Tag Archives: obesity

My Daughter Called Someone Fat

It was a beautiful autumn Friday in New England.  My daughter had just completed two successful, confidence-inspiring hours of gymnastics at the Little Gym.  (In a blue shiny leotard we had just purchased, nonetheless!)  We walked back to the car, hand-in-hand; I was proud of this time.  She was a baby who had low muscle tone, and I had put her in gymnastics purposefully.  Now, she was doing flips over the bars.

As I unlocked the car, Fiona started to gaze off into the distance.  Stare, in fact.  I followed her gaze to her classmate and parents, who were walking together.

A slow smirk spread over her face, as her gaze focused on the obese father.

“Mama, he’s fat.” She continued smirking, and an implied sense of power washed over her as she realized she was NOT and he WAS.

Not my daughter.

******

For those of you who don’t know, I was a FAT kid.   I was mocked for it by classmates, I was deemed “disgusting”, I was even sexually assaulted by a classmate in music class “because I was fat.”  (Because I deserved it, because I was fat.)

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There are people who will view this who will argue with me and say that there’s no negative connotation with being fat.  They will tell me that I’m too sensitive and that I put too many expectations on my daughter and I say to them, I AM DONE WITH YOU.

I LIVED it and I continue to live it every time I lose 5 pounds and I am praised for it.  I continue to live it every time I gain weight and I notice people give me less compliments about my appearance.  You are bullshitting yourself if you think there is no negative connotation with being fat.  There is less today, but it still exists.

When Fiona uttered this sentence, I panicked.  Where did she pick this up?  I, for one, don’t use the word fat.  I use the word heavy and overweight, but not fat, because I know what it carries with it. We also refer to foods as being healthy, or having “vitamins to make you run fast”.  Had she picked it up from her friends?  Seen it on an ad?  I was a little stunned, and a little disgusted, even know the intellectual side of me knew she was four years old.  She reminded me of that blonde in my class on the playground who always made fun of my awkward body during Project Adventure.

“Fiona, we do not say that.  That is not nice.  Get in the car.”

I buckled her up, prayed, and said to myself – Do not be hard on her.  Do not project your experience on her and shame her.  Just be honest, factual, and tell her your experience.

“Fiona, I have to tell you a story.”

“What?”

“A long time ago, Mama was overweight when she was a kid.  A lot of people made fun of Mama and called her fat and it made Mama feel really, really bad.  So I know how it feels, and it doesn’t feel good.  That’s why we don’t call people fat.”

I don’t know if was blood memory, or a sudden lightbulb that went off in her head, but Fiona’s face turned ashen.  Her face crumpled, and she GOT IT.  Like, mourned for her mother got it.  Like, cried all the way home got it.  I immediately felt horrid, even know I know I maintained an even tone (isn’t this motherhood thing fucked?)

On the way home, she turned her face into the seat, ashamed.  I tried to reiterate my unconditional love for her. “Baby, Mama doesn’t think any differently of you – Mama would love you even if you punched somebody!  It’s just important we’re kind to people.”  It didn’t seem to help.  She whimpered and finally started to come around after I distracted her with a joke.

*****

Parenthood is brutal.  It’s even more brutal with a trauma history you have to dissect and not project onto your kids whilst maintaining some sort of a lesson for them when they’re unkind.  Childhood is brutal too – imagine not knowing you were being unkind, and then being told you were being unkind in a way that hurt your parent when they were kids?  Imagine being so innocent and then not, knowing your Mama was hurt for the way she looked?  And would that happen to you?

Yesterday, someone on my husband’s facebook feed disagreed with the meme that Donald Trump’s words about sexual assault leading to the actual crime did not matter, and that words are very different from actions.  I sit here enraged, thinking about that, because I know the effect of words.  Words that lead to sexual assault.  “FAT” leading to “less than” leading to “it’s ok to touch her in a sexual way because she’s less than”.

Not my daughter.

 

 

 

Five Reasons Why BMI Report Cards Need To Stop.

BMISo, I’m a little late to the game.  Apparently, for a few years now, some schools have been including a BMI (Body Mass Index) score on children’s report cards.  In 2011, The Huffington Post reports that BMI scores are “the latest weapon in the fight against the growing obesity epidemic in children”.  I’m sure you can already guess my reaction to this, but before I get into the more objective reasons, I’ll include a little personal history.

