16th July 2010

And the contest winners are…

by Rachel

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest for the body-positive gift basket and body-positive gifts.  The contest has now ended and the winners have been randomly selected.  Congrats  to…

Winner of the body-positive Gift basket: NinjaEema

Winners of body-positive gifts: Phyllis, Twistie and Sam

The winners should all receive an email shortly requesting their mailing address info.  Thanks again to all who entered, and for those who didn’t win this time, I hope to host another contest soon!

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posted in Administrative, Contests, Rachel | 8 Comments

14th July 2010

Help stamp out fat hate groups on Facebook

by Rachel

Atchka of the blog Fierce Fatties is looking for your support to end Facebook’s demonstrated tolerance of fat hate groups on the social networking site. He’s started a petition with the ambitious — but not unattainable — goal of 100,000 signatures. F-word readers, let’s help him out.  Read the call below and sign the petition here.

There are an obscene amount of Groups and Pages on Facebook which are solely dedicated to the humiliation, degradation and dehumanization of fat people.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-beck/facebook-allows-hate-spee_b_637099.html

Although they seem to violate Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Facebook refuses to accept fat people as a “protected group.”

http://jezebel.com/5583086/are-facebook-fat+bashers-practicing-hate-speech

Despite a request for clarification of terms, Facebook refuses to respond to followup questions and has deferred its responsibility to judiciously exercise editorial oversight.

http://fiercefatties.com/2010/06/28/sea-change

However, they do currently exercise oversight with regard to gay bashing groups, despite the fact that sexual identity and gender orientation are not “protected groups” by federal definitions. They purposely delete gay bashing groups swiftly and effectively, yet fat bashing groups remain.

http://fiercefatties.com/2010/07/12/take-down

Seeing as how the majority of these groups are directed specifically at fat women, we do not understand how most of these sites are not a violation of the Rights and Responsibilities if only seen through the lens of sexism and misogyny.

WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST that Facebook change or clarify it’s current policy with regard to fat hatred. Either remove fat hate groups entirely or justify the inconsistency of the current policy.

Fat people endure an intense amount of hatred both in public and online. It is a hatred that impacts every aspect of our lives and it is currently seen as a socially acceptable form of discrimination and bias.

http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/bias/Psychosocial-Origins-of-Obesity-Stigma.pdf

As Facebook is the largest social networking site, we encourage them to take a stand against hatred IN ALL FORMS, rather than allow certain types of hatred to go unchallenged.

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posted in Fat Bias, Rachel | 7 Comments

9th July 2010

Win it: Body positive goodie basket and gifts

by Rachel

I’ve been a very lax blogger as of late and for that I am incredibly sorry.   I went off my thyroid medication for more than a month (long story, but ADD played a huge role) and as a result I was extremely hypothyroid and have been battling mental and physical exhaustion and lethargy since.  I’ve been back on my meds now for a couple of weeks, but am nowhere near my usual near-manic energy level.  I’ve also been extremely busy with the nonprofit animal rescue I volunteer with (anyone want to adopt a kitty or bunny?), and frankly, I’ve just needed a break from the topics I usually blog about .  So, as a sign of my sincerest apologies, I’m giving away a few goodies.  One lucky winner will get a body positive goodie basket and three others will receive a smaller body positive gift.

The rules are simple:  To enter, you must be a resident of the U.S. (sorry, international folks; I’m the one forking out shipping costs).  Only one entry per person.   The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. (EST) Thursday, July 15.  Winners will be announced on the blog on Friday, July 16 and contacted by email for shipping details.  You must enter via the form below.

And for your Friday dose of cuteness… I rescued two bunnies last month from absolutely horrendous living conditions.  The mom gave birth a few days later to these adorable eight baby bunnies (available for adoption in mid-September!).  Mom is a Californian and dad is a Satin cross; parents and babies are all now doing well.

