hollymath: (Default)
So Gung-Ho!, the 5k obstacle course I signed up for sent me an e-mail this morning called "Gung-Ho! helping your relationship...or lack of it".
Did you know...

Fitness can help to build relationships!

A 5K race, yoga class or a workout at the gym may not seem like a romantic outing, but a growing group of experts agree that couples who exercise together can not only stave off the extra pounds that are often linked to marriage, but they can strengthen their relationship and possibly live happily ever after.

So get in and book now, as it seems the couple who exercises together stays together...and if you're single you never know who you might meet giving you a helping hand over our giant inflatable wall 😉
It just seems a really terrible way to encourage more people to sign up. If the couple who exercises together stays together I'm fucking doomed because I've never done that!

This is the first I've heard about the "extra pounds that come with marriage" that I should be "staving off," too. I'm so dismayed that everything about exercise also has to be about losing weight because that has a terrible effect on my mental health. So it doesn't really work to tell me it's not about conforming to beauty standards because it's about health.

And the idea that helping somebody with a ridiculous bouncy-castle kind of obstacle should be a romantic or sexual encounter...no. Just seems like a license for men to be creepy at women, assuming they'll need help and then "oops my hand slipped, didn't mean to touch you there!..."

I'm probably overreacting, but I find this kind of talk so off-putting on so many levels. I don't need to lose weight I don't need my partner(s) to like doing everything I do, and I don't need anyone with more than fellow-feeling towards humanity to help me with anything, thankyouverymuch.

Its the first e-mail I've had from Gung-Ho! since I signed up, too, which doesn't leave a very good impression. I've unsubscribed now so I hope I don't miss anything important or useful.

Healthy

Nov. 14th, 2016 10:19 pm
hollymath: (Default)
I've been taking a contraceptive for many years now. I know the routine: I get six months' worth of pills at a time and every other time that I have to get it renewed, I have to have a "review" with one of the nurses.

The review is supposed to be to check my blood pressure and make sure I'm not having any bad side effects from the meds. In practice, I feel like my meds are held hostage until I get lectured for being fat.

At least once my blood pressure was taken just after the lecture, so of course I had high blood pressure -- but because I'm fat-shamed, not because I'm fat! Another time the fact that my anxiety was through the roof so that I was just about to start taking the dried frog pills again wasn't considered a good reason for elevated blood pressure: must be because I'm fat.

Having just been for the lecture in the summer (which wasn't too bad this time, if only because I was actually getting lectured about my mental health), I was looking forward to a nice easy prescription renewal now.

But nooo, the receptionist today asked when I had last seen a nurse and I said this summer and she said I was due a "review" because they're every six months now. Arrrrgh. Twice the fatphobia, twice the stress, such healthy, wow!

Updates

May. 24th, 2016 08:10 pm
hollymath: (Default)
The eye hospital appointment I wasn't looking forward to this morning was actually really good. A year ago I had a low-vision assessment, which basically consisted of "gadgets, can we give you them" -- it's where I got what they call a telescope, which I call a monocular because that's what I was told it was called when I got a much more low-tech one in grade school, and because telescopes are for looking at planets, not train departure displays. The orthoptist I saw the last time I was at the eye hospital told me he'd make sure I got my 12-month follow-up low vision assessment like was planned at th my 12-months-ago low vision assessment, and I got the impression I'd be discharged from MREH then to the care of my GP and optician as my condition's stable and...well, basically, I only had anything to do with them in the first place because I had to, to get registered blind.

This time I got a trainee who only introduced herself by her first name (Gemma), and she was really great. Somehow I ended up talking about the assessment I'd had from the council last summer, my frustrations with Henshaws who seem to limit their interest in me to trying to get me on a course I don't think suits me, my struggles with the new swimming baths -- I was talking to somebody who was a trained lifeguard, so she really lit up at that and was very confident about the advice she gave there, which was kind of great. We talked for absolutely ages, it was oddly therapeutic and entirely unexpected. I did come out of it with another gadget, though I wish they made it with a slot for each kind of coin or something; pound coins are some of the easiest to find because they're twice as thick as the others.

