Sunday, August 19, 2007

Seeming contradictions

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday that I can't get off my mind. She basically asked me how I have become an enthusiastic supporter of a diet program after years of railing about the weight loss industry and prejudice against fat people. Now, this was a friend who has known me several years but has never seen me at this size. She told me that over the years I had made her think a lot about the pressure on women to fit a certain image, the toll that takes on a person and how people, all people, should be treated. She thinks my position now is a bit hypocritical, and she also complimented me for never looking better since she's known me. She acknowledged that alone was hypocritical on her part.

All I could say was that my position is seemingly contradictory like so many other areas of my life. Compared to being a liberal, pro-choice, pro-homosexual, pro-religious diversity Christian in the Bible Belt, this one is, well, a piece of cake. I am not anti-diet because simply everyone has a diet. The primary definition of diet is the usual food and drink of a person or animal. Everything else we've piled on top of that word is basically manipulative bullshit.

What I am against is stupidity, cruelty and self-destruction. Diets where the foods you eat are so limited that you live in hunger and deprivation are stupid and cruel. Diets where you choke your arteries with fat, deny yourself vitamins, minerals and natural nutrition by subsisting on tummy filling junk are stupid and cruel. Selling useless and dangerous products and services is manipulative, selfish and cruel. Not revealing the funding behind a scientific study on obesity comes from a group that stands to make money when the results of that study can enhance or endorse the profitability of a service or product is deceitful and manipulative.

I am against prejudice, period. If you're judging someone based on appearances, you're prejudiced. It doesn't matter if you're making assumptions about a person based on race, ethnicity, size, culture, sexual preference, choice of religion, if you categorize people into us and them, you're prejudiced. I am not free of prejudice, and I know it. I also know that I'm working on it, and that means speaking up. I will speak up for the rights of people, period. People often don't even recognize the ways in which they're prejudiced, and especially when it comes to body size, which is often misconstrued as being solely under an individual's control, those prejudicial thought patterns need to be pointed out. If you don't see them and recognize them, you can't change them.

I am for healthy eating, and the best way a person can learn this is up to them. If that means a diet program, so be it. If that means avoiding commercial diets, dandy. Live a healthy life. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. I don't have to approve of the way you learn healthy eating. Wouldn't it be great if we all learned this as a natural process of just growing up?What works for me may not work for anybody else. I think diet programs where you buy prepackaged food would be disastrous for me. I don't think I'd learn what I need to know to get in my kitchen after I'd lost the weight and prepare healthy foods that would help me keep the excess weight off. It might be the perfect ticket for someone else though. Regardless of nutritional content, I could never see a liquid diet as a healthy way of providing the body with sustenance. We have teeth for a reason, and as long as we have them, let's use them. I can never see a diet which permanently bans certain foods unless an allergy or chemical intolerance exists as healthy. It's a denial of the bounty and abundance of God/dess' creation, a rejection of the gifts we've been given.

I am rabidly against anything which tells a person she is unacceptable unless she looks a certain way. This is a denial of the value of human life. It's dangerous. Since this sort of marketing behavior is primarily directed at women, it's deeply sexist. It objectifies women. It encourages them to literally minimize themselves to the point where illness and death are seen as preferable to a body that didn't come out of a cookie cutter mold. It's a great way of oppressing women and getting them to ignore their talents. If all a woman's energy is spent on what she eats and how she looks, there will be a lot books that aren't written, business deals that are never made, political and government policy that is never put into effect, scientific discoveries that will never be made. If that makes me pro- fat acceptance, yay!

I think my position is really about personal freedom and personal responsibility. We have the right to live the way we best see fit as long as that does not endanger others. We all have value, thus both the right and responsibility to treat ourselves with respect. That includes caring for the body we're in. It also includes recognizing that people who are different from you have their own dignity.

This entry was originally posted at my other journal, Taking Off.



Anonymous laura said...

See, Cyn... THIS is the kind of writing that makes a difference. And the kind of stuff that really inspires me and gets me rolling.

Don't deprive us of these things. Even your bad days turn into life lessons, or sad or funny cautionary tales.. or something. YOU DO HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. And you say it here QUITE WELL.

Rant Off.

August 19, 2007 10:58 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

I was going to say that entries liek this are why you should keep blogging, but I see that Laura beat me to it.

Peace, Virginia

August 20, 2007 8:30 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I think your friend does you a disservice by suggesting hypocrisy in your dedication to your diet plan. Your wake-up call came along with some major health issues; issues which you can have some control over if you control your weight. It's not about appearance, it's about wellness. It does suck that your new diet will create a body that others will now find acceptable, where they couldn't accept your old one. But you (obviously) can't let that keep you from obtaining the wellness the weight loss provides.

August 21, 2007 1:24 AM  
Blogger R.E. said...

"Live a healthy life" and "love yourself." Words to live by!! People are inclined to rob folks that are different, including us fat folks, of their personal value and dignity. Thanks for saying it all so well.

August 25, 2007 8:06 PM  

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