Thursday, July 05, 2012

Some Kind of Record

Some time ago I went to my old site to look for something and couldn't get it to load. Not sure why. I've been meaning to switch the URL here but I wasn't sure how to handle the archives. After the last two posts I did some vanity searches looking for privilege lists references and there was my site. Weird. I got a little lost looking through archives.
When I thought I'd lost the site (figured something went wrong with the hosting because I missed something) I felt sad. Sort of. In some ways I had already let go of it all. Once I tried to print a bunch of it out but it was massive and odd. Too many links to things that were central to whatever I was writing. From my very first post I was wandering back and forth from a daily journal to an attempt to participate in a community of fellow bloggers. I don't think I did either particularly well because it was too much to negotiate. The conversations only made sense to the other people reading the same blogs, the fat politics only made sense to the fat politicos, the what I had for dinner ... oh I dunno. It was all over the place. Not always bad but disoriented. Or something.
I read a bunch of old stuff including a poem that I thought was written by someone else not because it was good or bad but just because I didn't remember it. At all.
I had a similar experience with old paper journals recently when a friend was visiting. I wanted to show her a picture so I pulled a few off the shelf. It's been years since I kept a regular  paper journal. I always loved finding the a new one and that moment when the pen hits the clean white page. I never did find what I was looking for but we both looked at old stuff and laughed about what was going on back in the day. 
I do feel really sad about the loss of my teenage journals. Long stupid story about why I don't have them. I'm sure they're full of angst.
I've always been more of a hopes and fears journal writer. Instead of a this is what happened journal writer. All this rambling around has me in an emotional fog. Unclear. 
This post. This is me trying to hang on.    

Monday, July 02, 2012


Daniel's comment asks me to answer the questions I posed in my last post. I feel a little frustrated because the point I was trying to make was that the questions I was asking needed to be answered by any one but me. My answer to the question of how long is it OK to discriminate or hate on fat people is: not one second. It's never OK. Sympathy is sometimes comforting but rarely useful. I'm talking about justice. Hate may be part of human nature but I think it's also learned. And it's not OK. Never. Ever.
I have some privilege because I'm white. I lose some because I'm a woman. I lose even more because I'm an older woman. Thinking about your location on the privilege map is useful to build awareness and compassion but it's not a metric for the value of a life. Understanding my own white privilege doesn't mean I should be ashamed. It just gives me a way to understand myself and others.
I am never hurt when a child asks me directly or comments about my weight because they're just talking about what's true. I am fat. No need for me to feel hurt when someone notices that fact. I am often angered and frustrated and maybe hurt by the reaction of their parents. Too often that's the moment when they learn that there is something "wrong" with my body. If the child asks me directly I say: some people are fat and I'm one of those people. Most really young children get it right away and smile.
Text is often problematic and I'm not sure whether to write about Daniel or write directly to him but I think I'm to going to shift to being specific and direct.
Really. When I wrote the tuna and celery thing I was being a bit snarky. Six months would not do it.  A year might not even do it. It would not be even close to healthy. I wrote a new post on the food blog about how and why I eat what I do, which I feel I do over and over but I don't mind.
I'm fifty-nine. I have a life time of experiencing how I am treated relative to my size. I've always been fat but I've been less fat and I know people treat me differently. And that's not OK. It does not make me feel good. It does not make me feel good because it's not a value I accept.
It might be good that I am not more well read in the fatosphere these days because this will be the second time you've told me about your diet and weight loss and in the past I suspect you would have been jumped on in comments by people trying to defend me. And I would feel bad about that. In the fatosphere diet talk is frowned upon. My feeling is that since I'm asking you to respect my choices about my body I should respect yours. I want you to feel good about yourself. I'm not interested in making you fall in line with an ideology. If anything I've ever written has helped you to silence the negative voices I am happy to hear it. You also seem to understand that what you're doing isn't sustainable and if you are fat by nature I suspect you will gain some weight when you begin to eat again. It's hard to say. I don't feel like I know you and/or your health history. You've written about being food addicted. I'm not going to try and explain you to yourself.  I don't know you well enough to even speculate on what that's all about. What ever happens I hope you hold onto the good feelings you've gained.
The question I wrote that I was afraid to ask is also one I can't answer. I don't know how many of my friends truly feel. In many ways I'm afraid to know. It does seem like you think I write well and you enjoy my perspective when it helps you to accept yourself but maybe think I should lose weight and in so doing end my own suffering. If that's true it's my biggest fear.
From time to time someone tells me how my writing about being fat has been helpful to them and I am always happy to hear it. But I'm not sure I've made the case well enough, or clearly enough to make even small push in the way most of the people I know get what I'm always trying to do.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

How Long?