Anyway, I went straight from the eye hospital this morning to helping Morag with her Ph.D. research, which just meant walking around on a wonderfully hot and sunny afternoon and wittering as much as I liked, so basically perfect for me. Again, oddly therapeutic even though I don't think I was very good at answering questions specifically about Manchester which is what I was technically supposed to be doing, but Morag seemed very happy by the end of it, and I had a good time.

I also failed entirely to eat anything until after this, which might have contributed to me going home (and, admittedly, after a sandwich and a yogurt) crashing out hard. I didn't get much sleep last night, I got home just after Andrew had left for his pre-Brian-Wilson-gig pub meet, the dog was being cuddly and sleepy, so we both just crashed out.

I woke up not feeling up to going to the WI meeting tonight -- which is a shame because I missed the craft group yesterday for basically the same reason -- and am now struggling a bit: I feel like I should have done more with my day, even though there was a lot of thinking involved in both of the things I was out doing today. I was so good at keeping on top of the housework when Mom and Dad were here and that has inevitably fallen by the wayside since, which I'm vaguely disappointed about...but of course not enough that I've actually tidied or vacuumed or done the dishes. I ended up talking a bit to Morag about my Kickstarter book, and now I'm feeling guilty about not doing anything on that, either.

But also it occurred to me that two weeks ago I was frantically tidying and fixing and stressing ahead of my parents' visit, and that everything has been pretty exhausting since. I just worry when I'm so lacking in motivation, when I just shut down any time that there isn't some external pressure getting me to do something.

Oh also I had a phone call on Sunday about the fat-girl focus group thing, which in the process answered the question my friends and I are pondering there about what's meant by "an outfit you feel really good in" -- like Sass and I feared, it seems to be a "what makes you feel sexy" type of thing they're after, which...I don't ever do? To me, an outfit I feel good in is trousers with lots of pockets and a t-shirt with something funny written on it. But I can work on that tomorrow -- homework's not due until then!

The lady who rang me seemed to think I'd be awesome at this...once again that thing about me that Em J so diplomatically refers to as "being direct" is a feature and not a bug like I usually worry it is. Apparently this is an unusual setup in that there will actually be senior people from the company paired up with us to hear what we have to say, and with the practiced delivery of someone who's had to reassure many fat girls, this woman said "they'll be more scared than you are." Me, not needing reassurance of course, was like "quite right! bring it on!" (only to myself though...but I probably gave that impression anyway in what I did say, which might be why she said I was going to be awesome at this). Should be a laugh, anyway.
hollymath: (Default)
So: no cricket for me yesterday: poor Sri Lanka had to follow on and the match was over by Saturday night.

After only a week's worth of symptoms I usually have for about a day, my period's showed up, with extreme prejudice.

I ordered three prescriptions last week: one of which after telling me different things about it all week I now have to get from the hospital rather than the GP, one of which I have to have my blood pressure tested before they'll give me any more so that's this afternoon. Unfortunately I know it's never just a matter of testing my (perfectly fine) blood pressure, it's a big lecture about how I'm too fat. Because that's what always happens, every year for the eight or nine years I've been taking these pills.

Tomorrow I have to wake up early just to go to the stupid eye hospital for the appointment I missed a fe weeks ago.

I am not feeling very good about anything right now.
hollymath: (Default)
I was asked if I'd do a focus group thing for one of the fat-girl shops I buy clothes from -- it's interesting in the way things I never thought I'd do might be interesting, and they give you fifty quid for two hours of your time!

But I've got homework! I've got to think of three outfits, and send pictures of them beforehand. One is what I'd wear for "a special occasion," which shouldn't be too hard, one is "relaxing around the house" which honestly I could do most hours of any day though I can't expect the clothes shop to start stocking t-shirts given to me by men who love me, which is my favorite kind/at least half my t-shirts.

But the last request made of me is "an outfit you feel really good in." And...I don't know what that would be. Except for the aforementioned other-people's-t-shirts!

I wear clothes to feel good in the sense of warm and comfy, but not in any sense of feeling good emotionally for wearing them. In some ways I think that makes me the worst person ever for this group -- I feel like clothes and shopping for them are always just a matter of managing what kind of disappointment I'll feel.

