The Problem With Intermittent Fasting, Before And After Pics, And Diet Culture

I’ve never had a healthy relationship with my body. I mean, when I was a child, I didn’t think too much about it. My legs were for running, my arms were for climbing, and my hips were for dancing. I used to sway in the street to the music of Madonna and Elton John. But sometime between fifth grade and sixth, my thoughts changed. My perception changed, and I began seeing myself in a new light. I saw my body through a new lens. Unfortunately, this lens wasn’t positive or rose-colored; oh no. Instead, it was harsh and mean. It was critical, through and through. And before I knew it, the voices of self-loathing were so loud I became sick. Very sick. I developed an eating disorder

Of course, there were numerous factors which contributed to my illness. I was young and vulnerable. I lived in a dysfunctional home, one in which put downs were common. My life was out of control. I was changing, physically speaking, and didn’t know how to cope. My newfound curves made me self-conscious. I felt disproportionate and saw myself as thick and fat. And I felt this way because I grew up in America, a country which glorifies thinness.

I came of age in the “Baby Got Back” era. Models walked runaways in their underwear. Abs were in. So imagine my horror and surprise when I saw “it” on social media: a before and after weight loss photo showing a “normal” woman and one who was rail thin. Her shoulders jutted from her body. She lamented about having once been a size 6. And she described herself and her journey as brave. Wasting away, she thought, was brave.

But skipping meals isn’t a sign of strength. Saying no to snacks isn’t courageous or cool.

Maybe you’re thinking I’m just jealous — that I’m being judgmental and “skinny shaming.” But truly, I’m not. I’ve been criticized for my appearance. For context, I once was an adult weighing just 86 pounds. But I am concerned about the message her images and images like these are sending because they perpetuate the belief that our weight defines our worth. That in order to be appreciated, valued, and loved, you must be a certain size — i.e. you must be hella thin. These images suggest that, because she is smaller, she is a success. She is “winning” at life — and the rest of us are failing. We have “given up” or “given in.” And these images are problematic because they can be triggering for those with eating disorders and/or a history of disordered habits. 

A 2015 study from Australia found that looking at “fitspiration” posts on Instagram led to worse mood, body dissatisfaction, and lower self-esteem in the women who viewed them. It didn’t build others up; it pushed them down. Fitspiration posts, like these, made others feel inadequate and small.

Plus, pictures only tell part of a story. They are a snapshot of one’s life, a moment suspended in time. And no one really knows what was or is going on in the before or after. No one knows the truth — like that many before photos show individuals during pregnancy, or soon thereafter, and many afters are altered. We stand a little taller, hold our heads a little higher, and “suck in.” After photos almost always involve sucking in. What’s more, some after appearances are obtained using unhealthy means.

In the post I saw, the individual in question reached her ideal form through intermittent fasting, or alternating between periods of eating and not-eating, and people applauded her. They wanted to know her tips, tricks, and secrets. But this is toxic bullshit. It is dangerous, through and through. Because intermittent fasting and other restrictive diets are just that: diets. They are eating disorders repackaged. 

Make no mistake: Some “experts” support weight-reduction diets and plans. Intermittent fasting, for example, has several purported health benefits. It is believed the act can reduce insulin resistance, stress reactions, and even prevent cancer. However, any diet that requires you to restrict what you eat or when you eat is “disordered.” It’s just repacked through a “healthy” lens.

“Any time you implement strict food rules, be it amounts of foods, types of foods, etc. our bodies will see this as a threat and want to ‘stock up’ on those foods when they can,” Colleen Christensen, a registered dietitian, recently told Scary Mommy. “Binge eating is a common phenomenon that happens. It may also lead to other disordered eating such as orthorexia or severe fear of eating foods outside of set rules. All of this leads to increased stress to the body, which is not beneficial for our health. [Intermittent fasting] commonly leads to weight cycling (losing, regaining, losing, regaining, etc) which has been shown to increase risk for disease.

Of course, some would argue intermittent fasting is not a diet, but a lifestyle. But this is perilous and precarious, at best. It simply isn’t true. Because anytime you follow a system of eating and restricting, it’s a diet. Period. End of discussion.

So while you may think you are helping others with your before and after photos — while you may think you are encouraging others and being optimistic — you may want to think twice before sharing your dietary journey because it can be harmful to others. It can be hurtful, and it can be triggering. Your “success” story can cause another shame and pain.

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Tori Spelling Reacts To Critics After Posting Fake Pregnancy Announcement

Tori Spelling spoke out after her April Fools’ Day prank about being pregnant again sparked a backlash

Add another one to the list of April Fool’s Day jokes that might have missed the mark. Former Beverly Hills, 90210 actor faked a baby bump in an Instagram pic she uploaded Thursday, along with the caption “No. 6.” While several supporters cheered for Spelling and her family in the comment section, others were baffled about the timing of her April 1st announcement and were offended that she would joke about being pregnant again.

Fans advised Spelling that April Fools’ Day jokes about pregnancy can be hurtful and insensitive to those who have a lost a child or are living with infertility.

“Better not be a joke. Joking about pregnancy on April Fools is beyond-tacky,” one fan posted.

Instagram comment section
photo: Instagram

“I really hope you aren’t using a pregnancy as an April fools joke considering there are so many women out there who wish they could have just one child. You have been blessed with 5, please have compassion and empathy. This is nothing to joke about!” wrote another Instagram user.

photo: Instagram

“I really hope this isn’t an April Fools joke, this would cruel to all of the mommas who have lost babies or are having a difficult time getting pregnant,” another wrote in the comment section.

Spelling posted a response on Friday, saying that her fake pregnancy announcement was intended to taunt the media for speculating about her expecting “yet another” baby.

