Friday, April 26, 2013

Things You Can't or Shouldn't Do

This post is filled with lists of things certain groups of people were once or are still told they cannot or should not do. If the historical ones resonate with you as frivolous, infuriating, and archaic, you might want to ask yourself why you still believe the stereotypes still in circulation. Disclaimer: I do not believe or promote any of these stereotypes. I am merely proving a point.

Things Women Should Not and Cannot Do

1. Women shouldn't drive.

Fact: In 1910, only 5% of licensed drivers in the United States were women. Women were told they were too delicate, of lesser education, and not inclined mechanically enough to operate motor vehicles. However, during World War I and again in World War II women were recruited to drive trucks and fill jobs that men used to fill, negating this archaic stereotype.

2. Women do not belong in politics.

Fact: women fought for and won the right to vote in 1919, with the 19th amendment being ratified in 1920. Women were historically thought of exclusively in a domestic role and were thusly unable to attend educational institutions or political meetings, so politics was thought to be "above" their understanding.

3. Women shouldn't be paid as much as men, even for the same work.

Women don't belong in many work sectors, like politics, law, and manufacturing. Because of this, it will be impossible for them to ever make the same pay as a man simply because a woman is not capable of doing a man's work. Fact: It's 2013 and, on average, women still earn 77¢ to a man's $1.00. To echo the political ads: Ed Markey knows this is wrong. Congratulations on the math skills.

4. Women shouldn't be in the armed forces.

"Few women have the strength, speed, or aerobic capacity of even the average man," writes Professor Kingsley Browne or Wayne Law School (January 25, 2013). Beyond their weakened state, women could end up pregnant or get raped, and then they won't be able to serve. Also, their presence creates combat amongst male soldiers who then can't work cooperatively together, and on whom women will bestow sexual harassment allegations due to their natural competitive nature.

5. Women can't be funny.

Women are more volatile with their moods, so the likelihood that they'll develop a sense of humor is low. Also, it's not important for women to be funny because men either don't require that or find it attractive in a mate. Additionally, women take themselves too seriously so cannot laugh at themselves. And if you cannot laugh at yourself, you cannot be funny.

Things Black People Should Not and Cannot Do

1. Black people cannot be trusted.

Black people will steal everything you own. They don't do work and they're content just to take your stuff. Fact: 39.8% of welfare recipients are African American. 38.8% are white. But really that's because the government has taken white people's jobs. White people work when they can. Black people just want to live off the government.

2. Black people can't speak proper English.

All white people were born speaking proper English - even our fearless once-leader, George W. Bush - but black people (with very few exceptions - think Colin Powell) just don't do it right. They change verbs and use jargon that isn't compatible with white normalcy. Fact: this challenges a status quo and makes those with white privilege uncomfortable.

3. Black people shouldn't procreate.

Black people are mostly all on welfare, so they should really stop having children. The rest of America is tired of paying for them.

4. Black people shouldn't act black.

You know, with the rap and the hip-hop and the baggy pants: they're acting too black and they'll never get white people to stop acting racist if they don't assimilate to white culture.

5. Black people shouldn't vote.

They came to this country and just started demanding things like personal freedoms and their own language. They can't own land, so why should they vote? Fact: Freed black men were given the right to vote in 1870 via the 15th amendment.

Things Gay People Should Not and Cannot Do

1. Gay people shouldn't be allowed to have children.

Gay people only want gay children to perpetuate their gay lifestyles. They will corrupt the children and teach them how to be gay and soon we will all be gay.

2. Gay people shouldn't be given the right to marry. 

Leviticus 18:22 - Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. (In other words: gay is geeeerooooos.)

Leviticus 20:13 - If a man has sexual relations with a man as he does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (In other words: if you have gay sex, straight people must kill you.)

Leviticus 19:24 - If a woman have discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be put away for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. (In other words: if you're on the rag, you need to go to quarantine.)

Leviticus 11:1 - And the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hoofs, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. (In other words: put down the bacon!)

Leviticus 19:19 - You shall not sow your fields with two kinds of seeds. (In other words: Monsanto is doomed.)

Leviticus 20:27 - A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death. (In other words: you'd best hide all your Harry Potter books.)

