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.  

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