Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mississippi legislators attention whoring

Ah, Mississippi, that bastion of civil rights and body autonomy.

Now some attention-whoring legislators in that state have introduced a bill that would revoke the licenses of business who serve food to fat people. This bill will never get passed, and not because of a lack of fat hatred, and the authors know it. It's a stunt, authored by men whose bills often tend to be fluff bits naming highways after war heroes and commending dead soldiers on their military service.

We've basically got three old white guys who have seen the civil rights movement take away their right to treat people badly based on their skin color. What's a good ol' boy to do, but find some other group of people to bar from the restaurants? Hating fat people is not just socially acceptable; it's becoming government sanctioned!

Now, these guys know full well that their bill is not viable. The bureaucracy required to even get it started would be staggering, and enforcement would be impossible. The restaurant lobby would never stand for it. But, just the proposal of this bill may make some people feel that their treatment of fat people is legitimate. Some restaurants may start treating fat customers differently just to avoid future legal complications. It doesn't make good business sense, of course, but neither does the poor treatment we get from doctors.

One final note: Do you think that Representative Read is going to consider himself banned from restaurants by his own bill? Do you think he believes the rules apply to him? I would recommend that he ban himself from them voluntarily, if he feels this strongly about fat people eating food.

I am humbled

Not an easy thing to do, since my ego is bigger than both my boobs put together, before their reduction surgery. That's H-cup ego, folks.

But this blog has left me giggling hysterically. I could never be this good. Kudos to the author!
The Health Institute of Nutrition

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Meet Calvin, our latest foster kitten!

Day 28

Day 28

Meet Calvin, a male kitten who is about 3 or 4 months old. Calvin was trapped and neutered by the SCRUFF (Spaying Capital Region’s Unowned Feral Felines) program, which clips the tip of the cats' ears to help distinguish altered animals from unaltered ones. Calvin stands a chance at life as an indoor pet if he can become comfortable with human contact, and that is where I come in.

Calvin and his two siblings, as it turns out, were trapped in our neighborhood, at the Bonfare, a small market within walking distance. After being altered, they came into the care of Robin's Nest. Since Owl had just been adopted, Robin thought it would be good to split up the three so that they would become habituated to people more readily. I was sent the least friendly kitten, while his more pliable sister and brother went to other foster homes.

Brian and I went to pick Calvin up during the adoption clinic at Petsmart on Monday night; the hours are typically 6-8 on weeknights, and we got there around 7pm. After chatting with the volunteers on duty that night, both of whom I'd worked with previously, and cuddling some of the adult cats up for adoption, we put our little guy into a pet carrier and drove him home (inconveniently forgetting the food that we were supposed to pick up as well, but that's another story).

That evening, I managed to trim his front nails without much trouble, but he slashed us pretty deeply with some agilely executed hind leg kicks before I was able to have Brian properly restrain him for trimming those as well. He seems to know that they're no longer deadly, so he hasn't attempted to maim us with those claws since. We talked to him gently, gave him some food and water, and left him alone for the night.

The next day, which is of course Tuesday (yesterday, as I write this), Brian and I went to see him separately in the morning. In the evening, after we'd returned from a trip to Albany, we went in together to interact with him. Since our foster room has also become our library (and a fine library it is, I must say), Brian and I were chatting about books while I gently stroked Calvin. He was sitting in the box pictured above, which had made Owl feel very secure because it was closed in on all but one side. I figured Calvin felt the same way, so I was trying to put him in the box while I petted him. Anyway, I was just gently stroking his side, and he went from giving me a death glare to repositioning himself into a comfortable, relaxed pose.

I felt a little thrill of progress, but did not react other than to keep my voice the same and told Brian what was going on in the box. We continued our conversation, and Calvin's eyes became half-closed. He sighed gently, and I heard a very faint sound coming from him. I hushed Brian, and kept petting the little kitty, and before long, his purr was loud enough for Brian to hear! I kept petting him, and after a little bit, I asked Brian if he wanted a turn. Brian took over the petting, and I very stealthily left the room so I could get some stuff done. Brian spent a little while petting him, and eventually Calvin decided that he was done, and just relaxed without purring.

This morning, I went in to say hello and give cuddles. I had to pull him out of a hidey hole, but once I had him in my arms, he cuddled against me readily. I petted him and kissed him for a little bit, and then needed to go to the other room to get the book I was reading (as well as some to put away). I leaned down to let him jump out of my arms and back into his hidey hole, but he leaned into me and stayed put, so I had to carry him with me to get the items I needed. He stayed nestled in my arms while I did that, quite content to be held. Once I was reading in the library, he curled up and purring against me for a bit, then crawled into the security box, allowing me to pet him some more while he purred and I read. At that point, I took my camera and made a little video, complete with a close up shot that captured the sound of his purr.

I think he's going to be just fine!

When the video is finished processing, it will be located here. It was a large file, and youtube wouldn't let me upload it, so I had to use Google. I love my camera for photography, but it's not the best for videography.

Brief update

I haven't abandoned y'all; I have just not been feeling great. Fibro fog and pain have my sleep schedule flipped, and my wellspring of inspiration is running dry because of the mental static.

Yesterday, I found myself in full-body agony, and I was so discombobulated by it that I actually forgot to take pain medication for it. I finally remembered when the spouse and I were already on our way to our friends' house, which made for an interesting evening.

Once we got home, I managed to remember the pill, and soaked in a hot bath. What I discovered was that the main source of my agony was my right leg and lower back; they hurting so badly that they just radiated waves of pain through my entire being. Once I'd fought back a little, and figured out the source, I was able to have my husband massage out some of it. I occasionally get a cramp that extends from big toe to coccyx, and it thwacks the hip, knee, and ankle on its way up and down. I often ask to be shot while enduring one of these. Putting on a light compression stocking does help (18-20 mmHg), but time is generally the only thing that fixes it completely.

So that's what I've been up to. I also have a new foster kitten, but he will be in a whole new post about him!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The art of the thank you note

When I was growing up, my family wasn't into writing thank you notes very much. I didn't pick up the habit as a child or adolescent, and I look back on the missed opportunities with regret. I agree with Miss Manners on the idea that a handwritten thank you note is one of the best ways of displaying appreciation.

Last year, I was married in early May, and we received gifts as well as assistance with putting the wedding together and making it happen. Even though handwriting gives me a lot of pain after a little while, I have to say that I enjoyed writing those notes, and I did my best to make them personalized instead of formulaic. We did have one silly mix-up when we sent BOTH notes that began "Dear Mom & Dad" to my own parents, leaving Brian's parents without one! The situation was eventually figured out and rectified, and my mom and dad were extremely amused (so were his, after we explained that we weren't uncouth ingrates).

Even though writing thank you notes can seem to be a chore, I have found that they are a great way to express feelings that might otherwise be embarrassing to state alone. It can be uncomfortable telling someone how much they mean to you, but when you are expressing gratitude to them for something, it is a lot easier because you have a context in which to do so.

I have also found that beautiful stationery can turn a "chore" into a delight. There's just something fun about writing a heartfelt note on pretty paper or beautiful little cards. I keep a variety of different types of stationery and cards on hand for letter writing and thank you notes. I don't spend a lot of money on stationery, however, because I can find cute stuff at the dollar store for very little cost, and I sometimes scour clearance racks at other stores to find delightful gems, such as this undersea-style card set I found at Barnes & Noble during their post-Christmas sale:
Day 11

I used the undersea cards for my Xmas thank you notes, and they were an absolute pleasure to use. I can only hope that the recipients enjoyed them as much as I did.

I don't just write thank you notes in response to gifts, by the way. A week or so ago, I heard a public radio broadcast where a neurologist was strongly refuting the "fibromyalgia isn't real" doofuses. I noted the gentleman's name, realized that he was not just a neurologist, but also a professor of neurology at the local medical college (Albany Med). I looked up his address and wrote him a note expressing my gratitude for standing up for fibro sufferers, and for the work he has done for chronic pain sufferers in general, as I found in my research that he has actually been a huge boon to us with multiple papers published and by treating patients.

So whom would you like to thank today? Who needs a handwritten note to lift their spirits a bit? Have you written to a favorite teacher that inspired you? Can you think of a family member without whom you'd be much worse off? Are you grateful to a shop employee who treated you kindly? Get out your pen and let them know that they're appreciated!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Consider helping out

We are currently not doing very well financially. If you enjoy reading my blog, and you would like to help our family out a little, I have a couple of options available to help.

The first one is a Paypal donation button:

Everyone who donates will get a handwritten thank you note from me, as long as an address is provided.

The second way you can help us out is my Etsy shop, to the right, which has photography for sale. If there is a photo you have seen that is not in the shop, let me know, and I will get a print made and matted for you to purchase.