“Every week, magazine and press outlets ask if I am pregnant. To set the record straight, I am not,” she wrote in a message on Instagram. “The fact is, after my fifth baby, my body didn’t bounce back like it had before. That’s when the constant questions of ‘yet another’ pregnancy first began. Unless you’re in the public eye, it is hard to understand what it feels like to be body shamed so publicly. I feel like I have to constantly defend my body when instead, I should be honoring it for the miracle of life it game me five times.”

Spelling also confessed to fans that she’s experienced a miscarriage before, and explained she would never purposely hurt someone who’s suffered pregnancy loss or been unable to conceive.

“I know that pregnancy is an extreme blessing. And I would never intentionally poke fun at losing a child or not being able to carry one. I myself have miscarried,” she wrote in her statement. “My post was simply to turn the tables for once on the press. They constantly create wild and often hurtful stories about me, my body, and my family.”

“For those of you that are hurt, I hear you. I love you. I welcome your stories and I will try my best to be there to support you. Please accept this as a virtual hug to my entire community,” she added.

The reviews of her apology were mixed, but at the end of the day, most of her fans seemed to appreciate the gesture, flooding her post with heart emojis and understanding comments.

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I Gained Weight During Quarantine — And It Taught Me A Lot

Like so many other people, I have gained weight during quarantine. To be honest, I started quarantine weighing less than I usually do for various reasons not related to intentional dieting. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, and it can be difficult to control. When it’s under control, my weight plummets. When it gets worse, my weight climbs. For me, pregnancy always resulted in dramatic weight loss because during pregnancy, PCOS is not a factor. (It’s almost like weight is complicated, and fat people shouldn’t be constantly told that all we have to do is eat a salad!)

Anyway, when COVID hit, I was at a lower weight that I’d been in years because I had a newborn. I was struggling with my feelings about that weight loss.

Frustratingly, it made me feel more valuable and beautiful to be smaller.

It’s not that I don’t want my body to ever be smaller; I lost weight naturally as a result of my life’s circumstances, and my body is entitled to change as my life changes. And it’s not that I particularly want to be fat.

It’s just that I have been working hard for years now to disconnect my weight from my worth, and I was struggling not to go back. The thing is, if I let myself feel MORE beautiful, valuable, valid and worthy when I lose weight, then I will almost certainly feel LESS beautiful, valuable, valid and worthy if I gain it back. I can’t afford to let my weight determine how much I appreciate my body. I will end up devastated again.

For an entire year, my family has been as careful as we possibly can be about COVID. That means, we have been home almost all the time. I’ve been focusing on a lot of things this year; my body size is not one of them. For various reasons, my weight has changed. I am heavier than I was a year ago. I am back to my usual size.

I grew up immersed in diet culture like everyone else, and I would be lying if I said that watching the scale climb back up a bit wasn’t initially kind of disappointing. It was. Every pound of gained weight was one more step away from thinness, the “ideal.” But I didn’t stay in that place of comparison and disappointment because that’s not where I live anymore.

I am here to tell you that working hard to stop associating my body’s size with my value as a human being has been one million percent worth it.

Because I have worked hard to unpack my feelings about my body, I understand that I carry scars from childhood experiences that influence how I feel about my body. It’s important for me to recognize that my body was good back then when people told me it wasn’t, and it’s still good now, regardless of what I’ve been programmed to think.

I know that in the past, I have associated the feeling of an empty stomach with morality. The longer I felt hungry, the “better” I was as a person, and especially as a woman. That kind of thinking is harmful and unhealthy. It’s important for me to remind myself that hunger is my body’s sign that it needs food, and even fat people need and deserve to eat when they’re hungry. (And during a pandemic, the ability to respond to your hunger cues is only a short walk to kitchen away. It’s normal to meet that need more readily than you did when you were on the go.)

I know that hearing constant negative messages about fat bodies and my body specifically has made me afraid to gain weight, worried that I will be perceived as a failure, a slob or ugly. It’s important for me to remember that my success and my beauty don’t depend on my ability to shrink my body to fit an ideal that is ever-changing and unattainable for almost everyone.

Two weeks ago, I had to see my doctor for a non-weight-related issue.

When the nurse called my name, I asked her if we could skip the scale that day. I knew I had gained weight since the last visit, and I just didn’t want to address it on a day that I was already so anxious about my health. She agreed.

When I got in to see my doctor, she asked how I was doing, examined me, and checked on how I was managing my anxiety disorder. She didn’t mention my weight. I brought it up, starting to explain why I didn’t want to step on the scale that day.

She held up her hand and gently said, “Stop. Don’t explain yourself. I’m not worried about your weight today. You don’t smoke, drink, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. You have three kids, and you’ve been home with them for a year. If you came in here with a health concern and started telling me about your diet, I would tell you to immediately stop worrying about that. Let yourself handle one thing at a time. If you want to lose weight, you can do that when your life is a little more normal. For now, let’s focus on other things.”

See? Accepting the changes in your body during an unprecedented experience is not just a good idea — it’s doctor’s orders.

If you have put on a few pandemic pounds, you are far from alone — and you deserve to give yourself a heaping spoonful of grace. There is so much freedom in seeing your body as a dynamic living organism, one that can and does adapt to the circumstances you are living.

Your changing body is proof that you are alive! So, you’ve gained weight. Who cares? Your fuller body is not evidence of your weakness or failure — it’s proof that even in a global health emergency, you nourished your body. So many cherished, beautiful loved ones are missing from us now, lost to this virus that has killed more than two-and-a-half-million people all over the world.

But you’re still here. It’s okay if there is a little bit more YOU on the planet than there was a year ago.

And I’m grateful to be able to say that I know it’s okay that there’s a little more ME, too.

