too fat to be beautiful?

This week i stumbled upon the first plus sized model that was actually fat enough for me to feel that she is legitimately plus sized and capable of representing someone like me.  I personally don’t feel that size 12 or 14 are fully plus sized, they are at the bottom end of the spectrum, but perhaps that is because that is the size i was when i was my most fit.

my relationship with weight…a history

I was barely fitting into 12s at the end of the summer i lifeguarded in high school.  I felt like i was starving the entire summer, was extremely stressed about the responsibility of saving someone’s life or even caring for their wounds, could tread water for over an hour without feeling fatigued, and was in swim team on top of watching patrons, cleaning the pool and restrooms, and working nearly forty hours a week.  (Strangely, the harder i worked, the less hours the manager gave me, but she continued to schedule me every week for the cleaning duties, a task that was meant to be rotated among all of the employees).  So at the end of the summer i couldn’t imagine ever lifeguarding again and had bought some size 12 jeans and was thinking that i was finally getting somewhere in my attempt to lose weight.

I am now dismayed that i thought that i needed to lose weight at that size.  As i recall, i was a 36C or 38D with a size 32 inch waist and have never had any hips to speak of, so they would have been about a 32, too.  I have medium to large sized bones and am only 5’5″ tall.  I had been called fat since i was eight or nine and was depressed that i could only sometimes fit into juniors 17 and 19 sizes in the two years before lifeguarding.  I had enjoyed dressing in vintage clothing in junior high but was now trying to dress more modernly while remaining modest.  And i was convinced that i was fat by then, i had been told that i was so many times and for so long that i fully believed it.  I never showed my stomach, never wore a bikini, felt like an outcast, and was embarrassed by my body.  At the end of the summer i weighed 160-165, a full thirty pounds more than the recommended weight for my height.

What i wouldn’t give to have that body back…

I was never lazy, though I will admit that I had a large appetite.  It wasn’t the largest of my peers, though.  I knew a girl in high school who is five inches taller than me, would put away 2-3 times as much food as i did and not gain a pound.  My philosophy was to eat until i felt full when i wasn’t dieting, and always feel hungry when i was dieting.  The more i pay attention to what i eat, the hungrier i feel.  I was more likely to overeat at a buffet back then, but i never binged or purged.  Even when i wasn’t dieting i tried to eat healthfully.  I like fruits and veggies and tried to learn about eating a balanced diet in 4-H and a church weight loss group.

I started trying to lose weight in earnest early in high school.  At the start of a diet i would lose 2-5 pounds, but thereafter my weight wouldn’t budge.  If i stopped dieting i would gain 10-15 pounds.  I worked out 5-6 days a week starting in junior high.  Before that i had ridden my bike or walked around town all of the time and attended aerobics class a couple of times a week.  I played Softball in spring, swam in swim team and lived at the pool in summer, and played Volleyball in the fall.  In high school i also started doing tae bo every night before bed, probably from the age of 17-19 i did it every night six days a week, the Basics workout, at least.  I never did feel comfortable with the longer advanced workout.

This has always been what my body has done to me, if i’m working out and/or dieting i won’t lose any weight after 5-15 pounds.  My first triathlon i think i lost more like 20-25 pounds, that was amazing.  There was one summer that i went to a church camp and we ran everywhere all week long, playing basketball and a game using a nerf football.  I did lose about 20 pounds that week, but i was eating everything in sight, the leftovers that my companions were too full to eat, 2-3 ice cream sandwiches from the snack shack each afternoon, i was starving the entire time.  The only other time i have lost significant weight like that has been when i was ill.

Right before i turned eighteen, when we moved to Colorado, i gained nearly fifty pounds.  I was working out six days a week before and after the move.  This was the first time i had broken 200 pounds and i was in the worst depression of my life.  I was eating healthier than ever and started lifting weights three times a week and attending step aerobics classes.  I had to stop doing step aerobics because the pain was excruciating in my back and knees (i’ve always had problems with my knees and was probably a DD by then).  But i lost about half of the weight i had gained, and then no matter what i did the weight didn’t budge.

