Alternachicks - Diets and the F word... (feminism)




meatymarty
08-14-2008, 10:32 AM
Hi everyone. I'm new here but I'm pretty sure this is where I belong. Anyway I've been struggling on how to ask this question for a long time. Hopefully this doesn't get too long.

I have a lot of wonderful, strong, inspiring female friends - feminists with a capitol F. And I love them but some of them have been less than supportive about my loosing weight. They are not big girls and this isn't related to jealously, but I think they look down on me for caving in to dominate ideals of beauty.

For example, I had some car trouble and had to stay over at a friends house for the night. At around 10pm she brought out some snacks. Nothing too unhealthy but I had already eaten all I planned to for the day and didn't want any. However, when I refused she got annoyed and asked if I was turning into one of those weight-obsessed girls in her office that won't eat after 6pm, I had to lie and say it would keep me from getting to sleep. Its soo frustrating to have to hide my eating habits almost as if I had an eating disorder when really I've just started a healthy lifestyle.

The thing is I *do* agree with a lot of what they say. It annoys me too that there are 50 sitcoms on American TV with a fat husband married to a thin and pretty wife because god-forbid a size-8 women be allowed on our television screens. Its not fair that fat men are perceived differently than fat women. Its not right that I had to lose almost 30 pounds to start to feel sexy again because all women- all people- should be allowed to feel sexy. But that is how it is for me right now and I'm tired of feeling guilty about it.

Do any of you ever get this reaction from your friends? Or feel like losing weight and thinking this much about your appearance is somehow anti-feminist? I don't think it is, but I feel strangely guilty a lot of the time. And I do feel so much more feminine now - its really strange.


guynna
08-14-2008, 10:44 AM
hi Marty -- wow, this is a big (no pun) topic that I've never seen addressed here, but it's certainly "out there.'' I have not had that experience of friends reacting negatively, but I can imagine it. I too am a feminist and generally have friends who think similarly, but I think they assume that I'm thinking more about health than about my (culturally defined) hottitude.

As long as you are getting healthier in a healthy way, not binging/purging, not hating yourself, not teaching 5-year-olds to hate THEMselves -- hey, you shouldn't feel guilty at all. I think that when I reach goal (WHEN, not if) I will still have to expend some mental/physical energy on maintenance, but I will also HAVE a lot more energy then (I already do!), and some of that I will continue to spend on fighting sexism, racism, ageism, sizeism. Net win.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but I wanted to let you know that you are definitely not the only one who's thinking about this, and it doesn't make you anti-woman to want to feel (and look) better.

Keep the faith baby!
anita

ollie27
08-14-2008, 11:12 AM
yeah. i'd say it's a purty big topic.

marty, i've dealt with this a lot. as someone who researches Women's Studies issues in school and also as a former chapter president of The National Organization for Women, I can tell you that this is not a problem that is going away anytime soon. And yes, this is a feminist issue. Self-image, the media's portrayal, society's demands, all of these are feminist's issues and are tied in with diet fads, eating disorders, the clothing industry. it's huge. but aiming for a healthy body is the key. is that your aim or are you aiming for a waif model figure and going to the extremes to do so? i could type all day on this.....agh!

what i can quickly say:

getting healthy is not anti-feminist. in fact, it's probably one of the most feminist things you can do. the healthier you are the more able to fight The Man:)

here's my quick definition of feminism:

advocating for political, social, and economical equality.

in striving for social equality we strive to change the expectations and societal pressures that are heaped upon women inclusive of body image. so yeah, again, this is a feminist issue---but in addition to that this is also a personal marty issue. being a feminist is about what it means to you. your friends do not have a monopoly on the word nor ideals.

and yes, totally unfair about the whole it's okay to be fat if you have testicles bit. and the only thing we can do about that is to educate ourselves, our young girls and boycott the media which choose to portray this crap. don't watch those shows. if you have time, write the station a letter. there are lots of campaigns against this--join one. NOW has a Love Your Body campaign that is good.

it's all about how you feel, self-perception, motivating factors, and sisterhood. speaking of which, i don't get this reaction from my friends. no one gives me grief because i don't want an effing snack.

make sense? i got kinda hyped up on the topic and wrote this quicky.


rileyozzy
08-14-2008, 11:31 AM
Being in control of yourself, making decisions based on what is right for you and having the freedom to do so is feminism in my book. I also don't see how eating healthy and exercising and loving yourself is not being a feminist. The standards that society holds for women's physical beauty are ridiculous and unrealistic. I would hope that all women come to the conclusion that the model photographs are not real. I have a four year old daughter and I hope to teach her that beauty can be found in so many different shapes and sizes, but I also hope to teach her to love herself and treat her body well. I will never look like the pictures, but I do know how good it feels to be in control of my actions.
I also think that a lot of times people make comments about your changes based on their own experiences that have nothing to do with you. I have a friend who makes negative comments about my using the treadmill and the food choices I make, but she is struggling with her own feelings and her comments really have nothing to do about me. Maybe there is something like that going on with your friends.

KLK
08-14-2008, 11:44 AM
Im not an Alternachick, but I do consider myself a Feminist (capital F :D) and I also KIND OF agree with what your friends and other people with the same ideals think -- women shoudln't have to feel that they need to lose weight to be acceptable (to society, themselves). Yet, even though I do intellectually agree that women shouldn't have to feel this way, I *DO*. But I don't think I am or ever have been objectively unacceptable as a woman, even at my highest weight, but I do think that it's hard -- very hard -- to be PHYSICALLY comfortable when you're morbidly obese.

It's harder to move, you have less energy, many people have health problems related to being so large, you have less stamina for physical activities, and many times, you're OBSESSED WITH FOOD, so it's also mentally taxing, even if you are 100% positive about how you look and feel that aesthetically, you have no reason to be thinner. Eating poor foods, being completely sedentary, etc. is not only a physical hardship (as your body was built to MOVE) but it's also mentally difficult (as your mind craves good foods and exercise).

I think your friends are projecting politics onto something that isn't necessarily political -- not every women who chooses to lose weight is doing so to please men, or society, or to conform to some unrealistic standard of beauty. And the ones that DO have every right to make themselves feel better, provided they lose the weight in a safe way and aren't endangering their lives to fit this ideal. You said your friends aren't fat, so basically, imo, they have no idea what being fat is really like; like most naturally thin people, they seem to be oversimplifying the obesity issue -- if a woman wants to lose weight, it HAS TO BE because she wants to conform, please men, etc etc etc. To me, that's as oversimplified as saying any woman who gets married is doing so because she feels she needs a man to be complete or that ALL women would be happier dedicating themselves to a career rather than having a family, etc.