The post I Gained Weight During Quarantine — And It Taught Me A Lot appeared first on Scary Mommy.

I’m A Fat Woman Who Has Given Up Dieting For Intuitive Eating

Five weeks ago, I embarked upon a food freedom journey. For 12 weeks, I’m working with a registered dietician who specializes in intuitive eating rather than intentional weight loss.

I came to this place of fully wanting food freedom — over intentional weight loss — only after I realized that every diet and “lifestyle change” left me more anxious and obsessed about food. My preoccupation with food and eating never led to lasting weight loss. Instead, with every single lifestyle change, I reached a level of burnout where I just couldn’t do it anymore.

These experiences didn’t just leave me fatter and feeling more like a failure. They reinforced my dysfunctional relationship with food and my body.

So, after a good deal of consideration, I finally decided to stop trying to lose weight. I’ve tried virtually every diet on the planet. I figured I might as well give intuitive eating a go.

Food freedom is just what it sounds like  —  the permission to eat food with freedom rather than guilt or shame. The permission to eat what you like as opposed to whatever you’ve been told you “should” be eating.

Embracing food freedom means no longer counting on your adherence to arbitrary food rules to tell you if you’ve been “good” or “bad” each day. With food freedom, you recognize that food and eating are not moral issues.

In theory, it all sounds quite simple. You trust your body to tell you when it’s hungry, what to eat, how much to eat, and when you are full. This is what most people do naturally, at least when they’re young and haven’t yet been bombarded by diet culture.

For folks like me, it’s a helluva lot more complicated. I’ve been told my whole life that I eat too much and move too little. Many of my health issues like lipedema, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and endometriosis have been overlooked or ignored as doctors told me to “just lose weight.”

As a result, I’m nearly 40 and I don’t know how to eat. I haven’t trusted my body for a very long time, and the process of learning how to trust myself now is surprisingly hard. These days, I find myself sitting with a lot of uncomfortable feelings. Picking them up and examining what’s really going on instead of planning out a binge, or eating emotionally just because that feels good in the moment.

Lately, I have to stop and think much more about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I also have to manage my expectations and deal with recurring fears like, what if I just get fatter and fatter?

At the same time, I get to look at the small wins. Every day I go without a binge is a win. Or every day I choose to honor my hunger and fullness. It’s tough work because I wind up second-guessing myself a lot. But the dietician I’m working with says that’s normal. That the process takes time and it helps to go over the different ways dieting has harmed me in the past.

None of this is easy, but that’s completely “normal,” and although I wish I could tell you that food freedom is a magic bullet, it’s not.

Sometimes, it’s really damn exhausting.

People have been curious about what I’m doing, though, and I think it’s fair to say there are folks out there who want to see if this “works” for me. It’s hard to not look at food freedom as it’s own sort of diet, I suppose, but it’s much more fitting to call it diet rehab.

Naturally, other people want to know if I’ll “stick with the program this time,” or if I’ll end up back in a binge-restrict cycle. Some folks are still curious if I’ll ever choose gastric bypass.

I don’t think so.

It’s not that I haven’t thought about surgery. But I know myself. I need to deal with my issues instead of going on a surgically-enforced diet.

I don’t blame people for being curious or asking me questions. People who weigh as much as I do are often seen on reality TV. Not everyone knows someone who’s officially classified as “morbidly obese” or “super fat,” and given our culture’s current fat bias, I think it’s only unsurprising that people are curious about a body they don’t understand. Besides, if something can “work” for somebody as fat as me, some folks are bound to think about doing it themselves.

But I’m in the middle of my journey  —  the messy part. I’m not like Adele who’s making headlines for dropping a bunch of weight on a Sirtfood diet after reading Glennon Doyle’s “Untamed.” Frankly, I’m not willing to eat 1,000 calories a day on some toddler’s diet. Been there, done that. Taken the before and after pictures. Gushed about how happy my new lifestyle has made me.

And yet?

I never lost all the weight I wanted to lose. And I always wound up regaining much more.

I used to feel like such a failure for constantly falling back into the binge-restrict cycles. Now, my dietitian says those cycles are side effects of intentional weight loss. That lots of people battle the same problem. As it turns out, we’re not stupid or lazy. We’re just human.

And probably a little burnt out.

Other burnt-out people still have questions, like how much weight have I lost on food freedom? I don’t know. I ditched my scale. Do my clothes feel loose? Not really. I’m trying not to think about that and I’m just working on trusting my body first to quit the restrict-binge and binge-restrict cycles.

It takes time to regulate a wigged out system.

What am I eating? It depends. My mood plays a role, along with this whole mission to figure out what I like to eat. I gravitate toward flexitarian and pescatarian food. Getting back into Splendid Spoon soups and Daily Harvest because both companies make food that tastes good and makes me feel good.

But I still like fish and I’ve got a thing for Ortiz tuna. Publix also makes these lemon dill salmon burgers I really enjoy.

I try to keep my foods very simple. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A small snack if I feel hungry. Usually, some protein, some carbohydrates, and some color from fruits or veggies. No hard or fast rules. No stress.

Yesterday, I had stuffed salmon for breakfast. And some banana bread. For lunch, I had a Daily Harvest veggie soup, Greek yogurt, and banana bread. It was a big banana bread day. For dinner, I shared a Veestro vegan meal with my daughter. I asked myself if I was still hungry, or if I needed a little more, but I realized I was satisfied.

I went to bed feeling good. Not for sticking to a certain amount of calories. Not for cutting out entire food groups. And certainly not for “being good.” After all, food is not morality.

I felt good because I went through my day without obsessing over food. I felt good because I honored my hunger and got one day closer to understanding my fullness cues.

