February 7, 2008

No Shit, Sherlock

Filed under: fat,study — embonpoint @ 3:04 pm

Obesity may be largely genetic, study says.

Of course, they have to finish the article by exhorting those disposed to overweight to work extra hard to keep the pounds off, but it’s something.


January 31, 2008

Big Voices, Little Bodies

Filed under: media,music — embonpoint @ 3:33 pm

My fondness for Angry Girl Rock of the Lilith Fair-ish variety is well known to my friends and family, and so it wasn’t much of a surprise to me when my sister sent me a package that turned out to contain a CD featuring a female singer-songwriter. 🙂

And so I’ve been listening to Sara Bareilles’ Little Voice for the last couple of days and trying to decide what I think of it, musically. There are songs I love and songs I’m “meh” about, and I know myself well enough to realize that a month from now I’ll probably love the songs I’m “meh” about now and vice versa. At any rate, though, she has talent and I’m enjoying the album, it’s just a question of whether she’ll end up joining my mental Pantheon of Music Goddesses.

But wait, you ask, isn’t this blog supposed to be about fat?

I recently read The Health Institute of Nutrition’s satirical post about collarbones as the new and trendy marker of status and thinness, and so maybe it was inevitable that I’d zero in on the back-cover photo, unable to stop looking at Ms. Bareilles’ prominent collarbones and having thinky thoughts about the nature of the music business.

I’ve thought about this before, but it’s coming back to mind at the moment and now I have a place to vent. It bothers me, you see, that almost all of my Music Goddesses are thin. Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Vienna Teng et al…all wonderfully talented thin women.

(Now I’m off on a mental tangent about Stevie Nicks and how snarkily my parents used to gossip about her weight ups and downs in the eighties. I was a kid and not indoctrinated yet into the cult of Fat is Evil, and could never figure out what the big deal was as long as she was still singing.)

There have been some trolls in my life who, when I complained about things like this, would respond with “You just want everyone to be fat because you’re not happy and you don’t want anyone else to be Thin And Happy either!” Nope, I don’t particularly feel any need for Tori Amos or Sara Bareilles or any other singer to get fat for my sake. I want them to be whatever the hell weight they feel happy and healthy at.

I just want to see some fat singers standing alongside them in the limelight.

The problem is twofold, I think–the music industry is more likely to give a break to a thin woman in the first place, and then once someone’s in the business, the pressure to stay thin has got to be horrendous.

I wonder how many wonderful songwriters, how many beautiful voices, we’re missing because they’re attached to fat bodies. (Makes me wish I were more into opera…)

January 28, 2008

“I Could Never Do X, I’m Too Fat”

Filed under: exercise,fat,living large — embonpoint @ 1:23 am

This afternoon, my dear friend F. and I did what we usually do when we have a lazy weekend afternoon to hang out: we went to Barnes and Noble.

They’ve got a big rack of exercise books and assorted exercise paraphernalia up front right now, presumably for the New Year’s Resolutioners (Resolvers?), and among them are some books on yoga. F and I were standing around near that rack but with our backs to it, looking at the “New in Paperback” rack, and I heard a voice behind me saying,

“I could never do yoga. I’m too fat.”

I turned around without thinking. I’m not even sure what I planned to say to the woman, maybe “I’m fat and I do yoga,” or “my friend is also fat and she does yoga,” or “do whatever the hell you want and don’t worry about your fat.”

But I didn’t say anything, partly because I’m chicken by nature and, more importantly, couldn’t tell who’d spoken. There was no one standing by the exercise books by the time I turned around. The only woman in sight was a little ways from the rack, and it’s not like I could go up to a total stranger and say, “Excuse me, ma’am, but did you say a minute ago that you’re too fat for yoga?” without it seeming offensive.

The woman, the one I think made the comment, was about a size 12. I’m not sure which is sadder, that fat women in this society think their size precludes them from the things they want to do, or that women who aren’t even fat think the same thing. They’re probably about equal, really.

So on that note: Follow your bliss, y’all. Size be damned.

January 26, 2008

Sin and Atonement

Filed under: food — embonpoint @ 5:05 am

Fat is not disgusting. Rape is disgusting.
–Dianne Sylvan, The Body Sacred

One thing I’ve been trying to do, with limited success, is to stop talking about food in terms of good and evil.

