Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Big Fat Lie.

Let me start this off by saying...if you don't like what I have written, too bad. I believe in what follows, and I'm not writing it to offend or stir the pot or be holier than thou.

Three years ago I gave up smoking. I went from 30 a day to 0. I did it over night, no patches no gum, I read Allen Carr's book and what he said made sense to me so I just stopped. I was also going through some major shit in my life. My diet was crazy, my drinking daily, I wasn't sleeping, my enthusiasm for life was nil.
On the 15th of January that year I stood on the scales of my bathroom in my old house and looked down hopefully. The scales said I weighed nearly 12 stone. I was not surprised.
I decided there and then to do something about everything.

Dove are doing an new advert at the moment aimed at'Real Women' and by extension their real wallets and real money. Cleverly enough, they are now aiming their lazer sharp advertising skills at the insecurities of little girls and beating the drum of 'Ah, look everybody just wants to be loved for what they are. Buy Dove, we will love your mo -er you no matter what shape and size you come in." It is driven by the 'Dove Self-Esteem board.'
Here is one of the letters about the new ad.

"Thank you so much for having this ad during the superbowl, Dove. It was a refreshing counter to ads such as the burgerking one that can be seen at whopperettes.com where women are so objectified. The first step to making women feel proud of their bodies is to stop promoting an unatainable body image ideal."

The word I dislike there is 'unatainable' this woman has bought into the victim game at the very first hurdle! Nice.
Dove are clever sods and this ad panders to the we are all 'real' codswallop they've been shoving down our respective throats for a while now. Over the last few years Dove have had a poster campaign and advert featuring larger-than-the-average-model ladies to promote everything form underarm sprays to a cellulite cream...all fine and slightly hypocritical of them- if it's 'okay to be large', why is it not okay to have cellulite?
The ads have, of course, been applauded by the mainstream for depicting 'real women' instead of models, who clearly are not women at all but some kind of tree.
A new gym is being introduced to Ireland -land of the rapaidly expanding waistline- The ad 'Curves Gym, a gym for real women' is being widely broadcasted on the television, radio and papers.
(No men allowed for the ladies, laughable really as women are far more critical of each other than any man)
But I digress.
A quote from my -fat- mother on Sunday over brunch: ' I don't worry about my weight any more, there are so many other real concerns in the world. Anyway, real women have curves.'
I put down my fork. 'But you have very high blood pressure. YOur own doctor said to lose weight.'
'Well, we don't really know that it is connected to my weight now do we?'
'Er, I'm fairly certain of you lost about 4 stone it would come down some.'
'My faith healer thinks my blood pressure is connected to my emotions.'
'It is connected to your heart struggling to pump blood through arteries clogged with fat.
'I don't want to talk about it any more. You are such a cynic!'
I am at fault! This is how 'the real woman' backs out of the discussion. Name calling, aggression.
But it got me to thinking.
What is this sudden glut of 'real women' and where did they come from? Were there no 'real women' before now? What was there instead? Fakes? Clones? Robots?
And why 'real'? I am sick of hearing the expression 'real women have curves'. What is the suggestion here? You can't be a real woman if you're not curvy? What is curvy? I have curves, but I don't come under the heading 'curvy' because I am not heavy enough. What does that say about acceptance?
"Big and beautiful, strong and empowered! Fat and beautiful. Real women are taking back their power."
Lines like this are becoming commonplace in the media. Blogs like www.bigfatblog.com are racking up the readership as more and more people, especially women, are gaining weight. And if you raise a concerned voice you are villified, mocked, shouted down because...well, you don't understand what being a 'real woman' is about.
(It is interesting to note they are particularly vicious when a previously heavy person, e.g. Kirtey Alley, loses weight, almost as though she 'sold out.' So much for size acceptance!)
Since when does being fat equal being powerful? How does being unable to climb a flight of stairs without feeling winded equal being empowered?
If you want to be strong and empowered, get fit, know that your body can answer and respond to any demand you put on it. For me that is being strong! Trust your body not to let you down. That is empowered. Walk with real confidence because you know you look and feel good. Not the aggressive faux confidence of a woman who feels it is her right to be desirable no matter how she looks. Who demands you find her attractive! I'm sorry sister, but being desirable is not a right, no matter how many people say it is.
I am not for one second talking about physical features here, people are attracted to all sorts of things, I like hazel eyes and dark haird men who are taller than me, my best friend like blonds with blue eyes and couldn't care less how tall they were.
But neither of us are attracted to fat men. I'm sorry, that sounds harsh, but it is absolutely true. He could be the sweetest most intelligent person in the world, but if he is obese, then neither of us would consider him romantically. Does that make us shallow? Perhaps, but that does not alter our thinking.
It is not PC of course to say that, but like I said at the start I am not aiming for PC. To even the Steven, I asked my male friends the same question, would you date a fat woman? The resounding answer, to the man, was no.
People claiming that obeseity is a desease get on my wick too. Obeseity is not a disease, it is a symptom of a lifestyle. Junk food is cheap and in ready supply, people are more and more sedentary, the problem creeps up over a number of years. But there is a solution... one that fat people deny, argue violently against, grow incensed, dismiss you as an idiot, bigot, hateful creep if you even dare suggest it...you want to know what it is?
Eat less, exercise more.
Huh? What's that? No miracle cure? No tablets, no stomach stapling, no shakes, no Atkins, no GI, no clubs, no-no-no-excuses? But that can't be right, can it?
Sorry, but there is no quick fix. And it is time people stopped buying into the idea that weight gain is somehow not their fault, that they are powerless to prevent it.