You all know I was an overweight kid.  An overweight kid who carried a lot of shame about both her body and imperfections.  Those imperfections included my less-than-stellar grades in math.  Report cards, a necessary evil, filled me with anxiety and dread every quarter.  Why?  I knew, deep down, that I wasn’t a perfect student; I occasionally turned in homework late and periodically made careless mistakes on tests.  I held a deep level of shame due to these peccadilloes – I feared I was a bad person because of it.  I feared my parents’ reaction to it and hated myself around report card time.  “I should be doing better”, I would mutter to myself.

Can you imagine the amount of shame I would have had if BMI’s were added back in the 90’s?  Can you imagine the ridicule I would have gotten from fellow students?  Can you imagine the reaction from “trusted adults”?

“Well, your BMI is 4 points too high, and therefore, you need to lose weight, Amanda…”

So.  Here are my reasons for banning BMI report cards.

  1. Let doctors and nutritionist do their jobs, and let teachers do theirs.  Is it important that we model a healthy lifestyle for children in our schools?  Absolutely.  Teaching them to obsess about a number is not modelling a healthy lifestyle.  Especially when schools continue to pack their vending machines with candy bars and less-than-healthy foods.  Hello, mixed messages?  More importantly, who are the people who are trained to deal with an individual’s weight, activity and nutrition level?  Their PCP.  Their PCP can do a much more thorough job of determining whether or not a child is healthy or unhealthy.  Better than an index number.  And better than an untrained teacher or administrative personnel who is transmitting this information to a child.  (I’m not knocking teachers, I just think it’s clear kids’ personal doctors are probably better equipped to assess that stuff.)
  2. BMI’s can trigger, but not cause, an eating disorder.  I’m a firm believer that a multitude of factors need to be in place to cause an eating disorder.  But, an environmental trigger like a BMI report card can trigger a child who is already predisposed to having one.  Kids at school are already influenced by bullies at school telling them they need to weigh less, wear better clothes, or don more makeup.  But if adults told them this?  We may forget adults in our lives wielded an unusual amount of power, power that has the ability to influence us for decades and haunt us.  Some kids may not care two ways to Sunday if a trusted adult in their life tells them they’re fat.  But a vulnerable child?  A child who comes from a traumatic home or has low self-esteem to boot?  They’ll take that as truth, and they’ll run with it.  People vulnerable to eating disorders tend to be people-pleasers, and if someone tells them to lose weight, they’ll do it.  I personally know someone who has been triggered by BMI report cards.  This is no joke.
  3. BMI’s are not the most accurate predictor of fat mass.  In general, can it tell you if you need to lose weight?  Probably, I’m not a doctor.  But there are other scales – two are Body Fat Mass and Percentage of Body Fat.  It’s completely possible to have an obese BMI and a normal or overweight score for BFM or PBF.  I’ve also known people who weight train, lose inches from their waist, and watch their BMI scores rise.  Go Kaleo talks a LOT about this (she’s a WARRIOR, check out her blog/fb page).  And, here you can see how she’s clinically overweight by current indexes.  Ridiculousness.
  4. BMI scores are not going to change a perpetually unhealthy household.  I’m guessing that national health advocates are hoping that BMI scores will “wake up” parents who don’t keep a good eye on their child’s nutrition.  As in, maybe they’ll change their family food habits if they see their kid weighs too much.  Mmmmkay.  I believe this might work for a total of two weeks.  Why the cynicism, you ask?  Well, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the majority of households who constantly feed their kids donuts, soda and McDonalds may not have access to food that is healthier and therefore, higher-priced.  So, there’s financial blocks, and there’s mental blocks too.  I’m going to go a step farther – which may get me in trouble here – and posit that these same families may not be in the best place mentally or spiritually.  And the solution to this is not a number on a report card.  It’s a change in family communication patterns or beliefs.  You don’t work from the outside in and put a band-aid on it; you treat the actual wound.  Bottom line, NUMBERS NEVER HELP PEOPLE TO LOSE WEIGHT OR CHANGE LIFESTYLE BELIEFS.
  5. Isn’t the medical profession’s oath “Do No Harm”?  I can’t take credit for this one.  A couple of weeks ago, on Good Morning America, one of their medical correspondents “weighed in” on this subject.  GMA had interviewed several teenage girls who had communicated that the BMI scores ultimately made them feel bad about themselves.  The reporting medical correspondent insightfully noted the medical profession’s possible betrayal of its oath.  If GMA’s small-scale interview translates to the rest of the teenage population, then harm is being done.

