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Is there a feminist weight loss movement?

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Old 10-20-2011, 07:25 AM   #1
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Default Is there a feminist weight loss movement?

Is there a feminist weight loss movement? Because if not, then damnit, I'm starting one!

One of the central paradoxes of weight loss is that dissatisfaction with being overweight is necessary to start the journey, but hating your body will sabotage it. And right now, the choices for women seem to be either the highly anti-feminist camp that pushes unrealistic ideals of thinness on women along with a host of body image issues that make a healthy weight very difficult to achieve, or the Fat Acceptance movement which is fabulously feministy in all sorts of ways, including promoting loving your body, but which holds that diets don't work and that we should just learn to be happy about being fat.

I want a third way. I want to be able to pursue healthy weight loss in a way that deals with all the patriarchal stuff that messes women up with regard to their weight (and hits a fair number of men on its way, come to that), that recognises the complexities and paradoxes of the situation instead of going to extremes, and I want to be able to talk about it with other people.

Who's with me?
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Old 10-20-2011, 07:36 AM   #2
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I definitely want to talk about this but have to get ready for work so I'm just bumping this in the meantime.

ETA: In the meantime, I find this blog interesting: http://www.the-beheld.com/
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Old 10-20-2011, 07:38 AM   #3
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I should probably mention that I think this forum fulfils those criteria pretty nicely in the way the discussions often work out, but I'm talking about trying to start an actual movement here, similar to the Fat Acceptance or Health At Every Size movements. I was thinking of maybe getting together some writers and setting up a group blog similar to the now-archived Shapely Prose, that sort of thing. So far I've found an excellent blog here.

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Old 10-20-2011, 09:22 AM   #4
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Sounds interesting.
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Old 10-20-2011, 11:09 AM   #5
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I can't say I'm a particularly talented writer who could contribute meaningfully to the dialogue, but I can't wait to see where this is going, Esofia! Consider me subscribed to this thread.
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Old 10-20-2011, 11:10 AM   #6
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I am so nodding along with this.

Just... health... and being me. Being a healthier me. A me who hates that it's okay to be judged purely because I happen to have a vagina. I am many parts, and there happens to be one part that is an angry feminist.

There's no need for any loathing or nonsense beyond that.

I like Health At Any Size, but I sometimes feel like a paradox, because as I'm doing healthier things for myself I'm losing weight. Of course, I'm still being healthy... at any size, but I'm not purposefully trying to maintain a higher weight.

I'm afraid that I'm no Mark Twain when it comes to writing, though.

Heck, I don't even read blogs.

But, if one (or several) were to come along that deals with these issues in a way that doesn't make me feel as though I'm reading a diary entry... then I could see myself intrigued.

ETA: Esofia, I just read the blog entry that you linked. And... yes! Yes. That's it. That is 100% it.
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Old 10-20-2011, 11:31 AM   #7
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As a feminist, I'm totally on board with this. It would be wonderful to have some sort of middle ground, because as you said there really isn't any for women who just want to lose weight for their own reasons. It's amazing to me that we live in a society that policies our bodies and when we try to move away from that (i.e. fat acceptance) our bodies are still policed! I've lost some friends because I've been losing weight (called a "traitor" numerous times) but as I see it, any policing of one's bodies is completely anti-feminist!

It would be refreshing and liberating to simply "be." To not have to worry about what others think of my body or not have to worry about being on display or whether or not I'm doing the "right" thing when it comes to MY OWN BODY.

TL;DR version: I'm on board!
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Old 10-20-2011, 11:43 AM   #8
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Um, YES. I have to say, any time I've been involved in a formal diet with meetings (e.g. weight watchers), I haven't been able to stick it out partially because of the inability to recognize this.

That blog entry is fantastic.

And I have more to say but I will have to come back to this later.
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Old 10-20-2011, 11:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esofia
So far I've found an excellent blog here.
Yes, Erika's blog is wonderful. She has a great post directly about weightloss and feminism here http://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.c...me-a-feminist/

Another blog that deals with this is http://gretachristina.typepad.com/gr...ht-management/ She's written a lot about reconciling her own weight loss for health reasons with being a member of the Fat Acceptance movement.

What I like about both of these blogs is that they both show how complicated the issue is, both personally and culturally, and how there are no easy answers.

That said, I'm not aware of a greater movement, or at least an organized one. To me, weight and personal control of one's body exemplifies the theory of 'personal is political' and I've been sadden that I haven't found more people talking about it from the perceptive of someone who's made the decision to lose. I really love the idea of a group blog.
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:37 PM   #10
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I finally had a chance to read through that blog and enjoyed it. If you guys do start a blog on it, I'd love to know and would like to feature it on my blog too.

My personal thoughts...

- Acceptance at any size is important. I'm definitely NOT a fan of hating the fatties. What gets me the MOST angry are those that make fun of men and women who are overweight and working out. Seriously? How stupid is that.

- Comprises and respect are important. I see this as a similar issue if I were to deal with someone who was a smoker. I have many friends who smoke, it's not something I agree with, but it's their choice and I'm not going to discriminate again them because of it. However, I also expect that they respect me in the process (not smoking in my house, around my kid etc). Clearly, smoking isn't good for them but they're adults and have weighed the pro and cons of it themselves and as long as it doesn't affect me I don't care what they do. Now, if they were seriously upset about smoking and wanted my support to quit I'd certainly give that to them.

