Tag Archives: body

I’m fat and am going to die (eventually)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on being fat and living in Australia recently (given I’m fat and living in Australia) and a recent article in Yahoo! made me squee with delight.  It was a, “Should you tell people that they are fat? Yes/No” article with opposing views put by two different authors (both so full of fail), but I learnt something… because I’m fat, I’m going to die.  It’s a huge relief, because I was worried, that like my thin brothers and sisters, I’d live forever, and that wasn’t ideal.

Michelle Bridges (our very favourite person) was on the “yes, tell them that they’re fat” team because:

If you are obese you can look forward to diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke, cancer or even death.

Wow, I’m going to die… eventually… of something… whether I’m fat or not.  Does every fat person get diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke, and/or cancer?  Looking at my family history (given I don’t have asthma which my paternal grandmother died from), I’ll live to around 70 and die from a heart attack or the effects of a stroke.  My regular exercising, non-smoking, and fit paternal grandfather died of a heart attack when he was a little over 70.  My maternal grandfather died at about 60 of a heart attack.  My not overly fit, non-smoking, disabled (short-term before she had her stroke) maternal grandmother died at about 80 from a kidney infection some years after having a stroke.  70 years… that’s a good life, and I’m half way through it.  Should I go “woe is mean, I is going to die” and be depressed because of that, or should I continue loving my life and my body and the awesome things it can do?

Michelle continued with:

More than this, though, is the emotional damage, the unhappiness, the depression and poor self-esteem that comes with carrying too much weight.

Now let’s look at that some more.  Why is it that fat people suffer emotional damage, unhappiness, depression and poor self-esteem?  Oh yeah, that’s right because they’re literally shamed, made to second guess themselves and their body, not believed, insulted, belittled and hated by large sections of society.  Fat shaming and fat abuse are all far too common, on the internets, the streets, hospitals, doctor surgeries, the workplace, you name it and fat shaming probably happens there (with the exception of Fat Acceptance and Heath At Every Size blogs where it’s moderated out.  Thank you so much for doing that).

Only once in my life have I had “Fat Slut” yelled at me, which made me laugh more than anything else at the time, though it upset my husband quite a lot when I told him about it later.  I am generally quite… insulated might be the right word when I am out in public.  I do not listen to words but to tones, so I may have had other comments made about me that my brain has not translated for me.  When I am grocery shopping I wonder what people think of the things I am buying, whether I’m buying fresh fruit and vegetables or supplies for a party.  I wonder when I’m shopping for clothes what people are thinking of me and what I’m buying.  Most of my preferred medical practitioners do not comment on my weight, for which I’m grateful, but again I have this lovely insulation in my head which tends to sometimes refuse to hear certain things (and I honestly don’t know why that is), so things might be said and I just don’t hear them.  I do also spend a lot of time thinking to myself that it is not about me (people talking to each other is not about me for example – unless it specifically is).

Spilt Milk put it beautifully recently, when she wrote, “I am not your cautionary tale“:

Obviously, his piece was about The Biggest Loser, a particular kind of “freakshow”. Me going to the shops to buy my bread and milk? Not so freakshowish, admittedly. But I am still there, I am still visible, I still jiggle, I still have a double chin, I still look fat enough to be a folk devil.

A friend on Twitter, Jennifer Gearing, mentioned this afternoon that Birmingham’s article “reminds me of time stranger told his 5-6yo she didn’t want Maccas or she’d look like me.” That’s right, children, fear and pity that fatty over there, and thank your lucky stars it’s not you.

One thing that can be missed in the debate about how horrible fat people are, and how much emotional damage they’re inviting by being fat (etc), is how much emotional wear and tear is suffered by people who love those who are busy being belittled by society.  How children can be hurt by being told (or having their parent feel) that their parents are worthless because they are fat.  How partners can be hurt by being told that they’re wrong or fetishistic for loving a fat person. The damage spreads beyond individual fat people when society pours hate and scorn on all fat people.

So I’m fat, I’m generally happy with my body, I live, vote, shop, work, exercise, cook, eat, love, fuck, and do all the fun things that I have time and energy for.  The rest of you out there that have a problem with that, including you Michelle Bridges, can fuck off and get educated somewhere else.

Other recommended reading (both by Doctor Samantha Thomas):

Fat Acceptance: What it means to me.

Weight. An emotional issue.

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Middle Age

It hit me (briefly) today that I am now officially middle aged.  It should have hit me at my last birthday when I was official middle aged, but these things take time because I rarely reflect on my age as anything other than a near random number.  In a few weeks I turn 36, which also is relatively meaningless to me – I don’t really assign any value to my age so much as my state of mind, capabilities, capacity, fun, happiness and security.