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posted in Body-Affirming, Contests, Rachel | 23 Comments

29th June 2010

Open Topic: Talking to kids about fat comments

by Rachel

I’m back on my thyroid medication and feeling more like myself than I have in the past month I’ve been off it, so I hope to be back posting regularly soon.  In the meantime, here’s an item for discussion.  My brother- and sister-in-law and their children live in a city about an hour and a half from us (and have 6-month-old twin girls), so we don’t see them as often as I would like.  We made the trip down on Sunday to celebrate my niece Klara’s seventh birthday; our previous trip was in April to celebrate my nephew’s birthday.  On our last two visits, my niece has made three comments on my weight, specifically about how fat she thinks I am.  On all three occasions I was caught off-guard and didn’t give as good of a response as I would have liked to give.  The first time I think I said something like, “Yes, Klara, I am fat” and changed the subject.  She made another comment later that night and I tried to explain to her that God made everyone different, like he made Uncle Brandon tall and Aunt Rachel short, and that we would be really boring if we all looked alike (the family are devout Christians).   The last comment came during dinner on our latest visit.  Klara suddenly grabbed the loose skin on my bicep and remarked that I wouldn’t be so fat if I didn’t have so much extra skin.  Caught off-guard, I kind of stammered that “Yes, I lost weight too fast and my skin couldn’t keep up and that’s one of the reasons I am fat,” and changed the subject.  * All three comments were unheard by her parents.

My BIL and SIL are very insistent on teaching their children good manners and both Klara and her brother are otherwise very polite children.  Brandon and I both thought it odd that she would comment so much on my weight, so I sent her parents an email letting them know.  Here’s part of what I wrote:

I don’t want Klara to grow up thinking that “fat” is a four-letter word — girls these days have enough issues with self-esteem and body image — but many people do consider it to be an inappropriate comment to lob at someone and I would hate for Klara to inadvertently insult someone in your church or at her school.  I’m also concerned that Klara seems to hold a negative perception of fatness and fat people and I worry that that perception may color how she sees and relates to others and may influence her own sense of body image as she grows older.  The prevailing cultural opinion seems to be that fat people just sit on the couch all day stuffing Twinkies down their throats, but genetics do not come in a one-size-fits-all sequence and people are fat for a variety of medical, physiological, socio-economic and emotional reasons.  You two do an awesome job of trying to instill in your children respect for different races and people and basic etiquette, so I thought that I would bring this to your attention so that maybe you can have a discussion with Klara on how it is impolite to comment on the bodies of others and to respect that people come in different shapes and sizes.

I don’t have children (thankfully) and I can usually only take kids in small doses before they mentally and physically exhaust me, so my experience in how to relate and explain things to children in language they can understand is limited to say the least.  I do think that it’s important to let Klara know that it isn’t appropriate to comment on the way someone looks or on their body, but I’m  concerned that by shushing her, it will reinforce to Klara that being fat is Something Bad, which is also something I don’t want her to think.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to explain to a seven-year-old that being fat isn’t bad or something to be ashamed of, but at the same time that it isn’t polite to comment on someone’s body?

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posted in Body Image, Body Politic, Fat Bias, Rachel | 40 Comments

23rd June 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In: A tide-you-over post until we can write something in more detail

by charlynn

I have a feeling I’m not the only writer for the-f-word.org that is insanely busy right now since no one has posted in over a week. On behalf of the three of us, you have our apologies. We hate it when life gets in the way of blogging just as much as you do. :)

With that in mind, here comes another roundup of links instead of a fully thought-out post, but at least it’s something new…right? Right!

MSNBC profiles three women who gained weight as a result of illness, not overeating. One struggles with a hormonal imbalance and has noticed how people treat her differently because of her weight. Another gained weight as a result of taking steroids for migraines. The third woman developed insulin resistance, and prior to developing her condition, believed that obesity was a “couch potato disease.” Not any longer — she says she is ashamed for being so judgmental in the past.

In case you haven’t already heard about this, former Biggest Loser contestant Kai Hibbard is speaking about her experience on the show, saying she left the show with a distorted body image and developed an eating disorder. She is going public with her story because she feels that some elements of the show are misleading and hurtful to viewers.

Haaretz.com in Israel has a fantastic story about what life is like at the eating disorders unit at Sheba Medical Center.

And finally, the Los Angeles Times published an article a couple of days ago about the Maudsley Approach. Success stories as well as skepticism about the method are discussed.

For the sake of discussion, what has everybody been doing while we’ve been absent? Share your latest by making a comment!

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posted in Anorexia, Body Image, Bulimia, Charlynn, Eating Disorders, Fat Bias, Recovery | 12 Comments

9th June 2010

The Wednesday Weigh-In

by Rachel

Margarita Tartakovsky of the blog Weightless interviews Cheryl Kerrigan, author of the new book Telling ED NO! and Other Practical Tools to Conquer Your Eating Disorder and Find Freedom.

Fat Lot of Good blogger Bri weighs in on a recent study that found that children whose mothers were chronically abused by their partners were more likely to be fat by age 5.  Because being fat is so much more pressing of an issue than being victimized by domestic violence.