When i was nearly 21 i moved and stopped working out.  I was working part time and then sprained my foot so badly that i couldn’t walk for a month, my foot was so swollen and painful.  Even after the pain stopped and the swelling went down some…it was still another 2-4 weeks before my swelling went down all of the way.  Then i moved again and started trying to lose weight in earnest.  I went on a Quizno’s version of the Subway diet while i worked there for a year.  I walked 2-5 miles a day five days a week.  I swam and lifted weights a couple of days a week.  I stopped putting dressing on my subs.  I restricted all of my portions, cut back to one 12-oz cup of soda a day, then cut out all chips and sodas entirely, with one splurge day a week.  I lost less than five pounds and was by this time weighed over 250 pounds.

When i moved back to Colorado i think i gained weight yet again.  I took a weight lifting class and injured my back in a bowling class.  I worked graveyards for a few months, dropped out of college for a couple of semesters, and started to recover.  I moved away for a while and fell in love for the first time.  Again, i wish i was that weight again, but he had issues with my weight.  So i started riding a bike a little bit for the first time since early high school, tried out pilates, and was walking again, though not as much as i had during the Quizno’s diet, but i was easing into it after my back injury.

I moved back to Colorado, returned to college, and took yoga.  I continued walking every day and eventually started running with the Couch to 5k program.  I decided to compete in a sprint triathlon and also ran a 5k for the first time.  I started riding my bike farther and more often than ever before.  I tried eating healthfully, at first not restricting my portions, but gradually eating less and less.  I wasn’t losing any significant amount of weight.  After my triathlon i pulled a hamstring while running and could barely walk for a couple of months.  I kept riding my bike 3-5 days a week and swam a couple of times a week, but it was scary being in the pool and not being able to do certain strokes without feeling a lot of pain.  I kept lifting weights, and gradually started to run again once my hamstring allowed it.  I took a mountain biking class and dropped two pants sizes but gained five pounds.  I competed in a second triathlon.

I don’t know how, but my weight eventually topped out in the 290-295 range.  I was devastated.  I did not want my weight to go above 300 pounds but felt helpless to stop it.  It felt like working out and dieting was sabotaging my attempts at weight loss, i would only gain weight after every hiatus and injury.  Training was more expensive than i could afford after graduation.  I needed street tires on my bike, to pay a gym membership to swim, to buy shoes every so often to run, to buy more expensive foods that have no HFCS and are preferably organic.

I started to transition to barefoot running but had some more minor setbacks with injuries.  I eventually stopped working out entirely.  But i am not a sloth.  I am not a glutton.  All of my weight gain had happened while i had a healthy diet and was resting from phases of working out intensely.  Since i stopped training i have maintained as healthy of a diet as i can afford and worked 2-3 jobs at a time.  I might have chips once a week, but I rarely have chocolate or ice cream or desserts.  I don’t eat vegetables or fruit as often or as much as i would like, but they are in my diet.  I am poor and unable to pay back my student loans, support myself, or afford a gym membership.  This last summer i went on short hikes with family quite a few times and a couple of longer, more strenuous hikes.  I even tried running while entirely barefoot for the first time.

More recently, i somehow lost 25 pounds.  I wasn’t on a diet, i wasn’t working out, the only thing i can figure out is that it was stress.  I really hope that it isn’t indicative of an underlying health issue since i still can’t afford healthcare and was denied Medicaid coverage.  I do miss training, i love exercising, but don’t try to tell me that exercising is always an efficient way to lose weight.  I know, i would build muscle, my body size would change somewhat, but my weight stays the same.

what my weight has taught me

So why am i even bringing this up?  Well it’s for many reasons actually.  The first is in response to Tess Munster/Holliday (webpage, tumblr, twitter), makeup artist, plus size model, founder of the #EffYourBeautyStandards movement.  You are beautiful, and strong, and thank you for standing up for people like me.  But i’m not in the habit of telling anyone to frak off.

The second is to anyone who thinks that being proud of your body the way it is is tantamount to skinny shaming.  I actually don’t think that is what Tess is trying to do.  She is saying that she isn’t excluded from the beautiful label, and if you think she is a glutton and sloth, you are wrong.  She works out four days a week with a trainer.  She takes care of her skin.  She has a boyfriend/fiance.  Whatever labels you want to force on her if you are disgusted by her, you are wrong.

