Learning about The Beauty Myth and fat etc.

(56 Posts)
Sulis Sun 20-Jul-14 13:37:50

Hello smile I used to post here all the time - FlamingoBingo for anyone who remembers me!

I'm on a mission to truly, unconditionally love my body - initially motivated by having four daughters who I want not to internalise The Beauty Myth. So I have my books piled by my bed:

The Beauty Myth I'm half-way through.
Fat is a Feminist Issue
Susie Orbach on Eating

I'm reading fantastic blogs like Dances with Fat.

I'm finding inspiration from articles like this about allowing yourself to be photographed for your children and this about not refusing to wear a swimsuit to play with your kids on the beach.

FWIW I'm a size 12/14, 5'1". I lost a load of weight a couple of years ago but have put it all back on. I dance at least twice a week and am fairly fit and very healthy.

Anyone else want to talk about this? What are you doing to support your daughters' body image? What work on your own issues are you having to do? How's it working for you? Have you got any body-love inspiring resources to share?

whatdoesittake48 Sun 20-Jul-14 23:35:04

I worry about this too. But a funny thing happened the other day. My husband and I were in bed....I looked down and noticed mt wibbly tummy and just thought " if he doesnt like it he can go jump".
The fact is that it us me projecting my fears on to him. Thinkibg or assuming that he hates my body.
something just clicked. He was in bed with me so he must like my body so I should li k e it too.
and if he doesn't like it....too bad.

King1982 Mon 21-Jul-14 00:12:58

I think it's important to educate children in nutrition and benefits of exercise. How these relate to weight and how weight relates to ill health (both very underweight or overweight).
I think harder things to deal with are things that can not be changed. Be it baldness, ginger, deformity, amputation, etc. these are things I don't judge but as a society they mocked or avoided. Instilling confidence in these cases are harder and take more of a process.

Sulis Mon 21-Jul-14 08:29:01

King - yet evidence suggests heavily that the ill-health-fat connection isn't really all that big a deal. Self-hatred, shame, the fear of ill-health are what are really bad for you. Living joyfully is good for you. So going for a run and hating every minute then denying yourself a chocolate bar (and possibly gorging on it later) is actually worse for your health than genuinely joyfully eating that chocolate bar having not goneon a self-punishing run. I'm not suggesting tgat we all tell our kids to lie on the sofa eating chocolate all day, but someone who genuinely loves herself and values herself unconditionally doesn't need to hear what's good for her and what's not because she won't do things that are self-destructive like overeat. She will learn quickly that it feels better to dance and eat all sorts of food than to do nothing and only eat what we are told is 'bad' for us. In fact the very labelling of food as 'bad' gives it the power that makes it bad in the first place. It's used as self-harm then, rather than as authentic self-love, and is far more likely to lead to serious morbid obesity and ill-health. Our fears around lack of exercise, 'bad food', and fatness need to be picked apart and dissolved if we are ever to be free from the prison of this patriarchal prison of self-hatred.

highlandflingabout Mon 21-Jul-14 08:40:47

I realised a while ago that I had been dieting for 30 years, pretty amazing for a 40 year old!

I have gained and lost hundreds of pounds in this time, recently I have simply got tired of hating my body into submission, of believing that when I am a size 12 ,life will be perfect(I have been a size 12 and it wasn't) so I have stopped , simply gone cold turkey on the denial and self loathing.

The relief. I can eat whatever I want, and you know what I don't stuff myself ,food seems to be losing its power, and have lost weight ,I am interested to see what weight I end up at what is my natural weight, I actually don't know. At each weight I am me, I am entitled to feel good , dress in what I want to. I enjoy sport and am back to it, not as a calorie burning exercise, but because I enjoy it.

It has freed up so much of my mind, and my heart if feels fantastic

CoreyTrevorLahey Mon 21-Jul-14 09:07:09

I don't have any good advice to share, but am watching this with interest.