Is obesity healthy?  No way.  But neither are eating disorders.  Our nation has missed the mark and swung the opposite way with food obsession.  We uselessly obsess about gluten and sugar and numbers.  And I’ve harassed you all before about the dangers of obsessing about food and numbers.  Obsession about numbers = obesssion about outside appearance = not solving your food issues.  But working from the inside out works every time. Building your child’s self-esteem through encouragement of esteemable tasks?  Works.  And modelling a balanced diet and positive self-esteem will protect your children from any imbalance.  But an index number?  No way.

Dear Media: Stop Trying to Kill My Sisters.

Dear Media,

I woke up this morning to a picture my friend had posted (mockingly) of a “Get Beach Ready!” article in some beauty magazine.  In it, the first tip suggested,

“BAN STRETCH MARKS.”

stretch marks

and I say –

Go fuck yourself.  That’s right.  You heard me.

Stretch marks have nothing to do with beauty; in fact, I think they have a lot to do with skin elasticity.  So stop trying to attach moral value to stretch marks.

Or anything else body-related for that matter.

Media, did you know eating disorders are the deadliest mental health illness?  Bypassing alcoholism?


death

Well yes, they are.  And you are contributing to many a woman’s death, on a daily basis, all for your love of money.

Stop trying to kill my sisters.  Or my daughter, for that matter.

What if you, instead, chose to publish an un-airbrushed, average looking lady on your cover?  Might that young pre-teen you’re selling to have not chosen to go on a 500-calorie a day diet?  Maybe, maybe not.  Even if you’re not the direct cause, you’re part of the equation.

And when the women who don’t kill themselves via starvation give up on attaining that perfect ideal, they swing the other way.  They start binging, because they just as well might give up and “get fat because there’s no hope for me anyway.”  You may have heard of an epidemic called “obesity.”  You play a part in that.

binge

They buy into your bullshit because you’ve inundated them with false truths since the moment they were born.  Society’s values do a number on them too – “sweet, cute, Daddy’s little girl.”  Pushed down by the patriarchy as soon as they can breathe air.

Oh, and stop trying to kill our mothers.

The other day, I heard a husband joke about giving his wife 6 months post-partum to appear as if she never had a baby.  Behind the joking that made me want to stick a needle in my eye – there is truth.  A million of your articles have been dedicated to women pretending as if they never took part in assisting the human race in surviving.  Makes sense.

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Keeping women insecure earns a lot of money for you.  How do you sleep at night?  How do you live with yourself?

Either way, it’s got to stop.  You make my new-mother friend feel like she should weigh less, you make my daughter the subject of weight stereotypes, and you make me feel like my genetic spider veins are little spindles of evil on my pasty-white, untanned-and-therefore-unappealing skin.

STOP.

(Another Piece of Cake realizes there are healthy ad campaigns out there, and applauds them!  Another Piece of Cake also realizes men are hit hard by the media too, but Another Piece of Cake only writes about women because she’s, well…a woman.)

Media Mondays: Does Body Acceptance Mean An Unhealthy Lifestyle?

So my friend sent me this article because she thought I might have something to say about it.  (Me?  Never.)  And I did.  So, here’s the link –

Real Women…?

So this lady’s argument is that there’s this common theme today of saying “real women” are only size 14, with curves, and that thin or healthy women get shit on in regards to being “real”. If you scroll down, she tells you that she was one of the overweight women in the second set of pics, and then she became a bodybuilder.  Can I tell you something?  I agree with ONE of her points.  And that is:

There has been a backlash against slender people since the body-acceptance movement.  It’s true.  I bet most naturally-tiny people have felt discriminated against at times, with the boatloads of body acceptance size 14 memes floating around the internet.  The truth is, all women who don’t have botox and don’t photoshop their pics have “real” bodies.

But I don’t agree with the rest of the article.  And here’s why.

