That last post I wrote sparked a lot of dialog this week – with my parents, my husband, my friends. Although I didn’t think about it before I posted, I cross-link my blog posts here with my facebook page, which means that a handful of the people who read what I wrote about my childhood experiences were people who actually knew me back then, and some of it was eye-opening. I feel the need to clarify some things here, now, to tie up some loose ends. So:
First, I want to say that I discussed the post with my dad before I put it up – to check for inaccuracies, but mostly to make sure he didn’t feel demonized by the post, and was okay with being publicly written about that way. I’m still not certain I did a good enough job of stating, My dad was doing the best he knew how at the time, as a single parent of a pubescent daughter, with the resources and information that he had. He parented me with love through a difficult time in his own life as well as mine. And so while there were disordered messages about food and eating and size, they were mostly well-intentioned ones. In the past few years, he and I have been able to have very candid discussions about where things broke down in our relationship, and we’ve been successful at mending a lot of the issues we’ve had – I respect him for his humility and openness in these conversations, and I’m so grateful to have had them. So, to sum up, Dad: not a villain.
Another loose end – one of the rudimentary things I feel the need to restate as I’m writing: HEALTH is not equal to WEIGHT. Despite all the misinformation we’re fed to the contrary, there isn’t a link between a person’s size and their level of health — correlation, perhaps, but not causation. You can be thin and healthy, you can be thin and unhealthy, you can be fat and healthy, you can be fat and unhealthy, you can be anywhere in between. Body size is related to healthfulness about as much as height or shoe size are. This fact is fundamental to everything else I write on this blog, and if you want more information, this interview of author Linda Bacon, Ph.D. (author of the book Health at Every Size) is a good place to start: part 1, part 2.
As I’m reading and learning more about Health at Every Size, I’m realizing that it is, by definition, a countercultural movement, and that being part of it means being rebellious against society. I’m reading blogs (this is a really excellent one) that are written by Fat Activists, people who are really putting a lot of thought into this movement of fat people who are refusing to be marginalized because of their body shapes, who are standing up and activating for better treatment, better information – for not being made into the dehumanized, caricatured, homogenous embodiment of The Obesity Epidemic.
It’s fascinating and awesome to me, and I love it, this community, these people who are saying, You cannot treat us like this anymore. And I recognize that just by existing in this fat body, by saying publicly that I love it, that I’m not trying to change it, that I’m going to dress it in pretty clothes that don’t hide its shape and feed it the food that it wants — that this in itself is political.
But for now, I’m not ready to do much more than dip my toe into the social-paradigm-subverting waters, and that’s not what I envision for this blog, at least not yet. I’m still too much of a health-at-every-size n00b, still trying to figure out what this all means for me, not ready yet to think about all the rest of the fatties out there. Still coming to terms with the notion that this body of mine can be healthy even if it’s fat, that I can exercise because it feels good and not to burn calories. Still trying to get used to relying on internal feedback, not external, about what my body needs. So I’m writing here as I figure these things out, and it all probably seems very rudimentary for people who have been immersed in this world of fat activism for a while — it’s still very new to me.
Thanks for being part of this process with me. And – as I know you’re reading this – would you mind commenting with where you are in your own health and body-image journey? It’s so helpful to me to see others’ paths – it’s helping me draw up my own road map.