But then maybe that makes me the best kind of person for the focus group, because "plus size" retailers are falling so far short of what I think are fairly straightforward and universal demands I'm making of my clothes: I want what thin people already have, which is readily available, reasonably priced, socially acceptable (for the many demands work and life place on women's clothes and appearance), clothing that actually fits my body shape -- which is not a thin person's clothes just increased by the same arbitrary amount in all directions.

Anyway, I still need to think of "an outfit I feel good in" to take a picture of in the next few days. Such an alien concept.
hollymath: (Default)
So this:
If you feel uncomfortable about your body, you have two choices. There is no right answer to this, so read carefully: you can choose to change something about yourself OR you can learn to love who you are. Either of these two options will be the right one depending on what will give you the most happiness.
...
If you do choose to lose weight, DO NOT PUT DOWN THE BODIES OF THOSE WHO HAVE NOT. Do not use phrases such as “OMG look at how fat I was!!1!” Or “I’m so glad I’m not fat anymore!” Because you weren’t a bad person when you were fat. You were no less of a person than you are now, no less worthy of self love, no less beautiful, smart, funny, caring… Being fat is not a negative.
Some of the people I love best do this. They work hard and diet and exercise and then if they regain an ounce they bemoan how fat they are again. And they still weigh less than I do. (Even the guys, sometimes.) Sometimes I laugh bitterly to myself or just do a facial expression that I'm not sure if it's a wince or a smile. But sometimes it really stings.

And it always makes me feel sad for the person saying it, too. Because of course my hard-won patched-together fragile self-worth is not the only one under attack from talk like this: they'll be convincing themselves too that they used to be, and if they gain the weight back they will again be ugly or lazy or useless.

Because I know my friends don't think I'm all of those things, and I'm fatter than almost all of you.
hollymath: (Default)
  1. It is possible for me to throw something in the "nah, pass it along to someone else" pile for no other reason than this looks far too much like something my ex-girlfriend wore. Seriously. If she were local, she'd be the person I offered that skirt to next.
  2. I personally disapprove of shapewear, both on philosophical grounds -- I've been a lot healthier and happier since I stopped believing that this shape for my body would be better than that one -- and practical grounds -- wearing stuff that squeezes my thighs and hips into a different shape fucking hurts -- but the shapewear of someone a little bit bigger than me? Makes perfect cycling shorts (or wear-under-dresses-that-might-make-my-legs-rub-together-too-much shorts) for me. I don't care if they do have lace at the bottoms of the legs; they're not underwear any more, they're totally shorts.***
* By informal I mean since I was helping them move anyway, [personal profile] mother_bones had a bunch of clothes I could take away, either hers or her boyfriend's wife's. I look forward to wearing something when I next see my family that they compliment me on (which they will, because these clothes look great) and asking me where I got it so I can say, "from my Platonic Wife's boyfriend's wife. Actual wife, in that case."

** By swap I mean I didn't offer any clothes, only take them away. Though having tried them all on this morning, I do have a bunch that I will pass along because they don't suit me.

*** Especially handy since I'm helping [personal profile] mother_bones et al. move to such a great distance away that I might start cycling there! People who I'm used to having within ten-minutes of walking distance will now be in ten minutes' cycling distance. I've been so spoiled having them so nearby...
hollymath: (Default)
The third best thing about the Fat Femme Clothes Swap at BiCon was that when Jacq called something "a Doctor Who coat" and I thought it was because it was black with a flash of red lining I could see as it was unfolded...but it turned out to be my own pinstripe Joe Brown coat, the one [livejournal.com profile] doctorstewie told me when first he saw me in it looked like what a female Doctor would wear; I'm delighted that this idea had been developed independently.

The second best thing was, of course, that I came away with some nice clothes: a couple of dresses and an orange skirt (which clashes with everything I own but I like wearing it so much I don't are).

The best thing, though, was that it was a big pile of clothes for fat people. It felt so luxurious, to have such abundance. I'm so used to having practically no options. A lot of us are used to having to buy clothes online so not getting to try things on like we were all doing here -- indeed a lot of the clothes brought to swap were things whose sizes weren't what the internet led us to believe they'd be. Also, the phrase "that's too big on you" was quite often said, and that's not something I'm used to at all. A lot of clothes and clothes stores can make me believe I'm at the absolute tip of the bell curve, and that this is why I "deserve" so few options in what I can wear. Of course I know this is bollocks, but the actual experience of hearing and saying these words was oddly powerful. And even more so was the fact that, since the conference room we were in had no mirrors, we were left with what other people told us about how the clothes looked on us.