1.  One thing that bothers me is the name-calling.  Lady, how ’bout you don’t shame people by telling them they have “shitty” eating habits.

2.  She’s using her story in the wrong way.  This gal apparently lost like 50 lbs or so.  OK, good for you, I was overweight as a kid too and lost it (albeit through unhealthy ways.)  Just because I am society’s standard of “normal” doesn’t mean you see me taking the “real women” movement personally.  I’m confident enough to know I have a real body, a body that is just as real as those size 14-ers.  It’s like a white person crying because black people have their own equality organizations.

3.  I’m sorry, but if you’re a bodybuilder, I’m guessing you use extreme measures to maintain your appearance.

4.  WHAT ABOUT DEPRESSION?  This lady makes losing weight/getting healthy seem supremely easy.  And you know what?  It is, for some.  But others have to battle co-existing illness like depression and anxiety which compound the ability to lose it.  You don’t have a choice when you have depression; it’s a disease and you have symptoms that prevent you from making choices.

5.  And oh yeah, there’s class status.  Not everyone is white and middle class and is able to shop at Whole Foods!

6.  And lastly, God.  Lady, I am guessing when people say “God gave me this body”, they mean their genetics/biology.  And guess what?  That does have an impact.  I’m never going to be Anna Kendrick-sized, but I’m also not ever going to be Geena Davis sized.  Science does, in fact, happen!

Bottom line:  I just hate that women like this get 47,000 likes on an article of this quality, which is basically a shot to get money and publicity through emotional manipulation.  And my little blog just plods along…albeit happily…

(and if you’re wondering the answer to my title, it’s this…)

grumpycat

Blissful Body Fridays: Your “Perfect” Weight

 LOVED THIS!

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Spotted this on 16nite’s Tumblr site.  Cannot claim this as a Bruce original!

Have a great weekend, folks, and be good to yourselves!

Recovery Tip Tuesdays: Set Point Theory

acceptanceGood ol’ set point theory.  What is it?

The idea that all of our bodies have their unique set point, a number, give or take 5-10 lbs, that our body likes to reside at when it’s healthy and we’re feeding it well.

One of the biggest breakthroughs I experienced in my ED recovery was accepting my set point.

(Which is a tall order, I do realize.  Acceptance can be a bit of a bitch to work through)

And my set point is pretty average.  Coming from a family of Irish-German “Campbell Soup Kids”, I realized I was never going to be 110 lbs soaking wet (sorry for the rare number), once I was able to see through the irrationalities of my eating disorder.  It just wasn’t going to happen, unless I engaged in superhuman exercise and dangerous restriction every day.  Which, was alarming to my ED at first.  My ED wanted to fight my body.  Screw you, it said to my body.  I’ll show you.  You can be different.

However, once I accepted it, set point theory was…relaxing, actually.  It comforted me, because if I fed my body the way my nutritionist told me to, it would never screw me over.  It would never put me at an obese weight I feared…it would put me right where I belong.

(But there was quite a fight to get to that acceptance.  Think: A crying, binging sometimes, scratching, screaming fight.)

I still have to check myself fairly daily on this when my ED starts luring me into lesser-weight land.

What do you think?  Have you accepted your body type, your set point?  If not, what steps do you have to take to obtain that acceptance?

*What works for me may not work for you.  Proceed at your own risk.

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Three Reasons Why This Blog Will Never Be Popular.

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I’ve spent a long time thinking about how I can market this blog, make it bigger, more accessible, increase the traffic so it can reach more ED sufferers and those in recovery (from bad body image or an ED), and I’ve concluded –

This blog will never be popular.

This is not pessimistic, this is a realistic viewpoint.

And these are my reasons why:

 

1.  Some readers think I’m pro-fat.  I’m not.  I’m pro-health.  And sometimes being healthy also means being overweight.  Given that the current trend is panicking about any “bad” foods or “bad” eating patterns, this “grey-area” blog is not going to go viral anytime soon in this all or nothing thinking world.  (“Either you’re fat and unhealthy or thin and healthy!”  Nope, nope, that’s just not true.  And what about emotional health?)

