spinster summer is going really well, but i have been kind of cranky & easily irritated lately anyway. i decided to follow through on the plan to go back to boston for my birthday. i had this more grandiose idea to fly into philly the week before & hang out with friends there for a few days. the weekend before my birthday, bart & jared would drive down to hang out, & then we’d all go back to boston for my birthday, & then i would fly home again. but the lady i would have been staying with/mainly going to visit in philly didn’t return my calls or texts in time, & plane tickets were getting more & more expensive, so i had to make a decision, & i knew for certain that i had ride from the airport & a place to stay in boston, so…i’m just going to boston. which is fine with me. i am really just going to see jared anyway. but it would have been nice to see other friends.
i hit my wall with another zine acquaintance in terms of language that is kind of body hating. this lady is very into fitness stuff, which…that’s cool. i am dating a former bike messenger who still routinely rides his bike out into the country on the hottest summer days & then proceeds to go running. i myself take water aerobics (more for pain management than for fitness, but it is still technically a fitness class in the parks & recreation catalogue). i am all for people pursuing health & fitness! i am less pumped about dieting. i personally am not not a healthy eating guru by any stretch of the imagination (i’m not dawn schafer), but i’m generally of the opinion that eating whole foods that haven’t been super-processed in quantities adequate to supply your body with energy & nutrients beats the pants off of counting calories or weight watchers points or any of those other gimmicks.
but i also try not to get too involved in the fitness/eating choices of the people around me because i am also of the opinion that other people’s bodies are not really my business, just as my body is not their business.
this becomes more difficult when someone constantly talks about their fitness/eating choices. they are then making it my business, whether i want to know about it or not. & because we live in a fatphobic body-hating culture, fatphobic body-hating language often creeps into these conversations…particularly when the ultimate goal of the fitness/eating choices is to lose weight. even if a person is only using that language to describe their own body & no one else’s, i feel that it helps create a culture where it is normal to say body-hating things about yourself, & then we are on a slippery slope to saying body hating things about other people. how do children learn that something is “wrong” with their body shape or size if their parents or classmates aren’t explicitly telling them that something is wrong? usually by hearing their parents &/or peers saying body-hating things about themselves. & we are not immune to that transference when we are grown-ups.
i have another friend who is really concerned about trying to lose some weight. she routinely says things like, “i went out for dinner & ordered a basket of fries & then i ate them all! i know i shouldn’t have, it was so wrong. hahaha!” what exactly is wrong with a grown woman eating a basket of fries while she’s out to dinner with her friends? if she says this when i am out to dinner with her, it’s hard for me to believe that she may not be passing judgments on me if i order a basket of fries, & i may sub-consciously try to beat her to the punch by curtailing my food choices or judging myself for making the “wrong” choice.
i wouldn’t be friends with someone who was racist or homophobic. why should i be friends with someone who is body-hating? it contributes to a toxic culture that damages people’s mental &, sometimes, physical health. it makes me feel shitty. it makes me feel angry & sad. & the “i’m doing this for my health” argument only reinforces the perception that chubsters & fat people are inherently unhealthy because of their size, & that slim people are inherently healthy because of their size. as a physically disabled person, i can definitely speak to the fact that health trolling is almost always a function of moral judgments that condescend to people that are fat (in the case of fitness/diet commentary), disabled (in the case of patronizing “tips” about pain management & mobility), pregnant (in the case of all the gazillions of scare tactics inflicted on pregnant women)…i could go on.
we’re planning to discuss body image & fatphobia at feminist book club next month. my friend jaimie has been looking for readings, but she says pretty much everything she’s found says something along the lines of, “i’m fat, but i work out & eat right! i’m healthy!” jaimie said she didn’t like the way that all this writing about positive fat self-image was founded in justifying the existence of fat bodies. “fuck that noise! i’m fat because i love cake!” she said. love it! when someone justifies the sharing of their fitness/eating choices, particularly when throwing around added commentary like, “if i lose thirty more pounds, i’ll be normal & not overweight!” or, “i did a weigh-in & i’m not obese anymore!”, they are justifying their actions. in a culture of self-love & body acceptance, none of us would have to justify the amount of space our bodies take up or how we are caring for said bodies. it’s a tall fucking order, but i would really like to try to move toward that & away from living in a goddamn “cathy” cartoon strip.