And there was so much positivity flying around that room. So much "That really suits you!" and "that's a good color/cut/etc on you" and just lots of "ooh!"s. But it wasn't all pollyanna-ish; there was as I said plenty of "that's too big" or "these trousers need someone taller" or whatever too; the substantial amounts of niceness did not get in the way of gentle, constructive honesty.

And as always when you know that people won't lie in a (misguided, in my case!) attempt at flattery, it does make the actual nice comments all the better. Once, I put on a dress and suddenly everyone was looking at me and grinning and saying nice things and it was actually kind of overwhelming (admittedly I am easily overwhelmed these days...). It was really nice. They were people who don't know me hugely well if at all and had no reason to be so positive if they weren't really feeling it, so there was nothing there for my confidence-killing Jerkbrain to work with. I just soaked up the nice comments and made sure to keep the dress.

Disgusting

Jul. 11th, 2014 12:37 am
hollymath: (Default)
(This is about fatphobic street harassment, and its lasting effects on my mental state.)


"It's disgusting how fat you are!"

At the time, I think wow, I think that's the first time it's been a woman shouting abuse at me.

I keep walking -- I'm crossing a road where she and her bike are stopped at a red light -- musing on the gendered nature of street harassment; how rare is this really?

I think Dammit, and I was having such a good day, too. I had really enjoyed the sunny weather; I'd worn a dress I haven't in a while that I really love and felt good in; I'd had a lovely day with James: beer and cricket and naps. But my happiness is so fragile these days, and we all know how one insult can overpower a dozen happy thoughts.

I, crazily, wonder if I'd have gotten the same shit if I were the cyclist and she the pedestrian; part of me wants to defensively shout back over my shoulder that I have a bike, that I really do enjoy exercise (the exercise I do, anyway, which is mostly cycling these days)...but I know it wouldn't help, and anyway I'm already past her by then.

And anyway it shouldn't matter if I love my bike or not...but the pressure to be a Good Fatty, the kind who's doing everything "right" is so strong, even now that my motivations have moved from "stop being fat" to "be an example of how you can be okay (not great!) at diet and exercise and still be fat." (This is not because I think it's better to be fat, nothing evangelistic like that, just that my mental health is better when I can prioritize other stuff over getting thin. My mental health's also better when people don't assume from looking at me that I'm a junk-food addicted lazy subhuman embarrassment, so I try to challenge those kinds of stereotypes about fat people.)

It's a horrible pressure. I feel horrible about it like I feel horrible when I shout back "I'm not, actually!" when "lesbian!" is hurled at me as an insult or when I use the "I have a boyfriend" defense to deflect unwanted male attention (not that this happens often, probably because I'm disgusting right?): I'm not a lesbian and I have had a male partner pretty much constantly since I was 20, but that's not the point: the point is I feel terrible about trying to jockey myself into a position of greater relative power -- straight and/or affiliated with a gender of higher status than mine -- rather than trying to challenge the shitty power differential in the first place.

I firmly believe that "so what if I am?!" is the right answer (if any is to be made at all) to accusations of queerness or fatness or whatever, because it shouldn't matter to how strangers treat me in public, but I don't think I've ever given such a right-on reply. I always default to "I'm not one of those things you hate. I'm nothing special. Leave me alone, go away, even if you're going away still thinking there are groups you can legitimately bully, just so long as you don't think I'm one of them..."

I know I can't change their minds all by myself in one few-second interaction. But I'd like to try. I'd like to be brave and witty and make an impression, not even for them so much as for me.

Because they won't remember what they say, but I do.

You hear stories about people getting facebook friend requests from people who bullied them in school but the ex-bullies don't think of it that way: if years-long campaigns of cruelty can leave so little impression on the bullies, and so great an impression on the bullied, I think it's a safe bet to say that my day was marred by someone who forgot me by the time the light turned green and she pedaled away.