The only reason this has become relevant now is because I have tendinitis in my hips, which makes moving sometimes stiff and difficult (especially if I’ve been sitting cross-legged), and means that most nights I’m waking up in pain from lying on my side (either one).  This was finally diagnosed by a physiotherapist last night, and it can be fixed, but apparently it is a common ailment of middle aged women who have started going to the gym (all boxes I tick – as I don’t tick the ones about being pregnant or carrying young children on my hip). Emedicine has a helpful article which states:

Gluteus Medius Syndrome and Trochanteric Bursitis

The gluteus medius functions as a primary hip abductor. It originates at the external surface of the ilium and inserts onto the posterior lateral surface of the greater trochanter. This muscle is innervated by the superior gluteal nerve (L4-S1).The greater trochanteric bursa lies directly lateral to the greater trochanter. This lateral growth of the femur abuts the tensor fasciae latae and lateral quadriceps muscles. The bursa provides lubrication and cushioning to allow the muscles to flex and extend over the trochanter without damaging the muscles. It also cushions the tendon before the attachment of the gluteus medius and minimus. Bursitis in this area can be secondary to changes in activity or training, biomechanical problems lower down the leg, or from direct trauma. These conditions lead to increased pressure of the muscles against the bursa and trochanter—with resultant inflammation.

Pain will occur with hip flexion such as walking, climbing stairs, or getting out of a car or a chair. Nocturnal pain while lying on the affected side is common. A snap is occasionally felt or heard in the lateral hip with flexion or extension.

Gluteus medius syndrome involves tenderness to palpation of the gluteus medius muscle, which can be triggered by sudden falls, prolonged weight bearing on one extremity for long periods, activity overuse, or sporting injuries. Most commonly, this situation is observed in middle-aged women who have embarked upon a vigorous walking program or who have started working out at a health club. Patients may present with pain that is transient and worsening over a time period, a Trendelenburg gait, and weakness. These symptoms specifically affect runners, as there is tilting of the pelvis with running. It is important for the clinician to examine the patient for a leg-length discrepancy.

Hip-abduction strengthening should be avoided in the initial stages of gluteus medius syndrome because it only provokes tendinitis. As the acute stage resolves, hip-abductor strengthening is important and is best achieved in the aquatic environment.  [emphasis added]

So, no hip flexing, stretches or other such fun things for me until I get better.  Because it is getting worse at the moment, and if I do a Body Balance (my favourite gym class) class and do the hip flexing track, I suffer for it for a few days later.  But at least I know (that and the flare up of an old lower back issue/injury) what is wrong with my body right now and that I can be put back together.  It’s no fun waking up repeatedly during the night while my hips sing a song of agony, trying to find a position to sleep in that is not painful.  So I have around 24 weeks of physio go to through (thankfully I have sufficient money to pay for that), 6 – 12 weeks for my spine and then another 6 – 12 weeks for my hips.  And then… stuff!

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My body and me

I do, it must be said, take my body for granted.  I live far more in my head than in my skin, perhaps part of being such a verbal thinker, that I don’t always notice my body until something goes wrong.  I’m incredibly grateful that it gets me from A to B, is getting stronger and fitter as I go to the gym, looks good in clothes (so I’ve been told) and carries my brain around.  Mostly though, it’s an afterthought.  I don’t personally consider myself attractive, though apparently I am, just because that really doesn’t matter to my image of me too much most of the time.  I am fat, and that sometimes bothers me, but mostly because my body is telling me about it through mild sleep apnoea, foot cramping (now fixed with orthotics), a small range of other mild annoyances.  I’d like to lose the 10 kgs I’ve put on this year through illness and starting a new job, and I will in time, and then my body will be happier with me.

I cut my finger badly on Saturday night while cooking dinner and every time I injure myself I’m brought back into my body and what it does, how it works and how I use it.  I discover that I use bits of my body that I don’t think about in ways that I never considered before.  I didn’t realise until Saturday night how much I use the side of my fingers, or how they are used as I move through the world.

I do love my hands, I suppose I spend more time admiring them than other parts of my body, but then again I do have a thing for hands.  And eyes… and I certainly love my eyes.  I will stare quite happily at them in a mirror for minutes at a time, provided I’m not caught doing so.  I like to touch things and feel them against my skin (well some things), and I’m currently intrigued with my body being as hairy as it is right now for the first time since puberty, as I’ve stopped waxing while dealing with a case of recurring hives (and wanting less triggers for itches than I already have), and feeling the wind interacting with my leg hair is certainly a sensation I’d completely forgotten.

I do have self image crises from time to time, worry that I’m not attractive enough (whatever that really means – I’m not even sure now – but its a crisis when it happens), or that I’m not able to fit into that corset I bought 4 years ago when I weighed less.  Generally though I’ve reached a point where I know that this is the only body I’m going to have and that I should start appreciating it and stop hating it (I reached that about 5 years ago).  I’m at that point where if someone else has a problem with the way I look or am shaped, then that’s their problem and certainly not mine.  It’s made my life easier, but also means that since I’m not stressing about how I look or what others think, that I tend not stress or think about my body very much – which may or may not be a good thing.  I dress professionally (though usually comfortably) for work, comfortably and whatever works for home, and when I go out, if I feel like dressing up I do, but if I don’t, then I don’t.

I’m incredibly grateful I’m surrounded by people who love me for who I am, enjoy spending time with me, love my brain and my body and that they are the ones who matter most to me.  Random people who know nothing about me can say all they like about my physical appearance, and I won’t care – those that love me, know me and care about me – their opinion matters when I ask (which I don’t), “does my arse look big in this?) or when I actually ask, “How’m I lookin’?”

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