Imo, the strongest kind of woman is one who can set a goal to improve herself physically and mentally and then reach that goal -- staying fat forever to please your feminist friends is the weakest thing you can do, imo, bc instead of doing what feels right TO YOU, you'd be letting others dictate what you can and cannot do (and wheres the liberation in THAT scenario??).

ollie27
08-14-2008, 11:59 AM
also, don't feel guilty for thinking about your appearance. it's pretty much been forced upon you since you were born. and even if you meditate in your room, reach enlightenment on what total BS appearances are as soon as you step out on the street it's in your face. you basically would have to seclude yourself from all of society to get past this concept. education is key. just realize when you think about your appearance, it's a social construct. know it for what it is and don't feel guilty.

as for feeling more feminine. <----this word is also a socially constructed and defined word. who defines feminine? masculine? am i masculine because i am overweight? can i only be what is considered feminine if i am slim? what the f is "feminine" anyway?

and another thing. not sure if y'all have seen this video but i love showing it when we are on the topic of media and standards for women.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHqzlxGGJFo

cheers.

meatymarty
08-14-2008, 12:19 PM
Thank you so much for your responses. Sometimes you get pushed in so many different directions you forget where you are and where you're going. Of course, eating healthy, exercising and loving yourself aren't anti-feminist! I'm making my body stronger not weaker - and yes better able to fight the man :)

RileyOzzy, your daughter is incredibly lucky that she has such an awesome mom. Between anorexic 8 year olds and the childhood obesity epidemic I'm scared for this upcoming generation of girls getting traumatized about their weight at such a young age.

Actually part of my reason for loosing weight was related to that. I just graduated college this spring (after 4 years of pizza and beer) and I thought about how I wanted the rest of my life to be and what sort of things I want to be sharing with the world and (eventually) my children. Being achy, lazy, hot all the time and feeling unattractive was not what I imagined!

And out of respect to my friends- we went to a pressure-cooker of a college and all saw way too many smart, happy women fall into miserable eating disorders. So they are coming from a place of hate or self-righteousness so much as very misguided/misdirected protectiveness. you know?

meatymarty
08-14-2008, 12:28 PM
they aren't coming... sorry

And Ollie about your last comment which I missed while I was posting - yes, yes, yes. I didn't mean to imply that I actually *was* more feminine but that I've started unconsciously dressing and acting more "girly" lately and that people are treating me that way too (opening more doors, offering to help carry things, calling me honey/sweetheart (?!)). Its sort of a chicken/egg thing. Am I acting this way because they are treating me this way or are they treating me like that because of the way I'm dressed/behaving.

Thanks again for all your responses. This thread has been so interesting to read and very reassuring.

GradPhase
08-14-2008, 12:29 PM
I LOVE the dove campaigns. There's a lot of bad stuff said about them because the company who makes Dove also makes Axe and those ads are all about objectifying women - but even still. They show the other side of it all to men and little girls, and I think that's a beautiful one. This one in particular made me cry the first few times I saw it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ytjTNX9cg0&feature=related

ghost
08-14-2008, 12:53 PM
Ollie, that was great. The one I like though...was this one...:
Slob evolution (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0u0wWOMIsE&feature=related) hehehe, sorry, couldn't resist.

BACK ON TOPIC...a personal perspective that may not be what other people feel exactly:

When I began my weight loss path I worked in a womens shelter and our director was and is a strongly opinionated feminist. I didn't even tell anybody I was "dieting" because I was so afraid of her reaction. And I had good reason to be afraid of her reaction, when I got pregnant with my son she called me the "vessel" with a snotty sarcastic tone for 5 months straight refusing to acknowledge that I still had an identity seperate from the fact that I was knocked up.
So, the first twenty lbs came off really fast and the residents at the shelter were all commenting on how great I looked and asking me how I was doing it. I got called into the directors office and she actually tried to discipline me for losing weight. I caught on pretty quickly that this was not a personnel issue, rather a personal issue of hers.
She made me feel like I was breaking some unwritten rule about personal body image and that because I no longer wanted to be morbidly obese that somehow made me less of a feminist and unworthy to work in a womens shelter. This was coming from a woman who herself was morbidly obese, and a staunch advocate for the rights of the obese. Nevermind the right of the obese to lose weight and become healthy, gawd forbid we want to do that huh?

The moral of the story. when you have a bat ****e crazy boss like that, or even friends like that, because at one time I did consider her a friend, you have to ask yourself, whats more important, what I want or need for myself for what they want or need for me? She needed me to remain a fat fem and I needed to get fit or live a miserable existence. And sometimes you have to walk away from these people until they come to their senses and sometimes that doesn't happen until they have their own personal experiences and walk the walk.

ollie27
08-14-2008, 03:03 PM
Ollie, that was great. The one I like though...was this one...:
Slob evolution (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0u0wWOMIsE&feature=related) hehehe, sorry, couldn't resist.

BACK ON TOPIC...a personal perspective that may not be what other people feel exactly:

When I began my weight loss path I worked in a womens shelter and our director was and is a strongly opinionated feminist.

that video was so wrong....:D

also, another note to what you wrote. i myself am i strongly opinionated feminist and i am not "bat****e crazy". we get such a bad rap though, so i think it's important to note that all feminists are not raving, fat, hairy, flannel wearing lesbians who yell at people for wanting to lose weight. just wanted to make that clear.

you know i was talking about this with the hubs the other day. about my goal. i don't really have a weight goal or size goal. i don't have a certain model image in mind. ****, i've been overweight all my life and don't even know how my body will carry "healthy" weight. so he asked what my goal was and i told him: i want to be able to put on some shoes and shorts and take off and run---for a lengthy amount of time and not collapse 5 minutes into it. that's it. that's what i am shooting for.