But remember how I thought "I was having such a good day"? I didn't even notice this at the time, but I'd already put that in the past tense. It had been a nice day, but now it was something else.

Such a tiny thing, you might say. Who cares if some random idiot says you're disgusting; they're clearly an asshole whose opinions you needn't trouble yourself over.

But I hate that I wasn't braver. And I hate that even if I was it wouldn't have made any difference: did anyone else get the "stand up to bullies" advice that backfired almost as dramatically as the "just ignore them and they'll stop when they see they aren't getting a reaction" advice? I hate that I was just crossing the goddam road, a totally normal thing that I wasn't doing any differently from the half-dozen or so other people who'd been waiting to cross with me, and yet I was singled out. And actually, I hate that anyone thinks I'm disgusting. Even assholes. I don't want to be disgusting. It's kind of a big deal to not be.

And I hate that the hundred nice things Andrew told me about myself when I got home and told him this had happened didn't have as great an effect on me. Someone who loves me and compliments me so much I actually find it a hindrance still cannot undo that one stupid word shouted by an asshole stranger. I hate that.
hollymath: (Default)
Today has been a sweet reminder of how lucky I am to have found people who don't just love me, but love things about me that I dislike, or worry about, or apologize for. I see myself more happily, and happier, because of them.
hollymath: (Default)
The weather's getting chilly and wet, which turns a girl's thoughts to warm clothes and waterproof shoes. This girl's, anyway.

I'm thinking of long skirts, warm sweaters, better tights and more leggings, maybe even dresses with sleeves! (I've been wearing dresses all summer, but they're all very summery ones.)

And that means shopping.* And that fills me with dread. Which is part of the reason I need new clothes; I'm so reluctant to shop for them mostly because I find them so difficult and soul-destroying to acquire. Just what my hilariously-bad-of-late body image needs!

Ah well. At least it means I can go back to some things I'm good at: knitting and making soup. And buying presents other people will like.

* Even my handbag's falling apart now, and I don't want to have to get a new one of those! This one's perfect!

Fat links

Jan. 2nd, 2013 11:30 am
hollymath: (Default)
I've been just inundated with stuff about size and health since what I wrote yesterday, stuff that isn't "getting thin will solve all your problems." I haven't looked for it and it isn't in the usual FA/HAES blogs I read; it's just suddenly seemed like it's everywhere. Which is pretty awesome, even as some of it's kind of depressing. That's just because the truth about being fat is depressing, and it isn't depressing because we're unhealthy or lazy, it's depressing because we're treated like shit.

As Michael Moore says in a Facebook post I'm seeing mentioned in a lot of different places
skinny people (1/3 of the country) want us, the majority, to be like them. That's so nice of them.

But the truth is, exercise does not work, diets do not work, feeling crummy does not work. Nothing works. My advice: Quit trying to be something you're not, be happy with the life you've been given, and just go for a pleasant walk outside. With me. Wherever you are. Get off the treadmill, stop drinking diet Coke, throw out all the rules. It's all a scam and it conspires to keep you miserable. If it says "low-fat" or "sugar-free" or "just 100 calories!" throw it out. Remember, one of the main tenets of capitalism is to have the consumer filled with fear, insecurity, envy and unhappiness so that we can spend, spend, spend our way out of it and, dammit, just feel better for a little while. But we don't, do we? The path to happiness - and deep down, we all know this -- is created by love, and being kind to oneself, sharing a sense of community with others, becoming a participant instead of a spectator, and being in motion. Moving....You do not feel better admonishing yourself or beating yourself up or setting up a bunch of unrealistic rules and goals with all the do's and dont's that are just begging to be broken. You wanna know something? I eat ice cream every friggin' day. I drink a regular Coke every single day. I put butter on things. But I also walk every day.
He's too quick to generalize his experience -- not everyone can physically move every day, thin or fat -- but it's always good to hear someone acknowledge that the things we're told will make us happy are usually being sold to us by someone who wants to make a profit on our misery.

Then, I saw a couple of links on Twitter last night, first one that had been RTed by a man and someone else with a male-sounding name about how "interesting" this is, when maybe because I'm a woman who's fat I just found it belonged in the "no shit, Sherlock" file: women are more worried about being judged by their appearances if they're fat. Um, yes? And?