When I decided to do something about everything one of the first things I did was research into weight loss and fitness. Every single thing I read indicated to me that dieting is useless, so I didn't go there. I did however alter how and what I ate. Naturally thin people eat more or less what ever they want. But, and it is a big but, in moderation, they also eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, not exactly rocket science, but to a woman who can eat rings around her when bored it was a revelation.

Do I eat chocolate? Sure; cheese, yum; white bread, of course; butter, mmmmmhhh; chips, lovely; beer, on Friday.
What I don't do is eat this type of food every day or in vast quantities when I do.
I made simple changes, I steam veggies, I grill meat, I eat fish twice or three times a week, I eat tons of vegetables, I eat a lot of eggs, I don't drink alochol during the week at all, I drink a lot of water and I don't eat after seven in the evening.(for some reason that last one makes a big difference to my body)
But the main reason I lost weight?
One hour of cardio a day, weight training three times a week, kickboking class once a week. I take the stairs to my apartment some days: it is six floors, but hey, good for the gluts.
It might sound like a lot, but when it is spread out over the week it isn't.
That hour, or class, is my commitment, my commitment to my body. It is not a chore or a pain, it is me taking care of the most valuable tool I will ever be in charge of, making sure it is running as well as I can make it run. It is empowerment. I feel great, I am in better shape than I was in my twenties. I look good naked. Feeling good gives me confidence, and that spills over into other aspects of my life.
I don't need to demand people accept me, they either will or they won't. I'm not growing bitter because "dammit people should love me no matter what shape I"m in." The world does not work the way women, expecially 'real women' want it to work. I am 5' 10 inches, I weigh 140 pounds and I too am a 'real woman'! And I am growing increasingly resentful of suggestions that I am not.
If you are genuinely happy and unapologetically fat, go for it, but most peole are not happy with how they look. It is time to face reality, the 'real' reality. If you want to feel good about yourself feel good, but if you let your body go and you become fat, don't get mad when not everyone pats you on the back and basks in the glow of your 'realness.'
And if you want to change, you and only you can do it.

All that ranting leads me to... my blogging friend Mr Kim Ayres over at http://losingcwt.blogspot.com/ has this week slipped under the 200 pound line, meaning he has lost the grand total of 76 pounds! Kim is a man who decided to change his entire life, including his weight and actually had the balls to do it. Now that is what I call real empowerment.
Go KIM!

25 Comments:

Blogger the anti-barney said...

Jeeeesus,I'm glad I had lunch before I read that.

3:06 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Sorry Barney, but it really is a sore point of contention with me. Hence much ranting.

3:20 p.m.  
Blogger Kim Ayres said...

"Driven" is a word that springs to mind.

