Monday, October 29, 2007

Body acceptance/WLS TwistedBarbie talks as Banded Barbie

There has been a lot of chatter and argument within the body acceptance circle as of late surrounding the issue of weight loss surgery (WLS). Namely over at Shapely Prose and such. Now, I understand the views I am encountering. I felt that way myself once...But I would like to provide another point of view.
July 1, 2005, I had gastric banding surgery, otherwise known as the Lap Band. I am going to leave my previous and post eating disorders (everything diagnosable pretty much) out of this conversation for the mere fact that they do not happen to everyone or anywhere near the majority.
Now, the primary differences between the lap band and Bypass is that Lap Band is a simple surgery, done in under an hour with relatively low risks. Nothing is anatomically altered and once the healing has taken place, the internal components are adjustable with a simple needle insertion.
Before I had surgery I contemplated what it meant, as someone who had always been fat, as a staunch feminist, as someone who believed in equality for all people, all body types. I thought about what it meant to say "Im not okay fat" or "I need to change." But the truth was, I was 367 lbs and not naturally. I wasnt that heavy because I was big boned. I wasnt eating normally and I had no ability to stop it on my own or with therapy. I had tried all my life and after being on diets from 6 months of age, everything in my head was so damned screwed up that I had no ability to sort and untangle things.
Im sure youre saying "Oh great... so tie her stomach off and that will solve the problem"
Well... As the weight flew off, I was forced to deal with my issues... issues I didnt know where there. Issues that went far deeper than the depth of my fat.
When I was fat, I was always trying to live it down." "Make it a non issue." "Be like everyone else."
Now, I consider myself part of the body acceptance movement. I believe that we need to accept all people's bodies and journeys.
My band is losened now. It is as if it does not exist. I do not maintain my weight by any unnatural means. I eat normally. I eat what I want. I move when I want.
Saying that there is no room for WLS in the fat acceptance movement is an uninformed knee jerk reaction, causing seperatism when in fact, many of those who have undergone WLS are the biggest body acceptance advocates.
Its simply the difference between being naturally big and being big because you have a problem.
I dont encourage people to say it is okay to be fat if you are that way because you cannot stop eating.
If that is how you naturally are, more power to you, shake that thang and go on with your bad self...
But if you are covering up emotions and pain with food, then who is to say you should stay that way?
I think people of all sizes are beautiful. I stand up to bigots and sizeists more than almost anyone I have ever met. Im the thin girl who WILL NOT stand to hear a fat joke. I WILL NOT talk about others bodies and their flaws, whether with them or with others. I KNOW first hand how these things are negitive and just plain wrong and I have NO tolerance for them.
So is there no place for me in this movement? Simply because I chose the only way for me to work through my past trauma?
It was once said that "If I cant dance, I dont want to be a part of your movement"

