)  even though they don’t know me, that this is just not possible. As a woman, I have not been lifting long enough to build enough muscle for me to have that significant muscle growth. Clearly I’m just getting fatter and lying to myself about it.

I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it because unlike them I know my body.

And to be clear, it’s not that I need to prove to anyone that I’m not getting fatter or that it would be any of their business if I were. That’s not what this is about. What this is about is that it’s really annoying to get excited about building muscle (because I get excited about that!) and being told that I obviously just don’t know my own body and can’t tell the difference between fat and muscle because women just can’t build muscle like that (source: everyone just knows that).

This whole idea that all women’s bodies work exactly the same such that we can make this universal claim that women don’t build muscle easily just needs to die already.

I’ve seen a few discussions lately on how things like cultivating a positive body image tend to require really retraining how you think.

And I was thinking of that today. I’ve been feeling rather negative about my appearance lately. And yet have had a number of positive comments on my appearance. Including a few people who have commented lately that they think I have a nice figure. And in my mind all I’m thinking is “how could you actually think that,  can’t you see how huge I am?” (Because yes, this is always a work in progress and sometimes I’m more happy and comfortable with my body than others.)

I’ve mentioned before I’m sure though how I have a number of full length mirrors in my house. And caught my reflection in one today and the first thing that came to mind was not all the things I dislike but actually that I do like my overall shape. I like my curves. I like the changes I see on my body from weight lifting. Recently the changes that are most noticeable to me are that hamstrings seem huge to me. Also I seem to have a lot more muscle in my lower back, and I have more shape in that area. I have more of a curve at the top of my ass than ever before in my life. (Now I just need to do more stuff that targets my upper back and get some more muscle up there!)

But it really got me thinking about how positive body image is an ongoing process with ups and downs, and how it is also work. How it really is an issue of retraining your mind to focus on positives over negatives. And it won’t happen overnight.

Which I hope is helpful if anyone reads this who is just starting on the path to loving their body, and feeling discouraged that they aren’t there yet. It does get better and easier with time, but it takes time, and it’s not linear, and I think all of us- even people who blog a lot about body love, are works in progress who have our own struggles and bad days, and that’s ok.

This post is about body love and work toward improving how I view my body- which hopefully resonates with some other folks too and maybe encourages others. Just thought I should start by explaining that part, since that isn’t exclusively what I write about here 🙂

I started thinking about photos and “flaws” and how I feel about photos showing flaws for me. One that is big for me is stretch marks. I have (now faded) stretch marks almost all over my whole body- well not really, but thighs, hips, ass, abdomen, boobs, and my upper arms. So I can keep them all covered, as long as I keep all those areas fully covered- no shorts, tank tops, or anything too low cut, and certainly not crop tops. But I don’t often dress that way- especially at home alone, including when working out.

So this photo is actually the on that got me thinking about this awhile ago (and then was reminded about it again today). This is a picture I took wearing my lifting belt while working out and posted to instagram (the weird mirror image part is something I do sometimes to create a square image for instagram instead of just having a lot of blank space on the sides). I was commenting on how I was still getting used to the belt. I’ve started getting used to it but it still feels weird.

Anyways, this photo got me thinking about it because after I posted I started feeling a little self conscious about my stretch marks in the photo. Can you see them? I can, lol. Probably mainly because I know they are there. But in actuality anyone else looking at this probably would not notice at all.

I tend to notice these things in photos more than other people. I also have a slight issue that photos allow me to obsess about them in ways I don’t in person because I’m never looking at a static version long enough to except in photos.

This is the NSFW photo, sorry

This is the NSFW photo, sorry

So this is a photo from February or March. It was actually the middle of the night if I remember correctly (thus the lack of clothing) I got out of bed to use the bathroom and while going back to bed I saw my reflection and liked what I saw, so I decided to take a photo as well. Then after I took the photo- I hated what it captured. I liked what I saw in the mirror, but not what I saw in the photo, which happens a lot for me. Eventually I shared the photo and those thoughts with some others. I think one of the ways I describe myself was that I thought I looked “lumpy” and also was bothered by the stretch marks again visible in the photo. But when I mentioned these things to other people, people started responding that they couldn’t see any of those things. That was kind of a point when I started realizing that I am way more critical of photos of myself that most people probably would be. And I’ve tried to make a more conscious effort to not nit-pick my photos, but even more so to not let that stop me from sharing them even if I am still mentally picking them apart. Sort of a fake it till you make it mentality I guess? I hope that if I can at least let go of the flaws enough to not feel like I want the photo kept hidden away, then maybe eventually I stop even thinking about all the flaws in the photos at all.