Thirdly, Julie Borowski hating on Meghan Trainor, i really have enjoyed some of your political videos, but i have given up on expecting rap music to be positive and fair to women of any shape or size.  In defense of Meghan, whom doesn’t even look plus sized but has been called fat to her face, is not skinny shaming at any moment in her song All About that Bass.  At several points you actually ignored the end of a sentence, and therefore the complete thought, or completely misinterpreted lyrics.  For instance:

  • You ignored the lyric “I see the magazines working that Photoshop / We know that shit ain’t real”.  Meghan makes a very fair point.  All women, even size 2 models, are photoshopped in the modern fashion industry.  She’s shaming the industry for creating that fictional image that we are meant to aspire to, not you.
  • You mention when she sings, “You know I won’t be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll”, but fail to realize that she’s talking about plastic surgery and liposuction.
  • Most importantly,  you misinterpreted her lyric: “Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches Hey / No, I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat, / But I’m here to tell you that, / Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”  Again, she’s not shaming, she’s including skinny people in this positive self-image campaign.  She is literally saying that if you’re skinny you should stop worrying about your weight!  She is telling you that you are perfect.  How is that shaming?
  • Lastly, “She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night,” I take this to mean that men actually want any woman with a healthy weight and normal size rather than, again, that fictional form idolized by the fashion industry.  Whether that is true or not is less certain, but it is exactly the kind of thing we expect mothers and platonic girlfriends to tell us so we can feel better about ourselves.  I’m not sure why you would feel that is a negative towards you since it includes your bottom, no matter what size it is.  The entire song is telling you to be happy with the size you are.

I think your real problem with Meghan Trainor is that you have demonstrated that you don’t have the attention span to link together each message and don’t like that she swears.  Thank you so much for providing a platform for DJ Kinney a platform for shaming “fat piece(s) of sweating” excrement.  You come across as whiny and abrasive towards someone who is telling you to be happy with your body the way it is:  really classy.

The fourth thing, i just want to mention a response i wrote on Tumblr a few days ago to Anna Akana…. I had never heard of her, she is funny, and it had nothing to do with being fat.  It’s about being a happier (feminist?) woman. I was down when i initially responded, and therefore a bit bitchy, not because i disagreed with most of what she said, but because i do agree with most of it.  I have followed and aspired to most of her advice in the past (before she even gave it to me), and it hasn’t gotten me the fabulous life that she acts like it will.  But what i agree most with is the not backstabbing, shaming, and hating on other women part.  I hope that she was including people like me, because no one else seems to.

Fifthly, i happened to stumble upon TheStraightWhite Male‘s Check Your Privilege Episode Two – Fat Acceptance and was just disgusted all around.  Look, i get it, feminists are more than a little out of touch with reality.  I agree that they should look to themselves if they are being gluttons and sloths and owning it.  And i’ve realized and long pondered about the fact that i only embrace fat acceptance up to a certain point myself.  I don’t want to weigh more than 300 pounds, i don’t think that anything over that is anything to be proud about.  But what i am here to tell you is that you’re not entirely right.

You included the quote from Julianne Wotasik:  “‘Just because you’re obese you must overeat, you must have an eating disorder.’ I know that not to be the case.”  Not all weight gain is overeating and laziness, something that most men (including yourself) cannot seem to grasp.  You see it as an excuse when it is in fact true.  Sometimes it’s medical, whether it be chemical imbalance (such as hyper or hypothyroidism) or a side effect of drugs you’re on.  I have known women who suffered from these factors, whose entire lives have been affected.  My sister’s best friend from high school had her thyroid taken out when she was little and has always been underweight.  Many women develop hypothryoidism as they approach menopause.  There are anti-depressants out there that are known to cause weight gain.  It has been proven that if you have overweight parents you are genetically predisposed to putting and keeping on more weight.  It isn’t all about changeable behaviors.