I gave up on doing "sponsored posts", partly because I didn't want to write such fake garbage, and partly because the Pay-per-post seemed to be looking for any excuse to not pay people. I would, however, be more than happy to tackle a requested topic in return for a reasonable donation.

Thank you, everyone.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Congratulations to Owl!

Foster kitten Owl was adopted today! We took him to Petsmart for the adoption clinic, and a lady was there waiting for him! She had seen him on the Petfinder page and really wanted to adopt him. She got there ahead of another person who had also wanted him after seeing him online, so he wasn't going to be there long no matter what!

We were very proud to see him go to his new home, which has two children and a cat for him to play with. Congratulations, little Owl! We hope you are very happy!

A favorite artist! Also, 250th post! yay!

Even though I am primarily a scientist, I have a strong love for art and literature. My husband is a professional picture framer, and we have an almost obnoxious amount of art on the walls. Many pieces are local artists--although some are local to other places, but still more famous regionally than otherwise. One example is Liza Phoenix, a Seattle artist whose work I fell in love with when I visited Pike Place Market; I have links to two of my favorites by her in the sidebar. Another example is Hannah Ingmire, an artist local to Hannibal, MO, which is 20 minutes from my hometown. I love Hannah because she was my preschool teacher, and she was the one who taught me to look for all colors in everything. Even a red apple has a little blue in it, if you're looking at it right.

So last night, I was sick*, and I missed out on Troy Night Out, which I'm sad about, because Bob Gullie was going to be there, and he is a really neat local artist. His stuff is really unique. Some of it is just lovely, while a lot of it is creepy and weird (that's my favorite stuff). He hand tints his photos, which is just cool. He did a "Stoop Project" a couple of years ago, and he had Brian make wood squares with nice edges, paint them black, and mount the pictures on them, and they turned out REALLY nicely--and I got a sneak peek at the photos in the project while Brian was putting it together. He makes me look like I take pictures with a 110 and a shaky pair of hands and my thumb in the way. The picture of him on his "about" page is all stern and frowny, which is hilarious, because he's the opposite of that.

Anyway, if you are local, I highly recommend following his work, and getting to a show if you can.

*Stomach bug. I don't even want to LOOK at food today. Food can just go to hell dammit.

Friday, January 25, 2008


It's Friday, so instead of writing something, I'm just going to post some pictures I've taken recently.

My festivum cichlid:
Day 23

Aakhu, my ebony ticked silver ocicat:
Day 23

Day 25

Ptera (white) and Anya (ginger), my kittens:
Day 24

Steel-cut oats:
Day 22

Brian cuddling with foster kitten Owl:
Day 20

Awesome tofu stir fry I made the other day:
Day 19

Ptera and Anya's paws--Ptera has extra toes!
Day 13

Body Autonomy

I believe very strongly in a person's right to bodily autonomy. Obviously, I believe in this up to the point where someone else's autonomy is affected--don't go punching or raping people, for example, but by all means, engage in silly dancing and eating what you like.

These views extend beyond abortion. I believe that pro-choice means more than just a woman's right to an abortion. I believe that it means a person has a right not to be abused, mutilated, or murdered. I believe that we should be able to be fat or thin without other people making it their business. I think that everyone, young and old, should be able to masturbate with a reasonable expectation of privacy. I believe that consenting adults should be able to engage in whatever sexual practices they like. But what I really want to talk about is this one: I also believe that it is wrong to surgically modify the genitals of male and female infants and children.

I have heard a number of arguments regarding circumcision, and none of them seem like a good enough reason to take a knife to the genitals of a person who cannot even speak, let alone consent. The stickiest (pardon the pun) argument I've seen so far, however, is the oft-repeated statistic about reduced HIV transmission among circumsized men. The reason it is sticky is because the numbers are there. If you are circumsized, you are less likely to contract HIV.

Now that I've admitted that point, however, I'd like to point out that it is well-known that HIV is pretty difficult to transmit, compared to many other infectious agents. Those who are transmitting it because they are uncircumsized could just as easily have prevented it by other means, such as wearing a condom, not engaging in penetrative sex, and limiting sex to partners who are already infected. I personally would not want to rely upon circumcision as the method for preventing myself from becoming infected with HIV. Remember, also, that the transmission is reduced, not eliminated by circumcision--unprotected sex is inherently risky with any partner.

Also, if you are pro-circumcision, and you give this as a reason for it, then I would suggest you not later on oppose the HPV vaccination on the grounds that HPV transmission can be stopped by behavior modification (in the form of abstinence, of course). It might make you look silly.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Research question

Edit: Audrey found the links I was looking for; Thank you SO much, Audrey! They can be found in the comments.

I recently read about a study, and I cannot remember where I read it. I was hoping that someone could help me find it. It is possible that I read it in "The Gospel Of Food" by Barry Glassner, but that isn't necessarily so.

The study basically had women eat different foods, and did tests to see whether they absorbed nutrients from the foods. Women who ate the same foods absorbed the nutrients differently based on whether or not they enjoyed the foods. Some of this was cultural; they had women of different cultures eating foods originating in different cultures. The ones they liked best and were most familiar with culturally were the most beneficial for each individual.

I was interested in the study, because it seemed to imply that the enjoyment we get from a food can actually affect its nutritive value. Since our diet-obsessed behavior tends to make people think that enjoying food is a crime, it seems that such a point of view would result in deficiencies--and deficiencies can often make us want to eat, even if more energy isn't the goal in eating, it would be restoring minerals and vitamins that our bodies are hungry for.

Anyway, if someone remembers the study, please give me a clue? I don't have the Glassner book, as it was a library loan (although it's one that I'd love to have at hand, so it's wishlisted), so if you've got it, that might be a good place to start. Thanks in advance for any help :)

A reminder: You don't have to be a sex object

It's been a while since this post was talked about in the blogosphere, and I think we should all re-read it and get a refresher.

We need to be reminded that "the pervasive idea that women owe it to onlookers to maintain a certain standard of decorativeness" is wrong. I agree with the post on A Dress A Day when she says:
Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked "female".

I also believe that this applies to men. Taking up space is not a crime. Being a living being is not something you should apologize for, no matter what you look like. And yet, we find people every day who spew hate against other living beings for simply existing. The real sickness here is not fat. It is hate, and it needs to be eradicated.

Big Buts, Part Six: The Godwin Diet

"But you don't see fat people in famines or concentration camps!"

Oh no, you didn't! You didn't! Surely you're not invoking the most horrific events in human history as justification for the persecution of fat people?

Oh, you are? Well then, I guess I'll tackle that one, but just remember that this was YOUR idea, not mine.

The shameful and sick use of this "but" is one that really sets my teeth on edge. People who were forcibly starved, many or most starved to death, did in fact use their fat reserves in order to prolong their lives. They lost fat tissue, muscle mass, and bone density. Their organs went into failure. The human body has evolved strategies for surviving food shortages for a period of time, but that does not mean such strategies can be used indefinitely. A more efficient body still has finite resources, even if they are used at a slower rate than a body with a fast metabolism.

People's bodies became emaciated when they went long periods of time without eating anything. It is true that this happens. However, that does not mean that it was a good thing for them to become emaciated. It does not mean that it is a good idea to induce famine when food is abundant. Yes, a fat person will become less fat when put on a starvation diet, but why should they have to endure that? Famine is a horror. It is suffering. It is damaging to the body and mind. Why do you think someone should voluntarily undergo that? Maybe because you're just being a smartass, and trying to prove the point that "dieting works"?

Sure, starving the human body results in fat reserves being utilized. But once that period of starving is over, the body wants to rebuild those reserves, plus some extra. So, in order to remain thin, the person who has lost a lot of weight will have to endure the pain and suffering of starvation for his or her entire life. And for what reason? Health? Would you rather live a shorter life feeling good, or live longer in misery? Appearance? Why should I have to suffer for the sake of other people's misguided aesthetics?

Another thing: Surely you don't think that emaciated famine victims are healthy? There is a great deal of damage done to them by starvation, and that same damage can be seen in people who deliberately eat very low calorie diets, including cognitive problems, infertility, and heart damage. Yes, a fat person with a slow metabolism, thyroid disease, and PCOS might lose weight if they reduce their intake to a ridiculously low amount, but that doesn't mean it's healthy for them to do so, or that it will improve their quality of life enough to offset the side effects of very low calorie diets.

Finally, I want to ask a very simple question: Which famine and Holocaust victims do YOU think were more likely to survive? The thin ones, or the fat ones? And, of those who survived and were able to build a stable life with an adequate food supply, how many of them do you think stayed emaciated?

Just stop using victimized people as an excuse to hate fat people. It's disrespectful, disgusting, and disingenuous. Enough already.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Don't bother commenting if you haven't been paying attention!