I’m not sure that is working on the not seeing “flaws” in my photos. But I’m not hiding because of them so I still think that is still good. My instagram is full of selfies and for everyone there are so many things I could point out that I don’t like about how I look, but I let go of it all and post anyways.

On the other hand maybe it does help because even though if you look below my sports bra in this photo you can clearly see stretch marks, I like this photo and they don’t really bug me in it.

I just thought of this today as I was browsing the internet and stumbled across some tips on weight loss that says how you need to hide away unhealthy foods so they won’t tempt you.

And as I read that I glance across my living room at 9 bags of Halloween candy just laying out. Anyone want to guess how much of that candy I have eaten today? Well the answer is none. And honestly I have no desire to eat any right now. I had some on Halloween night after I realized I was not getting near enough trick or treaters to need it all. (I got 3 btw. 3 kids total all night.) But I haven’t had any since.

And this isn’t an attempt at bragging. Certainly not about my massive will power. Actually my point is will power has nothing to do with it. Because I have no problems eating candy now and then.

And that’s the key. Because if I want some candy, I will go eat some goddamn candy. The result? I don’t feel the overwhelming urge to rush over and start shoveling as much candy as possible into my face.

On the other hand, I remember days past of dieting when I did need to hide or get rid of Halloween candy to avoid eating it because my self-control was not that great.

It’s like when you try not to think about a white bear. What do you end up thinking about? A white bear!

This has long been my experience with dieting. As soon as thing are “bad” and off limits, all I can think about eating is those things. Yet oddly, when not off limits and I allow myself to eat those foods if I want them, I don’t think about or crave them so much.

The only real exception to that I will say is beverages. I still try to avoid drinking sugary drinks and the only way I can ever successfully avoid craving them is by making sure I drink enough water- because my main “craving” there is just dehydration, but if I let myself get actually dehydrated I find myself craving sugary drinks instead of water. But if I keep myself well hydrated with water, I don’t really crave them the same way.

Which is why my current approach to diet is centered around trying to make sure I eat foods that are nourishing (and ideally high in protein- still struggle immensely with that though), and drinking enough water to stay well hydrated. It’s about what my body needs to have, not what I think it or have been told it shouldn’t.

So apparently there was a study which found that among the lesbians sampled 75% were overweight or obese.

I first heard of this when I saw this article on my facebook feed about what is wrong with the statistic. The woman who wrote that article mainly takes issue with the fact that the sample size for lesbians was 87 compared to a sample size of 5,460 straight women.

I read this awhile back, and it made me uncomfortable, but I often like to stop and sit on those kinds of thoughts and feelings for awhile so I give myself time to think through why. But my thought at the time and my thought now remains- so what if it is true?

Putting aside whether the statistic is good or accurate, I’m more concerned with why we care one way or the other.

The author of this article is concerned that this statistic will be accepted as fact, will morph into countless memes and jokes used to mock lesbians and “delegitimize our sexuality”.

But it seems to me- as a fat lesbian- that the underlying issue to that is that it’s considered mock worthy to be a fat lesbian.

Ferndale Pride with Extra Lesbian Sticker

Fat Lesbian! … Fat extra lesbian? … or Extra Fat Lesbian?

Side note: I took 3 selfies at ferndale pride with 3 stickers- extra queer, extra gay, and extra lesbian (all 3 being terms I identify with), and of course it’s the extra lesbian one, which was most relevant to this post, that I like the least. Oh well. 

And why should this statistic “delegitimize our sexuality”? Being fat does not make my sexual orientation any less legitimate.

The author of the article explains further: “the publicity around this ’75 percent of lesbians are fat’ statistic on social media is at present exacerbating the stereotype that ‘lesbians are just a bunch of ugly, lazy, misguided women with low self-esteem who can’t get a husband because they’re fat and don’t wear make-up, and therefore they’re terrible people and don’t deserve to be taken seriously!'”