Urban Outfitters removes what many are calling a pro-ana t-shirt from its website, but the “Eat Less” shirt remains available in stores.   Outraged?  Join the Girlcott Urban Outfitters group on Facebook.

Should appearance-based discrimination be treated with the same weight as we give to other -isms like racism and sexism?  That’s the question Deborah Rhodes tackles in her new book, The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s review of the book on Slate.

Just when you thought the insanity would never end…  It’s not enough that some parents lose custody of their obese children because of their weight.  Now a British animal welfare council has seized custody of an obese dog.  The pudgy pup Gucci is said to now be on a strict diet and exercise regime at a special canine fat club.

FEAST has launched its Around the Dinner Table Plate Drive through June.  The fundraising initiative supports the group’s mission, which is to empower families and support parents and caregivers in helping loved ones recover from eating disorders.

The British Mail’s Lucy Taylor ruminates on on how she gave up running and learned to simply enjoy the journey.

Oprah.com contributor Karen Salmansohn looks at the Fox and ABC refusal to air the sexy new Lane Bryant lingerie commercials in a different light: “The fact that a TV network would find this Lane Bryant spot far more sexually enticing than Victoria’s Secret spots — which air all the time — simply shows they’re acknowledging the extreme sexiness of voluptuous women!”

Comments?  Any links to share?  Add your two cents in the comments below.

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posted in Anorexia, Body Image, Body Politic, Body-Affirming, Eating Disorders, Fat Bias, Feminist Topics, Legal Issues, Mental Health, Non-profits, Politics, Pop Culture, Rachel | 12 Comments

7th June 2010

Replacing racism with sizeism? Not cool, Wonkette

by Rachel

So, the blog Wonkette recently opined on Prescott, Az. city councilman Steve Blair who used AM talk radio show to advocate for the removal of a black child’s face from a downtown mural.  Arizona isn’t exactly considered a bastion of racial tolerance right now, what with the passage of SB 1070, a stringent law many (myself included) would argue only legalizes racial profiling of Hispanics.  But the case of the mural, which was drawn from the photographs of actual children enrolled at the nearby, racially-diverse Miller Valley School, is especially egregious.  Blair’s call for the removal of an African-American child figured prominently in the mural was met with a wave of Waspian support, with even the school’s principal pressuring the artists behind the mural to lighten — a.k.a. whiten – the faces of children depicted (the principal has since backed down).  And this is just the latest insult — the children who worked alongside the artists were repeatedly subjected to drive-by racial slurs and epithets during the months-long project.  Read more on this affront to decency here.

Wonkette, like so many others, was naturally outraged by the blatant racism, as was radio channel KYCA, who promptly and appropriately fired Blair from his radio show (he still remains a city councilman).  In an blog update about the firing, Wonkette had this to say about Blair:

HE SHOULD BE DUMPED IN A CESSPOOL FILLED WITH BOILING BP CRUDE, etc.

But whatever, look at this fat fucking hunchbacked pig, and pity him if you have that kind of generous soul.

Not to take attention away from this horrible display of racism, but is anyone else struck by the inherent hypocrisy of Wonkette replacing one form of -ism — racism — with yet another form of -ism — sizeism?  There are plenty of slurs with which to hurl Blair’s way — racist, bigot, uninformed, xenophobic and spineless, ignorant twit, to name just a few — but commentary on his size and appearance should not be among them.  Not only are these remarks entirely irrelevant to Blair’s speech and actions, such comments, in fact, only perpetuates the  exploitive hegemonies and ideology of domination that buttresses all forms of discrimination.  As Shirley Chisholm once said, In the end antiblack, antifemale, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing – antihumanism.

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posted in Body Politic, Fat Bias, Race Issues, Rachel | 14 Comments

3rd June 2010

Hear yours truly on NPR’s “The Story”

by Rachel

It seems that your F-word bloggers have gone a bit AWOL this past week. Charlynn and Greta are still basking in post-graduation bliss meets The Real World and I’ve been battling an ever growing feeling of thyroid-related fatigue and malaise these past few weeks. I know there’s something wrong when it’s June and my garden planters have yet to be planted! I just had bloodwork drawn today and am scheduled to see my endocrinologist soon, so hopefully I will be back and blogging with my own brand of sass and wit relatively soon. In the meantime, remember the “The Story” segment I recorded a few weeks ago with Dick Gordon? I had found a painting on an online auction site last year and did a little detective work to track down the family of the woman in the portrait. I usually don’t listen to the radio at all while I am working, but I used my lunch break today to go get the bloodwork done and again, rather serendipitously, heard the start of the program and MY voice on the radio! To listen to the archives and see the painting, click here.