Betty has left a new comment on your post "Your spouse is fat? Grow up and deal.":

The difference between you and Rick is that you met your husband while you were fat (if that's what I understood). The people on the site haven't. They met their life partners when they were healthy and thin.

This is nothing to do against you, please don't take it personally. But it is totally unfair to demand physical attraction if one doesn't look after himself/herself and this doesn't only manifest on the outside but generally obese people are severely unhappy.

Also remember that it's not just about the looks but obesity is a major risk for health, massive contributor of premature death, and it is devastating to see your life partner making themselves sick.

I guess I would also prefer my husband telling me I was fat and because of it, couldn't find me attractive instead of never telling me and going for an affair.

This is being said by an actual fat person, married, who's walking along the weight loss journey so don't think I am a fat hater.

Where do I begin? At the beginning, I suppose.
The difference between you and Rick is that you met your husband while you were fat (if that's what I understood). The people on the site haven't. They met their life partners when they were healthy and thin.
This implies that a person should have to remain thin throughout a relationship, even if they weren't happy with the lifestyle required to do so. It also equates healthy with being thin, which is, as most of us who have done our homework know, not true. Would a person be excused from looking "unattractive" if their appearance were changed by massive burns or other scars? Of course, the response to this is, "Well, that's not their fault, but fat people CHOOSE to be fat." But that's just not true, because, again, those who aren't looking to hate people for being fat have opened their minds to the fact that diets don't work.

I also want to mention that if a couple gets together when one person in the couple is fat, and that person consequently loses weight and becomes thin, do you think it's fair for the partner to get all pissed off and demand that the partner gain the weight back? After all, they changed their body shape to one that may be less attractive than they were when they met, right? I think I know the answer, and that just tells me this is about hating FAT/FAT IS BAD/etc.

But it is totally unfair to demand physical attraction if one doesn't look after himself/herself
Gaining weight is not the result of someone not "looking after him/herself". This statement IS offensive, as it places blame on the person who has gained weight for their weight gain. It's one thing if your spouse has stopped showering. It's quite another when their body itself changes--this is NOT something that is within conscious control.

Not only that, but the idea of "demanding" physical attraction? How about just wanting your partner to love you for who you are, and if they are not able to do that, they be honest about it and admit that they have a problem being attracted to a person who is fat. But no, because nobody wants to be the "bad guy", the fat spouse is blamed for being fat, and it is "demanded" that they change their shape back into the preferred one. No thanks. I'd rather get divorced and find someone who is attracted to ME, regardless of my weight, and let the other person go to find that hardbody that will never ever change. Good luck with that, by the way.

this doesn't only manifest on the outside but generally obese people are severely unhappy.
Have you ever thought that maybe they wouldn't be as unhappy if people didn't treat them like complete garbage? Or if doctors didn't cause them irreparable damage and death because they couldn't see past the adipose tissue? And did you maybe think that there are plenty of "obese" people out there who aren't unhappy, IN SPITE OF the shitty treatment they get?

Also remember that it's not just about the looks but obesity is a major risk for health, massive contributor of premature death,
Why would someone even come here to make comments if they are going to ignore everything else in this blog? From now on, I am not going to dignify ignorance with a response, but this one time, I will point you to a few little places where you can learn that this is just untrue. If people can't be bothered to read and learn, they can, from here on out, suck it.

and it is devastating to see your life partner making themselves sick.
Perhaps, but it's based on false assumptions (see above), and placing blame where it does not belong for something that is not as bad as you are making it out to be. This isn't about seeing your life partner making themselves sick; that is just the red herring people throw out so that they don't have to admit that they care more about their partner's looks than about the person him/herself. If your partner were doing heroin or drinking a fifth of whiskey a day, you might have a case. But you don't.

I guess I would also prefer my husband telling me I was fat and because of it, couldn't find me attractive instead of never telling me and going for an affair.
The problem with that statement is that those are not the only two options. If my husband decided that I wasn't physically attractive anymore, to the degree that he wanted to have an affair, then I'd rather we just break up. Fortunately for me, Brian's not an ass like that. It's also interesting that so many people think men are mindless sex machines that NEED to have access to sexual partners that have perfect bodies, or they will implode. Sorry, but if my two choices were the ones you listed? Then there's a whole lot more wrong with my relationship than my being fat.

This is being said by an actual fat person, married, who's walking along the weight loss journey so don't think I am a fat hater.
Well, of course you are a fat hater. You hate it enough that you are trying to get rid of the fat that you have--because you're terrified that your spouse will go out and fuck someone else if you don't. It's really sad to see someone hate a part of themselves when they don't need to, but I suppose that's the result of absorbing all of the fat hatred in your environment. I have to say, though, that your fat is not the problem in your marriage, if your husband threatens to sleep around if you don't lose weight to please him. I'm really sorry for that, because even if you do lose enough weight to keep him from straying, you'll put it all back plus ten percent or more in about five years. What are you going to do then? Unless, that is, you don't cringe at the thought of being hungry every single day for the rest of your life. For me, that's just not acceptable; no guy is worth that.

As I've said before; most of these situations, once the surface is scratched, reveal that fat is the least of a couple's problems--it becomes a way to keep them from focusing on what's really going on. It's too hard to admit that a husband screaming at you, threatening you, and punching walls is abusive, so let's focus on how fat he is instead. You don't want to tell people that your husband's a philandering asshole, so blame yourself for "letting yourself go", and hold out hope that if you do manage to make a diet work, and stay thin afterwards, he'll stop screwing around. Some relationships aren't work saving, though, and badgering the fat half of the partnership to lose weight in order to "save" it just prolongs what really needs to happen. Enough already--there are plenty of partners out there who don't find fat unattractive; why waste your time on someone who hates you for it?

Big Buts, Part Five: Fat Makes You Celibate

"But don't you want someone to love you? Aren't you afraid you'll be single your entire life? If you don't lose weight, then don't complain about not having sex!"

Actually, I want to tackle that last part first. I keep seeing accusations that people of the size positive community are "constantly whining that no one will have sex with them." I am completely baffled as to where they are getting this information, because I have yet to see it in any of the blogs or journals of the FA community. In fact, I can't think of a single fat friend of mine who has a problem getting laid. Most of them are happily married or in long term relationships. Some are partnered to fat people, some to thin people, and all combinations inbetween. In fact, I've been acquainted with at least three fat couples who have open relationships, and they do not lack for partners, thick and thin, with which to exercise that openness. I myself am married to a thin man, and we do not lack for a sex life (sorry, mom) (yes, my mom reads my blog).

Yesterday, I requested that readers shower me with comments and photos about their relationships. As of this writing, 21 different people shared their love stories with me. Considering I'm just a little wee blogger who doesn't have the large audience that Shapely Prose enjoys, I think that's a pretty good number--and I expect it to go up! Attraction is different for everyone, and, from what I've seen, it's rarely actually about fat or thin.

My mother's family has a considerable number of large people, from my grandfather, to his siblings, and all sorts of cousins and the like. Every fat person in that family who wants to be married is married, most of them with offspring (I opted out of that, myself). My mother actually takes after HER mom in being average sized, but there's quite a bit of fat in the family.

You see, not everyone finds fat people inherently unattractive. And we aren't sitting around crying into our Ben & Jerry's wondering why we can't get a date. I've personally never lacked for interested parties of all sizes and genders, and the only real obstacle a fat person has is their own anxiety and fear--which is usually the result of shallow, mean people telling us that no one will possibly want us, love us, or sleep with us unless we lose weight.

Given the climate in which fat singles must venture forth into the dating world, it's actually quite amazing that we manage to summon the courage to face potential cruelty and humiliation in order to find the special person that is a good match. Amazing, yes, but as hard as folks try and shoot us down before we've even thought about trying, we do it, and we get laid, loved, and married just as easily as thin people if we have the confidence to respond to signals from those who are interested.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I believe that women and men should have the right to choose what they do with their own bodies. Whether that means having an abortion, using birth control, choosing sex partners instead of having sex forced upon them, deciding what foods they put into their bodies, and smoking cigarettes or marijuana.

We give up freedoms out of fear. Anti-abortionists fear women having control over their bodes instead of becoming enslaved to the product of sex, so they oppose abortion and birth control. Those who fear getting beaten or killed give in to rape as a lesser evil. Irrational fear of black men stealing white women was used to outlaw marijuana.

Now, we are being pressured to hand over our freedom to eat what we like out of fear of an epidemic of fat, with horror stories about health insurance costs and a nation filled with 500-lb citizens.

If you don't think the current fat hysteria isn't related to being pro-choice about what we do with our bodies, then you aren't paying attention.

