Monday, November 10, 2014

To Be Clear

This is a response to comments by Daniel in my last post.
I used the term disordered eating in a post recently. I was being a bit sarcastic although I do feel that in the last ten or more years of trying to have less pain after eating I've become a bit crazy in terms of food. Daniel says disordered eating is the cause of obesity. My version of disordered eating has resulted in weight loss because there have been times when I have been afraid to eat. Anyone thinking the resulting weight loss is a good thing ignores the physical and emotional misery I've experienced. All of this may have been about the gallstone and the gall bladder both of which are gone. My digestive system seems to be healing but I'm still a bit nervous.
For me it was the emotions around food that felt disordered. Not the quantity or quality of what I was eating. I eat really well both in terms of quality and quantity. I am more thoughtful about what I eat because I'm older. My digestive system is older. That's probably true for many people of every size.
I am not sure why Daniel chose a post about the difficulty of traveling when airlines make seats smaller than ever and charge fat people for two seats and having a bum knee and needing help with getting across a huge airport to write a comment about weight loss. My weight may have contributed to the wear and tear in my knee. I imagine it did. Standing on it for hours in my working life probably also contributed. When only fat people need knee replacements then we can say there is a direct and absolute relationship. And if that's true ... so what?
I don't really like the term size acceptance. I don't have to make a special effort to accept that I have brown eyes. Why should I have to make a special effort to accept that I am fat?
Oh. Wait. Because other people have lost weight so I should too.
Um. No.
There are people in the size acceptance who would shun Daniel for choosing to diet and lose weight. I am not one of them. I ask people to respect the choices I make for my body. I will respect theirs. If being fat causes a person to worry about their health and a negative impact on their quality of life (by their terms) then dieting is a course of action. If it works for you, go for it.
I have no wisdom about addiction.  Even  with things like cigarettes, drugs and alcohol I watched friends struggle much more than I did when it was time to quit. Food addiction is problematic because you can't not eat. You need to eat to live. It's not something I experience so any judgements I make are hollow.  
I am not addicted to food.
I don't have a defeatist attitude about weight loss. I simply have no interest. I'm interested in living an authentic life. I am fat. If I lose weight as a result of illness that's OK. I'm not trying to be fat. I just am. It's not shameful. It just is.
It is a political identity because there is weight based discrimination.
I am sad when people talk about food as if it is dangerous and themselves as "bad" for wanting to eat. I argue for a shift in those ideas, which includes the idea that a person might be fat if they eat what they want. It seems healthier to me. But lives are complex. I can't really know what's best for another person.              
Daniel has been very kind about my writing. But he has never really understood what I'm saying. I may not be articulating things as well as I hope I am. My disordered eating riff was in no way a milestone. I was a bit of a joke. Why should Daniel get what I'm saying? I have friends who I have known for years who don't get it.
Oh well.  


Daniel525 said...

You are correct that I have long admired your writing, especially about being fat, and you are also correct that I misinterpreted and thereby misunderstood your comment about disordered eating.

Disordered eating to me means clinically defined (see DSM-5) chronic eating behaviors that include binge eating, compulsive eating, bulimia, anorexia, et al.

Your fat-acceptance is at once enviable and psychologically beyond my ability. I am filled with shame, embarrassment, condemnation if I overeat or gain weight.

I've lost (and gained) 100+ lbs. 5-6 times in my life. It would be very nice to be free of the conflict and just accept. I don't seem to be able to do it.

By losing weight I have however, become mobile, I can walk without pain, get up stairs, fit in an airplane seat (and travelled), established and maintained a satisfying intimate relationship, and done things I otherwise would have evaded or avoided. Not being fat has something going for it.

I come from a long line of heavy-set people. A genetic predisposition to obesity is a fact. So, it's not surprising that along with 'disordered eating' I should be fat, or fatter than usual.

I've spent a lifetime trying to sort out my 'weight problem" Reading your blog, Fatshadow, has been influential. But you're right to think, as you seem to do, that I don't get you.

But it doesn't mean I want to should stop trying? Does it?

Or, is my experience and thinking just too tiring and tedious?

Tish said...

Your experiance isn't tiring or tedious. You have shared so many stories that have broken my heart about hurt you have suffered as a result of having been fat. It's the times when you make what feels like sweeping statements about the value of weight loss that feel some what targeted that make me tired. So if I lost weight I could fly comfortably and not need a wheel chair. But why shouldn't I be able to fly comfortably and be cared for when paying for a service?
I think you might get me sometimes. It felt like you sensed that I had changed in some way and recognized my "disordered eating" In those moments it feels like you don't get me. No matter what I weigh I am fat. You and I didn't create the shame. "They" did. The kids who teased us. The adults who with held approval did. I reject the shame. I am fat. I always will be. Even if I lost 100 pounds. Even if I lost every bit of what is concidered extra. I am fat because of the shame that I am supposed to swallow instead of food. I refuse. It isn't exactly easy. You shoud only try to find your truth. When you get me we can enjoy that and when you don't I will clarify.