At its heart, I fundamentally agree with you - it is about making a personal choice. However, I don't think it's quite a straightforward as all that.

Dove's "Real Women" thing is just a cynical marketing ploy, and I don't give it any credence. However, the reason why it has captured imaginations is that we are constantly bombarded with the idea that there is only one desirable body shape, the same one that every Hollywood actress and model has - underweight. This is taken to such an extreme that most women of even an ordinary, healthy weight believe themselves to be too fat, and it's high time that this balance was redressed.

The other problem is that in order to make free will choices, we have to first understand that we are free, that we do have the choice, and that we can do so on a level playing field.

However much we might like to think we are independently minded, we are still influenced by advertising (billions would not be spent on it if we were not),and for every piece of information we are given about eating fresh fruit and veg, we are bombarded with a thousand selling us cheap, quick, convenient and hideously unhealthy food.

In order to counterbalance our natural cravings for fat, sugar and salt, we have to understand how our body works and what drives us; what our personal addictions are, why and when we eat for emotional reasons and how to relearn a thousand bad habits, engrained over decades.

Most people, when they go on a diet, are not looking to get healthy, they are looking to get thin, which is not necessarily the same thing. In fact, most diets are the most unhealthy thing you can be doing to your body. Being overweight is not good for you, but being underweight is even worse.

As for fanciability, let me look in your eyes and see your soul, then I will tell you whether you turn me on or not. Your body is irrelevant.

However, I'll accept that I'm probably the exception when it comes to that.

Please don't get me wrong though - I do have the greatest of respect for you Fatmammycat, because you have set about taking control of your life and few enough people do that.

And I really appreciate the positive support you've been giving me every week on my Losing a Hundredweight blog.

4:08 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I figured you'd look past looks Kim, but you probably are an exception. That said if a really good looking person was an asshole it really would matter what they looked like either, I'd still run a mile.
I hate diets and all of the huge industry that comes with dieting. The amount of money people thow away trying to find the solution to weightloss when they have the solution in their own hands is staggering.
Anyway, my real gripe is the 'real woman' angle that all of the advertising crew are using, it seems like every time I turn of the tv there is another one. I feel like nobody ever wants to really tell it like it is, that you are in control of everything you do, that you and only you alone can make a choice. I don't understand why women are always looking to someone to tell them what is acceptable. And I include women who think that whole hollywood lollipop look thing is normal too.

4:27 p.m.  
Blogger Andraste said...

Well said, FMC!

My big revelation came when I was trying on bridesmaid dresses for my best friend's wedding. Being 5'5" and in a size 14(American sizes may not translate, but picture Marilyn Monroe with water weight) was not the issue, because I'm athletic and in general good health...the issue was how I LOOKED to myself in that size 14, and under those fluorescent lights.

"That is IT," I said. Changed my diet, cut out MOST of the junk (hey, a soul has to have chips and beer sometimes) bought an elliptical machine for the house, and upped the workouts to 4-5 times a week, NO TAKING THE BUS for distances less than a mile, and NO ELEVATORS if my destination is below the fifth floor. Also, like you, I avoid alcohol during the week, which is not just about calories, but keeping a clear head at work and not eating garbage to soothe a hangover.

I took responsibility for the way my body looked, and made the changes necessary. I never made any excuses, I knew what caused me to look awful, and what to do to fix it.

You have to make some sacrifices, but the payoff...at 40, I can still whup my weight in wildcats, I'm now a size 10, my rack is high and proud, I get chatted up by men who would be shocked if they knew my age, I get carded at the liquor store, and I play softball with people half my age, and do okay, thank you very much.

The point is this: If you are fat and complain that no one loves you, first you have to stop whinging. That turns people off more than your weight. Then put down the fucking donuts and move your arse. Hut! Hut! Hut!!!

5:05 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

God girl, I knew you be hawttt!!
But seriously, that is exactly what I mean about taking responsibility for yourself and not always looking for the easy option or being angry about something you can do something about.

5:19 p.m.  
Blogger Foot Eater said...