Expanding my blogroll

I know that many people reading this have blogs of their own. I may not have you in my links in the left column, and I promise that it isn't because I don't like you (unless you're a troll); it's because I'm just not aware :)

If you have a blog, give me the link and title in a comment here so I can remedy the situation.

I need a big fat favor!

Show me the love!

In preparation for tomorrow's "Big Buts" post, I would like my fat readers to please post about their current relationships. If you're brave enough to post a photo of you and your significant other, that would also be great! If you're not fat, but you are in a relationship with someone who is (or have been in the past), I want to hear about that, too!

Tell me as much or as little as you like!

If you are not currently in a relationship, tell me whatever you want about your past relationships, if any, or, hell, anything you want to say about relationships in general.

Thanks in advance, my dears :)

Big Buts, Part Four: Are you what you eat?

"But if you weren't eating ________, you wouldn't be fat, so you are lying!"

Oh, I love this one so much. This is where we just can't win. We are faced with nasty hyperbole about hamburgers and donuts, and when we say,"That's just not the case," we're accused of lying. Fat haters tend to assume that a person being fat is enough evidence to convict them of excessive eating, incorrect eating, or both. There are two major problems with this, though.

The first problem is that a person's size is not any kind of proof that they are eating the wrong things, or eating too much. While the haters will deny this until they are foaming at the mouth, it is well documented that dieting makes people fatter in the long run. Those who DO manage to remain thin after losing weight do so at the cost of having to maintain a very low calorie diet. This kind of diet requires a great deal of effort, because fighting against hunger and the brain's attempts to get us to eat more is very very difficult. It's a form of suffering. If people choose to suffer in order to become and stay thin, then that is their choice--but I am of the opinion that suffering is a bad thing, and I'd rather have less of it in my life.

Unfortunately, some people take offense at those of us who do not choose to suffer. They don't think it's fair; after all, they've put in all this effort, so why should someone else be allowed to opt out? And, rather than give up their own suffering, they instead decide that, if we aren't going to do it voluntarily, then by god they'll make us suffer, either by following the same path they did, or by social stigmatism and outright cruelty. Here's the thing, folks: Just become something is difficult, it does not mean that it is worthwhile or admirable. If it became socially acceptable to shove dock spiders up your nostrils, I would have to take a pass on that as well.

The second problem I have with accusing people of bad eating, and then of lying about bad eating, is that what othe people eat isn't someone else's business. It amazes me the number of people who are pro-choice about abortion, yet will condemn someone for eating a cupcake. Whatever happened to the idea that what you do with your body is your business? What you put into your body is your business? Honestly, I could give you a million and one reasons why eating meat makes you a murderer (JUST AN EXAMPLE, FOLKS), but I'd rather people come to their own conclusions about how they feel about the various ethical, environmental, and other considerations regarding eating animals.

If I'm interested in whether or not eating cupcakes and carrot sticks is a good idea, the information is out there, and I can read it and make up my own mind. But if you're screaming at me about having a piece of chocolate, and telling me that enjoying a treat is the reason I am not worthy of basic courtesy? And that eating one chocolate means that all I do is sit around eating chocolates all day? I'm going to tell you how much of a crass moron you are, and you'll totally deserve it.

Plain and simple, unless you are following someone around every moment of every day, you really don't know what they do or do not eat, regardless of the size of their body. And, even if you did, and you found that, yes, that fat girl is actually eating a gallon of ice cream and four dozen donuts every three hours? It's still not any of your goddamned business, and it's not an excuse to dehumanize her.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Big Buts, Part Three: Forces of Attraction

"But you want to force people to find fat people attractive!"

I have seen this numerous times, including several references to size positive advocates as "Fat Acceptance Thugs", trying to force thin, "fit" people to be attracted to us. Yet another straw man, of course, created out of whole cloth (to mix a metaphor with a fallacy); a rather pathetic attempt to make size positive advocates look like fascists who dictate what is and is not attractive. The most egregious part of this fallacy is that people who say this are attributing a level of power to the FA movement that is literally impossible.

What are they imagining here? Let me think of some scenarios:
- Fat people in a circle surrounded by candles, the air thick with incense, and a thin victim tied spread-eagle to an altar in the middle. The fat people chant something in arcane languages, casting a spell on their victim, forcing the innocent soul to only lust after people who weigh over 300 pounds.

- Fat people in a secret laboratory, concocting powerful pheromones to wear, giving everyone around them NO choice but to tackle them and start humping away until they die from exhaustion.

- Fat people kidnapping thin folks and subjecting them to chemical and psychological brainwashing, then releasing them once they are sure the victims are only interested in sex with fat people.

- Fat people going house to house with guns and torture equipment, threatening and waterboarding anyone who does not have sex with at least one of them.

Yeah, I don't think so. Look, you idiots (yeah, I know two ad hominems don't make a right, but c'mon, it's not FAIR to take the high road every time), no one is forcing you to find anyone attractive. No one! Attraction is not something that can be forced. It is not something that can be chosen, either. What we ARE asking is that YOU don't badger US into changing ourselves to be attractive to you. If you aren't interested, then let's go our separate ways, and we'll each find someone else.

Another thing we'd like is for you to stop fucking pestering people who DO find us attractive. If your buddy is interested in or dating a fat person, don't be an ass about it. Let your friends make their own decisions about relationships. Why is it so important to you to humiliate your friend for having a relationship with someone whom YOU consider unattractive? Sounds like you're forcing someone to be attracted to the kind of person you choose, doesn't it?

Here's another thing we'd like you to do: Stop being rude to us. Fine, you aren't attracted. Whatever. That doesn't mean you have to humiliate us, scream nasty names at us, or otherwise be uncivil. If we express an interest in you, and you don't feel the same way, just say so, and move on with your life. If we aren't expressing an interest in you, then why the hell are you bugging us about what we look like anyway? Just leave us alone. If we're being polite to you, how about being polite in return? If we are ignoring you, why not ignore us in return? Why is that so much to ask?

Finally, even if I had the ability to force someone to find me attractive, I wouldn't want to do it. I would rather have natural attraction--and on all levels. Mental, emotional, physical--and yes, believe it or not, some people (a lot of them, in fact!) are attracted to me, a fat woman. I didn't club my first husband over the head and drag him to the altar by the hair. I didn't drug the second one and cackle madly as he unwittingly wed me in a stupor. Both were attracted to my fat ass, physically and otherwise (and I won't go into the details of my divorce, but it was amicable and sad, and had nothing to do with physical attraction or fat; we just weren't right for each other, and it took us a while to figure that out). My current husband still requires no drugging, blackmailing, or regular beatings to keep him interested in me. So get over yourselves already.

So no, no one is "forcing" you to be attracted to anyone. Even if we wanted to, which we don't, we don't have the power. Even if we had the power, it wouldn't be worth it to have someone who wasn't interested on their own. All we want is some basic respect--you don't have to be horny for us, but for god's sake, could you use some manners?

Is it Monday already?

Sorry for the weekend hiatus. My husband has the weekends off for about the next month or so, and we spend this past one doing stuff together. One activity was taking Owl to the adoption clinics; he was not adopted, but maybe next weekend! Once he finds a home, two of his siblings will come into our care. Brian has a stronger bond with Owl than I do, so he was better at comforting the little munchkin while I worked out my volunteer schedule with the coordinator. We also did some catsitting for a friend, spent time together watching some DVDs, and enjoyed each others' company.

Meanwhile, I have had some nasty comments here, and I want to take the time to state that, while I believe in freedom of expression, I don't believe that it requires me to give someone a forum to be uncivil to me in my own space. You don't go into a biker bar and bitch about how stupid and offensive tattoos and motorcycles are. You don't go to the gay bar and whine that homosexuality is evil. You want to say that stuff? Find a place to do so with your peers, without invading and intruding upon others. Want to complain that fat people are icky? Make your own blog. That kind of crap isn't welcome in mine.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Big Buts, part two: The 400-lb straw man

"But...people are like 400 pounds now! Epidemic! Epidemic!

My first reaction to this "but" is to say, "Are you one of them? No? Then it's none of your business." However, I know that isn't good enough for some people, because people who use "buts" are always but-ing in on other people's private lives. So, with apologies to those out there who ARE 400 pounds, and an invitation to you for input, I am going to kick this "but" right here and now.

First of all, the "obesity epidemic" does not, despite what the pictures next to the hysterical articles depict, mean that there is a majority of people who are, and I apologize for this, "super" sized. Yes, very large people exist, and they may or may not have problems because of their size, but the so-called epidemic is aimed at smaller people, while holding up images of 400 pound people (headless female ones, usually) to frighten us into thinking that we are all "doomed" to become that image if we don't toe* the thindustry line right away.

