The Power of Words

[TW for fat hatred, depression.]

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will forever haunt me.

About two weeks ago, I was at my mother's and step-father's house when my step-father, during a discussion of the (horrible) show Biggest Loser, abruptly said, "I hope you're not using this new interest of yours [HAES] as an excuse to stay fat."

It's not often I lose control of my jaw muscles, but this was one of those times. I was paralyzed. My mind went totally blank. I wanted more than anything else to refute the shame that had been foisted upon me; to counter the ugly enthymemes within that short sentence, but no words came.

Things were heading downhill before my step-father said this, and went further downhill afterwards (ending in being fully silenced and prevented from defending myself), but that sentence sticks in my mind as the most damning. I've blogged before about why I'm ardently dedicated to the fat acceptance movement. I am sad to say that in the two weeks since this encounter, I have slid significantly backwards; reverted in many ways to the way I used to think. The cognitive dissonance and the unmitigated hurt have been nearly overwhelming. When I read articles or blogs or research about obesity and health, I find myself questioning the conclusions that one can be both fat and healthy.

I've gone through that single sentence and ripped it to shreds in my mind, over and over, and yet, I still wonder. I am learning, I am growing, I am still dedicated to fat acceptance, but my foundation of surety in the message has been shaken. In my head, the battle looks something like this: "The basis of that statement is that fat is bad." "It ain't exactly good, though." "Fat just is. You cannot divorce me from my fat - I am not a person despite my fat." "No, but you can certainly lose that fat if you weren't so lazy." "Weight doesn't matter!" "Of course not, but fitness does, and if you just took a twenty-minute walk around the block a few times a week, you'd lose plenty of weight." "I already do that." "It's obviously not enough." "But he implied that this whole thing was just an excuse to stay fat!" "Well, isn't it?"

This, from one sentence. From one instance of concern trolling. Because it came from family, and in a form more concentrated than I'd ever experienced from that direction.

I know the italicized voice is wrong. I can verbalize precisely why it is wrong. But the new voice, the one that developed with my discovery of fat acceptance and HAES, is mere months old, whereas the voice of internalized self-loathing has been strong throughout my life.

The road to fat acceptance is a journey that involves confrontation of internalized misconceptions and a willingness to change. The willingness is there. The confrontation, ongoing. But I'm still walking this path, regardless of the occasional stumble.

Because of You, I am Afraid.

[TW for assault, self-harm, homophobia, and transphobia]

In the last two days, I've been betrayed by people I trusted- all over an article I posted to facebook (of all places) The article proved the point that female comic book characters are over-sexualized to the point of being non-functional as superheroes. The author (who is also an artist) did this by drawing pictures of male characters in the same clothes and positions as female ones (thus showing that female's costume is actually functionally useless, even when on a male superhero). Someone I considered a friend read it and posted a 'helpful' response of "Get better articles," because apparently if men were over-sexualized, they wouldn't be dressed in that way. (And zomg they said bad things about fishnets).

I read the response and honestly did not have the energy to right then explain the point of the article, so I went the nice route and just asked him to read it again, as he missed the point (I even included a smiley face to show that I did want him to learn, cause friendship.) But nope, examples weren't up to his standards, need better articles. Other friends tried explaining it to him, nope, he continued on. Finally I was starting to get upset so (being as it's my space and all) I asked him to stop, as I would soon start to be less nice. He stopped, but soon after another person who I thought was a friend jumped in and started attacking me to 'prove a point' - basically, that though I was being patient and nice, the very fact that I didn't accept my male friend's opinion was me 'being nasty'. Because opinions can't be wrong or something. But at that point I snapped and fought back in defense of myself, but she just would not back down. She got nasty enough to trigger me very badly. Repeatedly I asked her to stop and reminded her it was my space, but while she acknowledged it was my space, she did not stop. She continued violating me with her words.

