Monday, December 10, 2007
Things I learned
Dear ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere:

I know. You thought I'd come back and post a bazillion photos of my fabulous time. Tell you all how wonderful and healing the whole thing was and share some embarrassing and unexpected moments. I will. No worries. But first I have to share something I learned.

I am smooshy.

That's right, you read it here first. I'm smooshy.

Last night I went to my parents for our annual Hanukkah festivities which involves the obstacle course of grandmas and dogs and piles of stuff (not to mention one very drunk and amusing grandpa).

We took family photos.

Now - I have learned that for me, looking at photos of myself triggers some very bad thoughts ("You are so ugly, lazy, stupid, what the hell is wrong with you, etc. etc."). This is because I am just a little bit crazy (what with the bulimia and the nervous breakdown and such). A few weeks ago I saw some photos of myself and...let's just say, it wasn't a good reaction. My therapist suggested that maybe I should lay off the looking at photos.

I did not disagree.

This morning I got a family photo in my email from last night's event (surprise attachments!!! Yay!). At first, it triggered the same old stuff. Then I looked again and I realized...I look smooshy. Which, in my crazy head, is somehow better than all the other things I tell myself. Smooshy isn't so bad. You can be smart and smooshy, right? Nobody hates a smooshy person, right?

Our culture lays a ton of shit on us about how we should all have a body mass index of 20. When Dr. Gupta of CNN reported last week about a new study showing how 25 or 30 extra pounds is not going to cause an early death (JAMA 2007;298(17):2028-2037) I thought the morning anchor was going to pop a stitch. Perhaps it was in her script, but she seemed genuinely surprised.

Our culture not only tells us that people with a BMI of more than 25 are unhealthy, it also tells us that they are creatures to be pitied at best, despised, shunned and deserving of an early death at worst.
  • People do, in fact HATE fat people. Look around the blogosphere - see how many times you come across the phrase "shoving twinkies into their faces" in reference to fat people
  • Discriminate against fat people.
    • One study found that found that 16% of employers admitted they wouldn't hire an obese woman under any conditions. Another 44% reported they would only hire them under certain circumstances.
    • 28% of teachers in one study said that becoming obese is the worst thing that can happen to a person; in the same study 24% of nurses said that they are "repulsed" by obese persons
  • Openly abuse fat people. Ask the guy who yelled at me calling me a fat bitch when I took a parking space (that was rightfully mine).
  • Think it's fucking hysterical to make fat jokes.
  • Think that people who have some excess fat on their body are "really, kinda gross" (heard it with my own ears).
Also, what that may or may not have to do with above referenced nervous breakdown.

Now, I know that fat (the molecule) is necessary for human life. The word has taken on some connotations though, that are none too pleasant. Hearing the word makes me cringe. I also know that has a lot more to do with the environment in which I grew up than the word itself or the actual molecule itself. I also know I have to get over it.

Also, just as an aside, I'm not writing this as an attempt to hear compliments. I don't need to know how "not fat" you think I am. This is real. Fat discrimination exists.

Let's call this a step in the right direction, shall we?

As for me, from now on - until I decide I am something else - I am smooshy.

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Blogger Psychomom said...

I have acne scars on my face and body that I (try to) hide with make up. Why must I only see uglyness in my photos too?

I am not ugly.

I am textured.

Blogger Jeanne said...

Smooshy - I love it!

Awesome post, faith!

thinking of you,

Blogger Jeanne said...

Smooshy - I love it!

Awesome post, faith!

thinking of you,

Blogger Anne said...

Being smooshy sounds like a great thing! I uses the word "fluffy" as a nice alternative to the other "f" word.

Blogger fairlywell said...

Good for you. All kinds of discrimination exist, and I'm glad you're choosing another definition for yourself.

Blogger Fluffycat said...

Fluffy is good.

I started reading Shapely Prose from a link on your blog awhile back and I love it.

I really think the camera adds weight. Last week I took a bunch of self-portrait pictures and I was amazed at how different the face in the mirror was from how I look in pictures. It's a hard road, self-acceptance, and accepting that face in the mirror and photograph is me.

Blogger fathima said...

my student ID is "caderfat." i laugh about it regularly. i did today, while picking up a graduate student library card at another university. and the librarian laughs with me and says, "but it's ok, you're not fat."
i smile and say nothing, conscious of the soft flabbiness around my waist - a flabbiness that seems to have grown more pronounced even as i have dropped dress sizes these last few months.

Blogger tk said...

my new morning mantra:

Love the chub

Smooshy's a great word, it sounds fun.

Blogger bit said...

Smooshy is such a good word. Smooshy makes me think of things to hold close and snuggle and enjoy. I have a feeling, though we've never met, that you are all of those things.


Blogger Allison said...

How about you look at the stats this way?

One study found that found that 84% of employers admitted they WOULD hire an obese woman under ALL conditions.

In one study, 72% of teachers said that becoming obese is NOT the worst thing that can happen to a person.

76% of nurses said that they are NOT repulsed by obese persons.

Those numbers are quite compelling to me. Just some food for thought from your friend in market research.

Blogger goodmamajama said...

Smooshy to me is:

My Faith.

I love me some smooshy.


(this comment was in no way intended to be a compliment, but rather, was simply a statement of personal fact and truth. The makers of this particular reply take no responsibility if it is interpreted as a compliment.)

Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

I had an old boyfriend, years and years ago that called my bodytype "Lush" as in "Luscious." Smooshily for me!

Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

I *had* to comment, as a likewise smooshy gal. I have been away from the office for 3 weeks (the longest period of time EVER), and I guess I have one of those figures where people always seem to remember me as being bigger than I am. Quite a few people around here have felt free to comment on my loss of a few LBs. If I *have* lost a few LBs, it was because of the situation, not due to any lifestyle change, and I assume the pounds will be back once life returns to "normal”.

Will those same people feel free to comment on how much fluffier I look? Or will they talk about me behind my back? I'm just wondering, because now I feel the pressure to remain stressed out, since that's the only thing that's changed, so that *must* be what’s making me look slimmer.

I hate photos. And mirrors.

Blogger Ana said...

Faith, I have never looked at you and thought "fat". And I sure wouldn't take any photo as evidence of much. A young woman in my office is really gorgeous, but her photos never give evidence of it. Don't know why, and she even comments on it.

We all judge ourselves so harshly. But if you look closely, few people pass muster on perfection in the body department.

What I love about you is the way you speak. There is something very unique in your manner; a very self-assured sound to your voice. So talk on baby, and be as smooshy as you wanna be!

Christine G. (aka Ana in yahooland)

Blogger Doris Rose said...

Thanks Faith. I enjoy your sharing and this hit home more than many. I retired, gained weight feel isolated and shunned-For today I will focus on "smooshy"-that's good.

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