And then, I woke up feeling great. Hungry, yeah. But not so ravenous that I couldn’t wait to eat. I took my daughter to school, came home and ate a salmon patty and banana bread, and later enjoyed a Splendid Spoon soup bowl for lunch. I might order green pepper pizza tonight for dinner. Or maybe, I’ll prepare dinner myself  —  something like roasted carrots, toast, and fish. I might have some dessert.

Whatever I do, I’m confident that it’s not going to derail my weekend or turn into a binge episode. I know I’ll be able to stop that compulsion to binge because I’m dealing with the emotions that make me feel so out of control around food.

And these days, I don’t feel out of control with food. I feel like I’m in a good place because I’m finally learning how to listen to my body.

One thing I’m learning as I tackle intuitive eating is that overeating and binge eating are not one and the same. It’s natural for everyone to overeat sometimes — and it’s especially common for those of us who are finally learning how to trust our bodies.

Before I began to pursue food freedom, I saw overeating and binge eating as synonymous things I did because I was “bad” and lacked willpower with food. Any time it registered to me that I’d eaten even a bite too much, I let that episode turn into a full-blown binge.

The guilt and shame, of course, cycled into more binge eating, and then the shame and guilt began a whole new cycle. On and on it went. Trigger, binge, shame.

Now that I’m working with a food freedom dietician, I’m feeling much more empowered to stop the cycle as soon as I feel triggered. Instead of eating my feelings, I explore my emotions and try to deal with the root. Usually, there’s some sort of diet culture hangup involved.

I was raised to view myself as a failure if I wasn’t a slave to the scale and certain food rules. Food freedom is changing the way I see myself and the way I interact with food.

I’ve been writing about my food and body issues for a few years, and it always seems like such a radical concept to suggest that someone as fat as me can enjoy food without shame. Virtually every diet book I’ve ever read has furthered the message that if you did the crime (put on weight), you’ve got to do the time (restrict your food intake).

It’s still strange to hear that I’m allowed to enjoy my food, and it feels strange to even say it. Body trust is counterintuitive. The notion that I deserve to be treated well without judgment, censure, or the mere mention of my weight isn’t a revolutionary thing. But it feels revolutionary, you know?

Subversive, even.

Maybe that’s what really fascinates me about food freedom. In our culture, where dieting and wellness is a multimillion-dollar industry, intuitive eating can be shocking. It’s surprising to hear that all problems a fat person faces are not linked to their body size. Subversive to admit that dieting actually causes many of the problems we traditionally blame on obesity.

But perhaps the most fascinating thing about food freedom is that the experts promoting it typically have expertise in working with eating disorders as well. I don’t know about you, but considering how I’ve battled an eating disorder for most of my life, I’m a lot less interested in the “experts” who want to show me how to lose weight through even more restriction than the eating disorder experts who want to show me how to heal my relationship with food.

It speaks volumes to me that eating disorder experts tend to use food freedom and very basic food groups as opposed to whatever diets have been trending for the past several years.

Anybody can tell you, “Eat this, not that.” Anyone can say they know the “right” way to eat. That white foods are “poison” and people don’t really need carbohydrates. Etc. But nobody can be an expert on the foods that make you feel your best… except you. A large part of food freedom is simply giving yourself space to figure that out.

So, people want to know what I’m eating as I embrace food freedom because, from a dieter’s perspective, food lists are important.

But my food lists are pretty simple. And no, they’re not exactly food police approved.

If I’m making a grocery list, I take a sheet of paper and divide it into four boxes.

The upper left box is for protein. Some of my favorites include fish, cheese, eggs, and Greek yogurt. I’m stocked up on (quality) canned fish and frozen cuts — sometimes, I go for the breaded stuff because it’s delicious. No shame.

The upper right box is for carbohydrates. I have a kindergartener, so popular picks include crackers, bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, and potatoes. I stocked up on pasta when Zingerman’s mail order had their big summer sale. I usually stock up on Triscuits when they’re BOGO at Publix, but sometimes I get almond flour crackers too. We use both white and brown rice. I know that carbs are often seen as a trigger food, but I’ve found they’re much easier to manage when I let myself eat the carbs I really want, and then check in with myself and my hunger or fullness cues periodically as I eat.

The bottom left portion of my grocery list is for fruits and vegetables. I’ve learned the hard way that whenever I want a salad, I’m better off just having one made for me at a place like Panera instead of making it myself to avoid waste. My daughter and I really like roasted rainbow carrots, so I stock up on those whenever they go on sale. I buy shelf-stable fruit cups and applesauce, plus frozen veggies to help get through slumps without a lot of fresh stuff. I also swear by the soups and bowls from companies like Splendid Spoon, Daily Harvest, and Souper Girl. They make it easy to get in a good serving of veggies without much fuss. And I tend to buy precut watermelon whenever it’s half-price.

We also go through plenty of different tomato sauces for pasta or Indian-style meals. Cucumbers typically make the weekly rotation, and bell peppers at least once a month.

The last section of my grocery list is for the fun foods — something every eating disorder specialist or food freedom dietician has recommended. Fun foods are treats like ice cream and banana bread. Maybe potato chips or that other snack you said you just can’t quit eating.

The fun foods aren’t just fun. They’re educational and they nourish your body and spirit. They help you see that you don’t have to go on a bender just because they’re somewhere in your kitchen.

Those are the basics on my grocery list these days as I work on food freedom. I still do “TV dinners” occasionally  —  usually from Veestro or Amy’s. And order the occasional pizza from Domino’s. We still don’t go dining out since the virus, but takeout has sure become much easier since I don’t feel compelled to binge.