Well Im in this movement, and Im dancing...
Since when is health, whether mental or physical, so damn devisive?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The weight industry is an incredible enterprise isn't it? They're
trying to sell us self worth and were so hungry from starving so long
we eat it all up. Entrapment in an all encompassing paradigm, where an
intellectual double standard is the normative fare, is what womanhood
has turned in to. Entrapment in a society that wants to feed and stuff
us with the image of starvation as satiety. What are we to fill up on
when double standard is the coach fare of our culture? Certainly not
food for that would make us un-hungered for. A cultural analysis of our
bodies is hardly necessary when our physical contextuality is the
primary factor in determining our personal worth, and yet somehow in
the attempt to empower our hips and thighs, those of us who are still
tormented by the jiggle that our very humanity might conjure are
digested as traitors, unconsciously working against the slowly ticking
clock, setting it into a counterproductive, counterclockwise spiral. A
convenient way to view this problematic social structure would be
through Focaultian tinted lenses. Are we not creating our own
neovictorian standards? Do we best feed our movement by continuing to
feed it with propaganda, rejecting those who are imprinted by the very
mold our non allied communities are trying to cookie cut us out with?
Let the sustenance of our community feed those
unsustained by themselves. After all, in the end, who would you rather
sit down for dinner with?
Driving home from a Rally seemed like an everyday act for me, but passing out at the wheel wasnt what I envisioned as empowered. I have always and will always label myself a feminist. It is at the core of my identity, wholly and truly. How is it then, that I ended up being so effected by society that I would sacrifice myself?
I set off on a journey that went against every value I hold. I transformed myself for others into something socially and culturally appropriate. I disabled my own beliefs, my own activism, my own power.
Not anymore.
I hereby agree to revel in my humanity and do the very things necessary to support its livelihood. I agree to love with my whole heart unapologetically. I agree to stand at the edge of the cliff and not only to sit amidst, but dance in the fire surrounded by friends. I agree to have no apologies.
I agree to embody my own beliefs that I hold so steadfast for others and never sacrifice myself to fit what another might consider good or better or appropriate. I agree to speak my mind when my voice shakes, to cry when I'm hurt, to scream when I'm angry, to sing when speaking cannot express my joy, and to dance when words fail my truest expression. I have worked myself into an oblivion attempting to prove my right to inhabit this world, when my mere existence should have sufficed. I have always been enough just as I am. I agree from this day forth to feel entitled to my life, my voice, my body and my food.
I agree to exist as counter culture within the diet ravaged society that I am forced to contextualize myself in. I agree to grapple with the tough questions. How is that I have reconciled an eating disorder with a strong feminist selfhood?
Why is it that the standard I hold for others falls away when I stand in front of the mirror?
I agree to keep questioning what the difference is between personal and political activism. What does it mean to effect change from within, and is this in opposition to without? Is personal liberation as important as political liberation? I have come to believe it is.
I agree to work for radical change within something that will be the most prevalent in my life beyond laws and beyond labels. I can return to the very beginning and work from the source. I can be me. I promise to be me.
How is it that when the very gears of the political machine are falling apart, we fail to notice? How is it that activists everywhere have alcohol problems, drug problems, self injury problems, food problems and it is accepted? How are we okay with this? Why is it okay to kill yourself to feed the movement? What are we really fighting for if not our own lives? Perhaps as activists, we need to start with ourselves. We need to go back to the drawing room and retrace our steps. What are our goals? What do we really want, and why? Can we structure a movement that supports healthy individuals? These are questions that take us back to the consciousness raising group. We have grown too far from the personal. We are people, we are human and no amount of protest, no amount of social movement, no amount of anything can change that. H0w can I tell bush he isn't fit to run the country, much less anything when I cant feed myself? and what right do i have, pretending to be someone that younger people can look up to when im sacrificing myself?
Perhaps we need to take a step back and acknowledge that by engaging in these self defeating acts we are not only stopping our own gears, but we are allying with the other side, forgetting what the focus is, turning inward and contributing to our own ineffectiveness and erasure.
How is it that we have ended up in a society where the very act of consuming food, sustenance is a political act? If I buy a diet pepsi, it supposedly isn't political, even-though I am supporting bullfighting. If I buy a bag of chips, it breaks an unwritten social code. People form opinions about me. I form opinions about myself and all of a sudden i’m not thinking about how my gay best friends cant get married, or why I care about the current paradigm. Eating without judgement becomes a political act, a stance I am taking. It is noticed and I am choosing to be a part of this world without letting others judgement keep my presence at bay. I refuse to take it on. I want chips damnit and I am no less of a woman because of it. This is feminism. I am here and Im not leaving. I want to change the world, I want to dance naked, have sex with the lights on. The personal is political, and the political is personal.

The time has come to put our food where our mouths are.

Who is with me?
Let me tell you all a little secret. BMI or the Body Mass Index is bullshit. Yes, complete and utter bullshit. I have been preaching the epidemic of the BMI to all who will listen from the minute I realized that a person can be both Overweight and Anorexic at the same time.

Did you know that if you are am amputee, youre underweight? Even if youre overweight?

Did you know that if you are an athlete, it is pretty much impossible to be underweight?

Did you know that insurance companies base things on BMI, thus leaving people in the above and much milder situations completely screwed (unless they happen to be in the upper class and can afford to shell out ridiculous amounts or cash)?

Oh yes kids, I have a personal vendetta and Shaply Prose seems to feel the same way. Her BMI project illustrates some of what is TOTALLY WRONG with the BMI

This has been on my mind since Sunday.

As I was leaving the theatre, another woman who is on costume crew with me said “Im glad we dont have crew tomorrow, Im actually excited to walk to school again, I feel fat.”

Now, this seems like a normal cultural statement. I usually dont let comments like this fly. I grab at them and question them and make the person deconstruct them.

However, in this situation I let it go.


Because I was baffled myself. This woman happens to be a large woman. She is gorgeous and has a great sense of style. There is absolutely no reason I would think she should change, assuming she is healthy.

But how do you respond when the “fat girl” says she feels fat?

This has me thinking back to when that was me. Why would I have made a statement like that?

It seems that there is one predominant reason and that is that I wanted to fit into “thin society” and it was one of the only ways I knew how. It intrigues me that thin society is the dominant culture and “normal” is not. We have an entire society within a society defined by how much atmospheric pressure is put upon us at a time, and as if that atmospheric pressure isnt enough, we have social pressure, so called “medical pressure” and pressure that has NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOD OR WEIGHT heaped on us day after day, advertisement after advertisement, diet pill after diet pill.

So what do you say when the fat girl feels fat? Its clearly not about weight…. So, perhaps the tendency to deconstruct it is correct. Why would I treat anyone differently based on weight? Why wouldn’t I take the same approach that I would with anyone else? Why, in the here and now, do you feel fat? Feeling fat in the way that American society uses it is an established social construct. We all know what it is like to “feel fat.” It doesnt matter what our weight is.

Did my hidden internalized bias get the best of me? Is it possible that even after having been at extremes from 400 lbs to anorexic, I still have internalized hatred or misunderstanding? Is society that strong?

Alright My Little Revolutionaries,

After going underground from My Declaration of Discontent to a blog called Unprecedented Secrets for the past year, Ive finally resurfaced along with a whole new sense of empowerment. I don’t know where this blog will lead, but no doubt it will be subversive and Witty.

Who knows? Suggestions?

Peace, Love and Revolution,