 

2.  People LOVE trends.  LOVE.   What’s more appealing than a new quick fix all the cool kids are trying out?  Let’s take an example – Paleo.  (Just using that because it seems to be the “trendiest” right now.)  Can some people turn this into a permanent lifestyle?  Very few, I think.  The thing about trends is that they’re never sustainable.  History has proven it.  Powdered faces with the hairline shaven back?  Gone with the medieval times.  Or something.  White lipstick?  My mother dabbled with it in the sixties.  Paleo?  Probably gone just as quick.  

Now, is Paleo healthy?  Absolutely, parts of it.  But it’s the fact that it’s a trend that will ultimately be the demise of it.  Something else will come along that people will latch onto and try.  and it will be left in the dust.  

My blog doesn’t focus on trends – it asks you to do the longterm, day-at-a-time work.  The internal work, not the “change your outsides so you have a temporary high” work.  

 

3.  Diets Make Money.  I could google it, but I’m going to assume that the diet industry makes millions of dollars each year off of people buying into their particular cookbooks, their programs, and low-carb cheesecakes.  So, when I say they’re bullshit, this will obviously earn a quick snub from most viewers. Why?  They invested money in a product and they don’t want to be told it was for nothing, or for little, or for temporarily.  They want that investment to mean something.  And I’m threatening that.  

 

So, that’s part of why I think this blog will never be popular.  

(Like not being popular has ever stopped me before….)

And an anecdote to finish this off.  Recently, I was sitting with my therapist, and said, “You know, I think I’ve found the secret to a healthy weight and healthy life.”

“And what is that?”  She asked.

“Not worrying about it,” I replied.

She smiled.

Media Mondays: The Abercrombie and Fitch Debacle

So by now we’ve all heard about the Abercrombie and Fitch ridiculousness.  Let’s review a couple of facts/key players.

There’s this guy, Mike Jeffries, the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch –

mikejeffries

 

And he said this –

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

He also said –

“I don’t want our core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing our clothing.”

And A&F does not provide women’s XL sizes OR pant sizes above a size 10.  Which is stupid, because people’s mere height can warrant a size 12, but I digress.

OK, so, the best point I can think of is the one my friend Brennan said.  She said something like, “I think the psychopathology is pretty clear here.”

She’s right.  I mean, he’s 65, and appears to have had a lot of plastic surgery done.  HE appears to be the one with the image problem, not US.

He reminds me a lot of the guy who wrote Maggie Goes On A Diet, which I blogged about here.  The guy who wrote that book had weight issues of his own at one point, if I remember correctly, and then proceeded to project his shit all onto 8 year old girls who should supposedly lose weight and then magically gain self-worth (basic plot of the book).

So, I’m guessing Mike Jeffries is the same.  Mike Jeffries was unpopular at some point, or was “fat”, or was “ugly”, and rose above it in his mind by changing his appearance and creating a company who markets only to the pretty person he’s always wanted to be.

So do we need to be mad at Mike Jeffries?

(Well, duh, at least a little bit.  I mean, I did scream, “BOYCOTT!   BOYCOTT!”  in front of the A&F store at the Burlington Mall, embarassing my boyfriend and brother – )

Not really.

Yup, that’s right.  We need to feel sorry for him.  Because somewhere, way below the money and power and Botox, there is a little boy who is screaming to be liked.  To be approved of.

And that’s his shit.  Not ours.  We are doing just fine.

(Image provided by roadtripparenting.wordpress.com)

 

A little bit of both is health, IMO...

My Toddler Knows About Dunkin’ Donuts (And Other Non-Atrocities)

A little bit of both is health, IMO...
A little bit of both is health, IMO…

Every day I’m convinced I’m going to give my 16 month old an eating disorder.

Which is stupid, really, because it’s not just one thing that causes one – but the fact that I’m recovered from one ups the ante a little bit.

Let me give you an example:

Every week, my daughter has her play group and like one week out of the month we stop to get Dunkin’ Donuts right before (me: iced french vanilla with cream, you know it, and her: one or two munchkins ((crazy baby doesn’t seem to care either way for them.  WHAT??))  This morning, as I narrated her life, as I do maniacally every day, I said absentmindedly, “So we’ll get in the car and we’ll stop at Dunkin Donuts.”

She halted.  Her head swiveled and her eyes lit up.