so yeah. moral of the story: it's all about perception and motivating factors. when i started this whole thing i put my stats into a BMI calculator and not only did it tell me i was overweight, but it reminded me that i am an at risk candidate for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. okay that's a motivating factor. this, however, is not: http://www.viciousstyle.com/fashionnews/bones.jpg

ghost
08-14-2008, 03:24 PM
that video was so wrong....:D

also, another note to what you wrote. i myself am i strongly opinionated feminist and i am not "bat****e crazy". we get such a bad rap though, so i think it's important to note that all feminists are not raving, fat, hairy, flannel wearing lesbians who yell at people for wanting to lose weight. just wanted to make that clear.

you know i was talking about this with the hubs the other day. about my goal. i don't really have a weight goal or size goal. i don't have a certain model image in mind. ****, i've been overweight all my life and don't even know how my body will carry "healthy" weight. so he asked what my goal was and i told him: i want to be able to put on some shoes and shorts and take off and run---for a lengthy amount of time and not collapse 5 minutes into it. that's it. that's what i am shooting for.

so yeah. moral of the story: it's all about perception and motivating factors. when i started this whole thing i put my stats into a BMI calculator and not only did it tell me i was overweight, but it reminded me that i am an at risk candidate for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. okay that's a motivating factor. this, however, is not: http://www.viciousstyle.com/fashionnews/bones.jpg

Sorry, I did not mean to imply that we are all bat ****e crazy. But some of us are. :devil: as with any sector of society. If anything, the human race has proven over time that there is no normal.

I think that picture of the emaciated model has been proven to have been photoshopped. I've seen it and the original and she's not quite that skinny. But ya, NOT motivating, it actually makes me want to eat something for her.

ollie27
08-14-2008, 03:30 PM
Sorry, I did not mean to imply that we are all bat ****e crazy. But some of us are. :devil: as with any sector of society. If anything, the human race has proven over time that there is no normal.

I think that picture of the emaciated model has been proven to have been photoshopped. I've seen it and the original and she's not quite that skinny. But ya, NOT motivating, it actually makes me want to eat something for her.

bat****e crazy - no need to apologize. i knew you weren't:) just making a point for anyone else reading that didn't. i mean, we do get a bad rap, yo.

waif pic - i dunno. i just typed in waif model and put the first thing up. my apologies to ms. not really that skinny model but still probably a little too thin anyway whose body size represents like 1% of society and who wears **** like that anyway whatshername :D

KLK
08-14-2008, 04:57 PM
Her reaction to your pregnancy is particularly interesting, I think, for someone who manages a women's shelter full of women, and I presume, children too. Does she also have no respect for the mothers that seek shelter at the shelter?

Ollie, that was great. The one I like though...was this one...:
Slob evolution (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0u0wWOMIsE&feature=related) hehehe, sorry, couldn't resist.

BACK ON TOPIC...a personal perspective that may not be what other people feel exactly:

When I began my weight loss path I worked in a womens shelter and our director was and is a strongly opinionated feminist. I didn't even tell anybody I was "dieting" because I was so afraid of her reaction. And I had good reason to be afraid of her reaction, when I got pregnant with my son she called me the "vessel" with a snotty sarcastic tone for 5 months straight refusing to acknowledge that I still had an identity seperate from the fact that I was knocked up.
So, the first twenty lbs came off really fast and the residents at the shelter were all commenting on how great I looked and asking me how I was doing it. I got called into the directors office and she actually tried to discipline me for losing weight. I caught on pretty quickly that this was not a personnel issue, rather a personal issue of hers.
She made me feel like I was breaking some unwritten rule about personal body image and that because I no longer wanted to be morbidly obese that somehow made me less of a feminist and unworthy to work in a womens shelter. This was coming from a woman who herself was morbidly obese, and a staunch advocate for the rights of the obese. Nevermind the right of the obese to lose weight and become healthy, gawd forbid we want to do that huh?

The moral of the story. when you have a bat ****e crazy boss like that, or even friends like that, because at one time I did consider her a friend, you have to ask yourself, whats more important, what I want or need for myself for what they want or need for me? She needed me to remain a fat fem and I needed to get fit or live a miserable existence. And sometimes you have to walk away from these people until they come to their senses and sometimes that doesn't happen until they have their own personal experiences and walk the walk.

ghost
08-14-2008, 05:55 PM
She never really had all that much respect for anybody. In fact, there were women who refused to come to shelter because they had been there before and had a bad experience with her. That says a lot when a woman would rather stay in an abusive and sometimes lethal situation then come to a place that is billed as being safe. Thats the main reason why I quit, myself and other co-workers tried to get those kinds of issues resolved with our board and they were ineffective at solving the problem so I left. She made it too hard for us to do our jobs because she had warped ideals and pushed them on everybody around her. Like, "well I don't have kids because we women faught for the right to work and vote so it's a sin against feminism to stay at home and raise babies." goes right along with those that feel no feminist should care what she looks like even if she's obese and wants to do something about it.
I guess some people just see in black and white and don't realize there is a whole world of gray areas between. We can be feminists and also be vain about our appearances, just as a man can be manly and sensative to those around him. Heck, I know more then one shelter advocate who hawks Mary Kay or Body Shop on the side.

rileyozzy
08-15-2008, 12:08 AM
I have really enjoyed reading this thread. Thank you all for the great discussion and interesting videos. I liked the Dove video where the mom says I don't know what to say because I haven't figured it out myself. I feel like that sometimes.

ollie27
08-15-2008, 03:15 PM
speaking of photoshop here's another one i like to show re: the media and how they portray unrealistic women so girls have an unrealistic idea of what they are "supposed" to look like.

http://jezebel.com/gossip/photoshop-of-horrors/heres-our-winner-redbook-shatters-our-faith-in-well-not-publishing-but-maybe-god-278919.php

edit: be sure to scroll down to the middle of the page

ghost
08-15-2008, 03:33 PM
oh, nice...when they were done with her she wasn't even the same person. I've seen a few of those before and after airbrush photos of models and celebs...I'm just glad to know they are as ugly as me underneath it all.

3Beans
08-15-2008, 03:37 PM
I actually have thought about this a lot. When I was an obese sedentary Camel Lights-smoking intellectual, I probably would have judged the me I've become rather harshly. But it comes down to this:


getting healthy is not anti-feminist. in fact, it's probably one of the most feminist things you can do. the healthier you are the more able to fight The Man:)


I totally agree with Ollie. Especially when so many corporations are making a buck off the obesity epidemic and the resulting increased need for pharmaceuticals, what better way is there to fight the power on a daily basis than to take your health into your own hands?