At that point my real friend jumped in and defended me, but the other commenter just kept coming, gleefully mocking me with phrases like "This is the most I've seen Ange post in years" and "lol I'm being a dick (her words) to prove a point" and other choice phrases. Violation after violation. No after no. Finally I just gave up, tried one last explaining comment, and went to sleep (or tried to, as I was still triggered and my anxiety prevents me from actually sleeping), with no support system.

[Boyfrog and company are going through their own stuff, and got defensive when I couldn't -literally no capacity for it when triggered- comfort them, then got angry when I called them on something. I admit, my words were pretty close to mean (for which I am sorry), and I know I can't speak for others' experiences, but I don't really have much control over my word choice when triggered- I react; I word vomit in a knee-jerk way. I don't sugarcoat. I describe what I see. Anyway, we'll see if that can get back on track at some point, but for now that's besides my focus].

Once morning comes, I eventually find the strength to go downstairs and at least check my email (yep, I felt my stomach and heart tighten in the grips of a panic attack as I checked), and sure enough, another reply. At that point I was too upset and defeated to bother replying, so I tried to calm myself, until I noticed I got a message from 'friend' number one- the guy who brilliantly pointed out I should get better articles, and whose entire position smacks of both misogyny, heteronormativity, and a dash of homophobia and transphobia (Men would never be dressed like that! Cause men.)

See, I even went so far as to try to reply and apologize (seriously, apologize for being repeatedly violated and attacked, and of course my 'nasty tone' -_- ), but he apparently has either blocked me or removed his facebook account. So, I figured I'd put it here on display.

If you want to help a cause quit spamming every article without a critical eye. If an argument is bad, the author loses credibility even if the overall point being made is in fact a good or valid one. I've been on the side of the author in almost every article you've linked that I read. However, there were so many that were so poorly written such a flood can only drown out those people that are better at doing it. I wasn't trying to help feminism, I don't have the time or the passion, I was trying to help you do better at what you've been doing.

Also, the point of the article was directly stated early in the article. Anyone who felt the need to state it themselves should reevaluate their own comprehension levels.

Comparing Women dressed in sexy women's clothing to Men dressed in sexy women's clothing to come to a conclusion regarding how men dress is a fallacy. Ignoring something does not make it refuted. Arguing logic isn't semantics. Saying after looking down on semantics that words have meaning is hypocritical. What I'm doing now is being an ass, while also not being wrong.

Anyone who thinks I'm dumb needs a SERIOUS reality check.

I hope the rest of your life is as miserable as the betrayal I felt yesterday. I have nothing but hatred for your kind.

You want betrayal? Try being verbally assaulted by two 'friends' over the course of 2 days, (a month after another, separate 'friend' decided to assault me in person), being gleefully triggered so badly that you want to slice yourself to ribbons, having little to no support system because they're all involved in their own stuff, having people 'secretly' show the attackers support though Likes and whatnot, and then being told to have a miserable life (while assigning things to me that I did not say). That is true betrayal, and I hope not one of you ever has to live through it.

ETA: I took down the whole article and attack, and put up a status basically saying that I'd been effectively silenced and triggered......and the woman who triggered me just asked if I was 'ok', cause it was 'nothing personal'......what fucking world do people live in that they can verbally assault someone until the point of trigger, and then ask a question like that, especially with any real seriousness.

Self-Depreciation Isn't Harmless

[TW for fat hatred.]

A number of years ago, I was involved in an activity that included getting all participants new shirts, and so everyone had to line up and give their shirt size to a woman with a clipboard.

When it was my turn, she asked, "What's your size?"

I sighed, chuckled and said, "Too big."

The woman choked. "Excuse me?!"

Too late, it struck me that she was significantly larger than I was, and that I'd badly insulted her. I stumbled over an apology, mumbled my shirt size and slinked off to be mortified in private.

Off-hand self-depreciation is all too common, and almost no one is aware of how much it hurts. The example above is something I will forever be ashamed of, but I use it to remind myself precisely why this sort of thing is entirely unacceptable.