I had the opposite problem through my teens and twenties: I was always skinny, and it was embarrassing. I must admit I did waste a lot of wallowing in self-pity when I could have been working on the problem in the gym. Since I passed 30, it's kind of rectified itself as I started putting on weight without doing anything; even getting to the point where I now have to make a moderate effort not to pile on the pounds.

Like you, FMC, I quit the fags with the help of Allen Carr, though I was on the gum for a year before.

6:38 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Well done Footie. Giving up the fags was the best thing I ever did, ever! Sometimes I look at people smoking and I think 'what the hell are you doing?' But then I shut my gob, because I remember whenI was a smoker how much I hated people giving me a lecture, but DAMN, I really hate it now.

8:26 p.m.  
Blogger Binty McShae said...

Right with you FMC... I gave up the smokes too. Just decided last year that enough was enough and forced myself to stop dead. Of course, that just meant I ate more for a while and my waistline expanded, but even that's under control now that I'm eating more sensibly. My only let down is the beer, a real fattener (especially the amount I used to drink). Hence my more recent dependence on Vodka and Whisky... still probably not exactly what the doctor would order, but less fattening than Guinness to say the least.

I have to say I'm a look-past-the-surface kind of guy too, possibly as a result of having been an ugly duckling as a teen. But that does not mean I don't have a physical 'type' that I go for, and a 'type' that I don't. That's the initial seeing-someone-across-a-crowded-room thing, isn't it. And sometimes those people are great, sometimes not. Other times I get to know people who I would never be instantly physically attracted to over a period of time and fall for them, head over heels. Anyway, that's all by-the-by.

But that Dove crap you mentioned? If you are going to show REAL women lets have a proper mixture, you know, some that are truly obese, and some that are blatantly anorexic. How about one who has had a mastectomy? Or just one that, whatever size she is, has a face like a bag of spanners. Because, lets face it - every one of the women they used was photogenic enough.

Finally, Curves... we had one of them where I used to live. Fair enough, I thought. Women don't want to feel intimidated by those big muscly sweaty body-builder types who get down the gym. But then I'm still waiting for someone to open a gym where all us pale ordinary men with more of a keg than a 6-pack can go to avoid the same intimidation....

8:53 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Well done with the cigarettes Binty! I am the wost kind of non-smoker, the reformed kind.
You should never be intimidated by a gym Binty.
Bodybuilder types didn't start out that way, they had to work to get that body, and work hard so they are the last person that would laugh at someone starting out.
The gym I go to is mixed and believe it or not the most helpful person in the place is a huge guy who is there ever after noon. He can tell you if you are sitting badly on a machine or he will spot you if you are on free weights. Most people at a gym are there for the same reason and are not sneering or looking down their nose at anyone.
I tried to talk my mother into going to the gym once and she said .'oh no, I'd have to lose weight first.'
You just can't argue with that kind of logic.
anyway, if Curves gets more women to go and get fit I'm not knocking it, just the 'real women' line in their advert.

10:07 a.m.  
Blogger SheBah said...

I agree with Binty's comment, that sometimes when you get to know someone over a period of time you find you really fancy them - when initially you may have thought them dull/plain/plug ugly etc. I do believe this applies to women more than men - in my experience, men are more swayed by physical appearance. The brain is still the sexiest organ. I know I'd really like nearly all the people in this particular blog community and it wouldn't matter if they were fat, thin, green, 18 or 80 - you see the wit, thoughtfulness and sides of their natures that people might not normally reveal in case they were contrary to the image they wished to project to the real world. We are all quick to jump to judgements based on looks and those judgements can be almost impossible to change. So until men can see past the purely physical, I'll stick to wearing the Manolos, mascara and wispy underwear!

12:49 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same company that owns Dove also owns Slim-Fast. Gotta Love those mixed messages.

10:49 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you so much for writing this. i can't even point out all the parts that made me want to weep with joy and appreciation, i lost count. really, all i need to say is i truly love you, internet stranger, for putting this in your little cyber-bottle and floating it on out into the wide ocean for passerby to notice.

as you might have already guessed, but i'd now like to explicitly articulate, i'd love to blast the word "curvy" into a thousand little pieces, and then piss on the pieces. fuck "curvy."

5:13 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Indeed.

9:12 p.m.  
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