Is it possible you're struggling with your renewed feelings of femininity, rather than the weight loss issues alone? Post-college life can be kind of confusing - no more insulation from the 'real' world, less freedom to constantly reinvent yourself, and so forth. You're clearly an insightful person and I'm sure you'll figure it out. :hug:

pengbear
08-16-2008, 10:34 AM
Meatymarty, I agree with the other posters. Feminism is an individual philosophy, so everyone has their own ideas. But you ought not feel guilty or make excuses for your choosing to be healthy. I don't understand why some women feel that your opinions as a feminist are validated ONLY if you are unattractive by the current media's standards of beauty. In my experiences, some women draw their worth from their conformity to those standards, and some women draw their worth from their nonconformity to those standards and that is sad and in my opinion unfeminist. Worth and Value is so much more than appearances.

But bottom line is, the body is a machine, and like any machine, it runs at optimum performance at certain settings. And wanting to get your body to that settings is natural. That's what I had to tell a fellow feminist friend (who is very overweight like me) who started making catty comments about me "trying to get pretty" etc. (Actually, she's not so much pro-woman as she is anti-man.) So we kind of duked it out and she's backed off.

But as a woman I feel like it's my duty to be the best woman I can be, and that means showing my strength and skills and character. And being healthy is part of that, for me. Maybe not for everyone. As the only feminist in my family, I HAVE to show them that I have value besides my womb and how I can be a helpmeet to a man.

Sorry for the long post, but this is something I'm very passionate about and I felt I had to chime in. Carry on, Feminists!:hug:

nakedmango
08-17-2008, 09:01 AM
Great topic, great replies.

I've lost 15 pounds, which considering my height means I am now in the a-little-overweight-but-very-curvy category. I was out shopping yesterday and noticed guys looking at me. I haven't really noticed this in a while, so it's a little unfamiliar. And weird. And not even being subtle about it either. Why do people feel that my body is theirs to consume?

The thing is, when you're "fat", society thinks they have the right to ignore you, diminish you, disrespect you, and judge you because of your body. ...On the other forum I frequent, there is a thread--I forget the topic--about how the women who post have been called fat, called a pig, mooed at, and sworn at by strangers simply because they are overweight. This had never happened to me in my life until last week, when someone cut me off and swore at me (both of us cyclists). Seriously, I've lost 15 pounds, worked my butt off, changed so much about how I live my life-- and I feel hot, but he thought the words "fat b*tch" would break me. (Yeah right.)

But also: when you're "thin," society thinks they have the right to ogle you, objectify you, comment on you, "own" you, and judge you because of your body. We are being judged regardless of whether we fit society's ideals or not. Women's bodies are considered suitable for public consumption (in a way that men's bodies are most decidedly not)--and that is the problem, not the size of the bodies.

However, I know I feel like I have it together when I am a weight I want to be. Which makes me far more likely to speak out at things that bother me from a feminist point of view. Self-confidence at whatever your size is, is also key.

Side note: the Beauty Myth was one of the best books I ever read. A friend of mine who works with the media says it should be required reading for all women--once a year, every year. I also enjoyed Black Tights: Women, Sport and Sexuality (by Laura Robinson), and I think those of us who are into exercise will find it interesting from a feminist point of view.

mauvaisroux
08-20-2008, 08:11 PM
I don't look at it as dieting - to me it is eating for optimum health and wellness -Thank you Dr. Weil ;)

I am not worried about looking like a supermodel and was probably a size 2 when I was 2 years old - :lol: I just want to take care of my health and be as well as I can for as long as I can.

guynna
08-21-2008, 02:17 PM
Ditto the "healthy for a long time" thing.

I wonder though about saying "feminism is an individual" philosophy; does that mean that "feminism" doesn't mean anything? Or that there is a core principle that is enacted in many ways? (The shelter director who apparently didn't respect her clients was not imo enacting anything like feminism! but there is room for difference.) I'm not advocating a monolithic, litmus-test, party-line scenario, but.... Is there a core?

What do y'all think? I'm enjoying this thread.
anita

Ufi
08-21-2008, 11:14 PM
One of the books I finished reading right before I joined here is "Fat is a Feminist Issue." I've felt that connection for a long time, but this helped because it really put things out there for me. I don't ever want to devalue myself by measuring my worth by the attention I get, by feeling I have to do certain things to be acceptable to men and thus society. But I don't have to say that with my weight. I can say that with my actions, with my words, with my attitudes. This is a surprisingly difficult thing to come to terms with, I guess probably because I don't have enough models to follow and the pressure from society can be so intense.

pengbear
08-21-2008, 11:33 PM
I wonder though about saying "feminism is an individual" philosophy; does that mean that "feminism" doesn't mean anything? Or that there is a core principle that is enacted in many ways? (The shelter director who apparently didn't respect her clients was not imo enacting anything like feminism! but there is room for difference.) I'm not advocating a monolithic, litmus-test, party-line scenario, but.... Is there a core?


I guess my thinking behind it is that while the core philosophy is the same (gender equality, women's rights), to each person the manifestation of that philosophy is individual. For one person fighting for women who are abused may be the way to elevate women. For another it may be not following family expectations of getting married at 16, staying barefoot, uneducated and pregnant, instead choosing to have a career and a life non-dependant on men, and encouraging others in the family to do the same. I guess that's what I meant by individual philosophy.

txsqlchick
08-21-2008, 11:39 PM
Hi everyone. I'm new here but I'm pretty sure this is where I belong. Anyway I've been struggling on how to ask this question for a long time. Hopefully this doesn't get too long.

I have a lot of wonderful, strong, inspiring female friends - feminists with a capitol F. And I love them but some of them have been less than supportive about my loosing weight. They are not big girls and this isn't related to jealously, but I think they look down on me for caving in to dominate ideals of beauty.

For example, I had some car trouble and had to stay over at a friends house for the night. At around 10pm she brought out some snacks. Nothing too unhealthy but I had already eaten all I planned to for the day and didn't want any. However, when I refused she got annoyed and asked if I was turning into one of those weight-obsessed girls in her office that won't eat after 6pm, I had to lie and say it would keep me from getting to sleep. Its soo frustrating to have to hide my eating habits almost as if I had an eating disorder when really I've just started a healthy lifestyle.