My friends (and foes), this is what we call a "straw man". People who bring up the subject of the very fat (and please, if anyone who fits this category can give me the most polite term, I would be grateful, and more than happy to edit this post to put it right) as a reason for 200-pound women to start eating in a disorderly fashion are being completely ridiculous. Yes, 400 pound people exist, but that does not mean that EVERYONE will become that large simply from eating too much--and the haters know it. They know perfectly well that there are thin people who eat huge volumes of food without gaining an ounce, and they are WELL AWARE that a moderately fat woman is not going to become 400 pounds just because she doesn't engage in calorie restriction.

But yet, they hold up those headless photos, wagging their fingers in our faces, and tell us that we'll sure be sorry when we LOOK LIKE THAT, because how else are they going to be able to claim that they're doing us a favor by being complete asswipes to us? How else are they going to excuse their hateful behavior without looking selfish (as with the "health care costs" argument, which IS a selfish argument)? It doesn't matter that they know it's not true, and that we know it's not true; as long as they can hold up the photos and be patronizing douchebags, they shut down the argument with hyperbole. I can say, "But I really don't eat Big Macs, I'm a vegetarian," and they can completely disregard what I just said, hold up the picture, and say, "DO YOU WANT TO LOOK LIKE THIS YOU FATTY FATTY MC FATTY? STOP EATING BIG MACS! AND IF YOU DON'T, YOU WILL DESERVE TO BE THE 400 POUND FATTY THAT YOU'RE GOING TO BE!" I mean, really, how do you respond to that, when the other side just keeps spraying spittle in your face, and refusing to engage in polite, meaningful discourse? You can't.

What you can do, though, is know the truth--that eating hamburgers isn't what makes a very fat person fat. There have to be other factors involved, including thyroid disease, insulin resistance, stuff like that. I mean, gosh, does anyone remember the woman who had a 900 pound (correct me if that's the wrong number; I don't have internet connection up here; just using the laptop) ovarian cyst removed? You don't diet away a cyst. Yet, because of the shaming and cruelty fat people have to endure, she did not get medical treatment to diagnose the cyst until it had grown to frightening proportions. Are you haters proud of yourselves for that one?

I'm a fat woman. I don't presume to speak for people who weigh significantly more than I do, but I do know that, unless a serious medical problem crops up, I am highly unlikely to become one of them, no matter how much cake I eat, no matter if I choose the real sour cream instead of the fat free stuff. If I eat more calories than usual, my metabolism rises to burn the extra energy so that I don't rise significantly above my setpoint. Trust me on this; I have had erratic eating behavior without a major change in weight beyond the normal fluctuations a woman's body goes through. So light a match and set that straw man aflame--and don't fall for the hysterical hand-wringing anymore.

Small addendum: I read on Sandy's blog that Celebrity Attention Whore Chef's goal in dissecting a 400-lb man on television is to show how bad the "average British diet" is. If that were true, he'd be dissecting an average British man--176 pounds. Using the gory spectacle of the 400-pound cadaver, however, is a very clear example of this ridiculous straw man that fatphobics are shoving in our faces. I, for one, am NOT fooled. How about you?

* "Toe the line" is the correct form of this phrase. People, please stop saying "tow the line", you aren't pulling it behind a boat, you're standing there with your toes along the line, all in a perfect row together, like good little soldiers.

I'll let you guys handle this one

Rick has left a new comment on your post "Your spouse is fat? Grow up and deal.":

Well, one thing is that when kids enter the equation, it is not that easy to "divorce" your spouse.

In your cherry-picking of facts, you omit that 1) the majority of poster on myfatspouse are women married to morbidly obese men and 2)morbid obesity, not a "mere" weight gain of twenty pounds.

I was fat, then exercised and ate healthy, and have stayed that way for thirty years.

But let's hear you go to the mat to find fat guys with beer bellies, wide butts, double-chins, manboobs, and sweaty skin "sexy." And shame women for not being eager to sleep with such guys. Fair is fair, after all.

Posted by Rick to She Dances On The Sand at January 18, 2008 8:25 AM

I guess it's okay in Rick's world to treat fat people badly as long as they are 1. male and 2. REALLY fat instead of a little chubby?

I reaaaaally want to see some good responses, friends :)

Edited to add:
I'm not "forcing" anyone to find me attractive. Somehow, my (omg) tall, lean, exceptionally good-looking spouse does so all on his own. But if he decided he wasn't attracted anymore, especially because I am fat? I want him to divorce me. Seriously.

And if he were to become fat, and grow man boobs? He's still my Brian, and nothing will change that.

I am, by the way, noting the grammar and spelling level on that site, and, as a result, realizing that many of the concepts of physiology, metabolism, and general biology are probably way too complicated for people who are at a third grade level of language arts. Oh noes, was that ad hominem? Tit for tat, children. Pun fully intended.

Second edit:
I just want to point out that I hadn't even HEARD of MFS until you nitwits linked to me. If you don't want the attention of size-positive bloggers, then you shouldn't link to us. Also, having read more of the site (and I'm so sorry I did, ugh), and seeing posts where someone focuses on her spouse's eating too much steak, and downplays his "punching walls and threatening me"? Dearie, fat isn't your problem, and you won't realize that until you have the good sense to get out of an abusive relationship. Good GOD.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I am so disgusted that I won't be eating for the next week, thanks.

**Strong Language Warning--I am very (full fat mozzarella, fuck you very much) cheesed off*

What the HELL is wrong with [celebrity chef who is doing an autopsy of a 400-lb man on television, but I sure as hell won't give him the satisfaction of repeating his name, and adding to his google hits]?!

This has got to be the sickest form of attention whoring EVER. I think it tops tubgirl and goatse combined. Rabid Fatphobic Chef, get the FUCK over yourself and have a fucking cupcake; your apparent starvation-induced psychosis is really getting out of hand.

And, I'm sorry, but nobody who is 400lbs "eats himself to death". There had to be underlying causes for a person to gain that much weight--causes that probably went unchecked and untreated because of yet another goddamned idiot doctor who is too fucking bigoted to give proper care to fat patients beyond "eat less and exercise more."

Screw you, celebrity chef. I wish NAAFA could arrange to have five million cream pies thrown in your stupid smarmy little face, because that is the only way a person ACTUALLY is going to drown in fat.

And stay out of kids' lunches--you are only making them binge by trying to deny them treats, dumbass. There are studies to show that.

Big Buts, Part One: A real whopper of a red herring

There are some big "buts" that I am really tired of hearing regarding fat people and the "epidemic". This is the first one.

" care costs! OMG!"

This red herring argument crops up as a way of legitimizing poor treatment of fat people. Whether or not you accept that being fat is inherently unhealthy, it can be argued that a person should have the freedom to be unhealthy, so long as their doing so does not infringe on the health of other people. Smokers, for example, are free to engage in their health-damaging activity, but it is not fair for them to inflict their smoke on other people*.

Someone being fat, however does not physically affect other people**, so there needed to be an excuse to infringe upon a person's freedom to engage in "unhealthful" behavior. Claiming that fat people drive up healthcare costs is a disingenuous way to justify dehumanizing them. It's a clever little scheme to make the hardworking, put-upon thin people look like victims for having to hand over their whole paychecks to pay medical costs for the greedy, evil fat people who have nothing better to do than eat donuts all day and gloat about how they've suckered the witless skinny folk.

Here's the thing, though: Even if being fat WERE unhealthy, and even if diets were extremely effective, which it isn't and they aren't***, that still doesn't give anybody the right to tell other people what to do with their bodies. You can smoke, and you can refuse blood transfusions, and you can go base jumping, and you can go work in a coal mine, and nobody should be able to stop you from doing it based on "health care costs". Yes, some behaviors are risky. Some people are going to need more medical care than others. That's part of being a society--we should take care of one another, if we have the means to do so, and that means not denying someone basic freedoms or medical treatment based solely on their fat tissue.

Using fat as a scapegoat for the REAL problems in our health care system doesn't accomplish anything. You might as well say that old people are driving up health care costs. They are, you know, and if they would just stop being old and die already, that would save lots of money--but that is not a reason to dehumanize the elderly. Another demographic that uses a disproportionate amount of health care is premature infants, who use about $26 billion a year in health care in the United States. If we just let 'em die, or smother them at birth, that'd save us a lot of money, right? See how easy it is to dehumanize a whole group of people when we believe that they are costing us money? It's not so nice when we're talking about your grandpa, or your new niece, is it?

Here's the thing: If you see a piece of data claiming to be the health care costs due to "obesity" (god I hate that word), you are most likely looking at a number that was created by attributing every single health problem that fat people have been treated for, whether or not it is actually as a result of their adipose tissue. Every health problem a fat person has is assumed by data miners to be attributable to their fatness, even if they've been injured in a car accident, shot by a mugger, or developed a sinus infection. Similarly, the "deaths attributable to obesity" statistics classify all dead obese people as killed by their fat, even if they were murdered with a tuning fork by evil clowns from outer space. Be very skeptical of these kinds of statistics--after all, the CDC had to modify their 400,000 figure after somebody called them on their faulty number crunching.

