Second chance repost #11

Todays second chance repost comes from the blog of Angels Bark.
This is an article Michele Truhlik had published in “The good men project”
In this post she challenges our notions of beauty and says that being called FAT affects men as much as it does women:

THE BEST AND WORST OF F WORDS by Michele Truhlik

One of my favorite words begin with F. I’m sure you know which one I’m talking about. That oft-thought
crude four-letter word, to me, is an important communication tool. It’s a word I use when I want to
place great emphasis on something that I’m saying. It also happens to be very effective when used in the
passionate throes of hot steamy sex.

On the other hand, one of the ugliest F words is FAT. I hate that word! In our thin-obsessed society, the
word has grown to be one that can throw a woman (or a man) into a downward spiral of crash dieting,
eating disorders, body dysmorphia and even into a full-blown state of depression. It’s a bad word, fat.
Do you know what that tells us? It tells us that although our face is pretty, the rest of us is garbage, and
that everything below our necks is worthless.fat

Another F word that I have come to hate is FACE. Let me just state this on behalf of all the beautiful fat
women in the world: The worst compliment you can give us is to say, “You have such a pretty face.” If I
hear that one more time I’m going to scream and not stop screaming. God, this makes me crazy!
Why is this compliment so bothersome and so very uncool? Because if you are complimenting a thin
woman, you say, “You’re so pretty” or “You’re beautiful.” But when you compliment a plus-size woman,
you say “You have such a pretty face” or “You have a beautiful face.”
Do you know what that tells us? It tells us that although our face is pretty, the rest of us is garbage, and
that everything below our necks is worthless. In other words, you’re telling us that ninety-five percent of
our physical being is hideous. That truly is exactly what that compliment says to us. To use another F
word, it’s so fucking insulting!
◊♦◊
Though likely different in form, men experience the masked insults too. Their buddies rib them about
their expanding “beer gut” and love handles or make comments about how they should hit the gym, all
cloaked in the guise of good-natured kidding of course.

Once thought to only affect women, the obsession with body image and the development of eating
disorders are striking men in alarming numbers. Though body ideals differ, as women are driven by an
unrelenting pressure to be thin and men are obsessed with bulking up and achieving the coveted sixpack
abs, the result is the same: an overall dissatisfaction with their bodies, the accompanying negative
self-image and its detrimental aftereffects.

An April report in Eating Disorder Magazine claims that nearly half (43%) of men are not satisfied with
their own body.

According to National Eating Disorders Association, in the United States alone, 20 million women and 10
million men suffer a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their life. This includes
anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders. Gathered data on people in treatment suggests that as
many as 25 percent of those struggling with anorexia or bulimia are men. When binge eating figures are
examined, the number jumps to 40 percent.

An April report in Eating Disorder Magazine claims that nearly half (43%) of men are not satisfied with
their own body. Body image issues are a key component in eating disorders. Most men who are in this
category admit to being depressed and a large number claim to use fasting, purging (self-induced
vomiting) and laxatives to manage their weight. Unlike anorexia, which involves starvation, the main
method of disordered eating in men involves the vicious cycle of binge eating followed by excessive
exercise.

Men may be especially vulnerable to muscle dysmorphia, a condition in which one obsesses about
lacking muscle definition and mass, even if they have a muscular body. In a recent issue of the American
College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal, Ball State University nutritionist Katherine A.
Beals, PhD, RD, highlighted this trend among fitness buffs. “Millions of boys and men today harbor a
secret obsession about their looks and are endangering their health by engaging in excessive exercise,
bingeing and purging rituals, steroid abuse, and overuse of nutritional and dietary [products],” she
writes.
This all boils down to body image. Brown University has a fabulous site devoted to Health Services and
Health Education. Here they present a description and definition of Positive Body Image vs. Negative
Body Image that really hits it home.

Taken from their page:
We have a positive body image when we have a realistic perception of our bodies AND we enjoy them
just as they are. Positive body image involves understanding that healthy attractive bodies come in
many shapes and sizes, and that physical appearance says very little about our character or value as a
person. Healthy body image means that our assessment of our bodies is kept separate from our sense of
self-esteem, and it ensures that we don’t spend an unreasonable amount of time worrying about food,
weight and calories.483px-rubens_venus_at_a_mirror_c1615

Negative body image can involve a distorted perception of size or shape, as well as more global feelings
of shame, awkwardness, and anxiety about the body. People with negative body image tend to feel that
their size or shape is a sign of personal failure, and that it is a very important indicator of worth. Poor
body image has been linked to diminished mental performance, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression,
sexual dysfunction, dieting and eating disorders.