The thing is I *do* agree with a lot of what they say. It annoys me too that there are 50 sitcoms on American TV with a fat husband married to a thin and pretty wife because god-forbid a size-8 women be allowed on our television screens. Its not fair that fat men are perceived differently than fat women. Its not right that I had to lose almost 30 pounds to start to feel sexy again because all women- all people- should be allowed to feel sexy. But that is how it is for me right now and I'm tired of feeling guilty about it.

Do any of you ever get this reaction from your friends? Or feel like losing weight and thinking this much about your appearance is somehow anti-feminist? I don't think it is, but I feel strangely guilty a lot of the time. And I do feel so much more feminine now - its really strange.

Elsewhere on the forum I complained about my friends not being supportive, which they weren't being.

Then today, one of them called me and she'd changed her tune. She didn't apologize, but she seemed much more supportive of my efforts. I was glad about that...we've known each other for 11 years and I was really disappointed that she didn't seem to give a crap about something that was so important to me. I give a crap about stuff that's important to her!

As for your friends wanting to eat late...try this excuse! If I eat after about 8pm, I get heartburn when I try to go to sleep. Sometimes it's so bad that I wake up in the middle of the night with horrible pain. It's not usually a problem if I eat earlier and give my body a few hours to digest what I've eaten before I assume a horizontal position. ;) If they tell you to take a Zantac, just tell them you'd rather not have to take medication when you could avoid the problem by not eating.

mollymom
08-21-2008, 11:47 PM
Very very interesting thread. I have tried to grapple with this issue for years. In a very, very stupid moment I thought to myself the other day, "I am probably going to be single for the rest of my life, why should I even bother," and yes I promptly tried to kick myself in the *** for even letting that stupidity enter my head. But that made me think for a long time about my reasons for wanting to lose weight:

a) I NEED to lose weight for health issues and that is the HUGE difference between this period of deciding to lose weight and the diets I went on in the past. Those who don't have the health issues yet and think this is a purely cosmetic issue, you WILL have problems later on if you don't address your weight issue now. I don't know one middle or later-aged overweight woman who isn't experiencing joint pain, shortness of breath, depression etc. When you are facing hip or knee replacement due to years of stress and wear on the joints from excess weight, you will want to lose weight no matter what the other issues may be regarding societal expectations...yada yada yada.

b) It isn't an issue of looks more than choices and comfort. I don't want to have to shop in "fat" stores for clothes. I don't want to dress in clothes that don't tuck in, etc. I want to look good because I know when I look good I feel good. I don't want to worry if I will fit in the airline seat, and I have had to undergo the HUMILIATION of asking for a seatbelt extender! I want to be able to ride any damn rollercoaster I want without worrying if I will fit in the seat. I want to be able to travel in my retirement as I have always dreamed and be able to walk , and climb and enjoy without pain and fatigue. If I don't get this weight under control and get my joints back in shape , I won't have my two weeks in Paris, or my trip to Venice, or the Taj Mahal, and Machu Picchu.

c) Feminism aside, and yes I define myself as a feminist (I remember women making less than men for the same job etc.), I still like men and their company. Yes I find it aggravating that men are not subjected to the same pressures as women but I think that is changing too. The men undergoing bariatric surgery, cosmetic surgery etc. is growing. I am not entirely sure that that is a good thing either, but at least some are starting to "know how it feels". Do I want to be attractive..well I am now...but I can be better..and again..when I look good and know I look good, it helps my mood.

I am really really going to get slammed for this but...could this be looking for an excuse NOT to have to address the weight issue at all, saying that it is just purely cosmetic reasons and societal pressures?

guynna
08-22-2008, 08:06 AM
I am really really going to get slammed for this but...could this be looking for an excuse NOT to have to address the weight issue at all, saying that it is just purely cosmetic reasons and societal pressures?

I can't figure out how to do the quote thing this early in the morning! -- I'm not sure what you mean -- what is the "this" that might be an excuse? (Sorry if it's obvious and I'm just asleep : )

I'm with you on the middle-age wake-up. I have not always been this heavy, but gaining it midlife was not a good idea. I want many of the things you do re: travel, comfort.
anita

txsqlchick
08-22-2008, 08:14 AM
I don't see fat as a feminist issue, I see it as a health issue completely separate from the oversexing and objectification of women.

I'm unhealthy because of my weight. I'm losing weight to be healthy and an added benefit is that I'll be more attractive. To me that's empowering and isn't that what feminism is all about, fundamentally?

Lovely
08-22-2008, 08:21 AM
I'm unhealthy because of my weight. I'm losing weight to be healthy and an added benefit is that I'll be more attractive. To me that's empowering and isn't that what feminism is all about, fundamentally?

I see what you're saying. But, I disagree...I never really considered being more attractive as a feminist objective, but rather an idea that I should be treated with respect & equality regardless of how frumpy I am.

But that probably circles around to "What does feminism mean? Does it have core values/beliefs, or is it 'in the eye of the beholder'?"

Lovely
08-22-2008, 08:38 AM
Do any of you ever get this reaction from your friends? Or feel like losing weight and thinking this much about your appearance is somehow anti-feminist? I don't think it is, but I feel strangely guilty a lot of the time. And I do feel so much more feminine now - its really strange.

Call me crazy, but I almost wished I got more responses like this from my friends. (You're right, be careful what I wish for.)

I see three separate issues here. Dieting. Physical attractiveness. Feminism.

They may interweave at points, but I don't consider them one and the same. Losing some extra pounds to live a healthy life has nothing to do with feminism. What's wrong with watching what we eat, moving more and respecting our bodies? I can actually think of nothing more feminist than appreciating my body and nuturing it so it can continue to be good to me. Then again, there's that line... if I'm losing weight because my boss says I could "get ahead" if I was thinner or something...

There is nothing wrong with feeling good about ourselves. There's nothing wrong with being pretty. Or heck, even gorgeous. And most people brush their hair & teeth before they leave the house in the morning. I doubt they're bringing down the sisterhood of all women around the world. The line is crossed when it goes from feeling confident about yourself and the way you look to being consumed by the way you look and how it should make you feel. (And when we allow others to treat us based on appearance.)

You don't have to tell your friends the whole truth of what you're doing if it means that they will be contrary just to be contrary. Not really their business anyways.

