Cawfee Talk VIII

Hope all you Miss Things had a FABULOUS weekend. The Queen actually spent time with relatives that I’ve not seen for many, many moons. It is a humbling experience to acknowledge the passing of time; and recognize how susceptible and grateful you are to memory and nostalgia. And how much you can eat when there is free food available.

Peep This

Just for a smile.

The Washington Post held its annual Spring contest asking readers to create dioramas using the popular Peeps marshmallow treats. It’s a wonderful amalgam of satire, politics, pop culture and creativity. Check out all of the entries if you have time. The Queen found himself going from “huh?”, to laughing out loud (speaking of which: how often when you type “LOL” are you ACTUALLY laughing out loud?).

Pondering on Perceptions

When the Queen met his Ex Partner a few weeks ago, of the many things that had changed, the fact that each of us had gained a considerable amount of weight was the most obvious. However the knowledge that we could audition for The Biggest Loser: Couples didn’t turn either one of us off. in fact, there was something about unwittingly becoming super-sized middle-aged men that was kind of comforting. Maybe it was because it showed our vulnerability. Maybe it was because we now got our money’s worth at the Golden Corral Buffet.

Whatever it was, the Queen became aware of a dirty little secret that I was carrying around: Other than the health issues that obesity can carry with it, I was comfortable with how I looked. Now I’m not saying that I wouldn’t mind being the size of the image in the avatar I created. But if I’m being honest it’s more about ego and other’s perception of me, than it is about my own.

It never ceases to amaze me how we, as a society of consumers, buy into the idea that we should never truly be happy with our physical appearance. There’s always something that we should change. There is no question that I want to be healthy. And I fully realize that at my age carrying around extra pounds is more than likely not affecting my ageing body positively. However I also know that I have no desire to look like a cookie-cutter image shown in the mature dating ads all over the web. I like the grey that is showing up in my goatee. I walked out of a store in some of the new garments that I bought as a result of the wonderful advice I got from you Miss Things (thanks EVER so much!), and I overheard a gentleman say to his friend: “Yum! What a HOT portly papa!” I considered grabbing and having my way with him in a department store dressing room, but thought the better of it.

The Queen is just weary of feeling guilty because I am comfortable with myself in this moment. I’m finally at a stage of life in which I truly have no desire to be white, or taller, or buff-bodied. I understand that there is something to be learned from where I am right now. Now my neurosis is feeling guilty about not feeling guilty. As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say:“It’s always something.”.


Dark Girls

No Images

BY WILLIAM WARING CUNEY

She does not know
her beauty,
she thinks her brown body
has no glory.

If she could dance
naked
under palm trees
and see her image in the river,
she would know.

But there are no palm trees
on the street,
and dish water gives back
no images.

Interview with Dark Girls director, Bill Duke

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12 thoughts on “Cawfee Talk VIII

  1. I myself went over to my boyfriend’s aunts house. I’ve been doing fairly well with the whole dieting thing, but just about everything on that table was carbs and I left feeling like I swallowed a bowling ball whole.

    Speaking of being in shape and being comfortable though, I’m glad you posted about this.

    I mentioned once to his aunt that I had to buy a size bigger in a bridesmaids dress because I was a “curvy” girl, and his aunt said to me, “That means you’re a real woman!” That statement has bothered me ever since. I don’t think being curvy makes me any more “real” than my 5’3 110lb friend Amy, or any less real than my 5’4 275lb friend Leah. Not that I’m saying bigger girls (and guys) shouldn’t be happy with themselves, but I think that some of us hide behind that “Real women have curves” thing so we don’t have to face the fact that we’re unhealthy.

    “Health at Every Size” is one of my favorite movements, actually. Health trumps size, every single time.

    I go through stages of self-love and self-loathing. I’m hoping someday I can make a permanent stop in self-love land. You are an inspiration to us all! I can only hope to be as comfortable with myself as you are someday. 🙂

    • I was going to reply here about Health at Every Size! I’m trying to get the hang of Intuitive Eating, but it can be really hard at things like Easter dinners where I don’t necessarily get to choose what I feel like eating.

      I think what you say about the “Real women have curves” stupidity might be why I hear so much less of it (and when I do hear it, it’s shot down immediately) in the HAES community– if we feel unhealthy, we know there are things we can do to change that, whether or not (and statistically, most likely not) that changes our size!

    • Ugh! I know “real women have curves” is supposed to be some great liberating attitude to make us non-size-4 women feel good about ourselves, but it’s really insulting. Real women have curves, are straight up and down, are short, tall, skinny, voluptuous, short-waisted, built like a ballerina, have shoulders like a linebacker, flat asses, wide hips… I could go on, but I don’t have to. I hate “real women have curves” as much as I despise “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”
      It’s just more BS we have to learn to ignore.

      • Real women are people who call themselves women. Period. Honestly I find “real women have curves” to be just as sizist as “all women should be model-size.”

  2. That video clip/trailer is heartbreaking. Every woman shown was stunningly beautiful. When watching Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” several years ago, I found the depth of this self-shame (in regard to skin tone and hair type), perpetuated within the black community, bewildering. Is this attitude limited to women, or are men judged similarly? What about black gay men? Has it been your experience that your community finds men with lighter skin more “preferable”?

  3. Scotty, any time you can get an unsolicited “Yum!” from a passerby means you are doing something right! And it’s great that you’ve arrived at a place where you are comfortable with yourself. I’m struggling to get comfortable with the fact that I now look like an old guy at 49.