And yes, I was extremely nervous, but luckily Dick started with Evelyn and so my nervousness had some time to dissipate before we chatted. Brandon says it sounds like I put on my “reporter voice.”  I don’t know about that, but am glad to hear that I managed to sound at least somewhat coherent.  Feel free to use this as an open post to discuss your own uncanny coincidences or other happy accidents.

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posted in Personal, Rachel | 5 Comments

25th May 2010

British “health” mag fattens up gaunt thin model

by Rachel

In a strange twist to the usual Photoshopped models debate, a British magazine has ‘fessed up to digitally manipulating an image of a shockingly thin model to make her look… heavier.

Jane Druker, editor of the ironically titled publication Healthy, admitted to airbrushing model Kamilla Wladyka’s cover shot on the April edition of the mag, explaining that the model initially *appeared* to be in good health, but had lost so much weight in the week between casting and shoot that airbrushing became necessary.   As the Daily Mail UK reports, editors added 2-3 stone, or 28-42 pounds, to Kamilla’s photo to make the 5-foot-10-inch, British size-6 model look “a little bit bigger, to make her look like she was a size ten as opposed to a size four” out of concern for the magazine’s commitment to promoting “health and wellbeing.”

‘There were plenty of clothes that we couldn’t put on her because her bones stuck out too much,’ Druker said.  ‘She looked beautiful in the face, but really thin and unwell. That’s not a reflection of what we do in our magazine, which is about good health.’

Good health?  Really?

In its defense, the magazine acted transparently and stated that they do not normally airbrush images of models to give the false illusion of health.  Yet if this model appeared to be so unnaturally thin and unhealthy that digital airbrushing was required, why wasn’t she sent home immediately and another healthier model used instead?  Oh, silly me… I forgot.  Healthy magazine, like so many others, determines health and wellbeing on almost the sole basis of appearance. And as everyone knows, thin=healthy but too thin=unhealthy, so instead let’s just made the model LOOK like she doesn’t suffer from raging anorexia, actual health be damned.

Yes, it’s a good thing that magazines and advertisers are beginning to take heed of the tragic and dangerous social implications of showing images, altered or otherwise, of super-skinny models.  But the solution is not to simply airbrush the same radically thin models into some slightly higher, but more socially-acceptable vision of conformity, but rather to actually seek out and hire models whose body shapes and sizes require very little to no airbrushing in order to meet these standards.  As eating disorder activist Susan Ringwood, who has campaigned for the use of diversely-sized fashion models, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph:

There’s a fundamental difference between using camera work to make someone look polished, and changing the shape and size of someone’s body in order to portray them looking differently, to conform to whatever ideal.  It’s just not helpful and puts huge pressure on people to keep up a hyper-perfectionism that isn’t real. If you can’t trust the health industry to be healthy, how can you expect the fashion magazines to put their house in order?

But, then again, what do we really expect from a “health” magazine that also advertises weight-loss advice on the same cover as the same gaunt-thin model airbrushed to look heavier?

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posted in Body Politic, Eating Disorders, Fashion, Health, Nutrition & Fitness, Pop Culture, Rachel | 14 Comments

20th May 2010

Guest post: Fasting for God or holy anorexia?

by Rachel

Speaking of women, food and god… Reader Jocelyn (who comments here by the name J.S.) contacted me a few weeks ago proposing a guest blog entry on the convergence of fasting for religious purposes and eating disorders among women of faith — and we’re not just talking here about pursuit of the Gospel of Thinness. As someone who subscribes to spiritual beliefs (Buddhism) in which followers promote many dictates around food (no meat or alcohol, eat only until you’re 80 percent full, etc…), I was intrigued to learn more about the fasting traditions held in other religions.* Many religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, incorporate fasting into spiritual beliefs, believing it to give followers a heightened sense of self-awareness and more intimate connection with god or nature. Yet I was still a bit shocked to read in Jocelyn’s guest post of the extreme fasting lengths to which some people of faith will go — and how quickly those religious motivations can morph into something entirely more dangerous and insidious.

“You have to watch it with those religious girls,” my sister murmured to me under cover of the blender noise.

I looked away from my room-mate, who was shoving a concoction of blueberries, soy milk, and bananas into the blender’s pitcher across the kitchen. “What do you mean?”