3. Gay people shouldn't flaunt their lifestyle in public. 

It's fine if you want to be gay, but no one else needs to see it. I don't want to see you hold hands or kiss or hug because that is stuff you should do in private. Have you all seen my engagement ring?

4. Gay men can't be macho and gay women cannot be feminine, unless they are in my porno video.

Gay men are all skinny little ninnies who say things like, "Girlfriend" and call their female friends "Bitch." They listen to Beyoncé, watch Glee, and know the words to most musicals. Lesbians are butch hyper-feminists in logger outfits. Except the ones in pornos. They are pretty and should be worshipped.

Things Fat People Should Not and Cannot Do

1. Fat people can't be hot.

It's just impossible to be fat an sexy. Sure, some fat people are cute, but that's as far as it goes.

2. Fat people shouldn't wear stripes.

Stripes widen people. Don't wanna look any fatter than you already are.

3. Fat women shouldn't wear their hair long.

It makes them look fatter. They should all chop it off and wear it about chin length to elongate their necks.

4. Fat people shouldn't eat in public.

Everyone knows fat people are fat because they eat too much. Why add more fuel to the fire? Be a model fatty and only eat food at him. In private. With no one watching.

Fact: There is no correlation between dieting and improved life. Just the opposite. Most dieters (95%) regain ALL the weight they lost and then some within a few short years. Additionally, most dieters focus on food all the time and have a poor relationship with food and their own bodies. Contrarywise, there is a correlation between a healthy lifestyle - eating real food and moving your body - and improved life. Mind you, improved life does not mean "thin life."

5. Fat people shouldn't dance, jump, or otherwise move.

Fat people shouldn't be fat, but they shouldn't move because then their fat moves, too. Hypocrisy is ugly, yo.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

That Look of Certain Doubt

Where I work, there's a great deal of body-smashing, fat-slamming, and otherwise derogatory comments made by a small group of workers generally directed at each other. It's my first year at this job, and at the beginning of the year, I would just sort of grin and bear it. I mean, it's not like they were talking to me. They were talking to each other.

Until I had scheduled lunch with them. And now as I'm eating my lunch I have to listen to this:
                   Woman 1: "I can't believe I have to go to Florida next week. I don't think 
                   any of my summer clothes fit."
                   Woman 2: "Yeah, you've put on some weight here," (indicates Woman 1's hip area). "You                 
                   should probably just starve yourself."

...and this...
                  Woman 2: "I had shrimp scampi and a bloody mary for dinner last night."
                  Woman 1: "Fatty."

...and this...
                  Woman 3: "Oh, I misunderstood you. I thought you were saying 'Hey, chubby!' and you  
                  were talking to me."

There's more, trust me. It's actually a daily thing that conversations revolve entirely around how their bodies look and what they're eating. So, over lunch one day, listening to the list of Weight Watchers points an Easter Dinner would tally, and listening to how thankful they are for diet soda, and how much it sucks to drag their "fat asses" to the gym, I said, "I think Zumba is really fun." Immediately I got that once-over look that girls give each other as a quick summation of your body size and thusly your worth. I proceded to tell them in explicit detail that Zumba is so fun that I normally go four days a week and plus I go to this really awesome yoga class.

The conversation took a turn to what it meant to be body positive, and about fat acceptance, and that's when it happened - the look of certain doubt. The look that I am not to be trusted about any health or nutrition information because I am a fat girl. As if somehow being thin makes you implicitly healthy and an expert on all things nutrition related.

Now, as a fat girl, I have subjected myself to numerous diets, and I have been (and am still, but am working on it) numbers obsessed. How much fat? How many calories? How many carbs? How many miles will I need to go on the elliptical to burn that off? You know, the "normal" stuff. But I will say this: I am pretty damn confident that consuming natural foods/foods made with only natural ingredients is an okay thing for your body. I am also pretty damn confident that movement (namely Zumba and other dance-related fitness and also yoga) make my body and my mind feel better. Mind you, exercise does not make me feel thinner. I am not a thin girl hiding in a fat girl's body. I am a fat girl who is also a fit and capable athlete.