Annoyingly, the study uses BMI as an unquestioned metric of both "what counts as an overweight/obese person" and "attractiveness," when not only is BMI bullshit (more on this later) but also many people are neutral or even positive about the prospect of fat partners.

Actually what I thought was most interesting -- depressing, actually -- about this was that it didn't matter if the "overweight/obese" women were happy with their bodies, they still experienced the same blood pressure increase that the study used to indicate stress levels. Self-esteem is a great thing, but it doesn't change the fact that we live in a culture that stigmatizes and discriminates against people above a certain size.

The second Twitter link is the one about how BMI is bullshit...kinda. It starts off good, talking about how current ideas of healthy weights are very recent, and that fatter people actually tend to do better when old/ill, but it's like it can't give up the status quo: "But don't scrap those New Year's weight-loss resolutions and start gorging on fried Belgian waffles or triple cheeseburgers." They're keen to point out that just because fat people are less likely to die is no reason to be okay about being fat or eating food you like.

And baffled by the "obesity paradox," (here, "paradox" means "we've decided this thing is bad but science is saying it's good! we can't cope!), people try to explain it away with such gems as this: "You're more likely to be in your doctor's office and more likely to be treated," said Dr. Robert Eckel, a past president of the American Heart Association and a professor at University of Colorado.

I will bet you that Dr. Robert Eckel is not fat. I am pretty willing to assert that no fat people were involved in writing or editing this article. Because I really doubt that any fat person would have let that sentence get through. The experience of most fat people is the exact opposite: we don't go to the doctor very often at all, because we expect to be told that all our problems are because we're fat. The only thing we can't necessarily predict is the amount of bullying that will come along with the "lose weight" message. We can't win, though: if fat people put off going to the doctor, it might exacerbate their conditions and reinforce the mistaken belief that fat people are more unhealthy.

Dr. Eckel, and all others who think fat people live longer because we're getting such good and frequent care, should be aware that There are unacceptable levels of weight bias among UK students training to become nurses, doctors, nutritionists and dietitians. So you don't have to take my word for it, or that of my fat friends who laughed hollowly and bitterly when I tweeted Eckel's quote.

A lot of the fat people I know are aware that fat people can be as healthy as thin people, but since thin people seem to think "yeah but you would say that, wouldn't you?" it's lucky we've got evidence on our side. This is really important because so many fatphobic people have learned not to say "I am prejudiced against you because I think you're gross and lazy and ugly and unclean" and replaced it with concern trolling about health. "I just want you to be healthy!" can be dismissed as the bullshit it is, the thin veneer over the hate and disgust.

I am pleased to see signs that the culture's starting to shift, the old views on how weight and health conflate are being reconsidered and how bias based on body size impacts our health and the care we receive. I know it's selection bias but it feels good to be surrounded by so many positive changes and articulation of the surviving negative effects, because nothing will change if we stay silent.
hollymath: (Default)
My mental health has been pretty damn good lately.

Except in one respect. And it's a new and annoying one.
tl;dr: I don't have an eating disorder, but I have a thinking disorder about my body )

So, I'm not looking for reassurance or compliments or anything; as well-intentioned as they might be, they won't help me right now. What I want is good ideas of stuff to say if this nurse (or anybody else, really) tries this "you're too fat to be healthy" bullshit again, something I can write down and bring with me, or practice saying until I'm confident I can actually manage it, so I don't get flustered and speechless like last time.

I really don't want to deal with this right now, but I suppose the reinforcement will be good for me even if it's easy to jump through this particular gatekeeper's hoop and get on with making my own choices about my life.
hollymath: (Default)
My favorite thing about clothes shopping is how it makes me hate my body.

(I know the clothes are designed to fit a stupidly narrow range of body shapes. Still, nothing narrow about me.)
hollymath: (Default)
I get new tights because I'm not happy with the way my clothes are fitting, with the shape my body seems to be taking on unwittingly.

The new tights are fancy, with fleece on the inside, and I'm happy to have found them in my size. I excitedly put them on... and they don't fit. They almost do, they clearly should... but they expect my legs to be no thicker at the top than they are at the bottom.

That's got to be really good for my especially-abysmal-of-late body image, isn't it!

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