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Fat family

January 1, 2008

The holidays have historically been a very bad time for me when it comes to body acceptance. If the deluge of dieting ads (often shown during programs like “101 incredible celebrity slimdowns”) and the general cultural agreement that this is the time to start going to the gym and obsessing over every unity of energy that goes into your body weren’t enough, I also come from a family where fat is an obsession.

Where other families might spend their time catching up on those big events/happenings they’ve missed in each other’s lives, mine spends the time talking about their struggles with weight. Who’s gained? Who’s lost? What are people eating? What new fitness regime have people taken up?It’s not that my family doesn’t eat much. We love food. We bake and cook. We go out and eat huge bowls of pasta and big plates of massaman curry. We make truffles and cupcakes and fried corn cakes. And we drink soy nog (I’m the only vegan, but everyone prefers it to the thicker egg nog) and champagne.

But none of this feasting can ever simply be enjoyed. All through the prep of the food to the eating and cleanup, the self-flagellation begins. Oh! The calories! Oh! The fat! I can’t believe I’m eating this! Oh, I’ll have to fast as soon as the holidays are over.It can be really hard. Hard not to be drawn into the madness. Hard to be the fattest person in a family where fat is disparaged and fat people open to mockery (just *other* fat people though and I’m totally way too sensitive if I take offense.) I’ve often been deeply immersed in body acceptance at the start of the season only to start the new year with a resolution to finally lose that weight. The pressure of ‘what everyone knows’ can ben intense after all, even when you know that it’s not as simple as calories in/calories out, even when you know that being fat is not an automatic death sentence, even when you’ve watched your family members skirt the edge and fall over into the abyss of eating disorders and still never manage to maintain a weight loss for more than a year.

But something has shifted. Maybe it’s having the fatosphere at my fingertips. Or maybe it’s finally having the intuitive eating thing basically down so I’m really eating what I want and enjoying it instead of eating what I think I should or eating as a reaction to denying myself. Or maybe I’m just getting older and less succeptible to my family’s influence.

What I see now though isn’t tempting. It’s sad. All the obsession, all the wasted energy. What kind of conversations could my brilliant, funny and educated family have if they weren’t discussing the merits of high-protein vs complex carbs? It’s boring too. I keep feeling vaguely embarassed at how utterly boring I must have been for so many years with all my diet and nutrition talk. There’s this whole world going on and all they want to talk about is the size of their bodies and what they can do about it.

I really wish I could talk to them about how nice it is to just enjoy food and movement and living without all the guilt and obsession. But of course, being the fattest member of my family, any talk of body acceptance is just more motivation for their insanity.

I hope that all of you enjoyed the holidays and remember that the new year can be a time for reflection and renewal so go ahead and renew a commitment to sanity and to enjoyment. And if you’re the type to pray or send out happy white light crystal energy, send some to all those people who are spending all of their new year energies trying to erase as much of themselves as possible.

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