There are no hard and fast rules. Everything is just information or observations I make along this journey. It’s daunting sometimes, just because it’s so counterintuitive in terms of diet culture. For most of my life, I’ve been told that enjoying food is not a valid choice for large bodies. And that diets, or, conflicting “lifestyle” changes are the answer to my problem body. Food rules were the equation(s) designed to help get my body under control.

It’s strange to say it, but my body was never the problem. Food rules and equations were. Along with the belief that I have to suffer just to be treated with dignity.

Challenge those food rules, and ironically, the urge to binge eat dissipates. No protein powder, pill, or trendy diet is required.

This post first appeared on Medium.

The post I’m A Fat Woman Who Has Given Up Dieting For Intuitive Eating appeared first on Scary Mommy.

It’s Taken 40 Years, But I’m Done Caring What Other People Think Of Me

I am done. It’s taken me 40 years, but I am done caring what other people think of me. I’ve been called beautiful; I’ve been called ugly. I’ve been called fat and I’ve been called skinny. I’ve been criticized for the way I sound and for the things I say. People have used every word in the dictionary at some point in my life, but I am done worrying about what someone might think of me.

Over the years, I’ve been told by male colleagues that losing 10 pounds would help advance my career. Because of others, I have fretted about my looks and I learned how to hide the extra lumps and dimples on my body. Worrying so much about the way I looked held me back. Whether it was a job or a simple activity, I thought I needed to look a certain way. But you know what? I am done.

The years of only seeing my faults have given way to embracing the person I’ve become, both inside and out. Sure, there are plenty of bumps and cellulite, but that’s part of being human. Those scars show the length I went to have children of my own. That post-pregnancy jiggle from years ago? It’s my pride and joy. That body created triplets and a rainbow baby! There are certain things that won’t go away and I’ve learned to accept, and even love it. I am done caring what other people think of me.

Courtesy of Stacey Skrysak

Now in my 40s, instead of working out to look a certain way, I go cycle and lift weights because it makes me feel good. I wear certain outfits because I love how I feel in them, not because it’s what I think others expect me to wear. And that makeup? Sure, I wear it for work, but I feel the most beautiful when I’m bare-faced, lounging in sweats with my family.

Folks—listen up. The next time you worry about what others think of you, look at yourself in the mirror. It’s time to put you first and do things because it’s what you want to do, not what others expect of you. Those little imperfections that I would have criticized 20 years ago are now what I love most about me.

I am done. I am done worrying about the superficial things in life. I am done caring what other people think of me. When I look at this picture I see a strong woman, putting her hand up to shield all the haters…and it’s all because she said, “I am done.”

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Why We Need To Stop Joking About Small Penises

I am very much in favor of criticizing men. When a guy mansplains, doesn’t do his share around the house, or is racist, homophobic, or generally intolerant of any marginalized group, I have zero problem with anyone verbally eviscerating him. Take that mothereffer down. I even wrote an article recently in which I sympathized with the views in Pauline Harmange’s book, “I Hate Men.” I deeply related to what she wrote about hating men as a social group, though not necessarily as individuals. My default position with men is distrust, because it’s better to be pleasantly surprised than continuously disappointed.

And yet there is one criticism of men that I really can’t stand. It’s a low-hanging fruit, so to speak, that people easily grab for as the most cutting insult they can hurl:

He must have a tiny penis.

Folks, please don’t do this.

First of all, it’s dehumanizing — and probably not for the person at whom you’re aiming the insult. Especially if this insult is made on social media, other men, possibly perfectly wonderful, feminist men who are our allies and biggest supporters but who maybe aren’t so huge in the penis department. They see those insults, and it cuts them too. Trans men, who may already experience dysphoria related to their small penis or lack of a penis, may see it and feel invalidated as men. Intersex people may feel shame surrounding their genitals that don’t fit heteronormative expectations.

I get the impulse to do this, believe me. Especially in those moments when I witness a man spewing all the very worst aspects of toxic masculinity. I want to slice and dice that massive ego. I want to make him feel as tiny and insignificant as possible — not because I think anyone should be made to feel small, but because bringing that particular man’s disproportionately large ego down a few notches would place him on a more realistic wrung of the ego ladder. When people talk about the inflated confidence of the mediocre white man, I imagine this unearned confidence as a balloon that I would like to pop with a needle. See how aggressively intolerant of men’s bullshit I am?

And yet you won’t catch me commenting snarkily about anyone’s tiny penis. I’m not going to accuse the guy down the street with his stupid jacked-up truck and Trump flags flapping in the wind of overcompensating for his tiny dick. The truth is, he’s just a self-absorbed, ignorant dumbass who was given the impression by too many people that everyone gives a fuck what he thinks. I could give a shit about his penis.

Insulting a person’s body parts reduces their entire worth to that part. And that is a super un-feminist thing to do. Women, of all people, ought to know better than to use a person’s body, or a part of their body, as an insult.

Joking about a guy’s penis size as a way to cut him down isn’t the ultimate clapback to toxic masculinity you think it is. On the contrary, it contributes to it — it reinforces the false idea that size matters and that size correlates with masculinity.

Joking about penis size reinforces the idea that a penis is what makes a man a man. It reinforces the idea that a trans man who doesn’t have a penis is less of a man. It reinforces the idea that a trans woman who has a penis is not a woman. It reinforces the idea that a man with a large penis is more of a man. It reinforces the idea that a man with a small penis, or no penis at all, is less of a man. All of these are ideas straight out of the toxic masculinity playbook.

Also, it needs to be said that a large penis also doesn’t make a man more impressive or desirable to women. Sorry, straight cis guys with big dicks, but most women don’t actually give a flying fuck about the size of your dick. Sure, there are women out there who will flat-out tell you they love a large penis, but the vast majority of women don’t care one bit about penis size. Most women can’t orgasm with penetration alone anyway. What they very much prefer is a smart, sensitive partner who pays attention and just generally cares about their pleasure. In terms of sex, penis size is literally a non-issue.