I have a number of obese relatives and I treat it the same way. If they are happy where they are weightwise then who am I to tell them differently? My weight loss in no way whatsoever affects them and them being obese in no way affects me. Sometimes they do overlap if we were to go out to dinner so as long as we were both willing to compromise (possibly going somewhere that has options that we all like) than it's a non-issue. They're adults, they know the health risks so it's something they have to decide for themselves. However, if they did decide to lose they'd certainly have my support to.

- Losing weight isn't always about looking like a perfect feminine ideal. I think this is where it gets confusing because I know I still DO have vanity reasons for losing weight even if my health is my absolute priority! However, I think this is the point where there needs to be A LOT more information out there for your girls when it comes to body types, the way we carry weight, realistic expectations and just understanding your body, in general. I think I wasn't the most insecure teen BUT I know I had a lot of insecurities surrounding my body type (very top heavy hourglass). I didn't know how to dress it, I didn't know how to find properly fitting bras, I was an athlete and most of my friends were stick thin runners so I always felt "fat" to some extent in comparison (even though I was very healthy and a great weight for myself at the time, and I knew it!). Now, I know it might be in part because my mom didn't pass a lot of into on to me in terms of beauty/self-care but the media/magazines I read weren't a lot of help either.

How much better would it be in teen magazines discussed what the average teen looked like? What if they said that it was normal to have some pudge on your body? Or that teens can get stretch marks during growth spurts? Or that even if you're at a healthy weight your thighs can rub together? What if they discussed dressing various body types (plus-sized included!) instead of showing super tall models in the clothes?

I know it's not just the media, it's our culture at whole but I sure wish I would've had a magazine or that info when I was a young teen... I know now even as an educated adult I've only learned much of what is "normal" in terms of ones body in the last few years. I think some really do go into weight loss expecting that you can choose your body type or certain diets will help you lose where you want to. That pilates will make you look like a ballerina and weight lifting will turn you into a she-hulk. In order to be truly happy AFTER weight loss you need to have realistic expectations when it comes to what your goal looks like

- Losing weight can be about making yourself a better person. And by better I don't me thinner or prettier. As a former emotional eater/constant sugar eater/food hoarder/hider, I had to learn how to deal with my problems directly instead of eating them away. This has nothing to do with society' expectations as a women but it did have do with me working on improving myself and evolving into my ideal me.

- and i just want to repeat this because it's awesome!

Quote:
When I first started working out, I struggled with the idea of entering a space that wasn’t very welcoming to women… and that was the weight lifting area. It’s hard to enter a space where you see no one who looks like you – my gym had very little to offer in the way of Blacks, women, or Black women entirely – and make yourself at home, because you consistently wonder if there’s something that intentionally keeps you away from doing so. (Notice how much this sounds like seeing persons of color in any medium, and how difficult it must be to be the first to transcend this.) You eventually realize that yes, there is something that intentionally keeps women out of the weight lifting area: a general societal understanding that women aren’t supposed to be strong. That muscles are the realm of men, and having them would make a woman look… manly. Femininity, as defined by people who aren’t, ostensibly, female… doesn’t include muscles. It was a gendered expectation that was preventing me from becoming my more fit self, and it frustrated me to no end.

Excerpted from How Losing Weight Made Me A Feminist | A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss
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Old 10-20-2011, 01:26 PM   #11
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I really, really like this idea. Good for you, and thank you, for bringing it up.
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Old 10-20-2011, 02:00 PM   #12
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Very interested in this thread but I'm heading out the door to do grocery shopping. I'll check in later. (*raises hand as a patriarchy blamer*)

I've had discussions with myself over this, especially when I start to think about how great I'll look when I'm done. On one hand, I definitely don't want to be fat anymore just because I'm not comfortable in my own skin and I want to do more active things, but I don't want to lose the weight just to improve my f*ckability, kwim? I couldn't really get into that compliment thread because it seemed to me like some of the women were pleased that they were now getting harassed on the street and it was raising my blood pressure.
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Old 10-20-2011, 02:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shishkeberry View Post
I couldn't really get into that compliment thread because it seemed to me like some of the women were pleased that they were now getting harassed on the street and it was raising my blood pressure.
http://femmaffix.wordpress.com/2010/...et-harassment/
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Old 10-20-2011, 03:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MariaMaria View Post
Thank you for the link. I'm liking that website.
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Current mini-goal: Get back to where I was in February (205)

Positive things I need to remember:
·I'm at a better starting point since I didn't gain it all back yet.
·I quit smoking cold turkey in Nov 2011.
·I'm still trying so I can't say I've failed.
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Old 10-20-2011, 04:10 PM   #15
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So if we did manage to get a group blog going, is anyone here interested in writing for it? Runningfromfat, you're sounding thoroughly enthused.

Thanks for the Greta Christina link, Flashfacts. She has a wonderful manifesto about all of this.

Last edited by Esofia : 10-20-2011 at 04:31 PM.
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