But, if you really wanted to get on their stones about feminism and your body, just mention that you're trying to get in touch with, and appreciate yourself more. And eating what your body truly craves is one of those things. That's something all feminists can eat up, right? ;) ;) ;)

ollie27
08-22-2008, 09:25 AM
Ditto the "healthy for a long time" thing.

I wonder though about saying "feminism is an individual" philosophy; does that mean that "feminism" doesn't mean anything? Or that there is a core principle that is enacted in many ways? (The shelter director who apparently didn't respect her clients was not imo enacting anything like feminism! but there is room for difference.) I'm not advocating a monolithic, litmus-test, party-line scenario, but.... Is there a core?

What do y'all think? I'm enjoying this thread.
anita

i've always said that the core of feminist philosophy is what the dictionary tells you if you look it up. i think i posted this earlier, but most define the word feminism as "a movement towards political, social, and economical equality". it's only a sentence, but it says a heck of a lot.

but then you have to ask: what is equality?

do we want to be treated the same as man? this as always been sort of hyperbolic in nature. in the seventies, most of the academic and activist feminists were pushing towards androgyny, or gender neutrality. in the 90s there was a back lash. a sort of "i'm a feminist and i wear a thong dammit!" sort of like the lipstick lesbian thing goin on at the same time. which took us back to square one. again. what is a feminist?

even way back when, when the suffragist movement began and feminism started pervading society but didn't really have a name, no one could agree on it. should women vote? why just white women and not black? does women's rights only pertain to one race?

point it: since the movement began we cannot even agree on what the **** the movement is or what direction we are headed, where we are going, much less even a friggin defintion for the word feminist:?:

how are we going to make progress?

mollymom - you say you remember when women were paid less for the same job? i do too! it was just this morning! women still earn $0.76 for every $1.00 that men earn for the same job.

i've had people in my classes tell me when i am on my soapbox "get over it, olivia, women's lib happened. we're equal." ack! we're not. not when it comes to politics (13% of US government position are held by women while we make up the majority of the population) not when it comes to society (rape, burkhas, domestic abuse, etc.) economy (see above) not even when it comes to fat.

fat is a feminist issue.

society holds it is less acceptable for women to be overweight. period. it is society that tells us to be underweight. thin is a feminist issue as well folks. it is this same society that feeds us garbage vis fast food joints and FDA approvals. it is this same society that tells us we don't have time to make our own dinners (americans work more hours than other industrialized nations). it is this same society that earns millions of dollars in campaigns by presenting to young girls a photoshopped image that is a map to what they should look like.

and society is winning because we as a gender fail to band together to give it a collective finger. and we can start by open honest discussion and education. be honest with ourselves and others. yeah, at times when you feel like not going in to it a mere 'i got heartburn' will do, but as women we need to be able to talk about all of this.

ya know?

stepping down:soap:

txsqlchick
08-22-2008, 09:34 AM
I see what you're saying. But, I disagree...I never really considered being more attractive as a feminist objective, but rather an idea that I should be treated with respect & equality regardless of how frumpy I am.

But that probably circles around to "What does feminism mean? Does it have core values/beliefs, or is it 'in the eye of the beholder'?"

It's not being more attractive, I think it's about feeling empowered and succeeding. Different people get that feeling in different ways. I already know I have a kick-butt brain and a successful career. Now I want to succeed in two more areas: being healthy and looking good.

Maybe it's a side effect of having grown up in Dallas, but at least around here, looks do count. Not saying it's right, but it's the plain truth. :^:

ollie27
08-22-2008, 09:39 AM
looks count everywhere, txschick, not just dallas.

we recently watched a film in sociology. i think it may have been 60 minutes or something, but it was an undercover investigation re: looks and the hiring process. they basically got 2 men and 2 women, one of each was attractive the other not so much, and sent them on several job interviews. not so attractive one had way better qualifications and souped up resume, attractive one just had the looks. 10 times out of 10 the job went to the looker. f'ed up, huh?

txsqlchick
08-22-2008, 10:19 AM
looks count everywhere, txschick, not just dallas.

we recently watched a film in sociology. i think it may have been 60 minutes or something, but it was an undercover investigation re: looks and the hiring process. they basically got 2 men and 2 women, one of each was attractive the other not so much, and sent them on several job interviews. not so attractive one had way better qualifications and souped up resume, attractive one just had the looks. 10 times out of 10 the job went to the looker. f'ed up, huh?

Yep, it is. Looks should not count, but they do. It's a sad fact of life.

I think in Dallas it's possibly more true than other places...Dallas has a lot of silicone, a lot of $$$$, a lot of trophy wives. Take a look at Highland Park sometime, then go out somewhere more blue-collar like Balch Springs or Garland. The difference is stunning. :(

Lovely
08-22-2008, 10:26 AM
10 times out of 10 the job went to the looker. f'ed up, huh?

That's so elfed up.

Sometimes I'd like for the people who hired the "lookers" to actually see the documentary they're in. Maybe it might change their minds about who they choose for a job in the future.

mollymom
08-22-2008, 10:31 AM
My apologies, I was wrong on the "remember" equal pay comment. I know that issue isn't dead unfortunately. I guess I was thinking of my job for example in which teachers are paid on a grid according to experience and qualifications and it is the same male or female. I know better about the "real world" outside unions.

I was tired last night and maybe should have thought more carefully about my post. I have come to the sad and angered realization that fat jokes are the last bastion allowed in discriminationatory jokes. In movies it seems to happen far too often that the funny or humourous character/sidekick always seems to be "the fat one". The bridesmaid in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" for example. All other jokes that target a segment of the population are labelled racist or politically incorrect, but you can make fat jokes all you like!

I once worked for a principal who as you watched the teachers he would hire, it was like he was trying to create his own little harem of blond, attractive, and thin "princesses", who would tell him everything and anything that was said or went on in the school. Needless to say I didn't fit in and helet me know it in all kinds of subtle ways that had nothing to do with my teaching ability!. I even made up a little song about them for my own amusement:

"I don't wear velvet for Christmas,
I don't diet and complain about my thighs
I don't kiss ***,
I'm an independent lass...
And that's why I'll never be a "princess".