A person’s body is not up for your judgment or criticism no matter how poorly they behave. Every time we hurl an insult based on the part of a person we perceive as flawed or less-than, we hurl that same insult at every other person who has that same “flaw.”

When men behave like egomaniacal, oblivious shitheads, absolutely call them out. Criticize their behavior. Criticize the obvious gaps in their thinking, their entitlement, their overconfidence. But, when it comes to cutting people down to size, body parts — all body parts — need to be taken off the chopping block.

The post Why We Need To Stop Joking About Small Penises appeared first on Scary Mommy.

I’m Finally Stronger Than My Disordered Eating

If only you knew.

How deep my need to be skinny really went.

How I struggled, trying desperately to play off my obsession to be thin and perfect.

How awful the conversations in my mind were, and sometimes still are.

Staring at the photoshopped pictures in magazines wondering how I could achieve the perfection in these photos was a constant for me.

These bodies were the ideal bodies that I wanted so badly.

The ideal bodies I knew weren’t real, yet still dreamed about.

In 2006, I was twenty-seven, living on the other side of the country, and I was down to my lowest weight.

In all honesty, I was the happiest I’ve ever been with the way my body looked.

If only he knew.

I had only met my boyfriend — now husband — seven months prior, and I was already at a low weight. There was no way he could know the lie I was living, and I wasn’t about to tell him the truth.

But the truth was, I was not naturally this skinny.

I was average sized, with hips and curves in all the right places.

But I was not having it.

I was not loving it.

And I was certainly not looking at my body with pride and confidence.

To me, my body was a vessel that wasn’t perfect and I needed it to be.

It wasn’t slender like a straight rod. It was bumpy like hills in the countryside.

It needed to be smaller. Skinnier. Prettier. Better.

If only you knew.

Being skinny has been a goal of mine since the time I remember ever making goals. It was always an obsession. It was always on my mind.

“If only my ribcage didn’t stick out so much”

“If only my hips weren’t so wide”

“If only my butt was smaller”

When I started going through puberty, I thought that I could squeeze my separating hips back to those pre-pubescent days. I thought if I wished hard enough while pushing my hips inwards, someone in the clouds would hear my call and I’d be magically “cured.”

If only you knew.

My thoughts were rampant.

Weight defined me. It said who I was.

My worth was dependent on how small I could become.

And small is what I became.

Confidence grew in me like a plague every time I saw a rib jutting out.

Pride foolishly fulfilled me every time I measured my arms.

I was doing it! I was becoming as skinny as I could be and I relished in it.

But my soul was hurting.

It was hungry.

It didn’t want to fight with me anymore.

It took a while, but I slowly regained the weight, and then some.

I felt like I was being punished for my bad choices by gaining more.

I felt like I didn’t deserve the body I so badly wanted.

Eventually, with the support and love from my friends and family, my body — the body I had before I started abusing it — slowly returned to me.

But it’s not the end.

The thoughts are alive and well in my mind; I think they always will be.

I get some reprieve, but they always find their way back to me, like a pathetic stalker of sorts.

There are good days and bad days.

But the difference now is that I have perspective.

I have awareness.

I’m stronger than my body dysmorphia.

I’m stronger than my disordered eating.

I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.

And I’m beautiful the way I am.

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We Should All Take A Cue From Lizzo And Practice More Self Love

Grammy award winning singer Lizzo has openly shared her journey with body image and the body positivity movement. You can find videos all over her social media focusing on self love and acceptance. And in an Instagram video posted earlier this month, Lizzo stands in her bra and panties facing the mirror and she speaks loving words directly to her belly. It’s the real life example of self love we all need and we should all follow Lizzo’s example and love on our own bodies more.

The video starts with Lizzo rubbing her body while taking a deep breath. She gives it a loving jiggle as she says, “I love you so much. I love you so much. Thank you so much for keeping me happy, for keeping me alive. Thank you.” She blows several air kisses towards her belly before continuing, “May I continue to listen to you. You deserve all the space in the world to breathe; to expand and contract and give me life. I love you.” And then she transfers a kiss from her lips to her belly, gives it one last loving jiggle and ends the video with one final shimmy towards the camera.

 

 

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A post shared by Lizzo (@lizzobeeating)

The number of people that felt the need to negatively comment and inform Lizzo that she had no right to celebrate her “unhealthy” body is astounding. And as you have probably already guessed, most of those comments came from men. But guess what — no one has the right to tell anyone how they can or cannot celebrate their body. So allow me a moment to break down why this mantra of self love is something you should adopt into your daily routine. 

How often do you stand in a mirror and tell yourself, “I love you”? Probably not that often. Society conditions women to believe that loving the skin you are in makes you too conceited or vain. But it is somehow okay to stand in a mirror and berate yourself for not meeting the standard of beauty that society celebrates. 

Just think about how often you have looked in the mirror and grabbed a body part and called yourself disgusting. Or how many times have you avoided a mirror so you don’t even have to see yourself. Probably more times than you would like to admit. Because for some reason it’s normal to point out all the “wrongs” with your body. But is it so crazy to believe that you should be spending much more time looking at yourself with love rather than disgust?

When was the last time you appreciated what your body does as opposed to how it looks? It doesn’t matter what size you are. Being alive is a reason to be grateful and celebrate your own existence. As a society, we have become so wrapped up in what bodies should and shouldn’t look like that it’s easy to forget the more important thing is that you simply exist.

