Tuesday, April 19, 2011


The other night, I ate way too much food, and I was also still hungry.

I'd been planning all day for a party some friends and I were having to watch the premier of the new Game of Thrones show (I've been a fan of the books for years, liked the show a lot), so I was intentionally not munching during the day. I had french toast for breakfast/lunch somewhere around 1pm, and then didn't eat again until around 7. By then, everyone had gathered, and I was hungry enough that, after waiting a little while out of fear of seeming rude somehow, I just got up and opened up the snacks (cheese/crackers/pepperoni and such). At the reminder that we hadn't eaten yet, we decided to place our order for real dinner, which wouldn't arrive for another 45 minutes or so. I fixed myself some cheese and crackers and said that it was starting to feel like I'd fall over if I didn't eat something now.

When real dinner did arrive, I was absolutely famished. Before I knew it, my cheesesteak was halfway gone. I looked at the second half and had a decision to make: knowing that I had some french fries still to eat, and there were crackers and veggies and dip and the like aplenty, was I going to eat the other half, or wrap it up and fill the rest of the way on snacks? I had eaten the first half so quickly, I didn't have a chance to really feel full, and I decided to start in on the other half. Then that was gone, and I was uncomfortably stuffed. I was still full another half hour later when dessert arrived. I was still full when veggies and dip went out on the tables. I was still full hours and hours later, when it was getting time to stretch out and go to bed and I couldn't lie on my stomach comfortably.

But all that time, I kept snacking. My mouth wanted very badly to move. Something in my mind was still saying it wanted food, even when I had to lie propped up on the pillow so I could avoid squishing my stomach. I nibbled on carrot and celery sticks and more crackers and finally a cup of tea seemed to help settle me down a bit.

I think what I'm learning is that I need to pay as much attention to how OFTEN I'm eating as I do to how MUCH.

If I'd had a snack sometime during the day, or if I'd asked to open up the cracker tray when it arrived at 6 instead of waiting, I probably wouldn't have been so famished at 7:40-whenever when dinner arrived. I probably would have chosen to wrap up the other half and fill the rest of the way up comfortably on snacks and veggies and dessert. I wouldn't have had such a long time recovering from the night.  And I have a suspicion that, although I ate too much in that one sitting, I might not have gotten enough from the day overall. If I had been eating smaller snacks more regularly, and thus less, slower dinner, I suspect I would have been hungry enough later at night to have the third meal I'm used to, instead of just the unrelenting feeling that i wanted to eat although there wasn't any room.

This learning curve is gonna take some work still. But I know that I'm in a far better place to tackle it than I used to be - not that long ago I would have felt a lot guiltier about being even a little hungry after filling up so fast, and I don't think I'd have been able to tease out what went wrong and use it as a learning experience this way.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Things Fat People Are Told

I'm not on twitter, and am only slowly getting the hang of how it works, but I felt it would be good to share this hashtag, found from Brian at Red No. 3. At #thingsfatpeoplearetold, a whole host of important things are happening.

Fat people can come together and give each other the support of knowing that they aren't alone. The number of similar and repeat tweets coming from different people is staggering, and the patterns among things people say to them is evident.

It's also evidence. It's a document of the existence of fat stigma and the sheer rudeness of some people. If anyone ever needs proof that random thin people can be downright nasty to fat people, there's nothing else that's needed.

It's useful inside and outside the FA community, I think. So I'm passing it along.

ETA: For those who don't want to slog through the twitter feed itself, Brian put together a sampling of posts from the first 24 hours. 

Friday, April 8, 2011


I've gotten a lot better since moving to New York City with counting walking as a form of exercise. I mentioned a little bit in my post about big-E Exercise vs. little-e exercise, but it feels worth mentioning again that it took a while for me to be comfortable with the fact that I can't run. It also came to mind when I was reading the Fat Nutritionist's post about gym class, and the plethora of people who, like me, hated running the mile.

Oh god, the mile.

See, I'm not fast. I can sprint decently well, maybe get through a hundred-yard dash. But I just don't keep up momentum very well. When I jog, I really don't go very much faster than I walk. I just tire out a thousand times faster. An actual flat-out run just doesn't last more than a minute or two. So, of course, gym class decided it had to grade me on how fast I could run a mile.

It took me about 15 minutes. The good news is, I don't remember anyone making fun of me for my lack of speed. In fact, I remember people cheering me on - as I was the last one on the track - and trying to encourage me toward the finish line. But I remember the pain. It hurt terribly, in my chest, in my throat. In that little spot under the hinge of the jaw where it dries out if you run too hard and you can't actually get any water into that spot when you're drinking. If they had let me walk the mile, it probably would have taken about the same amount of time - but I wouldn't have been in so much pain.

I remember collapsing when I finally hit the finish. I just fell down onto the track, grateful for not having to run any more. I remember my gym teacher trying to tell me to walk to cool down now, as if I could even stand up after all that running. I just stared at her.

I remember everyone else was in good enough shape to play floor hockey after the mile. I refused.

And yet, I've never been a bad walker. I remember a charity walk for diabetes that I did with my mother that was six miles long. I didn't even get all that tired until mile five. These days, I'm walking 20-30 minutes most days just to get from my dorm to my campus, and on days when I don't have class, I find myself taking the walk anyway to get it in. I can go around museums or theme parks or shopping malls for hours and hours on end, alternating walking and standing and doing just fine. It's only running that kills me so bad.