My DM's attitude to food and weight has had big effects on my life (I'm now 28). When I was little, DM would tell me how lovely I was, as I was 'only skin and bone.' She'd say how grotesque it was to be fat, which I internalised to the point that I called my 2 best pals 'fat and tubby' (unprovoked) when I was 4 and, understandably, they fell out with me.

As I got older, DM would tell me she was anorexic as a teenager, because her parents put so much pressure on her to be a high achiever. I have no idea why she needed to tell me this. A few years down the line, both me and my DSis begin starving ourselves and get very thin. DM is furious and asks me if I'm only doing it because she told me she was anorexic. I turn out to be a crap anorexic anyway and turn to bulimia instead but DSis gets very thin and ill.

Fast forward to now, both of us are better but, due to anxiety/depression, both of us have ended up on antidepressants over the past few years, and have, as is often the case with ADs, gained weight. Now, I don't give that much of a fuck - I'm heavier, but at least I'm not suicidal - but sometimes I do get angry, because I feel like I'm invisible and everyone must secretly have no respect for me. DSis is off ADs and is doing well. But every time she tries to fit into an old dress, she can't and she ends up in tears. She's worried the old feelings will come back.

I'm still on ADs, which is fine with me for now, but DM is desperate for me to come off them 'and the weight will just drop off.' I never see DM eat dinner. I don't remember her ever sitting down for dinner with us during my childhood.

I love my DM to bits - she has helped me through some awful times, and I feel guilty writing this, but I want to avoid any future DD I have going through all this, and I really need to learn how to do that.

itsbetterthanabox Mon 21-Jul-14 22:07:06

Bluebell it seems like you have misunderstood.
Not hating your body no matter what it looks like is not endorsing obesity. It is simply saying no one should hate themselves. It does not good disliking our bodies, all it does is make us unhappy not healthy.
You say fat is not attractive. That is entirely your opinion and you are stating it as fact. You do not know or control what other people think looks sexually attractive. There are a lot of very unhealthy thin people that eat loadsa junk food are they unattractive too? Or is that ok cos you can't tell?

King1982 Tue 22-Jul-14 20:16:59

Sulis - there is plenty of evidence linking waste size to illnesses that cause death. Why do you think that everyone hates exercise? That simple isn't the case, many people enjoy sports/exercise. Plus, not everyone likes eating chocolate or fast food.
Many people are happy to be overweight. That's great. I think that if it was as easy to stay thin as it was to put on weight, then the vast majority would choose to be thin.
Most people can control their. I think fear and knowledge are different things.
I think that overweight is considered to be less attractive, as is baldness in males.

SevenZarkSeven Tue 22-Jul-14 20:53:15

The waist size thing reminds me of something that is relevant given this is feminist topic.

It was a couple of years ago and a couple of papers & BBC maybe had a headline saying something along the lines of "women with larger waists at risk" and the articles were all about how women who had "pear" shape bodies were less likely to get cardiovascular issues etc and they mooted whether this was to do with a protective effect of more female hormones or fat stored away from heart in bum & thighs etc etc etc.

Anyway the whole thrust was that women without a "classic" female shape of small waist wider hips were at risk because of their body shape.

The first thing I thought was well that's a bit shit as you can't change where on your body you store fat when you have any!

Then the next thing I thought was, that as an apple shape, my mum once described me as having a "male distribution of fat". Which makes sense, apple women put on weight around their middles not their hips and arse which is what most men do.

So about these articles, I thought what they actually meant was that apple women and teh vast majority of men are at a disadvantage as they put weight around their middles not their arses.

And then I got really pissed off, because men weren't mentioned in any of the articles at all. It was all about women being this shape, that shape, right shape, wrong shape. In big capital letters. And all of the men? Not a mention.