Lizzo’s line, “May I continue to listen to you” is so important. Your body is designed to communicate its needs with you. It signals you to let you know you are dehydrated, hungry, sleepy, stressed or in danger. When you shut those cues out and deprive your body, it becomes harder and harder to “listen” to your body. Eventually you become so detached from your body that you are no longer capable of identifying your own needs. Not only does that not benefit you, but it is also harmful to your overall well being.

Moreover, allowing yourself space in life to expand and contract both figuratively and literally is so very necessary. Your body is not meant to remain stagnant. It has expanded and contracted throughout your entire life as you grew from a child to an adult, experienced the ups and downs of life, perhaps gave birth to children. Your mind, heart and soul have done the same. And you deserve the space to allow that growth and change to happen.

You deserve to be treated with love, and the most important person that love should come from is you. It won’t necessarily come easily because you are probably also the person that is hardest on yourself. And you are not alone. Even Lizzo admits to struggling with this.

In the caption of the video Lizzo states, “I started talking to my belly this year. Blowing her kisses and showering her with praises. I used to want to cut my stomach off I hated it so much. But it’s literally ME. I am learning to radically love every part of myself. Even if it means talking to myself every morning. This is your sign to love on yourself today!”

So take this as permission to take the time to look yourself in the mirror and love on yourself. Come up with your own mantra and say it to yourself each and every day.

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There’s A Fatness Spectrum, And That Matters

I’m fat. I feel very comfortable with that descriptor, and I am very confident that there is nobody who would see my body and disagree with my assessment. When it comes to the fatness spectrum, I am objectively fat. Not just curvy. Not a little thick.

Fat.

I’m not complaining about being fat, or asking for opinions about my body. I’m not looking for validation. I don’t need a stranger on the internet to call me pretty; I have a mirror. You don’t need to remind me that my body is good. That knowledge lives in the very fibers of my being, and it has since I decided to stop hating myself a few years ago and put the work in to fall in love with me.

You don’t have to tell me to be confident — nothing you can say to me would change the fact that I already am.

I’m not promoting or glorifying fatness by existing as I am. The only thing I am actively promoting is making peace with the body you inhabit, however it looks. You won’t see me encouraging anyone else who is not already fat to try it out. I’ll never ask you to join me in fatness.

I will also never accept your pity about my size. Fuck that. I have a life I would envy if it wasn’t mine. Pitying me is absurd.

But I do think it’s valuable for people who are fat to speak plainly about fatness.

There are some things that people in smaller bodies will never experience, and in order to better understand one another, we should talk about the different ways we experience the world.

Even among fat people, our experiences vary by a whole lot. We all live in different communities and families, and our roads are as different as we are.

One thing that can have a huge impact on the way a fat person experiences the world is exactly how fat they actually are, also known as where they fall on the Fatness Spectrum.

All sizes of fat people are equally valuable, but not all sizes of fat people live the same experiences. There are different levels of fatness, and that matters.

To fully understand how anti-fat bias affects different people differently, you’d have to read a lot more than one quick article. But we can still talk about the basic idea for a minute. Just being aware of the concept of a fatness spectrum could be enough to inspire people to be more kind and empathetic.

Ash, of the Fat Lip Podcast, created a handy chart about the Fatness Spectrum, and coined the phrase “infinifat.” It’s a good place to start when you’re trying to understand where you might fit into the fat community.

People on the lower end of the fatness spectrum are sometimes called “small fats.”

Is this you? If so, don’t get defensive. I am not telling you that you don’t belong in fat positive spaces or that your experiences of discrimination or bullying are not valid. I know how hard it is to accept your body when so many messages tell you that you shouldn’t. But if you’re on the smallest end of the plus-size spectrum, there are some things you should be aware of.

At your size, it is likely that some people will use words other than fat to describe you. You may get a “pass” because it is generally acceptable in most places to be “thick.” If your body is an hourglass shape with a flat-ish tummy, this is even more likely. (Most plus-size models fall in this range.)

It’s likely that you can find a wide variety of stores that stock your size, and that there is always the option to size up if you’d prefer more room in a certain garment. When you see the doctor, they might mention your size, but generally, you are pretty likely to be heard. Your actual ailment will be addressed.

You rarely to never come across a space that was clearly not designed to accommodate you. You might even perpetuate anti-fatness by thinking or saying things like, “At least I’m not as fat as her!” when you see someone larger than you.

As bonkers as it might sound to you, you are actually benefiting from thin privilege. That doesn’t mean you’re thin and it doesn’t mean you never suffer. It just means you live in a world that was made for people your size, and your body isn’t always a social hurdle for you.

Your feelings about your body are valid and you deserve to be heard, but it’s important for you to also understand that you don’t know how it feels to live in a world not meant for your body size. Complaining about your body to someone who lives in a much larger body feels very much the same to them as when your small, fit friend complains about her body to you. Be mindful of that.

Some people are Mid Fats.

This is where I fall on the fatness spectrum. I shop in plus-size stores and plus-size sections of department stores, but I can very occasionally find something in a straight-size store that works for me.

I don’t often come across a space where I truly can’t fit, but once in a while a restaurant booth will be too narrow, or a turnstile will make me nervous. Planes aren’t the most comfortable places for me, but I can pack myself into a single seat with a seatbelt extender.

I am fat enough that I cannot look thin in photos, even with creative angles. My body type is not hourglass, and I don’t get praise for my shape. Everyone who is being honest would describe me as a fat person.

I hear a lot of cruel comments because of my work online, but my size mainly impacts where I can shop and how people perceive me. Sometimes, I have trouble finding doctors who will take me seriously.

People of any size may experience mobility issues, but most often mid fats do not. I personally do not have any conditions that limit how I can move my body and move through the world. My experiences are valid, but like small-fats, I can’t understand how it feels to live in a body larger than mine, and I should be careful not to speak over people who have a different experience.