And here is where I get deeply uncomfortable with this. Because my sexual orientation is not a response to low self-esteem nor an inability to get a husband. Being fat doesn’t mean I have low self-esteem and it sure as fuck does not mean I can’t get a man. I get hit on by men with some frequency. Whether or not those are men I’d actually date even if I was dating men is another issue. But if I were really desperate for a man, I could get one. But I’m not. 1. I’m single and not desperate for a relationship period. I have no interest in being with someone just for the sake of not being single and proving to society that I found someone who found me attractive. 2. More on point here, I don’t want to date men. I am attracted to women. My attraction to women is not a back up, substitute for men. And my weight does not make that any less so.

The stereotype that “lesbians are just a bunch of ugly, lazy, misguided women with low self-esteem who can’t get a husband because they’re fat and don’t wear make-up” is a problematic one. It’s a problematic one for fat lesbians too. It’s still problematic even if 75% of lesbians are overweight or obese. Because fat lesbians are not lesbians because we are too fat to get a man. Being fat and a lesbian does not make this stereotype true. Just like lesbian women who don’t wear makeup don’t make this stereotype true. If 75% of lesbian don’t wear makeup this stereotype would still be a heaping pile of bullshit.

So given that fat lesbians are still not lesbians due to an inability to get a man, given many men find fat women attractive, and that the reasons fat women are lesbians are pretty much the same as the reasons thin women are lesbians- what would it matter if 75% of lesbians are fat?

And I leave you with: Extra Fat Lesbian in Rainbow Fishnets

And I leave you with: Extra Fat Lesbian in Rainbow Fishnets

Illusions Of The Body

Posted: September 29, 2014 in Body Image
Tags: , ,

I saw this photography project awhile back Illusions of the Body (NSFW), which is really cool. It shows side by side two pictures of the same person (nude), one with the person posed in a flattering manner and the other posed in an unflattering manner. But of course the are the same person, same body.

I think of this a lot when I hear criticism about women (always women) posting only flattering photos. Jokes about women posting flattering photos on facebook and then their friends tag them in ones that look unflattering, complaints that women post flattering pictures on dating websites and then don’t look as good in person, et cetera. And I’ve heard folks comment that those unflattering pictures are what people really look like, said sometimes about others, sometimes about themselves. I’ve heard that you might think you look good but you should check those unflattering pictures other people take and realize that is what you really look like, or a person commenting that they thought they looked good but then saw an unflattering photo someone else took and realized how terrible they *really* look.

And there is this mentality that there is something wrong with posting flattering pictures. That is a photo is flattering it’s a lie and we are being deceptive by sharing it.

Why do we assume the negative is real? Like the Illusions of the Body photography shows, both are real. That picture of you that you look awesome in is what you really look like. The picture you look terrible in is also what you really look like. Neither is more real than the other.

Of course it’s important to remember we all have those. We all have times we look good and times we don’t look so good. No person is perfectly posed and put together with a flattering expression at all times. This goes along with another message I’ve heard a lot recently which is not to compare your bad or average with someone else’s best. We do this with image. We compare ourselves in the picture of us looking our worst with a photo of someone else looking their best- and if that is a mainstream media image, then it’s also with a photo of someone looking there best through posing, make-up, and photo editing.

Personally, I’m not going to feel bad if I still post flattering pictures on a dating website, facebook, instagram, or whatever else. It’s not lying, it’s not deceptive, that is me and is what I look like. Just because you could catch me at another time, with another expression, from another angle that is far less flattering doesn’t mean the unflattering image is more “real”. We need to stop thinking that the worst always defines us.

I think this way about my own body a lot as well- I have two larger mirrors in my bedroom, one opposite my bed. I wake up in the morning, sit up, glance over at myself half asleep, hair a mess, slouched over and I think “oh my god, do I really look like that? I look so terrible!” Later I’ll catch my reflection walking past the mirror getting dressed and be like “woah, I look good right now!” That’s just how bodies work. There is no need to beat oneself up for not always looking your most flattering because no one ever does.