“That’s going to be her only meal today? She’s ‘fasting’?” At my nod, she added, “Didn’t you tell me she’s anorexic?”

I shifted, uncomfortable. “Well, she was. I mean, obviously she’s not starving herself now, she looks healthy…”

“Maybe she’s still trying to starve herself,” my sister said softly, just before the motor cut out.

At the time I had recently moved to the area in order to become part of a large group of Christian people who believe in something called the “fasted lifestyle.” As preached, the fasted lifestyle means voluntary restraint, from spending to housing to food—in other words, one lives in a simple fashion in order to have greater resources to devote to the Kingdom of God. As practiced by many of the early twenty-something women who devoted themselves to the cause, it became practical, religious-sanctioned anorexia.

I didn’t know this when I moved there. I had friends from a previous year spent in the city; we had all belonged to a church that was now defunct. Many of them had joined the group before I returned. I liked their message of whole-hearted devotion. I still do, which is why I’m not naming it; the leaders practice what they preach. But. When I would hang out, outside the building, I would overhear snatches of conversation that should have given me pause.

“She’s only eating one meal a day for… forever. She’s, like, totally devoted.” (This was about a church leader who was in her early twenties at the time.)

“What are you fasting from this time?” “He said we’re not supposed to talk about it so we don’t compare… Okay. I’m doing liquids only.” “Oh man. Maybe I should make mine tougher. I was just going to go no meats, no sweets.”

“It was supposed to be a 21-day fast, but I lost ten pounds so I thought maybe I should go to forty days?”

I wasn’t self-aware enough to realize it, but this was a toxic scene for me. I had recently lost quite a bit of weight through extremely regimented means, although it was all physician-approved, and I lived with the daily fear that I would gain it all back. Every time I stepped on the scale, and it was often, I would suffer a shaft of icy panic if I had even gained one pound. When my room-mate moved into my apartment, we fed each others’ obsessions. We would go and eat monster servings of frozen custard, and then declare we were fasting for the next two weeks—or at least until we could fit into our skinny jeans again. But of course, the fasting was all for God, not for us… right?

Eventually I moved back to my home state. Once there, I found a church that I felt comfortable with. They were loosely connected with my previous spiritual leaders, and preached a similar message. I slowly regained some stability in my eating habits. I stopped obsessing over weight gain. All was well for a couple of years… And then I noticed that fasting was becoming more and more commonly preached from the pulpit as a means to connect with God. Church-wide fasts were declared. The teenaged and slightly older girls grew gaunt, or gained weight—almost none stayed the same. I lost a bunch of weight, and then yo-yoed back up again. I have to admit, though, that I didn’t comprehend how dire the situation had become until my best friend, who had started attending about six months after me, came to me with the news that she and her husband were strongly considering leaving.

“Do you realize, Chris (her husband) and I added up all the days we were supposed to be fasting—I mean, church-wide fasts that were called from the pulpit? And it added up to one hundred and fifty days,” she told me. “That’s ridiculous.”

I had by no means participated whole-heartedly in that many days of fasting, though I had tried, but—150? Faced with that number, I retreated to my computer. I looked up fasting to see if I could find anybody else who had experienced something similar. The first blog I read opened with an introduction in which the author pleaded for support and understanding for her lifestyle of fasting. I thought I must have found someone from the same church… And then, as I continued scrolling, I discovered that it was a pro-ana blog. Her fasted lifestyle was one of stylized starvation. A light bulb went off in my head—not the ultimate light bulb that I was eating disordered, that came later, but I did realize, “this is not healthy. And if I’m not caring for my body, which is a temple, then it can’t be holy either.”

It took another year, but I left that church. There were other reasons, of course, but the emphasis on fasting over practical expressions of love was the main factor. I had come to realize that my relationship with food simply wasn’t healthy enough for me to deny myself all of it for a period of time without serious consequences. Nor was I ready to hear it preached as a shortcut to God’s action without experiencing crippling guilt about my inability to participate.

I have friends who are Muslim who have told me about their conflicted relationship with faith-mandated fasting. I know (partly from Rachel) that other religions recommend denying oneself food as a gateway to accessing the divine. Have you ever experienced this sort of thing, or am I the only one? I’d love to hear from The F-Word’s readership, because I’ve felt like an oddity.

* For more on fasting and Buddhism, read the last half of the post here.

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posted in Anorexia, Eating Disorders, Guest Blogger, Mental Health, Rachel, Religion | 31 Comments

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