So spotting the media bias and kind of making sure you note it can help. As it's invariably women. Like when they have a "OMG people are getting fat" story the accompanying picture / film clip almost always shows fat women / fat women's bottoms. I think things are getting a bit more even with that, they occasionally show a man with tummies eating chips now but for years and still most of the time now a story about the nation getting fatter will be accompanied by a picture of a woman.

Rant over smile

ChanelCristalle Tue 22-Jul-14 20:57:33

I've just told my 12 year old that her body is a temple and not to throw any more chocolate mini rolls in to it.

I disapprove of all the waxing and threading and bleaching that women subject themselves too but I am kiiiiiiinda torn wrt weight. I don't want to read any articles that might make me feel it was ok to put on weight.

But saying that, I don't have a problem with my body. It has always done the job.

SevenZarkSeven Tue 22-Jul-14 21:02:48

I think the aim isn't to say stop having articles about being healthy >>> start having articles saying go on be fat

I think it's to stop internalising the constant messages to women and girls that they are inadequate physically and as physical appearance is the most important thing about them they are inadequate full stop (increasingly boys and men which is no good either but still nowhere near the levels) and as feminists try and work towards a change in damaging social attitudes and media towards women. Stuff like how some mags have said they won't airbrush any more (did some say that? I think so) - that sort of thing is a good start.

museumum Tue 22-Jul-14 21:10:00

sulis - I'm interested in why you are wary about encouraging sport? I don't have any DDs (ds only) but dh and I are pretty passionate about sport for physical and mental health. We are both prone to overweight but I think we both have a good attitude to our bodies. I care a LOT more about feeling fit and powerful than about how I look in a swimsuit. I take my ds swimming and have done since he was 12 weeks and I was all post-partum and breast feeding shaped smile
For me, sport and exercise make me feel good about my body's capabilities and not care much about its aesthetics.

combust22 Tue 22-Jul-14 23:01:21

museum- I agree. I love feeling fit and healthy. It's the energy that being fit brings that I love. I am in my 50s, have exercised most of my adult life and do 6/7 hours of hard exercise a week. I am a size 10 and have never dieted, although I enjoy healthy food. I have no hang ups about my body. It serves me well, but needs the care in order for me to have it working well.
My DD is 14, she does 4 hours of gym at school and 13 hours of hard dancing classes out of school. She eats to hunger, like me prefers healthy food, and is a good weight- slim but very muscular.

For me it's not about body shape, it's about being able to easily run 5 miles, to jump around on the trampoline with my kids, to have races on the beach,, to climb trees, to easily lift heavy things, to run upstairs 2 at a time, not to be afraid to try new activities.

Part of that is keeping fit and yes slim, because if I carried a few extra stones around I would not be able to live the energy filled life that I love.

itsbetterthanabox Wed 23-Jul-14 00:22:49

Combust. But why would what you are saying mean that other women who are heavier than you should hate their bodies? This thread is about not disliking your body no matter what your shape. You like your lifestyle and that's great but that doesn't mean other people should hate their own. Low self esteem and body hatred doesn't make you healthy��

combust22 Wed 23-Jul-14 06:19:41

I don't suggest for one moment that any woman should hate their bodies.

I do however see the discomfort and health risks that obesity brings. I am not condoning obesity- it is the single biggest health risk to the Western world.
Yes women should accept themselves- my body is far from perfect, but not all of the negative issues surrounding obesity are media made.

I have several friends who are obese, and i don't see them as particularly happy. Some of this is media led, but others seem to be plain health issues. Varicose veins, chafing, unable to walk very far or climb stairs, breathlessness, as well as the myriad of health issues that obese people will encounter as they get older.

By all means love your curves, but surely obesity is a health issue?

Meglet Wed 23-Jul-14 06:46:49

You can go for a run and then eat chocolate you know. I do. That's the whole idea, a balanced lifestyle.

museumum Wed 23-Jul-14 09:39:28

It is my experience that using your body in the way it evolved to be used leads to less objectifying of it and judging it by aesthetics and therefore less body hatred.