So, please, shelve the health care costs argument. It's dehumanizing, it's not accurate, and it really is a pretty poor mask for the real issue--hatred of and discrimination against fat people. There's no excuse for it; it's just plain mean, and it's time people started treating each other like civilized human beings instead of digging up bullshit excuses to hate each other.

* And no, I don't want to hear your "omg secondhand smoke is a myth!" denialism. It isn't just about cancer risk--there are many of us with asthma who couldn't do anything fun until our states passed laws that protect us in restaurants and bars. If it weren't for NY's smoking laws, I would never have met my husband, since we met at a club. My mother works in a restaurant where smoking is allowed, and she has developed a chronic persistent cough because of it. Smoking stinks, and it makes a lot of people sick. Do it outside, or in your home, kay?

** OH BUT, you say, AIRLINE SEATS! So you got squished on an airplane? We are all squished on airplanes. If you were willing to pay for a first class seat, you would be guaranteed a reasonable amount of space. You weren't, and because most people aren't, airlines cram as many seats as they can into economy class. See, it's a class issue!

*** And I'm not going to rehash that here. Go to Kate's post about it instead.

Eat Fat

I'll admit that I am not completely perfect.

Letting go of disordered eating patterns has been a challenge for me. However, I wanted to share my recent experiences.

After all of this blogging, all of the reading I'm doing, and learning to overcome some ideas, I changed some of my ways at the supermarket. My previous pattern was to choose the low-fat or fat-free variety of anything and everything I purchased. I would say to myself, "As long as I'm getting this product, and the lower fat version is the same price, why not get the low fat version? It's better, right?"

I did this for almost every food product that had low fat analogs, using "why not" as the reason. I've retrained myself, however, because I've learned that fat in the diet is not evil. It is not unhealthy. It is necessary, and it is satisfying.

The results of this have been very interesting. For one thing, the foods are more satisfying. I eat fewer of them, with greater satisfaction (not that I was eating a lot in the first place, but still). For another, I seem to be less hungry between meals than before. But the most interesting thing is that I seem to be getting a little smaller. I'm not promoting weight loss by any means, but if people are looking to lose weight, my experiences indicate that the products being marketed to them for that express purpose appear to do the exact opposite.

I am currently reading this, which was published twelve years ago. He was ahead of his time, and he espouses what I have described above: Eat Fat.

Fill in the blank

How often are we treated to the phrase, "Shoving ____ in your face" as if it is a fact, instead of hyperbole?

I'm frankly tired of it. It's not true, and it's not a fair thing to say.

First, I have never actually met someone who "shoves" things into their faces. Fat people eat like other people, by picking food up, either with fingers or utensils, depending on what the food is, and putting it into their mouths. All kinds of people have different eating habits--some people eat quickly, some people eat voraciously, and others eat pickingly. Most of the voracious eaters I've met are thin young men or teenaged boys, who burn energy like hummingbirds. I am, on the other hand, a picking type usually, and I cannot eat much at one sitting without feeling ill.

Fill in the blank...
Big Macs? I don't believe I've ever actually eaten one in my entire life. I've been a vegetarian for 23 years now, and therefore have no reason to eat Big Macs, or any of the other burgers that I, as a fat person, am continually accused of "gobbling" or "shoving into my face".

Twinkies? Nope, sorry, they aren't actually vegetarian--almost all Hostess products contain animal fat. And if I could eat them, who could eat more than one package in a sitting? Good lord.

McDonald's? Oh, come ON, their fries aren't even vegetarian. I will say that McD's is perhaps the last bastion of fresh-brewed iced tea in the fast food industry, which is the only reason I will, on rare occasions, patronize their establishments on a thirsty day. I can't stand the new style of tea, that nasty stuff from concentrate, and it's even nastier if it's sweetened. No sugar, no lemon, lots of ice (I love the flavor of tea, and think additives ruin it). All that unsweetened ice tea is sure making me fatter!

Donuts? They are a rare treat in this household, and ONLY if I can find ones that aren't stale and disgusting. Does anyone remember when DD's had fresh donuts that tasted good? Nowadays, they are so coffee-focused that their namesake has even been taken off the menu. I'll admit to liking donuts now and then, but that isn't a crime, and it certainly doesn't mean that I eat them in mass quantities all the time.

Every time I see that phrase, it's uttered as a fact, and there is never an opportunity to back up the bus and respond to it. It just seamlessly glides forward into a larger outrage that does get a response. I think that, however, every time the phrase is uttered, it should be stopped in its tracks and treated like the bullshit it is. I can't ignore it any longer, because it pisses me off to see it all the damn time. It's not true, and it is hyperbole invented for the sake of condemning fat people. It is an unfair and untrue accusation, and it isn't funny. It needs to stop.

Your spouse is fat? Grow up and deal.

I was looking over my stats today, and I found that I'd been linked to from a forum where people go to whine about their spouses gaining weight.

From what I can tell, the site is full of people who have taken their spouses' weight gain as a personal insult. Their belief is that, and I quote, "It Is Disrespectful To Willingly Become Unattractive To Your Life Partner".

Yes, I know many of you are busily putting a half dozen markers on your bingo cards already. But, for those who don't know about "bingo", I'm going to deconstruct this a little bit.

"Become Unattractive" -- by this, they don't mean gone and tattooed a swastika on forehead". They mean "has gained weight." I would like to point out that being unattractive and being fat are NOT mutually exclusive; it is our social conditioning that makes us equate fat with unattractive, and many people, despite the constant barrage of fat=ugly messages in our surroundings, manage to find fat people attractive in spite of the messages. Fat is not inherently unattractive.

"Willingly" -- I'll let the Gina Kolata article explain why diets don't work, and how hard it is to make thin people fat. What I want to discuss is the flawed logic behind saying that it was "willingly", as if the life partners did so on purpose. Look, if I knew that my husband did not prefer blondes, I wouldn't go dyeing my hair blonde. If I'm already blonde, however, I am not going to dye my hair just to suit his tastes, and he wouldn't expect me to (because he's not an asshole). He was able to accept my blondeness when we got together, and as a part of me, he accepts it now--and has even grown to like it.*

I honestly doubt that any of the spouses involved willingly became fat. After all, there is a considerable amount of shaming that comes from every direction when a person gains even a little weight. Americans spend an egregious amount of money and effort trying to avoid becoming fat.

"Disrespectful" -- Really? These folks truly think that, by having more adipose tissue, their life partners are being disrespectful? And that, even if that were true, which it isn't, that they ought to find ways to make their partner lose weight, instead of, oh, I don't know, getting some goddamn marriage counseling? Or getting a divorce? I see two scenarios here:
1. If the spouse really IS being disrespectful to you, then get out of the relationship.

2. If they are not being disrespectful, but have gained weight, and their weight gain makes them no longer interesting to you, then get out of the relationship and set them free to find someone who isn't as shallow.

What kind of self-centered whiny baby goes around complaining that their partner disrespected them by putting on weight? The same kind of self-centered whiny baby that posts on websites with other whiny babies that encourage each other to nag and bitch at their spouses to starve and exercise themselves into a "hot little body" (yes, that's a quote from the site) for the sole purpose of becoming more sexually attractive to their spouse.

Interestingly enough, my husband has no problem finding me sexually attractive. Our relationship never stopped at the "Platonic" station; we went straight to Lust City the very night we met. I'm not saying that everyone has to be attracted to me, but I AM saying that, if my husband stops being attracted to me, I'd rather he do me the favor of getting a divorce instead of resenting me and sniping at me for it. Yes, that's right, I am suggesting you split up if your relationship is so dysfunctional that you cannot tolerate a change in the amount of adipose tissue your partner carries. They're better off without you.

* Please note that the blonde story is just hypothetical. I actually had purple hair when Brian and I met, and it's light brown now.

Fat as shorthand for evil in Dr. Who

My husband and I have recently become interested in Dr. Who, watching a season online via Netflix, and getting the other seasons sent to us on DVD. While the shows are well-written, with a surprisingly good special effects budget, I am disappointed in the frequent use of fat as a shorthand for "bad guys".

One show depicted aliens that took fat people, killed them, and inhabited their skins as a disguise. Their physiology was such that being in the skins made them horribly flatulent, so there were a lot of "hur hur fat people are gross and disgusting" scenes in that particular show. They needed fat peoples' skins in order to fit properly, according to the plot, but since their real bodies were several times the size of a human, that was a poor explanation--they could have used the same technology to enter a thinner body, in my opinion. It seemed that the show was more about how disgusting, evil, and greedy fat people are than about evil aliens. Oh, and I'm sure this will come as no surprise to anyone reading this, but I didn't see a whole lot of sadness for the fat humans who were killed for the use of their skins. After all, it was their own fault for being fat, right?