You said:  “Maria made the fatal error of telling these women that they have control over and accountability for their choices. There’s nothing a modern feminist hates more than being told she isn’t a eternal victim of circumstance.”  It almost felt like it was personally directed at me, which i know is impossible.  You don’t know me, i’m not a feminist, but i have always felt like a victim.  I remember inwardly and sometimes outwardly yelling at the princess on the TV or movie screen when i was a kid:  “Pick the sword up!  Fight back!”  Do something, anything, to save yourself.  Sadly, i have never been able to figure out how to not be a victim without compromising my beliefs or making choices that i was not mature enough or prepared to make.

But to bring it back to fat acceptance…what would you have me do?  When was i ever in control of my weight?  How am i supposed to control the food industry or the economy or other people?  These are issues that everyone struggles with, not just feminists or even women, and i am not prepared to take responsibility for everyone else’s actions and decisions that have affected me.  And i have never believed in circumstantial events or chance.  Maybe it makes me sound insane to say it, but i believe Satan and his minions are still out there trying to take over the world.  Everything happens for a reason, whether it be the forces of evil working towards their end or the forces of good working towards His end.

I am not a slut, i am not promiscuous, i am not a feminist, but men don’t go around throwing themselves at me.  Is is only because i’m fat?  I desperately want to be submissive to a husband, to work as a homemaker and a mother.  Don’t ask me to try to break any glass ceilings because I’m not interested.  Don’t even try to tell me that, because i am fat, and haven’t managed to get the weight off, that i must be either a feminist or worthless as girlfriend or wife material.  What do you expect to happen to your skinny girlfriend’s body once she starts having children?  Not all of us can be as thin as Maria Kang after children.  That is genetic, too, you know, for Asian women to have smaller bones and a thinner ideal weight than someone who is more molded/soft and/or larger boned.  There are many different body types, holding one body type to the standard of another is just ridiculous.

People’s idea of physical beauty is subjective, partially learned, and has changed over time.  The Dove campaign didn’t feature people who were fat, just normal.  Your slideshow of beautiful women included a couple that were or are regarded as fat by today’s standards.  Part of this goes back to the fact that women weren’t always heavily photoshopped as they are now by rote.  You also need to realize that most women put clothing and makeup and curlers on not to feel beautiful for men, but for themselves.  The image on the cover of MAXIM is not real, Megan Fox was photoshopped, and if you saw her in person you would be surprised about her actual appearance and size being different.  The three industries that Naomi Wolf mentioned do have influence over how women see themselves if not how men see women.604px-Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci,_from_C2RMF_retouched  Being a model means than you are thinner than average, less healthy than average, and photoshopped to look even thinner.  You may think that all men only want women who look like models, but some men like curvier women, and it is a fact that our idea of beauty has changed.  You mentioned the Greeks, but seem to have a confused concept of what people in the past thought of as beautiful and healthy for a woman.  Look at the female form in art over thousands of years.

  • They were never as skinny as modern models.
  • Most artistic models had enough flesh on them to be considered fat in modern terms.  If they were trying to become a model in the modern fashion industry they would be turned away.
  • A good indicator of health in the past was more weight on a woman, not less.
  • Even the Mona Lisa has the hints of a double chin, and most consider (perhaps erroneously) Marilyn Monroe to have been fat by today’s standards.
  • Venus, the embodiment of beauty:

bathsheba-by-rembrandt

 

  • Bathsheba, the woman who drove King David to adultery.
  • Rubens’ Three Graces.Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_The_Three_Graces,_1635

You might not consider most of these women to be obese, but the modern entertainment and modeling industries would tell us that they are.  Many modern men think that they are.  But in the past these women were idealized and thought of as beautiful and desirable.  Those sculptures, while we would think of as them as morbidly obese, were probably worshiped as icons of fertility and abundance.

So i don’t exactly celebrate my weight, but i also don’t think i’m ugly, horrific, or excrement.  I have fought hard to lose weight, to push my body beyond what even most skinny people ever dare attempt, and i don’t know if that helped or hurt in the long run.  I do not feel like i have anything to be ashamed of.  But when i get to heaven and am given my perfect body, i think it is going to look a whole lot more like the women in these paintings than Megan Fox.

Oh, and by the way, i am in no way attracted to Ryan Gosling and turning it around doesn’t prove your point, it just confirms that both sexes have trouble on this issue.  I have been attracted to “real men” in the past present.  I’ll just leave you with a couple few, shall i?

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