Apart from the morbidly obese and very physically disabled there is usually some kind of activity or sport or exercise you can do to get your blood flowing and heart rate up. I don't think weight/size matters UNLESS it stops you moving around comfortably. The vast majority of women who hate their bodies are either a healthy weight or mildly overweight rather than a weight that limits their activity.

MeganChips Wed 23-Jul-14 10:27:04

This is something I do worry about for DD.

I live a reasonably active and healthy lifestyle but I am counting calories to lose some weight at the moment, as is DH. I gained 20lbs, nothing fits me, I feel tired and unfit and have a family propensity towards type 2 diabetes. I am now halfway to my goal but it will be a few more weeks of this then eating carefully to make sure I don't regain.

DD knows what I'm doing and I do try not to ever comment negatively on my body and say I'm trying to lose weight for health reasons but she always wants to know what calories are in things and if they're healthy. It makes me feel like I'm treading a dangerous path even though I never discuss these things with her. I occasionally discuss with DH.

I think I need to be more careful to hide it from her completely even though I have always been very specific that it's for health reasons, not looks.

I'm not too sure how to handle it. She's very slim and active and I want her to focus on being healthy and strong rather than anything more negative.

weatherall Wed 23-Jul-14 23:42:19

Welcome back, OP.

I recognise your old name.

I used to be here a lot too but was gone for ages.

Am back now, wanting to kickass again!

Re: body hating, I think we see women being hated through all sorts of avenues in society. It's so universal we don't even 'see' it most of the time. I think a lot of this manifests in self hate of the part of ourselves we can see ie our bodies. Does that make sense?

Re: my dd's body image I try to balance telling her she looks good/beautiful with praising her for other things like achievements/being nice/being strong etc.

She wears dresses but I don't treat her like a doll or dress her in clothes that would restrict her movement. I tell her clothes are for comfort and practicality not to 'look pretty'.

She has long hair but it's tied back simply most of the time. I have let her put nail varnish on but not made a big deal about it. She is too young to have a lot of chats about body image but I imagine I'll encourage her to be healthy and that that will make here look 'good'.

Darkesteyes Thu 24-Jul-14 01:09:43

King you advised the OP on this thread to lose 3 or 4 stone even though
a, you don't know how tall she is.
b. she had already explained the weight wasn't the first excuse he used.

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/a2134175-Should-I-lose-weight-for-my-husband

DadWasHere Thu 24-Jul-14 03:31:36

Question, since I am not fully aware of UK sizing, from the Dances With Fat blog that Sulis linked, what would be others estimation of this womans size if she were 5 foot 1. I would say full size 18.

danceswithfat.wordpress.com/about/img_8995-2/

CaptChaos Thu 24-Jul-14 09:03:47

And, exactly what bearing does her dress size have on anything?

Do you normally ask women what size their clothing is? What is their reaction when you do?

King1982 Thu 24-Jul-14 13:07:43

Darkesteyes - what has that got to do with this thread? I dont feel a response from me or any other poster holds much weight when it comes to medical issues.
I feel someone size 18 could lose 3 stones healthily.
I bow down to your dieting advice though. I know you lost 10 stone

DadWasHere Thu 24-Jul-14 22:26:21

And, exactly what bearing does her dress size have on anything?

If I understand what people in the UK think her size is we can order things from ASOS. We dont live in the UK and online store size conversion tables seem to be as good as numbers drawn out of a hat.

CaptChaos Thu 24-Jul-14 22:45:38

They tend to have measurements along with their charts, it's really not that difficult.

Darkesteyes Thu 24-Jul-14 23:28:11

King the lies you told on your threads which I c and pd into the same linked thread above coupled with the "advice" you gave that poster didn't sit too well together.

YOU DO NOT know how tall she is, YOU CAN NOT see her.

Sorry but im calling MRA!!!

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