    The weight issue is a complex one. I’m in total agreement with Marzirocks on health trumping size, but I also just don’t know enough about it. Can an obese person be healthy? I would guess that how much “extra” weight you can carry and still be healthy is different for every person. I have to say, though, that I was back in the U.S. this weekend and I was struck with what an issue weight is there (as I am every time I go back). The number of “just heavy” and also truly obese people was so noticeable compared with the general population here in Vancouver (and some of those obese people are family members and friends). I also noticed the enormous restaurant portions. I don’t know. It seems that there is a big cultural component to it.

    • I’m not sure where you were visiting, but the average American today weighs about 7 to 14 pounds heavier than the average American 30 years ago. More recent increases in obesity rates (including the 1998 redrawing of the BMI lines that made 30 million Americans “obese” overnight) have largely (pun intended!) leveled off. (http://tinyurl.com/yaxjtj8)

      In response to your question, “Can an obese person be healthy?” The answer is: Yes, certainly! Here’s a great example of one! (http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/) In addition, here’s a forum I frequent that’s for fat people who are, or would like to become, physically fit! (http://fitfatties.com/) The truth is that while moderate exercise mitigates almost all of the health risks associated with fat/size, it only very rarely reduces a person’s size.

      • Thanks for the info–it’s good to know that moderate exercise can mitigate the health risks of being overweight.

  4. OK, I just watched the the Dark Girls video, and it is devastating. The pain in those beautiful women’s faces and voices was awful. I would be interested to hear your response to the questions Mary posed above.

  5. Thoughts:

    I am glad you overheard a compliment! So nice to hear one when one can be certain there is no agenda.

    I’ve also reached the point where battle fatigue in the fight to achieve some ever-unreachable ideal has brought on some degree of acceptance of my aging self. I have to admit though, while it is health issues that make me exercise, it is being able to wear certain clothes that feels like a reward. Somehow, *not* having developed all the issues (blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc.) my genes are prey to feels important but not particularly rewarding.

    I think it is very hard to really be okay with our physical imperfections until we come to realize – in our guts, in the way a healthy 20 or 30 year old rarely can (unless they have spent time with the disabled or elderly) – that someday, perhaps, everything is NOT going to “work right” and it’s going to limit us, perhaps severely, and change our quality of life. Only then can most people embrace health as the most important thing. I wish I’d come to that earlier – but we learn when we are ready to.

    The next hard thing is to figure out how healthy one can be and still carry a little, some, considerable? extra weight. Genetics and factors we can’t identify (and therefore call ‘luck’) play too big a part. Scientists: get on it!

    My one “real” black friend – the one who I’ve known for almost 40 years and with whom our friendship bridged, the accepted formalities and distances of friendships across races in the south in which we grew up – taught me everything I’ve ever known about the pain of color prejudice among people of color in one short conversation spurred by a popular movie. Everything I’ve observed, lived among and been told since is just nuance. God bless this woman, she’s done a lot of the heavy lifting in making her white friend a little less ignorant.

    I can’t say much about this next topic, not from personal experience. But from the outside looking in, as a white woman who married into a multi racial family: color discrimination among people of color extends to men. Like other markers of ‘conventional’ beauty, however, the rewards and penalties seem to fall far more stringently on women than on men. I probably won’t watch Dark Girls until I can stream it on Netflix or get a DVD. I don’t want to be the middle aged white lady crying in the theater. Even though the review I heard didn’t make it sound like a tear jerker.

    And on an up note: one of the fun memories of when my kids were young is roasting peeps over the gas stove. Still a cherished post-Easter tradition!

  6. “But if I’m being honest it’s more about ego and other’s perception of me, than it is about my own.”

    I feel the same way, and it’s why I have thus far completely failed in every single one of my (admittedly kind of half-assed) attempts to lose weight. I try to do it for other people, or because of some nebulous “should” instead of doing it because I actually want to for myself, and thus it never works. (Also I never met a carb I didn’t like except whole wheat bread, so that really doesn’t help. ~grins~) I think it’s a sad commentary on our society when it makes you feel guilty for feeling good about yourself.

    [Also, since we’re talking about sad commentaries on society, I will never forget my first real encounter with the way women are supposed to view their weight. I was in 8th grade and we were doing an independent project in our language arts class. One of the girls in the class, who was skinny as a rail I might add, chose body image and weight perceptions for hers and she had this questionare we all filled out about our weight and eating habits. The first question on the thing was something like, ‘do you have thoughts about feeling fat.’ I answered no, because at the time I was hip-deep in denial about my body size, and her response was, “Don’t lie, every girl feels fat.” I found it ridiculous at the time, but the older I get the more I realize just how sad it reall is.]

    • namipufin said “I think it’s a sad commentary on our society when it makes you feel guilty for feeling good about yourself.”

      I was just coming to post the same thing! It’s heartbreaking that feeling comfortable with oneself as-is has become a “dirty little secret” that has to be hidden from the world. Why should I be EXPECTED to consider myself unacceptable because I weigh more than I “should”? Why should I be automatically seen as unemployable because I have un-dyed grey hairs? Why should it be assumed to be a “given” that I would want to change (or at least mask) any/everthing about myself that’s different from the Barbie-esque “norm” – height, skin color, religion, relationship status, etc. – no matter what the cost to my health?

      Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I’d actually go so far as to say it’s creepy how so much of society automatically assumes that those of us who are “outliers” in one way or another of course want to change those “different” things about us in any way we can (or are constantly mourning our inability to change the things we can’t). It’s especially creepy how much social pressure there is to make those changes, when you stop to think about it – advertising, fashion, and so forth, of course, but also just assumptions that are made about people who don’t “fix” their “flaws” (pale=ill, fat=lazy &/or stupid, grey hair=old=incapable, woman not dressed “sexy”=man-hater, woman dressed “sexy”=no brain, single childless woman not actively looking for a man=unfulfilled, empty shell-of-a-woman to be pitied, etc.)

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