According to Brown’s Health Education discussion on Size Prejudice, “Intolerance of body diversity has a
lot to do with the meaning of size and shape in our culture. Being thin and/or muscular has become
associated with being “hard-working, successful, popular, beautiful, strong, and self-disciplined.” Being
“fat” is associated with being “lazy, ignorant, hated, ugly, weak, and lacking in will-power.” As a result,
“fat” isn’t a description like tall or redhead – it’s an indication of moral character: fat is bad.”
◊♦◊
So just how do we deal when fat is a reality for many of us? Brown University’s Health Services has a list
of tips and advice on how to boost our body image. Of those sage words of wisdom, these are my
favorite:
• De-emphasize numbers. Neither weight nor Body Mass Index tell us anything substantial about
body composition and health. Eating habits, activity patterns, and other self-care choices are
much more important. It’s really hard to cultivate an attitude of body acceptance and trust
when you are basically climbing on the scale to ask if it’s OK to feel good about yourself that
day. It is ALWAYS OK to feel good about yourself – don’t let a machine tell you any differently.
• Realize that you cannot change your body type. Lightly muscled, bulky, or rounded, you need to
appreciate your body and work with your genetic inheritance.
• Stop comparing yourself to others. Your physiology is unique to you; you can’t get a sense of
your body’s needs and abilities with someone else’s body as a reference point. And the research
has shown that frequent comparing tends to increase negative body image.
• Limit the “body checking” that you do throughout the day. Researchers have also found that
negative body image is reinforced by lots of time in front of the mirror, or frequent checks of
(perceived) body flaws. Instead, consider rearranging your living space so that you aren’t
running into full-length mirrors every time you turn around.
• Question the degree to which your self-esteem depends on your appearance. Although we are
repeatedly told “Change Your Shape and Change Your Life,” basing your happiness on this
foundation is likely to lead to failure and frustration, and may prevent you from exploring ways
to truly enhance your life.
• Broaden your perspective about health and beauty. Read books about body image, cultural
pressures, or media literacy. Google some fine art images on the Web. Fine art collections show
that a variety of bodies have been celebrated throughout the ages and in different cultures. Fine
art doesn’t exist to create a need for a product (like advertising does), so it isn’t intended to
leave you feeling inadequate or anxious.
• Recognize that size prejudice is a form of discrimination similar to other forms of discrimination.
Assumptions that shape and size are indicators of character, morality, intelligence, or success
are incorrect and unjust. Celebrate people you know who defy these generalizations.

So if you’ve spent (wasted) years trying to be what you weren’t meant to be, take these tips to heart. No
one should be made to feel bad for the way they look, the way they are. Remember, media images are
NOT reality. Women don’t have to be a size 2 to be considered attractive and men don’t need to have
rippling abs and bulging biceps to be considered hot.

We are all unique and valued individuals, worthy of being loved and applauded for who we are, as we
are. Perfection is way overrated, and impossible to achieve anyway.
And speaking as a one who has spent decades being fat in America: I do believe that most people who
use the compliment “You have such a pretty face” are coming from a place of love and don’t even
realize the implication their phraseology has on the one being complimented. But, please, from now on,
consider your words before you tell a fat woman that she’s beautiful. Don’t pinpoint her face. Just say,
“You’re beautiful.” Period. Because that’s what we are.

 

***** Would you like to give an old post another day out? Maybe you felt it was missed? I would be happy to feature it here in this series. For details please read here or use the contact me link on my blog header.

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7 thoughts on “Second chance repost #11

  1. I know people with eating disorders and dysmorphia; it is a very tough-to-deal-with issue. Each case is very complicated. Very complicated.

  2. very well said, and i think that sometimes people don’t think about the effect they have on others with their choice of words. it comes down to accepting who we are and being happy with that )

  3. Thank you so much Tric, for posting my article! I really appreciate it. I think this is such an important topic and would be so valuable to get a conversation started. Thank you momshieb and ksbeth and Jackie for your compliments and for reading my article. I have spent a lifetime working on accepting myself and I can’t even begin to tell you the outright insults that I’ve had to endure, not to mention the ones that are masked (‘You have such a pretty face’ – when someone says that to me, I know they think they are complimenting me but I just want to turn and walk away. It literally HURTS!) So I’m very grateful that this article is getting a second chance. Thank you all for your comments! And thanks again Tric. You always have such compelling posts and wonderful opportunities for your readers. You rock! 🙂

  4. Here’s my sad truth. I’ve been on both sides of this equation. Even in my attempts to compliment I am sure I have hurt someone. As has happened to me. The changes come from awareness. Thank you.

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