More than a few years ago a friend asked me to help her with some restaurant reviewing. She very kindly took me out for a few meals at different places, one of which was the kind of place I normally love. Small neighborhood French bistro feel. Strong technique. Local ingredients.
We walked in. I think we were the first ones there. I don't remember things exactly but I do remember we were not greeted warmly and there seemed to a problem. We were sat in the back of the restaurant, which would not have been my choice. There was a lot of muttering and people coming out to look at us and eventually we were moved to the front of the restaurant. There was a lot of  - what seemed to be - looking at my ass with dismay. I have forgotten the details but I do remember realizing that waiters were worried that they wouldn't be able to get around me. It was a small restaurant. They were right to be worried. I was worried about it when we were seated in the back of the restaurant. But we were there early enough (before it was crowded) and in the second area there was no reason to walk behind me so it was fine. This looking at my ass and something about the things that were said that I don't remember and the generally bad way in which it was handled infuriated me. Hurt me. It's a testament to how good the food was that I enjoyed it as much as I did because I was struggling with tears and rage the whole time. In part because of the way my friend wasn't getting how rudely I was being treated because of the size of my ass. It felt like she thought I was over reacting. At some point the chef walked around talking to people and he stopped at our table. I was still obviously upset and reserved. When we left he followed us out the door and asked what went wrong. I told him. He listened. He never made me feel wrong. He could not have done a better job of trying to make me feel better. But because my friend did not seem to be "on my side" I held on to my emotions. I knew I would never go back. Sadly, because it was a great restaurant. We were served an amuse bouche of cauliflower soup with truffle oil in an espresso cup that I still remember as one of the best things I've ever eaten. I've tried to reproduce it with minimal success. My feelings of humiliation were too strong. It became the site of an injury a large part of which was my friend's seeming reticence about my reaction. We aren't in communication any more and I forget exactly how that happened but I know it wasn't a simple ending and I know I held on to the hurt.
The other day I was reminded about the whole business when a friend said she was going to the restaurant for dinner, which didn't bother me because it is a great place and the chef did make a good faith effort to hear my compliant. I was explaining to another friend why I wouldn't go there and her reaction also felt like she thought I was making too big a deal about what had happened. It brought the whole experience back. I was unable to continue the conversation.
My friends who own being fat and/or understand why it is a political identity would get how I felt but I'm not sure that most of my friends would. I often feel like many of my friends wish I would lose weight, not because they'd love me any more or less but "because of my health" or just so I wouldn't have any more of these specific kinds of hurtful experiences. And even if they have accepted that I will probably always be fat they don't think I should expect the world to embrace fatness as a body type and not a disease. They don't think that fat people are discriminated against in ways that should be changed because, after all, fat people can lose weight and end their own discrimination. And I feel this way about some of my best friends. People who I know love me.
So lets say I live on tuna and celery for the next six months and lose all "extra" weight. Now, this can't really happen because that kind of rapid weight loss would probably kill me so let's say a year, or two years. I love  both tuna and celery but I can tell you I would rather be dead than live on them for that long. I can also say that any time I have lost weight I have never gotten to thin. I have always had "extra" weight. I am fat. By nature. But back to the imaginary world in which I can be thin. My question is: for what ever amount of time it takes, two months, two years, two hours, is it OK that I can experience discrimination? How long is OK? How much discrimination is understandable?
What happened to me at the restaurant wasn't exactly discrimination. They sat me. They served me. It was just nastiness AKA fat hate. The chef/owner apologized for how I was treated. It was one of those experiences that I usually file under wish-the-world-would-change. It was the feeling of not being fully supported by someone who was a friend that stuck with me. It was the look of mild embarrassment on her face as she listened to me rant. That was what stuck.
I've been feeling cranky lately because someone is writing a thin privilege list and no one seems to remember that I did that years ago. It's not fair for me to be cranky because it's been years since I wrote with any kind of regularity and I don't really participate in the fatosphere. That's a topic for another post. I've always liked privilege lists because I think they can be wonderfully insightful. They should be written by the people with the privilege. Is that gonna happen when it's about weight? In my current mood I can't imagine it.
I'm really struggling with this recent experience because I love my friend and I know they love me. I also know that when they hear stories of extreme hate or discrimination directed toward fat people they think it's wrong but they also think the fat people should lose weight.
Many fat people will never be thin. And there would be varying amounts of time for fat people to lose any amount of weight so ... how long? How long is discrimination acceptable? How much hate is OK?
And the real question.
The one I'm too afraid to ask.
How many of my friends think that I'm very smart but make too much of this fat is a political identity issue?