It hurts ourselves.
When we attack ourselves (for it is, indeed, an attack), we reinforce our own internalized fat hatred. Reactions from anyone who happens to hear the attack also have a powerful effect. There are a limited number of possible reactions: Ignore, Agree With, Disagree With or Teaspoon.

Ignore: Default assumption is Agree With; reinforce internalized self-hate.

Agree With: Reinforce internalized self-hate.

isagree With: Experience the high of receiving compliments but never take them to heart. Continue self-depreciating. Reinforce internalized self-hate.

Teaspoon: Be taken totally off guard by a new approach that, instead of agreeing or disagreeing, provides a different philosophy of body image; learn, grow (or, alternately, disagree vehemently). Do not reinforce internalized self-hate (in the alternate scenario, do internalize self-hate, with a bonus dollop of anger and frustration at the teaspooner). Needless to say, this scenario does not often occur as compared to the other reactions.

Further, it is nearly impossible to maintain a high opinion of someone engaged in self-depreciation. The more the hatred is repeated, the more people around you will agree... or, at least, they will stop commenting and trying to convince you otherwise.

It hurts others.

See my example above. We so commonly compare ourselves to each other; is it any wonder that hearing self-depreciation from someone we like or admire - or even a stranger! - will result in feelings of inadequacy? Too often, people who hear these negative things will apply them to themselves, yet again reinforcing internalized self-hate.

It hurts everyone.
Just as sexist comments don't simply occur without consequence, fat-hating comments also have consequences. They encourage the cultural hatred of everyone who is fat; they present as intolerance, discrimination and stigma against fat people.

If you hate yourself because you are (or perceive yourself to be) fat, how can you possibly regard or treat fat people equally with thin people?

Here's a hint.

You can't.

Those Womenz and their Public Sexxorz

[TW for slut-shaming and objectification]

So, Reese Witherspoon won an MTV Movie Award last night, which is awesome for her. I actually enjoy her acting in the movies I've seen her in. And of course, as she's accepting the award, she gives an appropriate acceptance speech:

Accepting her MTV Generation award, the Oscar-winning actress slammed stars who have appeared in sex tapes and nude-photo scandals, telling them they should be ashamed of themselves.


Really? I mean, really really? You've just been given an award for acting and you take the time to blast other celebrities (read: women) for their bedroom preferences?

Of course, if Ms. Witherspoon was actually concerned about 'sex-scandals' (aka, the general public finding out) you'd think she'd place the blame on those who actually deserve the blame, such as the paparazzi, or the 'liberal media', or, I don't know, the culture which shames those who have sex lives that deviate in any way from the perceived 'norm' [Hetero, monogomous, no kink whatsoever, and definitely no women enjoying themselves or having sex because they want to have sex]. But no, she places this squarely on women (or as she says, girls), with this gem of a line:

“I get it, girls, that it’s cool to be a bad girl,” the mom-of-two told the crowd. “But it is possible to make it in Hollywood without doing a reality show. When I came up in this business, if you made a sex tape, you were embarrassed and you hid it under your bed.

Oh Patriarchy, the only culture where women don't enjoy sex, but simultaneously 'go after' enough sex to 'make it in Hollywood'. Oh and of course, add a large helping of slut-shaming with no mention of any male participation or activity whatsoever.

Oh, but she's not done, she has some 'helpful' words of advice:

Said Witherspoon, “And if you took naked pictures of yourself on your cell phone, you hide your face, people! Hide your face!”

Cause if there's anything we need more of, it's disembodied breasts or genitalia. Objectifying women ftw, amirite?



Dear Mayo Clinic/Science

You have disappointed me today. I looked up the risk factors for gestational diabetes, and you told me that one of the risk factors is "Nonwhite race." I became even more disappointed in you when I read the description after the risk factor, which says "For reasons that aren't clear, women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian are more likely to develop gestational diabetes."

Please consider doing studies on actual factors, such as socioeconomic ones and ones in which either the effects of a lack of privilege is studied, or ones in which privilege is accounted for and taken into consideration. The world would be a better place for it.

Still expecting more,