Lovely
08-22-2008, 10:56 AM
What saddens me most, and maybe this is the nature of the machine, is that much of what "keeps us down" as women is enforced by women. Afterall, not all the judging is done by men. There are plenty of women out there who will judge based on looks & apparent fitness level. Plenty who may still buy into the idea that it's just a fact of life that women are treated differently. This sort of thinking breeds mistrust among us. It breeds a mistrust that keeps us separate. I don't want to get all conspiracy theorist about this, but it's a brilliant idea... keep the people you want oppressed mistrusting eachother... they'll never let down their guard to work together.

It hurts everyone. Not just people with ovaries. But men as well. If we could all sit & look at how much more we might get done... how many more accomplishments humankind may have if we can "get over" treating people differently based on sex. A job needs done? The best qualified does it, regardless of sex.

But I'm just talking a bunch of idealist babblings unless we find a way to actually change it. :blah:

Even so, I don't believe in a surefire way to get things to where they should be... What would the women here recommend as steps to take?

Lovely
08-22-2008, 11:15 AM
This is a separate thing, so I kept it out of the last post:

Women are all different shapes & sizes. Why is it that we allow anyone to tell us which is ideal? Why is it that people in a building get to decide what looks best and is therefore something I should try to attain? Why is there even an ideal at all? There may be some genetics at play telling us that certain shapes or features may be more suitable to child-bearing. (Symmetry, for example.) But, we're still influenced by what we see and are told is attractive.

This may lead into chicken or egg territory, but...

A long time ago, when gods and goddesses were worshipped regularly, many of them had ideal forms. Ideal for the times they were created. Were these ideals created by the person who shaped the statue? Were they an average of what women and men really looked like? Were statues of gods & goddesses the same to women & men back then that magazines & billboards are to us today? And to compare those ideals to the ones I'm seeing these days... IMHO at least the goddesses looked like women in all their glory, enjoying being a woman and not trying to be "sexy".

And what's with trying to make women feel "sexy" all the time? Why do I have to feel sexy to feel like a woman? Or why do I have to think a woman is sexy to find her a beautiful woman? I'm starting to hate the word "sexy".

twilit tera
08-22-2008, 11:28 AM
I'm dealing with a lot of self-esteem issues, and one of the exercises I'm learning is to talk back to negative self-talk. The first step is to identify what negative messages I've been giving myself. This morning I identified this one:

I'm too old to wear that shimmery fairy dress. (meaning that old people can't be pretty or wear pretty things.)

I came up with a response to it: Age has exactly squat to do with beauty!

So much work, training me to think better.

ollie27
08-22-2008, 04:28 PM
My apologies, I was wrong on the "remember" equal pay comment. I know that issue isn't dead unfortunately. I guess I was thinking of my job for example in which teachers are paid on a grid according to experience and qualifications and it is the same male or female. I know better about the "real world" outside unions.



that's cool! no apology needed. just wanted to make sure anyone reading it didn't think that it is a thing of the past. a lot of people do!


faerie - damn woman. you addressed all kinds of things. i wanted to respond to you and now that i am here i am like - um. der.

it bothers me too that women do this to other women. if we got over each other, came together, stopped being so petty we really could accomplish a lot. i by no means am a man hater, but (could ya tell there was a but coming?) look at the state of the world and what it has become under their power. war, guns, nuclear arms race, etc. etc. i am almost sure if the majority of world leaders were women that some sort of maternal instinct would kick in and there would be a little more peace. but men have set the standards. meanwhile back at the ranch, we're still trying to figure out what it even means to be a woman and worrying about the latest trends. and this is what we teach our young girls. it's a cycle.

re: gods and goddesses. have you ever read The Chalice and the Blade? uber good book. a long long time ago when the majority of people worshiped gods and goddesses, not only were women worshiped alongside males in all there glory, but religion in general was more life affirming as opposed to what it has become now - centered around death. ugh, i could get off on a tangent that's not appropriate for this forum, but yeah, what you said, i've seen ancient statues of rotund women with large breasts. these were idols :)

ditto the word "sexy"

ditto idealist:blah:

and not only treating people differently based on sex, but treating people differently based on anything be it religion, race, sexual orientation etc. i can't believe that we are still as a country arguing over whether or not an orphan can go into a loving home which happens to have two dads.

as to a surefire way to get things where they should be?

some days i think the system is too broke to fix and some days i don't. on the days i don't i think about Education.

Ufi
08-24-2008, 03:58 PM
I like to think of myself as an equal-opportunity hater. :)

But seriously, I can understand how some people don't see fat as a feminist issue. For me, it is. Having social pressures be a factor doesn't eliminate personal responsibility, but it does throw light on the matter and make it easier to address. Some people don't overeat simply because they like food, and getting to an unhealthy weight can have underlying reasons. Say those cravings to eat a whole pie are actually prompted by some guy saying something to me and me being taught when I was younger that "good girls" don't talk back or they risk not being liked by men and one MUST be liked by men to have a good social standing. When I'm aware of that, I can connect with the true source of the desire and challenge it and choose how to respond to the situation in some way other than filling my mouth with food instead of opening it to object. I don't really want pie; I want respect and empowerment.

Lovely
08-26-2008, 09:13 PM
some days i think the system is too broke to fix and some days i don't. on the days i don't i think about Education.

I guess I have to go with a bit of cheese & say "The children are our future." Proper education will have a lot to do with how the future handles things. Not to mention when we get all old and wrinkly we'll be the ones with nothing better to do but vote, so at least then we can make a difference! ;)

KLK
08-26-2008, 10:23 PM
I think the issue isn't so much cultural ideals -- as we've said, every culture, every society (at least as far as I know) had certain ideals for physical beauty, for women AND men. In fact, one might argue that, at least in ancient Greece, male physical perfection was more important than female perfection (and it was a lofty goal -- perfect, hairless athleticism lol).

These different ideals shifted, changed over the centuries and over different eras, but there was ALWAYS some kind of an ideal -- be it Titian's reclining Venus, Ingres' Odaliques, the Pre-Raphaelite "Stunners", whatever (and non-Western societies had their own ideas ab this). even at the beginning of the 20th century, there was definitely a "type" -- the Gibson girl -- which eventually gave way to the flapper look, and so forth. Personally, I think its human nature, people living in society, to come up with a standard of beauty and in a way, it's hard for anyone to REALLY fight against their age's ideals (I mean, to totally unconcern yourself with it, to be 100% blind to it, etc).