People on the larger end of the fatness spectrum are sometimes called Superfat and Infinifat.

These are two different groups, but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to address them at the same time.

Superfat people usually wear the largest labeled sizes in any plus-size clothing line. Some people who are superfat might be able to shop in stores, but many will have to buy their clothing online only.

Infinifat people are unlikely to be able to purchase a numbered size; they often have to purchase sizes like 6x (the measurements of which can vary wildly from brand to brand) and just hope they fit. People who are infinifat are unlikely to ever find clothing in stores.

The medical community will almost always recommend weight loss and weight loss surgery to this group before addressing their medical complaints, even if they aren’t weight or pain related.

People in these size ranges may have weight or size-related mobility differences that make some activities impossible or unenjoyable for them.

Superfats and Infinifats are the most likely face cruel treatment. They are also likely to face size discrimination in the workplace, whether that means missing out on employment opportunities or missing out on raises and advancement.

Even people who claim to be fat positive often exclude superfat and infinifat people from their narrative. This can be intentional or accidental, but it happens pretty frequently.

Why is this important to think about?

It’s a great idea to continually examine your areas of privilege and acknowledge how you can be a better support to people who face discrimination or difficulties that you do not personally face. This is true in a lot of areas, and size is just one of them. If you want to make the world better for small fats and mid fats, but you hold a lot of negative opinions of superfats and infinifats, you’re not any different than the the diet culture enthusiasts that have shamed you.

There is so much work to do in the area of fat activism.

That doesn’t mean fat people want you to tell us how hot we are. I’m so sick of men telling me they don’t want to fuck me, as if I would ever give a shit about that. I don’t need weirdo strangers to validate my attractiveness or lack thereof. I’m getting boned on the reg by a man who has loved me for eighteen years. I’m good.

I mostly just want people to shut the hell up.

What fat people actually want is to live in peace without constantly defending our bodies. Fat activism seeks to change the glorification of perceived health and the pathologizing of every fat body. It’s about dismantling a culture that has taught every one of us things about fatness that simply are not true.

We can’t fix it all overnight. And not everyone is cut out to be an activist.

But every single one of us is capable of compassion, listening, learning and growth. If you are truly interested in making the world kinder for bodies of all sizes, acknowledging that fat people exist on a fatness spectrum is a good start.

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I Gave Myself Permission To Eat, And Built A Better Relationship With Food

The word “diet” forces me to try to fit my rolls and thick thighs into a box that was never meant for me. My body was never meant to be 100 pounds, a size two, or exist on vegetables alone. Over the years of finding love and having babies, the weight I carried turned from the “happy fat” of allowing myself to be loved by another and birthing babies into the world into something much different. The weight I carried, the image reflected at me, I didn’t like looking at. My thighs became too big. My belly too flabby. My butt too round. And the nonsense I filled my head with led me to try diet after diet.

I grew up in a household where large, hearty Sunday dinners were prepared with love by my Southern grandparents. Dinner was topped off by some homemade dessert of my grandfather’s, usually a cinnamon swirl cake with vanilla frosting and accompanied with some new flavor of Breyer’s ice cream for all of us to try. My relationship with food was built around love, the love others put into making a meal for me that would fuel my body and feed my soul — whether it was healthy was a secondary thought, coming after the thought about who made the meal and who sat with me to eat it. Eating was a family affair for me; food was something I enjoyed, and snacks were my saving grace.

After I had my twin daughters, and while on maternity leave, I began to cook more. I fulfilled my dream of making most of their first solid foods instead of buying them. I wanted them to grow up knowing and eating organic and healthy foods, resetting my tastebuds to better handle the foods I wanted them to eat. At some point, I told myself I needed to be successful at making their healthy foods and put unnecessary pressure on myself to eat better for them.

I thought I needed to follow someone else’s plan to help me help my waistline, so I started the Whole30 diet. My goal has always been to lose a few pounds, then to lose the baby weight, and then to get below 140 pounds. When I failed to lose any weight on the Whole30, I got discouraged and quit before the thirty days ended. I ignored the voice in my head that told me I didn’t need any diet.

Then I found the Keto Diet, a plan that encouraged eating high fat foods so that my body could burn fat first. I found success. This was it. This was the diet I’d been looking for! I lost five pounds easily. I fasted. I ate my fats. I tracked my food intake. I watched the number on the scale go down. This made me happy, until it didn’t. I wanted to have a slice of cake on my wife’s birthday. The keto cake I made for her did not go over well for any of us — and I mean, it was her birthday, so why did I make her suffer through the cake too? 

The holidays came and went and I cut myself a little slack, giving myself permission not to diet because “I only live once.” So, I ate the rice and curry and the desserts offered up during Christmas and Thanksgiving, taking a little Keto diet detour. Eventually, I lost interest in being a Keto diet follower; blame it on pandemic life or the fact that being at home, stuck inside, cooking all my meals told me something about myself. It told me that all of the pressure I’d put on myself to follow someone else’s eating plan for me didn’t work. I’d lost control when that’s all I ever wanted. No diet, no food plan, no accountability partner could give me what I could only give myself: freedom. I owed myself the opportunity to tell myself a different story about what eating could and “should” be for me.

I gave myself the permission I needed to eat the homemade bread I perfected throughout the last few months. The bread born out of the times I scoured the empty aisles hoping to find yeast and flour. I practiced over and over until I perfected the ever so famous no-knead Mark Bittman loaf.

Making bread became a form of therapy for me. It cost less than $5 a baking session for me to realize that I only needed a few ingredients to give myself the kind of freedom I’d searched my entire life to find — permission to eat whatever the hell I wanted. And this is how I began building a healthier relationship with food … one loaf at a time.

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