Another show had an "Absorbalov", which was a big, fat alien that absorbed people into its body by touching them. Another depiction, of course, of the greed and evil of nasty, icky fat people--this alien had a voice and gestures reminiscent of "Fat Bastard" from the Austin Powers movies. Obviously, the fashionably thin heroes killed the alien after he had absorbed several thin victims, but not after an expository scene that depicted the Absorbalov as not just greedy and evil, but stupid as well.

I wouldn't mind so much, really, but I have not yet seen a positive fat character in the show thus far. I would welcome a correction from those who have seen more of the show, but my experiences with it have only been with negative depictions of fat people. No, let me correct myself--they have not been depictions of fat people, they have entirely denied the personhood of them, transforming them into inhuman monsters.

To be fair, I'm also seeing a lot of stereotyping with the Doctor's 2007 companion, who is black.

So, what media have you seen lately that uses fat as a shorthand for lazy, disgusting, evil, greedy, or stupid? What positive uses of fat have you seen?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oh screw you, fibro deniers.

Okay, look assholes.

Before I started to get sick, I had an awesome career stretching out ahead of me. Sure, the arthritis hurt sometimes, but Aleve or ibuprofen usually managed it fine. I was going to do field biology, going out and seining for fish, testing streams, slogging through wetlands, you name it. I was going to maintain aquariums for the public. I was going to wrangle snakes, kiss frogs, and be the first to find the ivory-billed woodpecker in Cuba (yeah yeah don't say it).

I was a Type A personality. I LIVED to work 12+ hours days. Every moment of overtime I could get? I took it. Could I fill in on a Saturday for a sick coworker? OH CAN I! Could I stop in to make the place spiffy on my day off for a VIP? Nothing would please me more!

And then my body rebelled. And I hurt all the time, and no OTC drug would make it stop. I am crushingly exhausted. Going to the grocery store was once fun for me, and now it is a painful, detested chore. Someone brushes my upper arms, and it feels like I was punched.

I didn't ask for this. I don't WANT to have my options limited. I want to do something with my knowledge. I want to be out there in a swamp, looking for rare salamanders and endangered turtles. I want to be on a boat, hauling in a heavy net full of fish. I want to throw myself into working 12, 14, 16 hours a day.

But I can't anymore. I've been wrecked from the inside out by something that people claim isn't even real. I'm accused of wanting to be lazy, of not wanting to have to work for a living. Well, fuck you. Nothing would make me happier than working my ASS off. But I can't, and it fucking sucks.

I'd give anything for this shit to be imaginary. ANYTHING. But it isn't. Your saying it is doesn't make it so, and if you think it is, you can go fuck yourself. You have NO idea. People like you? I shouldn't, but I truly and honestly wish this upon you. You deserve it for being uncompassionate assholes who don't have enough IMAGINATION to empathize with someone whose life is different from your own.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Owl the foster kitten

Our adorable little foster kitten is now ready for adoption. If you live in the Albany, NY area, and you are interested in him, please let me know so I can set up an appointment for you to meet him!

For those who don't remember, who who have only come along lately, Owl was mostly feral when he arrived. If he was not able to be socialized, he was going to have a life outside as a neutered feral cat. He very much liked the company of other cats, but was absolutely terrified of humans.

Once Brian and I got him, it wasn't long before he was purring and trusting. While he does need some special attention to keep him from being frightened, and will require an adjustment period in a new home (for which we will provide instructions and advice), he is absolutely adorable and cuddly when he gets to know you. He has soft fur, a kissable little forehead, and a loud, loving purr.

The rescue has an adoption fee of $80.00. This includes neutering (already done), plus rabies/FeLV/distemper vaccinations, deworming, and FeLV/FIV testing (all already done and up to date as well--he is negative for the illnesses).

So, if you are interested, email me via the contact information in my profile, and we can make arrangements!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Eat something! Please!

Every morsel we eat must be justified by health reasons. We are no longer allowed to eat enjoyably without having a scarlet F sewn upon our bellies. You eat the banana for potassium, not because it tastes good. Chocolate is permitted only because it contains antioxidants. Every package of food reminds us that it is fat free, high in antioxidants, full of vitamin C, low on calories, or otherwise healthy in some way. It is no longer a good enough excuse to eat because we are hungry--hunger is regarded as a necessary misery that is never to be assuaged. If you choose to respond to your hunger with the perfectly reasonable response of eating, you are viewed as a disgusting gluttonous animal who has no self control.

Well, screw that. Hunger is not something we should accept as necessary for health or social acceptance. If I'm hungry, I'm miserable, distractible, and less functional. When well-fed and rested, I can accomplish far more, and I am a lot easier to get along with. I have to say, too, that working with people who aren't feeding themselves enough can be aggravating. Constantly complaining that they're dizzy, always irritable, and they can't focus. Because they're starving all the time, all they talk about is food, calories, and fat. They whine and bitch at someone who IS eating well, either by saying how unfair it is for that person to eat in front of them, or by henpecking them over how unhealthy their food choices are. That, and the unending stream of "I'm sooooooooo fat" whining.

So please, for the sake of your own sanity, and for that of the people around you, eat something when you are hungry. Eat enough to satisfy your hunger--and don't fear foods that contain fat, as they can satisfy hunger more quickly than foods that have none.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tippi Hedren is not just for the birds

She's for the big cats!

Tippi Hedren is famous for her acting, but did you know that she started an sanctuary to help out exotic animals? The Shambala Preserve is eighty acres of refuge near the Mojave Desert, where orphaned and cast off big cats get a second chance at happy lives.

Some of these animals came from circuses or the movie industry, while others were owned by private citizens who subjected the cats to neglect and/or abuse. For example, Kara the black leopard was found in an unheated garage in Wyoming in the dead of winter, with no food or water. Her ears, paws, and tail were frostbitten.

Wild cat species are not suitable pets. Once that cute cub grows up and becomes a potentially lethal problem, many exotic cat owners dump them or neglect them. I wish sanctuaries like Shambala weren't necessary, but I am really glad that they and other big cat sanctuaries are available to respond to the need.

TGIF! Friday Fun!

"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first."

Writer Ernestine Ulmer's famous quote is the only notable thing I can find about her. I'd love for someone to find out more about her, and the context of the dessert quote.

I don't disagree with this quote, in the larger view of enjoying the good stuff while you can. The idea of dessert being a "reward" for eating the "less pleasant" portions of a meal, however, really confuses me. If your main meal is really so bad that you need to give people a prize for eating it, then maybe you need to work on your culinary skills :)

You can start at my cooking blog:
The Lady Of Shallots

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Laws of Physics: Part Four

I'm going to finish up talking about the Laws of Physics in this post.

I truly believe that those who drag out the "laws of physics" in regards to fat acceptance probably could not actually tell me what those laws ARE. They probably also do not realize that, while the basic "laws" are regarded as fundamental, they mostly refer to idealized, closed systems. The real world is a lot stickier and messier than the simplified mathematical world of scientific theory. As an example, you may be able to learn frog dissection from a computer model, or from looking at diagrams in books. However, when you have a real frog, a real scalpel, you often find that what's inside the real frog differs from the ideal frog of the diagrams, just as people's anatomy differs from the ideal models and diagrams. You might get a frog that is full of eggs, or missing a kidney, or had a nasty parasite. That doesn't mean that the diagrams are erroneous, it just means that reality can be variable.

To summarize the basic laws of physics, they are:

Newton's Three Laws of Motion, which include the "Law" of Gravity, Conservation of Mass-Energy, and Conservation of Momentum.

The Laws of Thermodynamics, which expand upon the second Law of Motion and include:
* The zeroeth law of thermodynamics makes the notion of temperature possible.
* The first law of thermodynamics demonstrates the relationship between internal energy, added heat, and work within a system.
* The second law of thermodynamics relates to the natural flow of heat within a closed system.
* The third law of thermodynamics states that it is impossible to create a thermodynamic process which is perfectly efficient.

Electrostatic Laws, which deal with charged particles, electrostatic forces, and electrostatic fields.

Invariance of the Speed of Light, which says that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant

Einstein's Theory of Relativity, which has been the subject of a great deal of debate recently, and modifies Newton's laws.

Quantum Mechanics, which deals with how matter and energy behave at the atomic and subatomic levels.

Have you got all that, now? Okay, good.