Naomi Wolf talks about this some in The Beauty Myth, how in the past if a woman said “I was bad last night,” people would think she cheated on her husband, but nowadays she probably means she cheated on her diet. And while I have no desire to go back to a more sexually puritanical world, I don’t think we’ve done anyone any favors by transferring our puritanical streak to food instead.

Need to remember: Chocolate cake is not sinful; it’s just rich. Ice cream is not decadent. Celery is not virtuous. The cake isn’t robbing people at gunpoint or engaging in insider trading. The celery doesn’t spend its weekends volunteering at the soup kitchen. It’s all…just food.

On a related note, there was a comment somewhere in the fatosphere the other day about how we’ve been conditioned to see exercise as a punishment for food. I don’t remember who said it or where; it was one of those things where I followed a link to a link to a link, and then by the time I started having thinky thoughts about the comment, I’d forgotten where I’d seen it. So, by all means, if you said this, let me know and I’ll credit you. 🙂

My grandmother, who was fat until just before her death, used to have all sorts of diet paraphernalia around her house. She went on every diet in existence. And one of the books she had lying around was called Walking Off Weight. I still remember being about 12 and reading this exercise the author wanted the readers to do. The gist was that you took a bag of M&Ms to a football field. You ate one M&M (or is that one M?) and then you were supposed to walk the whole length of the football field, and then that M was worked off. Then you were supposed to decide whether you wanted another piece of candy, considering that you’d have to walk the football field again to work that one off.

And that got me thinking about a comment I made at work the other day. The women in my office, you see, are very concerned with their weight. I’m the fattest woman there by about fifty pounds, and also one of the only non-dieters. For the last couple of weeks we’ve had a dish of Jelly Belly beans in a high-traffic area, which happens to be right by my desk, and everyone has been eating them. And everyone has been loudly castigating themselves for eating them, too.

One of these ladies made a comment the other day about how “bad” she was to have eaten a jelly bean, and I confess, what fell out of my mouth was not the most fat-acceptancey thing I could have said.

See, the office is at the top of a flight of stairs. So I said, “You know, you probably burn the equivalent of a jelly bean every time you climb up here.”

It’s only in retrospect, thinking about my grandmother’s book and about the concept of exercise as punishment for food, that I realize the nasty, shadowy little place in my head that comment came from. Because while my basic point was that it was silly to obsess over one jelly bean, and my basic intent was to reassure her, what I actually said was entirely different.

Yeah, I’ve got a ways to go.

January 24, 2008

The Chubby on Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — embonpoint @ 3:39 pm

So. A little about me.

First of all, as I’ve discovered on my personal blog, I have an annoying tendency to start sentences with “So.” 🙂

I’m 30 years old. I live in the Midwest and work as an administrative assistant. I’m sort of freaky and sort of geeky. I have a huge dog. I’m a flaming liberal, politically, though i probably won’t talk about that much on this blog.

This blog is about fat. And body image.

I currently wear a size 16 and have an “obese” BMI, and first became “overweight” in my early twenties. However, weight has been an issue in my life since before I was even really aware of it; as I’ll probably discuss at greater length later, I have a father who suffered an eating disorder and was a right bastard to his wife and kids about food, exercise, and weight; and a mother who is the queen of all yo-yo dieters. I’ve been fat since I was about 23; I’ve thought I was fat since I was 12.

My first stirrings of fat activism reared their heads when the threshold for “overweight” was lowered and then, surprise surprise, a study showed there were more overweight people than ever before! I snorted and said, “Well, of course. If you start “overweight” at a lower number, it’s going to include more people.”

My general pissed-offness about the obesity hysteria has grown ever since, and this blog will be my place to talk about it and rant about it. There are two things I hold to be self-evident, and if you disagree with them, this blog may not be your cup of tea.

1. Being fat is not as bad for you as our culture wants you to believe.
2. Whether being fat is bad for you or not doesn’t change the more important thing: fat people should be treated with basic human respect, just like everyone else.

On that note, I ought to go and, you know, do what they pay me for. 😉 More ramblings to follow whenever I get the chance.

January 23, 2008

Welcome to Embonpoint

Filed under: Uncategorized — embonpoint @ 8:59 pm

Welcome to Embonpoint. My name is Kelly, and I’ve been commenting over at Shapely Prose for a while now, as “Kelly L.”

Finally, I decided I wanted a soapbox of my very own, one where I could talk about fat and body image issues to my heart’s content, and so here I am! 🙂

Blog at WordPress.com.