And I've had to get used to the thought that walking is still exercise. I'm still getting out there and moving around. It's just slower. It's not so very much less worthy than anything else that I could be doing.

Recently, I saw that a friend of mine is putting together a team for a walk-a-thon for the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. My first thought on seeing the plea for team members was a slight panic from not knowing how long it would be. When I found out that it was a two-mile walk, I relaxed. I joined. I'm actually looking forward to it. A nice long walk with several of my friends, a pace that I can keep up and also chat and hang out, or put music on if I so chose. It actually sounds really nice. I'm just still reflecting on the fact that I'm looking forward to an event that involves 2 miles of exercise.

(Those who are interested - with no pressure of course - I am trying to raise some funds with my team membership. Any little bit helps. The team as a whole is aiming for $5400 and reached $700 at the time of this writing. My personal donation page can be found here.)

Monday, April 4, 2011


I’ve been trying to start this post up for a while, but I just keep getting “I Can Hear the Bells” stuck in my head instead of actually writing it.

I had all but forgotten about the show Hairspray when I found it on my iPod on a bus ride a couple months back (like I said, I keep failing to actually write this post). I listened to it for the first time since getting into Fat Acceptance, and it gave me a few things to think about from that lens. I’ll clarify first that I can only talk about the Broadway version – I never saw the original movie, and while I like the movie musical, I just can’t adapt to changes in lyrics after memorizing the soundtrack that I own.

So obviously, there’s a whole lot of great Fat-Positivity in this show. For those who don’t know, we follow the life of high school student Tracey Turnblad, a fat dancer whose dreams are to dance on, and then to integrate, a popular TV show in 1960’s Baltimore. Tracey and her mother are both fat, as is Motormouth Maybelle, the black woman who leads the charge to integrate. Food, weight, love, diversity and acceptance all run through the show, and it ends with a bright future for all involved.

Tracey is a fantastic fat role model, to the point where I was stunned that I didn’t immediately think of her when I first started in on FA. Her size is a constant feature of the story, but she never lets anyone tell her that it will prevent her from anything that she wants to do, from becoming a TV star to getting the guy of her dreams. There’s a very relatable stock character in the unpopular girl who dreams of showing the whole world that she has a talent they never would have guessed, and Tracey being fat actually kind of helps to justify the trope; she isn’t just Hollywood homely, but has a body that would realistically be made fun of. All the same, she’s sunny and optimistic.

“Everybody warns that he won’t like what he’ll see,/ but I know that he’ll look inside of me.”

“Oh-oh-oh give me a chance,/ cause when I start to dance/ I’m a movie star.”

What struck me while I was listening this time, also, was the choice of talent for Tracey – dance. Hairspray is a very physical show with a whole lot of movement. To have not just a fat heroine, but a fat heroine who is physically talented and very active, and all of it without one iota of pressure from the show for her to use that talent to lose weight, is extraordinary. Tracey is never depicted as a sloth or a glutton.

Which does bring me to her mother, though. It doesn’t disturb the overall FA sense of the show, but it did bug me on this listen to hear the emphasis that IS given to Edna Turnblad’s eating habits. All of it can, I think, be read in a positive way – Edna just likes food and eats lots of it – but I think there’s also a sense that she at least is especially fat because she eats too much. There are jokes scattered about Edna’s lack of physical stamina, and I find it just a little bit of a shame to have them nestled in-between otherwise really surprisingly fat-positive messages.

“You can’t stop my happiness/ cause I like the way I am./ And you just can’t stop my knife and fork/ when I see a Christmas ham./ So if you don’t like the way I look well,/ I just don’t give a damn!”

BUT – overall, food is something overwhelmingly positive in the show. It’s love and health and strength, culminating in the whole song “Big, Blonde and Beautiful.” (I have NO idea why I am unable to find the Broadway version of the song on youtube; a search will bring up Queen Latifah in the movie version. Broadway lyrics are here.)

“Can’t you hear that rumbling? That’s our hunger to be free,/ It’s time to finally taste equality.”

Now, what I feel far, FAR less qualified to talk about is the intersectionality of the show.
The Civil Rights movement is the backdrop to the story, and act two is primarily about the struggle that Tracey faces as an ally to Maybelle and her son, Seaweed, as they lead the effort to integrate the Corny Collins show. There’s a strong sense during the show that discrimination is basically the same and always wrong, especially on something as silly as looks – whether it’s the color of your skin or the size of your body.

And while that’s a message I agree with…I think I just don’t know enough to comfortably conflate FA with older civil rights movements. It feels somehow like I’d be trivializing the struggle of people of color to claim that Fat Acceptance is equivalent to it. There are certainly similarities in my mind, but it just feels…lesser. Not that there aren’t serious social issues around fat stigma and bullying and the like, but that I don’t feel comfortable with the phrase ‘fat oppression’. I might get bullied for my size, but people don’t think of me as a potential criminal. The government has never told me that I couldn’t marry or that I had to stay away from thin people. It just doesn’t feel on the same level.

That’s really a tangent, though. If you haven’t seen the show, I recommend the movie musical version to get the full story, although there are a few songs missing there that were in the Broadway soundtrack, and some things are changed. I’m not sure why Hairspray flew under my FA radar for so long, given the absolute emphasis on being yourself and following your dreams no matter how big you are.