The difference nowadays is how we are constantly bombarded with images, words, information, stimuli. Every advertisement, commercial, TV show, movie, whatever SCREAMS out the message: "THIS IS PERFECTION! THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD LOOK, UGLY!!!" you can't hide from it; it slaps you across the face countless times a day. Centuries ago, there were ideas about beauty, etc. and they were depicted in statues, paintings, etc. but how many people, really, had access to these images? VERY few. Most common people had no access (or at most, limited access) to these kinds of images and even when/if the DID have access, I have a feeling (based on nothing but my own opinion lol) that they didn't necessarily look on with body-envy (maybe jealous of the figure's riches, location, power, influence, whatever).

I also think the idea of being sexy all the time, or having to "feel sexy" is an extremely new concept. Not to say that women centuries, or even a century ago, were more modest or less sexual than today, but I think there is a difference between all this pressure to look/be/feel sexy and.. actually having sex lol. Honestly, I think this idea is the product of a very developed civilization where most of us have no reason to worry about anything really important (i.e. obtaining food), so we're told to sit around and instead of feeling SO BLESSED and happy to have most of our needs met, to live in nations and cities with a relatively well-organized and stable government and developed infastructure, we should be anxious about our relative sexiness - -are we sexy, do we FEEL sexy, how sexy, too sexy, not sexy enough? I agree with you 100% Faerie -- I'm getting sick of hearing "be/feel sexy!" too. And what does sexy even mean in this context? Sexually attractive men? To ourselves? To other women? Please, someone, tell me what I need to be!! THAT is definitely a feminist issue for sure!

This is a separate thing, so I kept it out of the last post:

Women are all different shapes & sizes. Why is it that we allow anyone to tell us which is ideal? Why is it that people in a building get to decide what looks best and is therefore something I should try to attain? Why is there even an ideal at all? There may be some genetics at play telling us that certain shapes or features may be more suitable to child-bearing. (Symmetry, for example.) But, we're still influenced by what we see and are told is attractive.

This may lead into chicken or egg territory, but...

A long time ago, when gods and goddesses were worshipped regularly, many of them had ideal forms. Ideal for the times they were created. Were these ideals created by the person who shaped the statue? Were they an average of what women and men really looked like? Were statues of gods & goddesses the same to women & men back then that magazines & billboards are to us today? And to compare those ideals to the ones I'm seeing these days... IMHO at least the goddesses looked like women in all their glory, enjoying being a woman and not trying to be "sexy".

And what's with trying to make women feel "sexy" all the time? Why do I have to feel sexy to feel like a woman? Or why do I have to think a woman is sexy to find her a beautiful woman? I'm starting to hate the word "sexy".

KLK
08-26-2008, 10:26 PM
I think keeping kids away from the TV for as long as possible would also help, really.

I guess I have to go with a bit of cheese & say "The children are our future." Proper education will have a lot to do with how the future handles things. Not to mention when we get all old and wrinkly we'll be the ones with nothing better to do but vote, so at least then we can make a difference! ;)

KLK
08-26-2008, 10:31 PM
Hmm... totally my opinion here, but: I think women are harder on other women than men are. I also think women are much more competative with other women than they are with men and looks and beauty are all part of the Great Competition.

Do women participate in competing with each other because society forces them to do so to get and stay ahead or do they do it out of a more basic social impulse? I'm not sure what I think about that, but it DOES keep women separate and weak and victims to the media machine that touches and hurts most (if not all) of us.

What saddens me most, and maybe this is the nature of the machine, is that much of what "keeps us down" as women is enforced by women. Afterall, not all the judging is done by men. There are plenty of women out there who will judge based on looks & apparent fitness level. Plenty who may still buy into the idea that it's just a fact of life that women are treated differently. This sort of thinking breeds mistrust among us. It breeds a mistrust that keeps us separate. I don't want to get all conspiracy theorist about this, but it's a brilliant idea... keep the people you want oppressed mistrusting eachother... they'll never let down their guard to work together.

It hurts everyone. Not just people with ovaries. But men as well. If we could all sit & look at how much more we might get done... how many more accomplishments humankind may have if we can "get over" treating people differently based on sex. A job needs done? The best qualified does it, regardless of sex.

But I'm just talking a bunch of idealist babblings unless we find a way to actually change it. :blah:

Even so, I don't believe in a surefire way to get things to where they should be... What would the women here recommend as steps to take?

Lovely
08-27-2008, 11:15 AM
The difference nowadays is how we are constantly bombarded with images, words, information, stimuli. Every advertisement, commercial, TV show, movie, whatever SCREAMS out the message: "THIS IS PERFECTION! THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD LOOK, UGLY!!!"

And it certainly works. Those sorts of images keep enough people disatisfied with how they look so that they'll buy whatever the image is selling. We aren't really bombarded with images of pleasant looking people with the thought "Hey, let's appreciate some beauty and the human form." No, it's definitely, "Hey this person looks pretty hot... why don't you?"

Hmm... totally my opinion here, but: I think women are harder on other women than men are. I also think women are much more competative with other women than they are with men and looks and beauty are all part of the Great Competition.

Do women participate in competing with each other because society forces them to do so to get and stay ahead or do they do it out of a more basic social impulse? I'm not sure what I think about that, but it DOES keep women separate and weak and victims to the media machine that touches and hurts most (if not all) of us.

I certainly think women can be harder on eachother than men. Heck, the guys barely have to do any of the "work" of judging women if women are doing it themselves. If it really boils down to just getting attention from men it makes it all the sillier & sadder.

Ufi
08-30-2008, 07:15 PM
I think part of the competition between women comes from viewing men as a sort of commodity. There's still the idea that a woman can "win" the man, and with him his income and some social standing. So, women learn to compare themselves against other women by the men they're able to "win."

I think part of it may come from the whole pack animal/pecking order social structure, but not all.

smallification
09-22-2008, 10:07 PM
A lot of the posts here saying weight loss is a health initiative sound really healthy.

Here's another thing: Wanting to be attractive to a mate does not necessarily make you a bad feminist. It makes you human.

I think sometimes we set the standard for women's empowerment so high that we all feel guilty for being unable to reach it. It turns some women away from feminism, and rest of us can turn in on ourselves, second-guessing everything we do.

It's complicated, and we all want to hold the right values. But you have to give yourself a break. Sometimes I want to be pretty and a feminist too.