I guess she cared more about those sprinkles-encrusted balls of goodness than I previously thought.

And my head went into a mindspin.  Is this why she’s in the 90th percentile?  She’s going to get bombarded by obesity comments at the doctor’s in a couple of years.  I’m so bad for giving her sugar, at all?  I’m going to parent hell!  I might as well be Honey Boo Boo’s mom!  I might as well set up camp at McDonald’s.  I’m ruining my daughter’s future!!!!!!

And then I stop, take a pretend Xanax, and reality-check myself.

First, I try to remember my therapist’s words (“It’d be pretty hard to force food to a baby, Amanda”).  Then, I remember that I feed my baby quinoa on a regular basis.

(You should have seen it when I tried to explain what it was to my mother.  She kept going, Kinney?  Quinna?  Finally I had to tell her to remember Joaquin Phoenix but backwards.)

(Some might even call me a “Quinoa Mom” – horrors)

And I mix spinach into her sweet potato so my fruit-lover will get some much-needed vegetables as well.  And I buy those overpriced organic pouches so she’ll eat SOMETHING nutritious on a day when all she wants is cheese in 1/2 inch squares only.  And, I don’t keep juice in the house.   And over my dead body will she have soda.

I think my downfall is comparing myself to those gluten-free-paleo-vegan-vegetarian-GMO free mothers who don’t let a drop of sugar pass into their kids’ sacred bodies.  But that’s kind of redonk, because a.  I’m never going to be that kind of mother and b.  I don’t, personally, think that’s healthy.  Do I think kids should snack on Happy Meals regularly?  No way.  But do I think they should enjoy the occasional bowl of ice cream that you can get messy in and smash all over your face?  Absolutely.  That’s part of being a kid.

And lastly, I try to remember the work I did on myself that brought me to the place where I don’t attach moral value to food, and the valuable lesson I will pass on to her.

So, I think I’m doing ok.  In spite of the neuroticism.

F%$#ed up. Period.

Who’s happier?

I realized something recently.

You know that weight I dropped after delivering Fiona?  The freakish amount I blogged about in a previous entry?  The weight loss that everyone commented on positively?

I hadn’t weighed that little since I was sick.  I only knew this because I fit into clothes I hadn’t dared to try on since then, such as dresses I couldn’t let go of for sentimental reasons.

So, what that comes down to is –

Everyone told me I looked good at the weight I don’t get my period at.

Now THAT is fucked up.

*****

Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t judge the people who complimented me – I blame society.  There were several times in history when Rubenesque women were believed to be the highest standard of beauty.  We forget that, in this angular, both-ends-of-the-extreme, carb-obsessed world we live in.

So, if we are to take my personal example, society endorses a woman’s beauty when she is at the weight where she is unable to reproduce.

Is this is end of feminism?

No, really – what this says to me is that we are rejecting a woman when she is healthy enough to do the thing most unique and miraculous about being a woman (in some opinions); bearing children.

And if you want to take it a step further, society is rejecting reproduction, thus, the end of society.

You may laugh, you may think my analysis overdone, but I know better.

*****

I once heard at a self-help group, “When I look the best on the outside I’m usually doing the worst on the inside.”  How true.

When I am not eating, or conversely binging on pastries, when I am not exercising because I’m stressed out by motherhood, when I am forgetting to take my vitamins because I’ve let my self-care go to shit, when I am not connecting to people and isolating, that is when people tell me I look good.  Is it the circles under my eyes that make me look sexier?  Is it the way my clothes droop off me because none of them fit me anymore? Is it the fact that I don’t get my period and am basically androgynous now? Or is it my hair that’s falling out at a rapid clip?  Tell me which one.

When I am taking my vitamins, eating my daily breakfast of peanut butter oatmeal to keep my cholesterol down, when I am eating three meals and three snacks a day, when I am exercising regularly – that is when nobody comments on my weight because it is simply and humbly normal, a weight that rests between bone-thin and overweight.  It doesn’t look spectacular in a swimsuit, but it doesn’t look half bad in an evening gown either.  It’s so in-between it’s almost mundane.  Maybe that’s what our problem is.  We’re all afraid of not standing out, of being just another worker among workers.  We don’t have the courage to be normal.

Now that’s fucked up.  Period.

(Image provided by Google Images)