Now, I don't really see anything about fat people in the laws. What I do see, whenever the laws of physics are discussed in reality (instead of invoked as an accusation), is a caution that they are best applied to simple, closed systems. They are best understood on paper. Applying them to messy real life situations, even when you're involving inanimate objects, is a complicated, difficult thing that we like to call engineering. Having more than enough engineers in my life, I am familiar with the idea that even people who are educated and experienced in the real-life application of physics can have big things go wrong when one minor detail was not accounted for. New discoveries are made all the time as a result of mishaps and catastrophes. Each material has its own properties, and if we completely understood ALL of the inanimate matter in the world, corporations like 3M, Dow Chemical, and DuPont (to name just a tiny fraction) would have no reason for existing. Factor in the infinitely more variable and complicated nature of living matter, and you will begin to get an idea of how little the human species really knows about the world around us.

Sure, we've revealed a great deal about the macrofauna of our planet, and every day we are unlocking more and more information about biochemistry, viruses, and genetics, but the first thing a biology student learns when they get to their first day of college biology is that we actually don't know a whole lot, and much of what they learned in high school has already become obsolete, or wasn't even accurate in the first place. One of the hardest things about teaching is helping students to un-learn inaccurate stuff, overturning sacred cows of misinformation, and opening eyes to the reality that the world is a heck of a lot bigger and more complex than they ever knew. This is the fight that Size Positive and HAES proponents have with the collective psyche around us, that has been fed a steady diet of oversimplified pseudo-science presented as absolute fact. Getting people to realize that calorie intake and energy expenditure is not a simple equation is especially hard, because people really and truly want to believe that it's that easy.

The question in my mind is, how do we frame the more accurate picture so that it is easy to understand, but not limiting? I think that there have been a number of great articles out there that help with this, but I want to see more, and I want to see them everywhere.

This concludes the "Laws of Physics" series.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Laws of Physics: Part Three

We are told to "find out how many calories your body needs, and only eat that much", when those telling us to do that have no scientific method for actually doing this. We are told that, if we are eating fewer calories than we burn, we will lose weight.

Let me inject a little bit of logic into this, okay?

First of all, your body is not a closed system. It is not a calorimeter. You do not use the energy in food by combusting it, as a machine would. There are a whole bunch of little processes involved, each one relying on chemicals that are produced by your digestive system, or your brain, or other various parts of you. But more on that later.

I am going to make up some numbers. Please note that these are hypotheticals, okay?

Let's say that Janine weighs 240 pounds, is five feet tall, and 33 years old. She is moderately active. Janine eats about 2500 calories per day, and has stayed 240 pounds for the past three years.

Janine has decided to lose some weight, so she reduces her intake to 2200 calories per day. After fifteen days, this amounts to 4500 calories less than she would have over the course of those fifteen days. However, something has happened: Janine's weight did not change! But, wait, she should have lost more than a pound! What is going on here?!

Most of you FA folks are nodding your heads. You know this story. Janine's body has noted the intake deficit, and has responded by slowing her metabolism slightly to make up for it. If Janine continues to reduce her intake, she will eventually lose weight, of course, but her body will respond to this by giving her maddening hunger pangs, making her obsessed with food, and slowing her metabolism further.

So Janine has been a "Good Girl", starving herself down to a socially acceptable 140 pounds. Starving is the correct term here; she has needed to overcome her body's natural defense system against famine. It is more sensible, biologically speaking, to slow the metabolism instead of losing body mass. The body's worked very hard to build tissues and store energy, and it needs a pretty darn good reason to dip into those resources. It evolved under the pressure of tens of thousands of years of hunting, gathering, famine, floods, and struggle. It doesn't know that Janine isn't actually going to die of famine, or that she has plenty of food available to her; it just responds to the reduced food intake by slowing down her systems and giving her a psychological drive to prioritize finding and consuming food.

Janine's slim body, despite fitting into smaller clothing, is still hungry. She uses a calorie calculator to determine the amount of food a 140-pound woman should be eating to maintain her weight, and begins eating that much. The thing is, Janine is not a 140-pound woman any more than Michael Jackson is white. Janine is a 240-pound woman who has endured famine, and her body is ready to get back to its normal self again. She eats like a normal person, but, thanks to a slowed metabolism, and a body that's been eagerly awaiting the chance to rebuild itself, she begins to gain weight again. In fact, she gains back all of that weight, plus an extra ten percent. She doesn't eat quite as much as she did before her diet and regain, but she doesn't need to. Her metabolism's slowed down.

Now, where did that extra ten percent come from? Here's the thing: If you had a savings account that was for emergencies, and you wound up needing every penny out of it when the time came, once you were able to start saving up again, wouldn't you save up some extra beyond what you used last time? Janine's body is saying, "Hey, we barely made it past that famine; we used up 100 pounds of tissue to make it; let's save a little more than that for the next time." And, every time Janine starves herself down to 140 and regains it all, the body's going to decide that it needs even a little more than the time before. And so on, and so forth.

I have portrayed metabolism in a very simplistic way here. Yet, how much explanation have I given, while others will reduce the subject down to "Eat fewer calories than you burn, and you will lose weight"? Metabolism is extremely complex in all creatures, and even more so in an animal that is designed to rather effectively survive famine, as we have. Our little shrew friends absolutely will die if they face famine--they will resort to cannibalism quite readily.

The human organism, however, is well-equipped to resist death by starvation; we do this with a staggering web of chemical reactions throughout our bodies that respond to abundance and scarcity, reactions that are not completely understood, even with our high level of technology and science. We've made grave mistakes tinkering with these processes, mostly for the purposes of vanity. We would be far happier and healthier learning to accept that this autonomous function of our bodies is not subject to our will, but is instead a necessary and wonderful quality that has enabled our species' continued survival against harsh odds.

Don't allow anyone to shame you for not having conscious control over your metabolism; you can no more control it than you can your heart rate just by thinking about it--and there's no reason for you to even try. It isn't a crime to be famine-resistant.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Laws Of Physics: Part Two

My wonderful husband gave me some delicious chocolates for the holidays. Last week, I probably consumed a great deal of calories in chocolate that would be above and beyond my normal intake. There are also some weeks when I'm not feeling well, and I eat less than half of what I normally do. However, no matter what food I eat, and how much I do or don't exercise, my weight remains very stable. I have not gained weight in years, actually.

"But Rio," you say, "What about the laws of physics? Shouldn't you gain more weight when you eat more, and lose weight when you eat less? That doesn't make sense!"

Ah, the laws of physics. Every fat-positive's favorite square on the bingo card. Folks seem to think that bringing up *~Science~* will end the argument. They think knowing a little something about physics means that we're lying about what we eat and how much physical activity we have. Please note, that these same folks clam up when I point out that my thin husband eats three times as much as I do, the same food that I do, and (up until recently, due to work changes) generally got as much physical activity as I did--often less, depending on how many jobs I was working at the time. I often find myself staring mournfully at the open refrigerator, wondering what happened to leftovers that would have given me meals for several days, as they have disappeared within a day.

I don't begrudge my hungry sweetie a single bite, honestly; I'm just finding it hard to cook enough food to keep up with his metabolism!

There, I said it, the magic word: Metabolism.

Brian's body burns up a tremendous amount of energy while he does everyday activities. The same activities require far less energy from me, even accounting for differences in health. I can go a longer period of time without eating than he can; he becomes lightheaded and tired without a constant food intake. My husband is more like a shrew in this regard.

Shrews, in UTTER DEFIANCE of the "laws of physics", must consume tremendous amounts of food constantly simply to remain alive. Depending on species, gender, and reproductive status, they must consume between one and four times their own body weight every single day. For shrews, only calorie-dense, easily digestible foods will do; they eat mostly invertebrates, but will also consume anything that resembles food, including small vertebrates, fruits, and seeds. If you are trying to keep them in captivity (not recommended, unless you are a zoo or researcher), they will require an astonishing amount of food. While caring for a captive shrew until its release the next morning, I observed the shrew eating over fifty crickets, several dozen superworms, and, compared to its size, a mountain of cat food.

Now, being a biologist, and not an idiot, I recognize that a shrew's body is not actually an exception to the laws of physics. What I am saying, however, is that metabolism, cell biology, and biochemistry is a hell of a lot more complicated than calories going into and out of the body. Some bodies burn up every smidgen of energy that enters the system. Other bodies store some energy while using some energy. The processes involved are autonomous, however, and we do not have control over them, no matter what we may wish for. I can no more burn more calories per activity than Brian can will himself to burn fewer.

Yet, this completely autonomous process, which is set at different rates for every human being--and for every species of organism, has become a reflection of character. We are guilted and shamed into running ourselves ragged trying to use up more energy, just because our bodies are more efficient than is fashionable. Laws of physics, my ass; this pseudo-scientific bullshit excuse to look down on fat people will NOT fly with me, nor should it with anyone.