But it seems like a natural response for my ideas to be shrugged off as jargon or - and this might be even worse - for people to look at me reassuringly and say, "Well, if you keep it up, I'm sure you'll reach all your goals." Firstly, "keep it up?" Keep it up? I have maintained an excellent physical fitness routine for almost five years. And after losing some weight, I gained some weight, and I still haven't really changed my fitness routine. So, I'll keep that in mind, but I'm pretty sure I can "keep it up." Secondly, what "goals" are we talking about? Are we talking about my goals for me to keep my body healthy (healthy not thin)? If so, I've succeeded, thanks. Or are we talking about your projected goals of my assumed quest for weight loss? Ah, yes, I figured. Well, please, keep your diet soda and your idea that that will help you lose weight. Because there is not a single study that proves weight loss and dieting are effective in the long term. However, there are myriad studies that show weight loss cycles (yo-yo dieting) is less healthy than being obese. Many people damage their current health by dropping weight too quickly or ingesting harmful chemicals deemed "critical" for weight loss, and then subsequently gain the weight back. But, fret not. If you are obese like me, you're actually quite healthy.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Swimsuit Edition
What is it about swimsuit season that sends every woman running for the gym with a light yogurt glued to her hand, like that's the only thing she's going to eat between late March and the first time she sits on a beach in late May? Oh, yeah, I guess that overwhelming fear of deviating from a perceived normality and the (sometimes) unspoken notion that if your thighs touch, your belly rolls, or your arms jiggle, you are not "beach worthy" or "swimsuit ready." To hell with that! This might be the first year I invest in a bikini and add some color to my otherwise translucent stomach. Swimsuit ready? Got a swimsuit? Got a body to put in the swimsuit? Swimsuit ready! Anyway, here are some pictures of all sorts of beautiful people in swimsuits. Real swimsuits. Not "modest swimsuits" like the one pictured on the left.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mixed Weight Couples - Can Opposites Attract?

The internet is a magical land filled with myriad wonderment and knowledge. I came across this gem today. In summation, if you don't feel like reading the article, the article suggests that a person's weight is such a factor in a relationship that big woman will likely not be able to sustain a partnership with thin men, or rather, men who are thinner than them.

This study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, "discovered that women who consumed fewer calories and had a lower BMI were happier in relationships" than women with higher BMIs who reported more marital conflicts. Additionally, this study asserts that mixed weight couples who eat together experience more conflict than mixed-weight couples who eat separately. To hell with family time!

The article does make a valid point that, most women in mixed weight relationships experience conflict because they feel like they are constantly being evaluated and judged by their thinner husbands, which certainly echoes our societal attitude toward weight.

The Wall Street Journal published a similar study at the beginning of this year that said more or less the same thing, but qualified mixed weight couples as couples whose "diet and fitness routines are out of sync." This definition implies that in mixed weight couples the mixed weight is a result of poor diet and exercise, which scientifically isn't true. The Today Show premiered the televised newscast of this study, stating that the mixed weight relationships where the woman was fat and the man wasn't produced the most conflict.

I am eagerly pushing the "bullshit button" on these study, because rather than being based in health and science, they are based on status quo imagery about what is beautiful and what is not. The WSJ article suggested that added weight lead to anger and resentment towards your spouse who can consume whatever he wants, whenever he wants. I would arge that the anger and resentment is actually directed at a society that is telling you that you cannot be beautiful, that you are not allowed to eat, that you cannot be sexy or desirable because you are fat. I would also argue that if your partner is only your partner because at one time you were thin, that is not a sustainable basis for a relationship.

The "solution" all these studies give is that the fat partner - namely the woman, because, you know, fat women are way more stressful than fat men - needs to lose weight. Once the fat woman loses weight, her partner will find her sexy and desirable, she will have more energy to be with her family, and she'll have her self-esteem back. These studies also suggest that the thin partner needs to find a way to be encouraging about weight loss without being critical. Generally that encouragement sounds something like this, "You look great" or "That dress looks like it's fitting better." Read between those lines and you hear, "You look great because you're getting thinner" or "That dress didn't fit you right before."

I'm thinking that if couples have this much conflict over one partner being fat, there is something much more substantial than vanity - because that's what it is, not health - at the bottom of it. When you get right down to it, the fat partner is not losing weight/dieting/exercising to be healthy, she is doing those things to make her partner love her.

Of course doing things to please your partner is a wonderful and essential part of a relationship. But when that thing is changing who you are so your partner will find you attractive again, your partner needs to do some changing of his own.